Bicep Bruising From Pull-Ups

fitness lifestyle shot of a young adult woman in a workout outfit as she does pull ups

Pullups do wonders in developing the two heads of your biceps muscle. Increasing your workout to include pullups every day may seem like a good idea, but it can lead to damage to the biceps muscle fibers. The damage to the muscle can vary from minor bruising to a painful tear that can require surgery to repair. Either way, the damage will reduce your ability to perform pullups and stop you on your way to developing the perfect set of arms.

Anatomy of the Biceps

Your biceps run from your shoulders to your forearms. Tendons connect both ends of the muscle to the bone, holding them securely in place. When you perform pullups, the muscle fibers tear. The size of the muscle increases when the tears heal. Doing pullups every day does not allow all of the tears to fully heal and increases the damage or causes more damage to other fibers in the area. This can weaken the muscle when many fibers tear in the area.

Causes of Biceps Bruising

Bruises appear when capillaries carrying blood through your body rupture and allow blood to pool under your skin. Although blunt impact often causes bruises, muscle tears also damage capillaries and allow blood pooling. The amount of blood released depends on the extent of damage done to the area. Large bruises followed by pain can often be a sign of significant damage to either the biceps muscle or the tendon connecting it to the forearm bone.

Tearing the Tendon

Your biceps balling up by your shoulder coupled with a large bruise near the inside of your elbow is the telltale sign of a torn tendon. The location of the bruise will sit either on the top or inside of your arm. This injury requires a doctor’s visit and often surgery to reconnect the tendon to the bone. Although the surgery will reset the muscle, you will lose a percentage of strength in your arm.


Swelling and slight pain accompany bruises of all sizes. Reducing the swelling with a cold pack or a bag of frozen veggies will lessen the pain. Removing the appearance of a bruise takes time or some well-applied makeup. It's still best to limit the number of pullups you perform while the bruise remains on your arm.