Can You Work Out After Getting A Tattoo? What You Should Know - Sorry Mom


Are you planning on getting a new tattoo and worried about your fitness schedule post-ink? If you are physically active and plan to get a tattoo soon, you might be asking yourself this question. 

Fortunately, the love of working out and the love of tattoos don’t have to be mutually exclusive (more on that later) .

So, can you work out right after getting a tattoo? According to tattoo professionals, it's recommended to wait 2-3 days before vigorous exercising. After that, it's a good idea to start slow, with light workouts until the new tattoo is fully healed.

Working out too soon after getting a new tattoo can lead to infection and swelling of the tattoo.

Here’s a guide to working out after inking up.

4 Things You Need to Know Before Working Out With a New Tattoo

#1 Wait 48h before any vigorous physical activity

Depending on the type and placement of your tattoo, most tattoo artists typically recommend waiting at least 48 hours before any vigorous physical activity.

#2 Avoid swimming or water sports for 4-6 weeks

Swimming and anything water-related is completely off the table until your tattoo heals fully in 4-6 weeks.

Read more: How long after getting a tattoo can you swim?

#3 Avoid direct sunlight

Also, avoid direct sunlight on your fresh tattoo. Once the tattoo pigment absorbs UV rays, it starts to break down which comes across as blurred tattoo lines and faded coloration. 

Read also: Protect your tattoos in summertime

#4 Placement matters

It’s important to take into consideration the placement of your tattoo. For instance, if you received a massive thigh tattoo in full color and want to go for a jog, your tattoo might rub against your clothes, causing extreme discomfort.

Perhaps try some light stretching instead.  

Why Wait to Workout After a Tattoo?

It’s essential to give your tattoo time to heal. Leaving a wound uncovered can actually slow down the healing process while increasing the risk of infection.

Your tattoo is a fresh wound.

The same thing that applies to caring for cuts applies to caring for tattoos. Treat your tattoo as if it is a fresh wound, needing to heal.

The more you nourish your tattoo, the quicker it will heal. Working out is the opposite of nourishment for your tattoo.

Sweat builds on your skin and can inch into your tattoo, leading to itchiness and infection.

Not only will the healing time be delayed, but the area your tattoo is in could become incredibly irritated.

Loss of tattoo ink.

A significant hazard you’ll face when working out post-tattoo session is the risk that tattoo ink will fade out from the tattoo.

While tattoo ink does a pretty good job at holding the ink in the skin throughout the mending process, the possibility of losing ink through the skin’s upper layers is a liability in the beginning stages of healing.

If your new tattoo is wet for an extended period, ink can leak out. Keep the tattoo area moisturized, but avoid extensive sweating.

Once the skin is fully healed, you don’t have to worry about ink bleeding out of the tattoo.

Your fitness performance will be compromised.

Your concentration will most likely be on your tattoo, not your workout. This leads to a disconnected workout and slows you down both mentally and physically. 

workout with new tattoo

6 Tips When Working Out With a New Tattoo

After waiting 48 hours, here’s what you can do to prepare your tattoo and prevent it from getting messed up:

#1 Wear baggy or loose clothes to prevent rubbing.

#2 Clean your tattoo and apply moisturizer before your workout.

#3 Start slow and light.

Don’t try anything too strenuous until at least a week after your tattoo.

#4 Sanitize gym equipment

If you use gym equipment, clean it off before use to avoid infection.

#5 Clean your tattoo as soon as you are done with your workout.

#6 Avoid locker rooms

    Will My Tattoo Get Messed Up if I Workout?

    If you workout immediately after getting a tattoo, it has the potential to become distorted or get infected. Working out also increases your blood pressure, which could cause excessive bleeding from your tattoo.

    Prevent Infections

    As we said before, exercising too soon after getting a new tattoo can lead to infection and swelling of the tattoo.

    When our tattoo is healed and we start exercising again, it's important to be wary with the risks of infection in a fitness context. 

    Remember to train in a sanitized environment (if possible) to avoid bacterias getting into your open skin.

    If infection is not treated in time, it can lead to permanent tattoo damage.

      Working out immediately will not only prolong the healing process, but an excessive movement of the tattooed area can also lead to disfiguration and color loss.

