How Long Should I Wait Before Working Out With a New Tattoo?

This page contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking a link I may get a commission at no cost to you.

So you’ve just gotten some new ink and are ready to hit the gym and not miss a workout. But how long do you have to wait before working out with a new tattoo?

I went through this same dilemma in the last year… twice. I had recently started lifting weights and did not want to miss even a single day at the gym, but at the same time I didn’t want to mess up my new tattoos.

I am not a medical professional nor am I a tattoo artist. I suggest consulting with your tattoo artist if you aren’t sure how long to wait and don’t want to risk it. These are just my experiences.

How long do I have to wait before lifting weights with a new tattoo?

There really is no set amount of time. I’m going to go ahead and say do not go the same day after you get the tattoo. You will have a fresh wound and it will most likely be bleeding pretty good.

For me personally with my two most recent tattoos, I waited about 48 hours before returning to the gym and was fine. If you are working out the muscle group where you got the tattoo you may feel some stretching or pain.

So If you got a tattoo on your chest or arm, maybe hit legs the next day and give that area as much time as possible to heal up. I didn’t even do this, I was bench pressing with a brand new shoulder piece the very next day. I could feel some slight pain but it did not impede the healing process or the look of the tattoo at all.

**I suggest the following items when working out with a new tattoo:

Will working out too soon slow down the healing process?

It can, but it depends. You have to remember that first and foremost your new tattoo is an open wound and should be treated as such. 

If you are concerned then always err on the side of caution. Taking a few days or even weeks off from the gym is not going to kill all of your gains. Muscle atrophy does not even begin to occur for at least 2 weeks and even then it would be virtually unnoticeable.

Not allowing this new wound to heal properly can result in sub optimal healing resulting in loss of color. I would say that this would only occur if you are totally negligent about your new tattoo. Again, use common sense.

Should I put anything on my tattoo while it’s healing, like A&D ointment?

There are a variety of creams, ointments, or lotions that may be recommended for you to put on your tattoo at varying stages of the healing process. I won’t get too much into detail here because there are so many opinions on this and a wealth of information on the internet about it already.

I will share what did and did not work for me though. I was told by my tattoo artist to liberally use A&D ointment on my fresh tattoo. He did a good job on the tattoo and had plenty of experience so I followed his advice. I applied an ever so thin layer of A&D to the new tattoo after each time I washed it.

I don’t know if it is just me or what but this did not work well for me. It made it constantly burn and it bled ink like crazy, leaving some spots discolored with light ink. When I told him this he just said that I put too much on but I knew that wasn’t the case. I literally could not have put less on if I tried.

So that was my experience with putting A&D ointment on my tattoo and I will never do it again. With my next tattoo All I did was keeping it very clean with soap and water. Once it started healing and scabbing a little bit I put unscented moisturizing lotion on it. That tattoo was much larger and healed great. Here are the tattoos side by side, with A&D ointment first and no ointment at all last.
wrist tattoo
shoulder tattoo

What happens to the tattoo when your muscles get bigger?

It was once explained to me like this and I’ve alway remembered it. Imaging you take a balloon and blow it up halfway and write your name or draw a picture on it. Then you blow it up the rest of the way. The ink is going to stretch out a little bit and not be as dark maybe but the shape will remain.

If you just really get massive and your tattoo looks blown out, you can always go back and get it touched up or recolored. I would say most of the time this wouldn’t even be necessary though.

Sweating with a new tattoo

Sweating will not affect your fresh tattoo at all. It is totally fine to sweat. If the tattoo is so fresh that it is bleeding you should have a bandage on it anyway.

Generally sweating is not something you should concern yourself with when going to the gym or working out with a new tattoo. Stretching the skin too much and aggravating the wound should be your primary concerns.


In the end you will probably do what you want, I know I did. Things turned out fine other than the A&D ointment which I still need to go back and get touched up for that.

So just be conscious of the fresh wound that is your tattoo a give it as much time as you can stand before you start lifting weights again. When I work hard at the gym and it has become part of my daily routine missing even a day can make me feel lazy and like a piece of crap. So I know you probably don’t want to miss chest day either.

Just remember your body doesn’t understand the concept of 7 days in a week or chest day for that matter. Adjust your workout schedule as necessary and make it work for you!