There is no other sport in the world in which blood tests are as important as in bodybuilding. When injecting hormones from an external source (e.g. anabolic steroids), your blood panel will often look unbalanced. Blood tests are done on an occasional basis to fix any issues caused by those substances and work towards optimal health.
But, as bodybuilders, blood tests are often done on workout days. So can you lift weights after a blood test? To understand this, let’s first take a look at what happens when your blood is taken.
What happens during a blood test?
Blood test samples are usually taken early in the morning. Patients must not eat or drink anything for at least 8-10 hours before the sample is taken. Once the patient arrives in the clinic, he will need to give a blood sample. This (in modern hospitals and clinics) is done with a butterfly needle. If this is the case with you, you are lucky. There is a much lower margin of error when using these types of needles. After the sample is taken, the nurse will patch some cotton on the wound, and you are done.
Can you lift weights after a blood test?
As with most questions in the bodybuilding community, the answer depends on several factors. Let’s start with the most basic ones.
Are you planning to lift right after the blood sample is taken?
If yes, this might be a bad idea. Resistance training with an empty stomach is bad for overall performance, and you should have at least some carbs in your body to get the most from your workout. Ideally, you’d want to eat right after the blood sample is taken, and then wait for 1,5-2 hours before you hit the weights.
Is the doctor using a butterfly needle?
If not, you might be in trouble. Not only is it harder to catch a vein using the normal syringe, but if mistakes are made you might get surface-level bruising.
This issue might also contribute to lower performance levels, especially if the nurse is inexperienced and causes bruising multiple times.
Are you afraid of needles?
This may sound funny to some. Bodybuilders should love needles, right? Yet, many bodybuilders are terrified of needles and may experience a panic attack during the process. If this happens cortisol levels will increase rapidly. Once the blood test is completed, it is best to consume some fast-digesting carbs (sugars) and rest. Once the anxiety drops and the sugars revitalize the body, it might be a good idea to hit the gym.
Can you workout after giving blood?
Blood donation is also something worth considering if you are a bodybuilder. It is a great solution when your blood test shows high hemoglobin levels caused by anabolic steroids. But, of course, a blood sample and blood donation are two completely different things.
When you donate blood, you will lose 1 or more liters of blood. This results in light-headedness and an unpleasant feeling overall. This is also why you will most often receive a glass of juice as soon as the donation is completed. Simple sugars help you return to normal faster.
Naturally, at this point, you might ask yourself: “Can I workout after giving blood?”. The responsible answer is no. It is best to take a day off or at least do some light form of exercise, such as MISS or LISS cardio. Let your body recover first, and your performance levels will be much better.
Can you workout before giving blood?
It is best to avoid heavy exercise right before doing a blood test. And there is a good reason for that. Your hormones will get affected by resistance training, especially when lifting heavy, as most bodybuilders do. This is especially true for your liver enzymes. Many bodybuilders will get scared when checking their liver markers, but they forget to mention that they had a workout right before the sample was taken. As such, the results will be deceiving and a new blood sample needs to be taken.