      Common Symptoms of Tattoo Infection: 

      • Redness or swelling  
      • Bumps
      • Painful at all times  
      • Full body shakes or chills  
      • Sweating and or fever

      Can you workout before getting a tattoo?

      Yes. As a matter of fact, it might be smart to squeeze in that last workout as you won’t be exercising for a few days after the tattoo.

      However, you should go easy on the spot you’re getting the tattoo in. For instance, if you’re getting a tattoo on your bicep, you might want to take a day off from those weighted arm curls.

      It’s essential to make sure the spot that’s taking the ink is injury and soreness-free.

      If you are sore in an area, you’re more likely to tense up, making the tattoo process tedious and painful.

      Make sure you have time to take a shower in between your workout and the gym, so your skin is ready to go.
      tattooed guy working out


      Can I run with a fresh tattoo?

      For all the runners out there, we’d recommend waiting at least a week. Running moves almost every part of the body so it really doesn’t matter where your tattoo is. It will move.

      However, still being in training mode, you don't have to quit exercise altogether.

      What can you do instead of running with a new tattoo:

      • Take 2 rest days after getting the tattoo and then start transitioning into running by slower forms of movement and exercise.
      • You can also walk every day.
      • Light stretching is also a good option.
      • Finally, after day 7, your tattoo can be ready to a light run.

      Running also induces loads of sweat, which can lead to bleeding out of ink and infection.

      If you are a runner yourself, we strongly encourage you to let your tattoo heal and use the proper aftercare.

      tattooed guy playing padel

        Recommended vs Not recommended Workouts After a Tattoo

        If you’re really itching to get a workout, here are a few to choose from:

        2-5 days after getting your tattoo


        - Light walks.

        Unless you’re strutting around with a giant and fresh leg tattoo, walking is always a safe bet. Walking is a soft and gentle form of exercise, and it’s still a great way to get your body pumping. Make sure you are avoiding direct sunlight on your tattoo. Dusk or dawn might be the best time for your walk.

        - Slow and light stretching.

        Any sort of stretching that won’t lead to profuse sweating (avoid hot yoga) is excellent to do. Avoid stretching the tattooed area as to not irritate and inflame the skin, but stretching out the rest of your body is fine.

        TO AVOID

        - Avoid lifting weights.

        Weight lifting uses more muscles than just the ones you think. Weight training can include utilization of your back muscles, ab muscles, triceps, biceps, chest, and shoulder muscles.

        In short, weight training can use the muscle underneath your tattoo area whether you are aware of it or not, leading to ripping and tearing of the skin.

        - Avoid swimming, or anything water related.

        - Avoid high cardio exercise such as running, dancing, or jump roping.

          7-14 days after getting your tattoo:


          - Walking and light stretching

          Walking and stretching are still great alternatives to strenuous exercise such as running or heavy lifting. If you have to exercise outside, wear a piece of loose clothing to cover your tattooed area.

          - Implement light weight lifting.

          Do not immediately jump into the last weight range you were using previous to your tattoo. Take the opportunity to start out slow, and build your way back up.

          Your tattoo is not fully healed yet, and you should treat it as so. After the first week of light lifting, you can start moderate weight training.

          - Depending on the tattoo placement, jogging is okay.

          As long as you wear loose clothes and your tattoo won’t rub against anything, you can start jogging after the first week.

          TO AVOID

          - Avoid swimming, or anything water related.

            2-4 weeks after getting your tattoo:


            - Walking and stretching

            Walking and stretching are still excellent.

            - Moderate lifting

            Moderate weight lifting is a go.

            - Running

            You can start running again.

            TO AVOID

            - Avoid swimming, or anything water related.

              Your tattoo should be fully healed within 4-6 weeks, at which point you can resume all exercise as normal.

              Final Thoughts

              It’s okay to miss a couple workout days if it means keeping your skin and body safe.

              By giving your skin time to heal, you’ll be able to get right back to hitting the gym in no time.

              Working out gently after a couple days is fine, and make sure to avoid direct sunlight and water.

              If you can sit through a tattoo, you can wait a couple days to sweat.