Fibromyalgia and Strength Training

Musculoskeletal pain resulting in memory, sleep, and fatigue-based issues is a pretty accurate description of fibromyalgia. This chronic disorder is incurable, but it can be controlled with the assistance of medication. With pain receptors aggressively flaring up in the human body upon exertion, the question of strength training and its viability comes up for individuals who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia but still want to make health and fitness a priority.

Is it possible to work out with this disorder, or is the human body unable to handle the rigors of sit-ups, push-ups, bench presses and even yoga?

The answer to this question will vary from individual to individual, but in general, most people faced with this diagnosis can continue to exercise, and in fact, doing so often helps their diagnosis.

Strength Training

Is it possible to work out and lift weights with fibromyalgia? Yes, but it is important to remember, the disorder impacts the pain receptors, not the musculoskeletal system itself. Therefore, strength training has the opposite effect and can be used as a part of one's treatment.

Now, there is a difference between strength training for those without the disorder and those with it. The approach has to change, and how the workout is laid out will also be altered to suit the needs of one's condition.

Let's dive into this to focus on how the program would ideally be set up.

Emphasis on Assessing Pain

The first step is to understand that each case is unique. One case of fibromyalgia can vary from another regarding how pain is felt. Therefore, patients are expected to monitor their "threshold" of pain using numbers (10 being unbearable and 1 being very little, completely bearable discomfort). Once this scale is in place, the workout can begin.

Starting slow is important to assess how far the body can go. If the pain is unbearable, it is time to bring it down a notch. With time, the amount of exercise can increase for most individuals. The body tends to adapt over time, and the workouts become easier. Many patients can reach high levels of fitness despite having this disorder, but it may take weeks or months to get there.

Transfers to Daily Activities

The reason strength training is promoted comes down to how well the results transfer to one's daily activities. So, the idea of lifting a basket and taking it to another room becomes easier when you are stronger. This, in turn, makes it easier to complete activities of daily living and deal with the fibromyalgia. The longer one works out, the greater their development typically is. It is recommended to work out 2-3 times a week and target all body parts. Studies have shown it can have an influential impact on how healthy one is and how they feel.

Strength training was shunned for years because fibromyalgia was assumed to involve muscle-based pain, where the muscles were weakening. Multiple studies have shown this is not the case, and in fact, a person with fibromyalgia has healthy muscles like anyone else. It is the pain receptors which are doing the damage. Therefore, strength training is a must and helps twofold, by strengthening muscles and helping individuals to take their mind off of the pain.

It is recommended to speak with a medical professional and look over one's personal case history before diving in to a strength training plan. While this is true for everyone, it becomes especially important after a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This makes it easier to transition towards a stronger, healthier lifestyle while reducing injuries and the potential for setbacks.

About the Author

Dan Carver is the creator of, a site devoted to providing up to date, unbiased reviews of everything you need to enhance your workout routines and reach your fitness goals fast.