Looking good is hard work. Regular resistance workouts for the chest, biceps and triceps tone your upper body, but can leave you feeling sore. Muscle soreness is normal when you work hard in the gym, but you can find relief. You can work to prevent soreness, as well as treat it.
Warm Up and Stretch
Always begin every workout with a warm-up. Warming up literally heats up your muscles by directing blood flow away from your core to the muscles. This prepares them for exercise. For upper-body workouts, try warming up on an elliptical with moving arms or even an arm bike, or arm ergometer. At the end of every workout, stretch the muscles you just worked. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, and stretch just to the point of discomfort. You can also stretch if your muscles are already sore, just be gentle.
Rest and Recovery
Your chest, biceps and triceps are going to be sore from weight training, and you need adequate rest time between sessions. Take at least 48 hours between weight workouts so your muscles can heal and become stronger. After a strenuous workout, eat a small 200- to 300-calorie meal that includes both carbs and protein. Chocolate milk is an easy choice that tastes great. Consume these calories within 30 minutes of the end of your workout. Also, make sure you are drinking water both during and after your workout to replace fluids lost due to sweat.
Heat, Ice and Meds
Often a warm bath, shower, steam room or heating pad can help relieve muscle soreness. These things increase blood flow to the area and aid recovery. Make sure you don't use any mechanism that is too hot, and only use heat for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Ice is often used if your sore muscles are swollen, or for injury. It does the opposite of heat and decreases swelling. You can try alternating heat and ice, or just use the one that feels best for you. Another option in addition to heat and ice is taking over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen can decrease inflammation associated with sore muscles as well as offer pain relief. Just be sure to follow directions on the bottle.
Now you shouldn't train your arms and chest with another weight workout, but doing a cardio session can help alleviate muscle soreness. Much like heat, exercising will increase blood flow to the muscles and help flush out byproducts of exercise, such as lactic acid. Blood brings necessary nutrients and oxygen that muscles need to recover, thereby decreasing soreness. Start light and increase intensity as tolerated.
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.