Exercising Ink-terlude: Can You Workout After Getting a Tattoo?

Exercising Ink-terlude: Can You Workout After Getting a Tattoo?

Authored by Marshall on December 26, 2023

Congratulations on the fresh tattoo. We know you can’t wait to show it off to all your workout pals, but you might want to take some time off before hitting the gym. 

While your tattoo will soon become a natural part of your body, it’s still new, and that makes it prone to infection, disrupted healing, and other issues. This is why your tattoo artist has provided you with care instructions—and typically, that includes taking a break from certain physical activities. 

Once your new tattoo is healed, you can pick up your fitness routine where it left off. In the meantime, you may need to make a few adjustments and reconsider your regular workout. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry. We’ve got you! Our team is here to provide advice on when and how to work out with fresh ink. 

Exercise After Tattoo: Does It Affect Healing?

Exercise can definitely impact a new tattoo. 

Fresh tattoos are vulnerable and are considered open wounds. This means that they are susceptible to infection. Not only can exercise introduce bacteria to a new tattoo, but it may also cause unnecessary rubbing/friction or stretching in the area, which can further harm the healing and artwork itself. 

For these reasons, many athletes with fresh ink choose to either hit pause on their gym routine or make important adjustments to their workout and hygiene routines while healing.  

When Can I Work Out After a Tattoo? 

How long after getting a tattoo can you work out, exactly? Most people are advised to wait at least two full days before resuming exercise after a tattoo. However, many athletes choose to wait for two weeks or even a month before attempting to work out. 

The amount of time you should wait will depend on your unique circumstances. There are several factors that will help you decide how long to wait to work out after getting a tattoo, such as:

  • Tattoo Location

The location of your tattoo makes all the difference. Some areas naturally see much more movement than others, so they take longer to heal. A workout can contribute to this, especially if it is also in the same area. 

  • Tattoo Size

A tiny tattoo covers less of your body, so certain areas may be available for safe movement. Larger tattoos are likely to be affected by more movements since they cover greater areas of the body.

  • Workout Type

Some workouts themselves may cause issues for your tattoo. For instance, it’s recommended to avoid swimming with a fresh tattoo in order to prevent infection. Cyclists might find that their regular kit rubs and irritates their tattoo and that it will take more time to jump back on the bike.

  • Current Healing Progress

This is crucial! Your timeline will depend on how healed your tattoo is—and that’s different for everybody. If things are starting to look mostly healed, you may be able to get started on the sooner side. If there are any infections or other healing issues, you should definitely hold off.  

Please speak with your healthcare provider if your tattoo looks infected/abnormal or if you experience any unusual symptoms. Infections can be very dangerous if not dealt with. 

Trying to plan your return to the gym? We recommend speaking with your fitness coach. They’ll help you determine the best start date. 

Ink and Sweat: Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Work Out After Getting a Tattoo?

It can be—but it really is a case-by-case situation. If you do choose to exercise after tattoo application, we recommend you take the following precautions: 

  • Avoid Friction

Any activities that cause equipment or clothing to rub against your tattoo are a no-go during healing. Reconsider any activities that require this. 

  • Don’t Overstretch

Avoid activities that cause too much movement or stretching on your freshly tattooed skin. 

  • Stay Clean

You likely received daily cleaning instructions from your tattoo artists. Be sure to utilize these instructions after any workout, even if you focus on a different area than where your tattoo is located. After all, sweat goes everywhere.

  • Follow Instructions

In general, take your tattoo artist’s care and maintenance instructions seriously. These professionals know what they’re talking about. Ask them your workout questions during your tattoo session. They may have some personalized tips for you. 

  • Try Specialized Products

Many athletes use specialized products to help with healing and exercise. Protective bandages, like Saniderm, can potentially be applied to fresh tattoos ahead of a gym session to help avoid issues. However, it is important to consider your overall healing and circumstances before trying this. 

Where Can You Exercise After Getting a Tattoo?

When it comes to working out with fresh ink, location can be really important. If you’re newly tattooed and choosing a workout spot, look for a place that’s:

  • Indoors/Out of Direct Sunlight

One of the mainstays of tattoo aftercare is to avoid unnecessary sunlight. If your new tattoo is in an easily-exposed area, it might be best to avoid outdoor exercise. You may be able to cover your tattoo with clothing, but remember to wear something loose that does not rub.

  • Clean

Now is not the time to do Tough Mudder. Your ideal workout should be in a clean, hygienic environment where there is less chance for bacteria and nasties to make their way into your wounds. For this reason, lots of athletes choose home workouts after a tattoo.

  • Dry

Hang your bathing suit back up; swimming-based activities are a no-go with a healing tattoo. You can jump back in after a couple of weeks.

Can I Go to the Gym After Getting a Tattoo?

While it can be okay to perform some workouts 48 hours after a fresh tat, you may want to hold off on hitting the gym. 

While your tattoo is healing, it should be considered an open wound and needs to be kept scrupulously clean. Depending on the size and location of your tattoo, this can be difficult to do at even the most immaculate gym. While it is proper gym etiquette to spray and wipe machines after use, there is still a chance for germs to sneak their way into a fresh tattoo.

Is It Possible to Customize a Workout Around New Tattoos?

Yes, it is. Depending on the location and size of your tattoo, you may be able to find a workout routine that keeps everything clean and safe. For instance, if your tattoo is on your ankle, you might be able to focus on upper-body workouts without impacting your tatted area. 

Can Sweat Help Tattoos Heal?

No!! We have no idea where this rumor started, but it’s 100% false. There are lots of benefits of sweat, but tattoo healing is definitely not one of them. In fact, we recommend that you avoid getting your fresh tattoo sweaty and take care to clean the area if this does happen.

We’re Here to Help!

We can’t wait to see your fresh ink once it’s healed enough for a workout. At Jack City Fitness, we love watching our athletes grow and express themselves through exercise and movement. 

Whatever your athletic history or goals may be, we’re here to help you become the most fulfilled version of yourself. Call (208) 999-1111 today to learn more! We’ll invite you to our Boise gym for a FREE InBody fitness consultation and a chance to tour our facilities. 

If you decide to become a Jack City Partner, you’ll have immediate 24/7 access to our amenities and equipment, a fleet of expert coaches and counselors to work with, and a rotating schedule of heart-pumping classes to join. We’re here to support every second of your fitness journey, and we can’t wait to help you meet all of your goals.



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