What are T-Rex arms?
T-Rex arms from a non-literal standpoint is the term used to describe the muscle soreness and tightness one may experience in their arms after an arm workout or long session of weight training, especially a biceps-centric one.
T-Rex arms can be experienced immediately after the workout or hours up to a day afterward.
Why do we call them T-Rex arms?
We call this effect T-Rex arms because it will make your biceps and arms so uncomfortable and sore that to compensate for the pain and tightness you will put your arms in a shortened position.
As we know the dinosaur T-Rex or tyrannosaurus rex has extremely short arms relative to the rest of its body. The similarity in having short arms is why we call this gym phenomenon T-Rex arms.
Why do we experience T-Rex arms?
T-Rex arms are experienced due to sore muscles or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is often experienced after we lift but the level at which this is experienced in order to create the shortened range of motion for the T-Rex arms effect is a really high level of muscle soreness.
DOMS is experienced due to the tiny tears that happen in our muscle fibers when we exercise as well as the build-up of lactic acid and plasma that occurs in our muscles, especially during heavy lifting.
When a muscle is loaded with resistance the stretch that occurs when the loaded muscle is contracted (shortened) and then protracted (lengthened) is what causes the muscle fibres to micro tear leading to soreness which usually does not happen right away but after a short delay. This is DOMS
The level at which we experience DOMS varies based on a few factors such as workout intensity, experience, sleep, diet, and workout frequency.
10 Ways to cure T-Rex arms after a workout
Increase protein intake
By increasing the amount of protein eaten throughout the day the effects of DOMS and by extension T-Rex arms can be reduced drastically.
Protein is the building block of muscles. They are often referred to as such because they are what enable micro tears and muscles as a whole to heal and build back larger and stronger.
The faster the muscle heals and repairs the less soreness we have to experience thereby reducing the duration or even outright avoiding the T-Rex arms effect.
Drink more water
Drinking more water will cure T-Rex arms because water is what helps deliver nutrients that are necessary for muscle recovery into your muscles.
Nutrients such as glucose, vitamins, and protein which as you now know is very important to curing T-Rex arms.
Stretching in my opinion and experience is the most effective way to cure T-Rex arms and soreness of any muscle group.
By stretching your biceps and triceps after an arm workout you are doing two important things.
You are working to straighten and lengthen your arm muscles to a high degree avoiding cramping, tightness, and inflammation which can in turn lead to soreness.
You are also promoting blood flow to your arms helping nutrients such as protein get to them faster. In addition to delivering nutrients to the muscle faster unwanted things such as lactic acid and plasma are pushed away from the muscle faster.
This is also the reason why stretching after your workout can be just as helpful in curing T-Rex arms.
Get a massage
A method similar to stretching your muscles so just as effective would be to get a massage.
Getting a massage will give you the same benefits as stretching your muscles would. Both lengthening your muscles and promoting healthy blood flow.
If there is no one available to massage you this can easily be done on yourself through foam rolling. If you do not have a foam roller there are many other items that can be used (See 9 Foam Roller Alternatives).
Spend time in a sauna/hot room
This one may be a not-so-obvious cure but stepping into a sauna after your arm workout and even the day after is a great way to cure your T-Rex arms.
This is because of the high temperature of the room and the heat that comes along with it. Heat makes things expand and your muscles which have high elasticity are no exception to this effect.
Staying in the hot room for a reasonable length of time will cause your muscles to expand and release any built-up tension and tightness.
It will be extremely noticeable once you finally step out of the room. This release in muscle tension will take your soreness away and the T-Rex arms along with it.
Sit in a hot tub
Again high temperatures cause things to expand especially muscles which have a great ability to stretch.
So just like the sauna the hot tub is also a great option to cure T-Rex arms by expanding your muscles and releasing tension.
Have an ice bath or cold shower
Just because heat is beneficial to reducing DOMS and curing T-Rex arms definitely does not mean cold is not.
An ice bath or cold shower is very beneficial in curing T-Rex arms for a different reason.
The cold is beneficial because it works to greatly promote blood flow. Perhaps more than any other possible method of improving circulatory function.
As you now know this is very good because it means the nutrients your muscles need to repair and heal properly will get to where they need to be much faster.
Do light to moderate cardio
Light cardio can cure T-Rex arms and muscle soreness because it gets your heart pumping and keeps your heart rate up.
Working your aerobic system in any way can help to cure T-Rex arms because when your heart rate is up your blood is traveling faster and circulation is once again improved.
Take pain killers
This is perhaps the easiest way out but over-the-table painkillers can be used to cure T-Rex arms by working to reduce or kill the pain of your soar muscles. Just be sure to follow the directions outlined on the label.
Also, note this will only take away the feeling of pain and not actually aid in muscle recovery.
Give it time
Even with all of these methods, it is still possible you may not be spared from soar T-Rex arms. In cases like this, you have no choice other than to just wait it out.
Muscle soreness is always only temporary and the reality is even the worst of muscle soreness from working out should only last 2-3 days and your T-Rex arms even shorter.
Especially because the bicep is such a small muscle. So you do not need to worry about the pain for too long.
How to prevent t-rex arms in the future
As mentioned previously you can prevent DOMS and T-Rex arms by stretching before your workouts. This preps your muscles for the constant state of contraction they are about to experience.
This is the strongest option and for my body, it is a guarantee I won’t experience muscle soreness for very long if even at all which often I don’t.Getting in a sauna or hot tub before a workout would also work.
Both of these methods would pre-expand your muscles preparing them for shortening and lengthening during your workout hopefully avoiding t-rex arms after working out. But these methods may dehydrate you and that is something you do not want before your workout.
There are many many different approaches to curing and preventing T-Rex arms. With so many tools available and keeping everything mentioned here in mind your arms will never turn into t-rex arms and you never have to worry about looking like a dinosaur.