Really Sore Biceps After Working Out

close-up of a young man exercising with a dumbbell
After a strenuous workout, biceps soreness indicates you are building stronger muscles. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Many different reasons are given for performing resistance training. It can raise your metabolism and lower your body fat while increasing lean muscle tissue. You can increase your strength for daily activities and/or sports performance. Maybe you just like the way your body looks with regular training sessions. To reach any or all of these goals, you must push yourself. After a high-intensity strength-training session, occasional soreness in your biceps is normal.

Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii runs along the front of your upper arms. This muscle has two heads -- a long, outer head and a short, inner head. The long head originates on the supraglenoid tuberosity of your scapula, or shoulder blade. The short head originates on the coracoid process of the scapula. The muscle fibers then run down your arm and insert on the two bones of your forearm -- the radius and the ulna. The primary functions of the biceps are to flex, or bend, the elbow and supinate, or turn, the forearm. Your biceps also assist in flexing your shoulder joint and raising your arm in front of your body.

Effect of Resistance Training

Fitness experts used to believe that the soreness from exercise was a result of lactic acid buildup in the working muscle, according to Gabe Mirkin, MD. However, scientists now know that the soreness is in fact caused by microscopic damage caused to the muscle fibers during resistance training. These tears are a necessary part of training and adapting your muscle tissue. When it heals, the fibers are stronger than they were before. Without pushing yourself during your biceps workout, you would never get stronger or increase muscular size or endurance.

Rest and Nutrition

Typically the soreness does not set in immediately but rather eight or more hours later. It is essential that you take at least 48 hours between biceps workouts to allow the tears in your muscles to heal properly. If you are still sore, you may need to take more time. It is also important to properly feed your body so that it has the essential nutrients it needs to refuel and repair your biceps. Consume whole-grain sources of carbohydrates along with lean sources of protein for muscle repair and recovery.

Overtraining

If your biceps are sore immediately after exercise or the soreness continues more than a couple of days, you may be overtraining. Overtraining is exercising too often and/or with too much load or volume. You may need to reduce the weight and sets/repetitions you perform during your workouts to adequately heal. You should also consider reducing the number of biceps workouts you perform each week to one or two. Prolonged overtraining can lead to injury and reduced strength in your biceps.

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