When should I go back to bodybuilding after Covid?

 When should I go back to bodybuilding after Covid

When should I go back to bodybuilding after COVID?

Bodybuilding is not just a means of staying fit and healthy, it is often a form of therapy. When you have tested positive for  COVID, you don't feel much like doing anything and skipping the gym will seem quite appealing. 

The problem with COVID is that it can have lasting after-effects. These will leave you unsure as to whether it is safe to return to the gym for your own health and for the well-being of others. 

If you have had all of your vaccines, your symptoms will probably be minimal and you may feel more than capable of carrying out your workout, but is that safe for others? Even by using social distancing and wiping down your equipment, you may be leaving an airborne trap. 

What are the long term symptoms of COVID?

COVID seems to have a lot of long term symptoms that vary from person to person. Some people breeze through COVID with just a sniffle whereas others can have serious respiratory issues which require hospital care. 

This is why we should exercise caution when going back to the gym. We may be sure of our own resilience but there will be others that may be vulnerable at the gym who are just relying on the common sense of anybody infected. 

The main, long term symptoms and the effect of these symptoms on your bodybuilding workouts are listed below.
  • Fatigue. The fatigue and tiredness associated with COVID will have you thinking twice about lifting weights in the first place. Some may find it hard to even leave their bed. This fatigue will leave you unable to complete a meaningful workout and will probably take days to recover from. 
  • Irregular Heartbeats. Heart palpitations or a fast heartbeat are common symptoms of Covid. Putting your heart under further strain by lifting weights would be inadvisable and probably very dangerous.
  • Feeling Dizzy. It makes little sense to lift heavy weights or step on a treadmill if you are feeling dizzy or unstable. 
  • Aching Muscles and Joints. Stressing already sore muscles and joints would be counterproductive to muscle growth. Wait until your body is capable of repairing the existing damage before inflicting more in the gym.
  • Shortness Of Breath. COVID attacks the lungs and the damage can last for a long time after you test negative. This damage can cause shortness of breath after just walking up the stairs. Don't just jump straight into strenuous cardio or heavy lifts when you go back to the gym. Start slow and gradually work your way back up to your previous levels. 
  • Headaches. It is hard to focus on any muscle connection if you have a headache. You may think that you can hydrate and push through but if your headache is a symptom of COVID, you will need more than just water. 
  • Coughing. Walking around a gym and coughing is not a great look at the moment. Everybody is on edge and will be giving you a wide berth. If you are still coughing from COVID but are no longer contagious, working out is not going to be a health issue, but it will probably be a social issue. 
  • Sneezing. If you are still sneezing as a result of COVID, it probably means that you are still contagious and should certainly not be going to the gym for the safety of others. Make sure you do a COVID test before entering the gym. 
It is also worth remembering that COVID can lead to more serious issues with the lungs, blood vessels and heart. If you are unsure, consult a medical professional before lifting heavy weights. 

If you can not see a doctor, consider using a home testing kit from Vitall and getting your blood work checked. 

Covid and the gym

Restarting bodybuilding after COVID checklist.

Before restarting bodybuilding after suffering from COVID, look through this checklist. If any of these symptoms are still present, consult a doctor or medical professional first. 
  1. Think about the severity of your symptoms during infection. If you have been in bed for a couple of weeks, take it slow, do not rush back into the gym environment. Start with some short walks to make sure that your lungs and heart are up to it. 
  2.  Am I contagious? This is more for the vaccinated or those that are not suffering from severe symptoms. If you feel up to lifting weights but are still sneezing, you should stay at home for the well-being of other gym-goers. Make sure that you do a COVID test before going to the gym.
  3. Pre-existing conditions. If you suffered from any heart or lung condition before COVID, ease yourself back into the gym slowly. Start with a few brisk walks so that you can monitor the effect of strain on the heart and lungs.
  4. Level of fitness. This is more for the advanced bodybuilders. Take time to ease back into your training. Don't go chasing a personal best deadlift number on your first day back. Have a few light workouts so that you can measure any effects that COVID has had on your respiratory system, your heart and your body. 

How can I safely start bodybuilding after COVID?

When should I go back to bodybuilding after Covid Common sense tells us that we should not jump back into our pre-COVID bodybuilding routine. We may have hidden long term symptoms that do not show themselves until we put a strain on the respiratory system, heart or body. 

There are measures that we can take and ways of testing ourselves before going back to the gym to ensure our safety. 

