What Really Makes You Bruise After Lifting Weights

If you regularly leave the gym sporting a new black and blue mark after lifting heavy weights, you may want to pause and assess what could possibly be causing the bruising. Avoiding those bruises might be as simple as tweaking your lift technique, but bruising consistently could be a sign that your medications or supplements are making you more sensitive. 

Start by playing detective. Is the bruising always in the same place, and do they pop up only on days when you do certain lifts? That's likely caused by improper lift technique. For example, a front squat with a barbell could cause forearm bruises if you're not gripping the bar properly. Powerful, fast movements can also lead to bumps and bruises, so if your weightlifting typically comes during a bootcamp or a CrossFit workout, you may be bumping into bars and dumbbells more often than you realize. Slow down your movements and focus on technique, even when picking up and putting down weights (via LIVESTRONG). 

Your bruising may even come from the high level of effort you're putting into your workout: Weight lifting can cause small tears in blood vessels, which can potentially lead to bruising (via ClassPass).

What if bruising happens all over?

Bruising shouldn't happen every time you hit the gym. "If you're bruising every time you go to the gym, it's not the exercise that's the cause," sports medicine physician Lee A. Mancini told LIVESTRONG. Bruising also shouldn't be happening in random spots. The occasional random bruise could be blamed on bumping into a piece of equipment and not noticing at the time, but if inexplicable bruises pop up after every workout, there's likely an underlying reason. Certain medications and supplements, including antidepressants, blood thinners, and even over-the-counter painkillers like NSAIDS can exacerbate bruising. Even topical corticosteroids can lead to more bruising (via the Mayo Clinic). So if you take an anti-inflammatory like an NSAID before every CrossFit class, you may be doing more harm than good.

Unfortunately, some people are simply more prone to bruising than others. Women in particular are more likely to bruise with even minor impact, and aging can also cause more bruising as the skin becomes less elastic and fat stores decrease (via the Mayo Clinic). 

If you've recently noticed that you've begun to bruise more easily, or if you can't recall any blunt trauma that caused the bruise during your workout, check with your doctor — there might be an underlying cause that needs to be corrected.