How to Lift Weights After a Flu Shot

Portrait of a young woman exercising with dumbbells
The arm muscle may be stiff and sore following a flu shot. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

You lift weights for strong muscles and take a seasonal flu vaccination to reduce the risk of being sidelined by a nasty bug. Flu shots are generally given in the arm, which can cause some pain and swelling. Normally it's fine to get on with your normal weightlifting routine following a flu shot. Sometimes, however, the side effects can make you feel less than ready to hit the gym and begin lifting weights again.

Step 1

Expect to have some side effects after you receive your flu shot, such as redness, soreness and swelling at the injection site, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This soreness is often the result of a person's immune system creating protective antibodies in response to receiving the vaccine, which is what allows your body to fight the flu. It the injection site is warm and swollen, keep a cool, wet cloth over the area. Well Community suggests moving your arm to increase circulation, which can help move the vaccine through your body faster and help reduce any pain.

Step 2

Ask your physician about the benefits of resuming your normal exercise and weightlifting routine. Researchers at Iowa State University found that when college students exercised after receiving a flu vaccine, it almost doubled their antibody response, compared to the college students who were sedentary after the vaccine.

Step 3

Stretch well before doing any lifting, especially the arm where you received your flu shot.

Step 4

Start light and ease back into lifting weights. Lift more with your legs and the arm that didn't get the shot until it starts to feel normal again. Stop lifting if you start experiencing pain again though.

Step 5

Stretch after your workout, especially your arm, and drink extra water after your weightlifting session.


If you develop fever, extreme discomfort or if side effects don't subside after two or three days, consult your doctor.

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