When I'm working out with a new weight that i'm not used to (I actually do calisthenics, but I use a weight vest) towards the end of my work out, when I'm really feeling it, I notice that as I'm doing exercises like push-ups, I sometimes get a tingling feeling in my arms. As soon as it starts, it continues on every rep until I stop.

It's not painful, it feels like tiny strings snapping almost. (I'm not very familiar with anatomy).

Intuitively, since it's not painful I would assume it is good because the whole point is to break down muscle right? This literally feels like I'm breaking down my muscle, but I'm too naive to understand if this is actually what's happening or if there's some other cause.

Does anyone else get this feeling? Is it normal?

Edit: Sometimes I notice afterwards some slight pain in my arms, but I don't know if it is related. I usually stop around this point and I feel fine after a bit of rest

1 Answer 1


When people describe a feeling in limbs as "tingling" or "pins and needles", they're usually talking about the phenomenon known as paresthesia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paresthesia

If you check the causes section of that article, you see there's countless things that can lead to this. When it comes to exercise, some things coming to mind are

  • Some mild dehydration.
  • A nerve getting compressed or irritated by repetitive motions. Or by the muscles and veins engorged from the workout (the "pump").
  • Using a pre-workout with beta-alanine (or using it straight up).
  • Fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
  • Hyperventilation. A too drastic reduction of the CO2 levels in the blood causes its pH level to rise and results in narrowing of the blood vessels.

Basically, if it's not getting worse, you don't notice anything else that's off, there's no persistent pain or anything that wouldn't be expected from exerting yourself, you can probably just ignore it.

Some people will do reps until they feel "the burn", a burning sensation in the muscles. It's possible you're feeling a form of that. Even if not, if folks think it's alright to feel that I hardly see a problem with minor paresthesia provided it's not coupled with cramping or loss of strength in the extremities (like no longer being able to form a clenched fist). This "burn" is commonly and tragically attributed to lactic acid, which is unfortunately a misunderstanding that is now so entrenched I'm not sure we'll ever see the end of it. What gets actually produced is lactate, which gets lumped together with lactic acid even in the darn Wikipedia article about it at this time, and the lactate might not even be the cause of the burning sensation. But that too is not a problem.

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