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The Kraken Files: December 2018: To Train or Not to Train

This month Steph has some excellent advice and explanations on when to skip training.
It’s a topic not touched on a lot, and she does an awesome job giving you some advice to be heeded.


This month I thought I would delve a bit into the issue of deciding when NOT to train, whether it be due to sickness, injury, feeling exhausted, etc.  I know plenty of you are thinking “wtf?

I have NO trouble not lifting” but for many of us, deciding to skip even one training session can take much deliberation, and lots of worry, self-hatred, and guilt comes with it.

I rarely ever skip gym time, even when I am very sick or injured.

Am I bragging?

Am I a bad ass?



So let’s talk about it and discuss some very real reasons you may want to lay off for a session, or even a week(s), from the gym.

 To Train or Not to Train


Years ago, I was on the stairmaster, two days into having a fever over 102, after taking a zillion Tylenol, feeling run down, exhausted, and dizzy.

After five minutes, I finally quit, and later that night ended up in ER with……pneumonia.


My dumb ass was lifting and doing cardio while sick for 3-5 days, right up to and including the day I was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Clearly, it should have been fairly obvious to me that I needed a break, but it was not.  I remember wondering if I should skip the gym, then feeling great guilt and self-hatred that I was just making excuses to be lazy, sandbagging, trying to get out of work.  In the end, rather than deal with these thoughts circling my head for hours, I just went to the gym.

Bad call.

Sometimes you will feel like not training.  You will have a bad cold, a sinus infection, etc……and sometimes you CAN train through mild illnesses.  But if you have a fever, really feel wretched, have been vomiting, or something in you is just telling you NOT to lift……then don’t.  Chances are even if you DO lift, you will perform like shit anyway, and likely not make any “gains” because your body is too busy doing the (much more important) task of HEALING YOUR SICKNESS.  You are also likely keeping yourself sick longer, as your body is having to take energy away from healing to keep your dumb ass on the stairmaster for 5 more minutes.





Anyone who has been lifting, seriously, for any decent length of time, has accumulated injuries.

I have multiple chronic issues which are almost always active, but I have learned to judge when I can train through them, if I need to train around them, or if I need to lay off a certain exercise, or even lay off lifting period.

If I didn’t lift every time something was nagging me, I would not lift at all.

I have bilateral brachial radial tendonitis, no ACL left knee, and what cartilage is left there post-op leaves me bone-on-bone.

I have plantar fasciitis.

I have (probably) torn labrums in both shoulders, or, possibly some sort of impingement.

I have had surgery for a femoral hernia, and I have repeated issues with severe abdominal cramping.

I have piriformis syndrome, arthritis, a spinal curvature and reduced disc space, and to top it all off, my right armpit sweats excessively (ok not lifting relevant but gross enough to add).

Basically, something is always flared up……BUT…..I take serious time out and evaluate if the chronic pain is DIFFERENT than usual…in a different spot, bothering me even when at rest at home and during daily tasks, worse than usual, or of a different character than usual (sharp instead of nagging ache, etc).

I know how to adjust to handle chronic issues, but if they get too severe, last too long, or are getting worse with time, I start adjusting, and some of that may include dropping whole movements for a few weeks, or even taking time off from a body part.

Sure, you can acutely injure yourself anytime, without warning, but ignoring your body’s signs that something is really amiss is a sure-fire way to turn a chronic ache into an acute tear, rupture, or even fracture.

Miscellaneous (social life, exhaustion, mental and physical):

So I am pretty much a hermit….

I have and want no social life, and I am content to organize my life around my lifting.

That’s not dedication, guys, that’s weird….but  it’s just me.

However, if I really want to go to the beach (wait I’m in freaking Ohio), have a friend over, or even just plant some damn shrubs, I will move or even drop a gym session every once in a great while.  It isn’t often, but a slavish dedication to the gym at all costs is not healthy.  So yeah, even I bail on lifting every so often, for no reason other than that I would rather do something else.

Also, sometimes I am just TIRED.

Call it overtraining, or real exhaustion; it does not matter.

Maybe mentally I am having an awful time that day, maybe I am stressed out, depressed, whatever. Some days I just don’t have it.  These days are also exceedingly rare, but if I really have no desire to be in the gym, or I am burnt out, I will take a day off.  It’s not going to kill me, and it is not going to kill you.

In a nutshell, when lifting turns into a compulsive chore, you are at higher risk of quitting, burning out and getting hurt.

Once it stops being enjoyable, what’s the point!??!

So use some common sense, and listen to what your body has to tell you.

That’s it.

Now go lift (or not lift, your call).



by: Stephanie Tomlinson

copyright 2018


One Comment

  1. Gabriel December 26, 2018 at 6:37 am - Reply

    Awesome stuff, you’re a hundred percent spot on. I’m visiting family for the holidays and I made it a point to take 2-3 weeks off from the gym afte my show. Well after one week I went and worked out but it was with my Dad so I consider it family time, but after that session I wanted to continue working out everyday like I didn’t intend to but after reading this I decided to not lift while I’m here with family for a short time and get back to the gym when I get home.

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