Last updated on October 11th, 2022 at 01:51 pm
Who else wants to know, “Is It Okay to Workout My Biceps if My Triceps Are Sore?”
The biceps and triceps are relatively small muscles in comparison to many others.
Therefore, when you perform specific isolation exercises, it’s not unheard-of to feel extremely sore.
So, if you’ve worked your triceps one day, but still feel really sore the next day, should you attempt to train your biceps?
Here’s what you need to know.
Is It Okay to Workout My Biceps if My Triceps Are Sore?
It’s absolutely fine to train your biceps if your triceps are sore. In fact, it could actually help with tricep recovery. Biceps and triceps are opposing muscles. Therefore, when your biceps contract, your triceps relax, and vice versa. Furthermore, the increased blood flow to your arms will help with nutrient partitioning and active recovery for your triceps. However, it’s important to know the difference between triceps soreness and actual pain. If your triceps are injured you will be unable to control the negative portion of the lift as your biceps relax.
1. Biceps and Triceps Are Antagonistic Muscles
The biceps and triceps are an antagonistic muscle pair.
Therefore, when one muscle group contracts or shortens, the other muscle group relaxes or lengthens.
So, in theory antagonist muscles shouldn’t have an impact on each other.
Now, I would definitely say this is true of the biceps and triceps.
In other words, if your triceps are sore I see no issue with training the biceps.
However, when it comes to other antagonistic muscle pairs in the body the same can often not be said.
If we take the pecs and lats as an example.
When your lats are sore you may find that your bench press is affected to some degree.
And then if we look at the quads and hamstrings, another opposing group of muscles.
Sore hamstrings will definitely have an impact on your squat.
I’m not saying that you won’t be able to train bench press or squats with sore lats and hamstrings respectively.
But, you’re likely to find that you may not be able to lift as much weight, or go for as many reps, as normal.
The main reason for this is that these are larger muscle groups that typically trained with compound movements.
Although, you can of course train pecs, lats, quads, and hamstrings with isolation lifts.
With that being said, the biceps and triceps are very different.
Firstly, they are much smaller muscles.
Plus, you will generally train them with isolation exercises.
Performing bicep curls will involve the triceps to some degree.
But, their involvement is restricted to relaxing as you lower the weight.
2. Increased Blood Flow Will Help Recovery
Training your biceps can actually help your triceps to recover if they’re sore.
I think many of us are worried that as the muscles in the arms are fairly small (in comparison to the rest of the body), one aching muscle is going to affect the other.
However, as I’ve mentioned above, because they are opposing muscle groups this won’t be a problem.
Plus, I’ve also stated that when you contract the biceps, the triceps will relax.
Additionally, you’ll increase blood flow to the arms when performing biceps exercises.
And you may even get your heart rate up depending on the types of biceps movement you’re performing.
Both of these things are great for nutrient partitioning.
In effect, nutrient partitioning will take consumed calories and “feed” them to the muscles.
It can also start the process of protein synthesis, which is when the cells in the body produce protein.
And this of course is ideal for muscle recovery.
So, I would even go as far to say that you can hit the biceps pretty hard even if your triceps are sore.
The “reaction” created in the cells will definitely help your triceps to recover quicker.
3. Understand the Difference Between “Sore” and “Pain”
I think it’s important to discuss “soreness”.
By this I mean, is it simply delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that you’re feeling?
This is general muscle soreness that you feel for a day or two after training.
DOMS are more likely to kick in if an exercise is new to you, or you have changed your training routine somewhat.
But, that’s not to say that you can’t still experience DOMS as a regular lifter following a similar routine.
It just typically happens a lot less often than your early days of lifting.
In truth, if it is simply DOMS that you’re feeling you could actually train the exact same muscle group again.
Okay, it will “hurt”, you may not lift as much or as well, but once the muscle is suitably warmed up, you should find that you’re knocking out a fairly decent workout.
However, if you’re in actual pain then things will take a very different turn.
And by pain I mean that you have in some way injured your triceps.
This will definitely have an impact on whether you should train biceps or not.
The main reason for this is because you have to remember that the triceps will contract when the biceps relax.
So, let’s take barbell bicep curls as an example.
As you curl the weight up your biceps contract and your triceps relax.
And on the way down the biceps relax and the triceps contract.
If you have an injury you’re going to struggle to control the barbell on the way back down.
Plus, you’re likely to aggravate your tricep injury as the muscle contracts.
So, learn the difference between feeling sore and actual pain.
If you’ve injured your triceps then definitely avoid any bicep training.
Does Muscle Soreness Mean Muscle Growth? (DOMS Explained)
4. Should You Avoid Other Pushing Exercises?
Something else to consider is your training split.
I know many people who typically train back and triceps on the same day and then follow this up with chest and biceps the next day.
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So, if you are following a similar training split you may find that this impacts on your chest workout.
Okay, I have just mentioned that you can work through “soreness” and you can even train a sore muscle two days in a row.
However, if you’re really feeling it in your triceps then your chest and bicep workout the following day is unlikely to live up to your expectations.
You’ll probably find that your triceps fatigue much quicker when you bench press, or when you perform any other push-based chest exercise for that matter.
So, in effect you won’t be working your chest as hard.
You may even find that training your biceps is particularly difficult because you hit upper back the previous day.
So, if you are following this type of workout split you will potentially be better off having an additional day’s rest.
So, hopefully you can see that it’s fine to train your biceps if your triceps are sore.
As I’ve mentioned, they are antagonistic muscle groups, which means that your triceps will relax as your biceps contract.
However, keep in mind that when the biceps relax your triceps will contract.
With that being said, the increased blood flow from your biceps workout can help with nutrient partitioning, which will aid recovery.
You should also be aware of the difference between generalized soreness and actual pain.
Finally, be wary of your workout split, and whether sore triceps can affect any other exercises you’re doing the following day.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.