How to Lift Weights With Sore Arms

Sometimes it's good to work out when you're sore.

Sometimes it's good to work out when you're sore.

Whether you're an experienced bodybuilder or you're new to lifting weights, it's common to get sore arms after lifting weights with your arms, especially if you worked out at an intensity higher than your body was accustomed to. When your muscles are sore, it means they're repairing themselves to become stronger. You should give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before working the same muscles again, but soreness, or delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can occur for longer than 48 hours after working out. Ease your muscles by doing some active recovery exercises and weightlifting when your arms are sore.

Lifting Weights for Active Recovery

Warm up your muscles for at least five minutes before working out. Do light cardio and dynamic stretches such as arm circles and arm swings.

Do arm exercises that use your own body weight until your arms are no longer sore. Do pushups and pullups; use modifications of these to make them easier or more challenging.

Use lighter weights than you normally would if your arms are sore. Light exercise for sore muscles stimulates the endocrine responses and encourages blood circulation, both of which promote faster healing.

Lift weights no more than three to four times a week, avoiding training on two consecutive days, and don't spend any more than 40 minutes at a time lifting weights.

Use the proper technique for each weightlifting move you practice. It helps to have a personal trainer to supervise your technique, especially because using the wrong technique makes it easier to injure yourself. Have a trainer or fitness adviser help you decide what weight and number of reps are best for you to use.

Cool down for at least five minutes after working out, then stretch your muscles.

Do other types of exercise during the week besides weightlifting. Include cardio work to maintain good heart and lung health.

Muscle Recovery

Rest. Take a break from exercise and even your normal activities that require physical activity. Every small amount of energy conserved makes a difference in your healing progress.

Ice your muscles if they're painfully sore or inflammatory. If you don't have an ice pack, you can place ice cubes in a bag or use a bag of frozen vegetables. Ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time for up to three times daily.

Compress your sore muscles using compression bandages to fight inflammation.

Drink plenty of water after your workouts and throughout your recovery period. While your muscles are sore, they need water for making new muscle cells.

Warning

  • If you're sore from a previous workout, and you've been sore for longer than 48 hours, you may have overreached in your workout. If your progress plateaus or worsens during a workout, it may mean you didn't get enough rest and recovery from the previous workout. If you have a faster than usual resting heart rate, mood swings or depression, frequent colds and flu, chronic muscle and joint soreness, injuries from overuse and overexertion, then you need to take more rests, and talk to your doctor before lifting weights with sore arms. See your doctor if you have persistent muscle pain.
 

About the Author

Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.

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