Shaky Hands After Lifting Weights

by Solomon Branch

About Solomon Branch

Solomon Branch specializes in nutrition, health, acupuncture, herbal medicine and integrative medicine. He has a B.A. in English from George Mason University, as well as a master's degree in traditional Chinese medicine.

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Shaky hands can not only make it difficult to continue lifting weights, it can also be a disturbing and frightening experience. In many cases, however, the shaking is due to something simple, such as fatigued muscles, low blood sugar, anxiety or stress. If the shaking happens on a continual basis or when you are not lifting weights, consult a doctor; you may have an underlying medical condition causing the problem.

Fatigue

When your muscles are rested, multiple motor units, made up of a motor nerve and a muscle, work together to control your movements. However, the motor units don't work in a synchronous manner, which means while some of the motor units are contracting and shortening within the muscle belly, others will be relaxing and getting longer. Only because motor units overlap so much does it appear that the muscle is contracting smoothly. When the muscles are fatigued, however, some of the motor units drop out and quit working, according to Loren G. Martin, a physiology professor at Oklahoma State University. The result is a trembling or shaking movement because not all of the motor units are involved creating the smooth movement. Once the muscles are rested, the motor units start working again and the shaking and trembling goes away.

Hypoglycemia

Another common cause of shaking hands is low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which is common in diabetics but can also happen if you don't eat enough. Your body's main source of fuel is glucose, or blood sugar. Without it, your body will not function properly and lifting weights can make symptoms more noticeable. Symptoms of low blood sugar can include shakiness and trembling, dizziness, weakness, headaches and hunger. To avoid low blood sugar, eat a small meal at least two to three hours before training or eat a small snack 30 minutes prior to lifting weights. Eating a small snack when you start to experience shaking hands should make them stop trembling after 20 to 30 minutes.

Postural Tremors

A postural tremor arises when you have been holding your arm or leg in one position for a long period of time, according to the online encyclopedia Medline Plus. Examples include holding a pen and writing, holding a cup, standing up straight or holding your arms out. If you have been working out your arms or otherwise holding weights tightly for a long period of time, your shaking hands could be due gripping the weights. Postural tremors can be exacerbated by stress, anxiety and fatigue.

Other Causes

Other factors can either be the cause of your shaking hands or contribute to the problem. For example, certain prescription medications and drugs can have the side effect of shaking or trembling, which could be made more noticeable under the stress of lifting weights. Drinking too much coffee or caffeine can also cause shaking hands, as can excessive alcohol or alcohol withdrawal. Underlying medical problems can cause tremors and shaking in the hands, including Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

Considerations

Resting, eating enough and watching what you drink can often stop shaking hands after lifting weights, but if the problem continues despite making adjustments or you start to experience shaking hands when you are not lifting weights, consult a doctor. Discuss any medications you are taking and verify if shaking hands is a possible side effect. Your doctor may be able to change your dosage or change you to a different medication if this is the case. If you are not taking any medication, your doctor may need to run tests to check for an underlying medical disorder.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.