Strength Training exercises are designed to increase the strength, density and size of muscle tissue. Most Strength Training exercises use resistance (eg. weight training) to induce the cellular processes associated with muscle growth.
Strength Training has many health benefits, including increased ligament and tendon strength, increased bone density, reduced risk of injury and elevated basal (resting) metabolic rates. Strength Training may also induce metabolic and hormonal changes that can affect acne symptoms in some individuals.
Strength Training and Acne
Strength Training is not generally prescribed as a direct treatment for acne. Strength Training programs themselves are unlikely to have a significant impact on acne symptoms for most individuals.
However, many Strength Training programs are coupled with significant dietary and lifestyle changes. These accompanying changes are much more likely to have a direct impact on acne. Overall, healthier lifestyle choices (eg. Regular exercise, balanced diet, reduced stress, sufficient sleep, etc) are known to improve the function of the immune system and should help reduce the frequency and severity of acne outbreaks.
Extremely rigorous Strength Training programs may induce metabolic and hormonal changes that can affect the development of acne symptoms. However, these changes vary greatly between individuals (and women vs men). The specific relationship between rigorous Strength Training and acne remains unclear.
Anabolic Steroids and Acne
The use of Anabolic Steroids is fairly common among some groups of people pursuing rigorous Strength Training programs. Anabolic Steroids mimic the function of Androgen Hormones, which help support gains in strength and muscle growth.
Elevated levels of Androgen Hormones are known to cause or worsen acne symptoms. Many individuals who use Anabolic Steroids experience a significant increase in acne symptoms.
Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations during strength and power training. A review. Hakkinen. 1989.
The Anabolic 500 survey: characteristics of male users versus nonusers of anabolic-androgenic steroids for strength training. Perry. 2011.
Training-specific changes in cardiac structure and function: a prospective and longitudinal assessment of competitive athletes. Baggish, et al. 2008.
Antiandrogens in hormonal contraception limit muscle strength gain in strength training: comparison study. Rui, et al. 2003.
Effect of testosterone and anabolic steroids on the size of sebaceous glands in power athletes. Kirly, et al. 1987.
Effects of high intensity interval training and strength training on metabolic, cardiovascular and hormonal outcomes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A Pilot Study. Almenning, et al. 2015.
Effects of heavy-resistance training on hormonal response patterns in younger vs. older men. Kraemer, et al. 1999.
Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men. Ahtiainen, et al. 2003.
Strength training effects on physical performance and serum hormones in young soccer players. Gorostiaga, et al. 2004.