Step 1. 

You are out of bed, eating, and feeling much better. The gym is calling and you are excited to start lifting weights again. 

Even if you are feeling back to your old self, there may be damage to your lungs, heart, blood vessels or other organs so easing back in slowly is essential. 

The first thing to do is a COVID test to make sure that you are no longer a danger to other gym users. You can buy COVID tests online here.

Next, you need to monitor how you are moving around our house and dealing with day to day living. If you are getting out of breath from just walking up the stairs, the treadmill is probably not an option. 

Shortness of breath is a common condition that can last for a few weeks after COVID. Low intensity, steady-state cardio is going to help with recovery and getting back to fitness. 

Step 2. 

Start with some low intensity, steady-state exercises such as walking, cycling or swimming. Stop regularly so that you can monitor your heart rate and breathing. 

Gradually increase the intensity over time until you feel up to higher intensity work. 

Step 3.

Once you have tested yourself outside of the gym with some regular walking, you should start dipping your toes back into some bodybuilding. 

Start with a couple of light workouts. If you have been off for a few weeks, your muscles will have to adapt and get used to overload again. Commit the first week or two to some functional work and preparation. 

Start monitoring your protein and increase it to meet the demands of your workouts. 

Step 4.

Get a medical check-up. This can be done through your doctor, a health professional or through a blood work clinic. Many clinics offer home testing kits that can be posted. 

One of the more popular home testing companies in the UK is Vitall. You can send your blood sample to them and they will check it for COVID, STIs, bodily functions, hormone levels and nutritional levels. 

Getting your blood work tested regularly is beneficial but after suffering from COVID it is fairly important. 

Step 5. 

Even when you are back to bodybuilding and feeling your old self, be mindful of any irregular symptoms that can arise. 

If you start suffering from heart palpitations or a tight chest, put your foot on the brakes and consult a doctor.

How can I aid my return to bodybuilding after COVID?

There are a few things that you can do to speed up your recovery from COVID to get back into the gym. These are simple steps that will help to fuel your body and prepare it for bodybuilding. 


If you are an experienced bodybuilder, you will already know the importance of hydration. If your symptoms have included vomiting and diarrhoea, you will need to get your fluid levels back up before working out. 

Drinking plenty of water will also help with flushing out dead cells and medications that you may have taken to fight the COVID symptoms. 

Start the day with at least a pint of water. Hydrating in this way flushes out the stomach and balances the lymphatic system. 

Having a stable lymphatic system is essential for building a strong immune system. this will, in turn, help to repair any damage caused by COVID. 


One of the major COVID symptoms is vomiting and loss of appetite. This will have contributed to muscle breakdown and depletion of fat stores. 

Take some time to repair the damage with high protein, healthy meals that are packed full of healthy fats and fibre. Eating little and often is the quickest way to repair your body and get it ready for the gym. 


You may have neglected your supplements whilst suffering from COVID. Start taking a good multivitamin, omega three supplements and zinc supplements. Building this up in your bloodstream over a few days will help with recovery and assist in repairing any damage caused by COVID. 


Take time to rest and make sure that you are fully recovered before restarting your bodybuilding journey. This means avoiding any strenuous exercise and getting at least eight hours of REM sleep every night. 

Our bodies do the majority of their repair work whilst we sleep so the more sleep we get, the faster we should recover. 

Whilst resting during the day, sip on fruit juices and snack on nuts. This will drip feed vitamins and healthy fats into your bloodstream so that it is always working on recovery. 

When should I stop bodybuilding?

Things may be going great in the gym. You have defeated COVID and found your feet on the lifting platforms again. All of a sudden BOOM! heart palpitations and a tight chest. 

This is a common after-effect of COVID and is a signal to stop what you are doing. Take a seat and let your heart rate get back to normal. When you are feeling ready, gather up your things and head for home. 

Another common after-effect of COVID is feeling dizzy. This could be down to low blood pressure or fluid pressure in the inner ear. whatever the cause, this is not something that is going to pass by before your next set. Before you lift any more weights, get a blood pressure test or treat any inner ear issues.


In conclusion, it comes down to using your own common sense. After suffering COVID, take things slowly. Start with some short walks and scale up until you feel ready to start lifting weights again. 

When you start lifting weights, start light and monitor any symptoms. If possible, take a medical test that includes respiratory measures and blood pressure results. Always put your health and the health of other gym users before any muscle gains!

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