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How To Prevent Stretch Marks From Weightlifting

Updated January 11, 2021

weightlifter doing dead sqauts

Preventing stretch marks from weight lifting

1. Apply stretch mark prevention creams

Regularly applying topical creams and oils containing hydrating ingredients, like cocoa butter and vitamin E, to stretch marks can help reduce their appearance. Both of these ingredients create a protective barrier over your skin to lock in moisture; plus, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that is known for its skin regenerating qualities.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Maintaining a balanced diet is important in general, but it’s especially important that your diet includes vitamins and minerals that are good for your skin. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and silicon. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and soft, which also helps prevent stretch marks. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start taking a collagen supplement if you know your muscles will be growing quickly from weight lifting. Why collagen? Increased collagen promotes skin regeneration which can improve your skin’s overall health and lessen the appearance of stretch marks.

3. Workout the right way

Don’t do too much at the gym, too fast. Ease into working out to give your muscles ample time to grow slowly. The most important thing you can do when working out is warm up properly. Doing some exercises to warm up your muscles and prep your body for the coming workout will help prevent injury. Try jumping rope, doing jumping jacks, add in some arm swings and leg swings, do some push ups and bodyweight lunges or squats. All of these exercises are low impact and will get your muscles ready for a heavier workout. 

After the workout, remember to stretch the worked muscle groups. Stretching shouldn’t be painful, if it is then you’re asking too much of the muscles. As you become more flexible, you’ll be able to hold a deeper stretch for longer. But until then, take it slow. A few basic stretches to incorporate are: 

  • Hamstring stretches: sitting on the ground, extend one leg out in front of you with your other leg bent, foot touching the opposite knee or inner thigh. Bend forward and grab your toes on your extended leg, feeling the stretch through your hamstring. Repeat on both sides. If you can’t reach your toes, no worries. Hold onto your shin to start and work your way to reaching your toes as you get more flexible. 
  • Quad stretches: While standing, grab one foot and bring your heel toward your buttocks to stretch your quadriceps. Keep your legs close together during this stretch. Repeat on both sides.
  • Lower-back stretches: Lying on your back, hug your knees and slowly bring them up into your chest. You should feel a stretch through your lower back.
  • Arm and shoulder stretches: Reach one arm across the front of your body. Tuck your arm into the opposite elbow to stretch the arm farther across your body. Repeat on both sides.

4. Avoid UV rays

UV rays can damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. It’s important to apply sunscreen if you’re going to be outside in the sun for extended periods of time and avoid tanning beds. If you’re wanting to tan your skin, opt for a fake self-tanner.

Are there any other tips/techniques?

Don’t pick up a smoking habit. It has been clinically proven that smoking loosens your skin’s elasticity, which makes it easier for stretch marks to form, among other health issues.

How to get rid of weightlifting stretch marks

1. Apply stretch mark removal creams

Stretch mark creams not only help prevent stretch marks from forming in the first place but can help lessen existing ones. Stretch mark creams promote the production of collagen and elastin in your skin, thus fading stretch marks.

2. Use a derma roller

Also known as microneedling, derma rolling is a highly effective way of treating stretch marks. These treatments work by creating tiny “injuries” to your skin with short needles, prompting the skin’s healing process. This promotes skin regeneration and the production of anti-aging substances such as collagen and elastin.

How to use Derma Roller

Step 1. Make sure your hands, the derma roller, and the area you are trying to treat is clean

Step 2. Hydrate your skin with a moisturizer or serum

Step 3. Gently roll the derma roller across the area in all directions

Step 4. Cleanse your skin once done and apply a stretch mark cream

Step 5. Repeat once or twice a month

3. Try laser therapy

Laser therapy is one of the quickest ways to treat stretch marks. It is a non-surgical treatment that uses pulses of light to break down the damaged skin tissues from stretch marks. Your skin will start healing and repairing the scarring, diminishing the stretch marks.

Only have your laser treatments done by a licensed professional, typically found at a medical spa, or a dermatologist. It shouldn’t be painful, but you may experience some slight discomfort as the laser does its job. On average, laser therapy treatments for stretch marks range from $500 to $2000 per treatment and you may need a few treatments to see your desired results.

Which areas are mainly affected?

While the appearance of stretch marks is typically associated with pregnancy or gaining weight too quickly, building muscle too fast can make your skin stretch and cause stretch marks. Some of the common areas that stretch marks appear include:

Shoulders

Bodybuilding or intense workouts can increase your chances of stretch marks on your shoulders. The rapid increase of muscle mass in your shoulders and arms is what causes them to appear.

Biceps

Stretch marks on your biceps and upper arms are not uncommon. During bodybuilding, your biceps can grow too quickly, leading to stretch marks.

Back

Muscle growth can lead to stretch marks appearing in horizontal lines on your lower back. They can also stretch higher or lower, just above the buttocks.

Upper thighs

Many bodybuilders develop stretch marks on the inner and outer thighs. Try exercises that build and tone your leg muscles slowly, such as lateral leg circles.

Abs

You’d think that with a flat, toned stomach, stretch marks wouldn’t occur. But the truth is, a lot of people, especially bodybuilders, obtain stretch marks on their abdomen. This is because abs and stretch marks don’t live on the same level of skin. Stretch marks form within the dermis (the middle layer of skin), and muscles are underneath all layers of skin.

Buttocks

Stretch marks on your hips and buttocks are very common when building new muscle. Knowing which exercises to use to help tighten your skin will help prevent stretch marks on your buttocks as you begin working out. Exercises that concentrate on each butt cheek will help tone up the muscles and skin, while exercises that enlarge the muscles, such as squat or bridges, can lead to stretch marks faster.

FAQs

Do bodybuilding stretch marks go away?

Stretch marks are a normal part of life for a lot of people and are not likely to go away on their own. There are, however, ways that you can lessen their appearances, such as creams and noninvasive treatments.

Will my stretch marks go away if I gain a lot of muscle?

Unfortunately, stretch marks can’t simply be exercised away. Gaining a lot of muscle can actually make stretch marks worse. It’s best to live a healthy lifestyle and stay fit, without over-doing your fitness routines.

Do stretch marks go away if you lose weight?

In some cases, stretch marks can lessen and even disappear after losing weight and returning to a healthy body size. Rapid weight loss, however, can actually cause stretch marks to appear, so it’s best to do so gradually.