Can weightlifting cause hair loss?

Tue 19 Sep 2006

I was wondering if weightlifting causes hair to fall out. I am a 33 year old
mail with a full head of hair. I go through a period of shedding after I
work out for a few months. Once I stop working out and stop taking creatineand protein, a few weeks after, the shedding stops. All year I’m fine until I start working out again. After three or four months I notice some
shedding again. The strange part is that it happened around the same time
of year last year, July – September.

I’m not sure if weightlifting is causing  my hair loss  or high protein intake or creatine. I do not take creatine or protein during the year when I am not lifting. The only problem is that I hear people say that weightlifting doesn’t cause hair loss because it doesn’t raise t-levels enough to do so.

Thank you for your help.   Dan

Dan, You ask a good question. But I don’t have a clear answer. If the creatine combined with the protein alters your hormone levels then perhaps it could be a factor in your hair loss.
 
I did do a search on our hair restoration discussion forum and I found an interesting post about the possible effects of weightlifting on hair loss. In short this person makes the case that the effects of strenuous lifting could increase DHT levels.
 
Comment by poster:

“Lifting weight in itself doesn’t increase hair loss. No kidding. However, resistance training causes muscle tissue to break down. That muscle tissue has to be repaired, right? The body synthesizes dietary protein into amino acids and building blocks (other proteins) that result in muscle cell regeneration and growth.

Okay, you know what triggers that protein synthesis? Ahh yes, it’s our good ole friend the happy hormone testosterone. And it becomes a supply and demand thing. If I have a lot of muscle to repair because I’m doing resistance training, then the body responds by pumping out more testosterone.

But where in all this does the body say: “Okay, I need more testosterone to rebuild damaged tissue, but in the mean time, is okay to curtail testosterone to DHT conversion?” DOESN’T work that way. Unless you have a genetic resistance.

To say generically “lifting weights absolutely cannot lead to more rapid hair loss” is a false statement. It can for the reasons I’ve stated.

If you’ve got “super hair” that’s genetically resistant to falling out, then your statement is correct. If not, then exercising MIGHT in fact speed up hair loss because of increased DHT levels in the blood stream (which triggers hairloss in some men, like us).

Hope that clears this up.”
 
To read the whole discussion topic please click here.
Best wishes for restoring your real hair.

Pat, publisher of the Hair Transplant Network and the Coalition Hair Loss Learning Center

Technorati Tags: , ,

34 Comments so far:

  1. JP says:

    Here’s something crazy… It’s a widely known fact that stress can cause hair loss. This is supposedly due to excessive tightening of the scalp from straining. I noticed hair loss at my hairline after about 2 and half years of serious weight training — mostly grueling, high rep stuff. It got really bad after I changed my routine to include a lot of core exercises.

    I changed my supplements and diet and bought all sorts of hair growth products. Some of this actually helped. But was ultimately did the trick was changing the way I breathed, and making sure I kept my face muscles at rest during the exercises. I was straining too much, causing tightening of the scalp and leading to chronic tellogen effluvium, that is, rapid non-hormonal hair loss. I also started doing some scalp massages.

    The bottom line is that hormones can cause hair loss, but some of us are surely losing hair from weight lifting by an entirely different vector! Best of all, this is super-easy to do, and definitely worth trying if you are a weight lifter with thinning hair.

  2. PB says:

    “But was ultimately did the trick was changing the way I breathed, and making sure I kept my face muscles at rest during the exercises. I was straining too much, causing tightening of the scalp and leading to chronic tellogen effluvium, that is, rapid non-hormonal hair loss. I also started doing some scalp massages.”

    JP-
    In the last two years I went from having a full head of hair to completely bald. I am 21 years old. In the last two years I have also been working out, and lifting weights pretty heavily. Until today, two years later, did I realize that the way I was breathing was completely unhealthy. I was scrunching my face, holding my breath, and building pressure in my head. From reading your post I’m starting to think that may be the reason for my quick hair loss. My question is, when you started to breathe better, did your hair grow back? Or was it permanent?? I know that Telogen Effluvium is usually only temporary. But what happened in your case?

  3. Tyler says:

    So what does that mean? Stop lifting weights if we don’t want to lose our hair? Or just lift less? Not enough information on this is given in this article. And to start off with, “But I don’t have a clear answer.” Then why answer it if you’re unsure?

  4. Tyler,

    In doing research on this subject, I’ve seen no evidence to suggest that weight lifting and healthy living can cause hair loss. The only question is whether or not such a small and temporary boost in testosterone during one’s workout can produce more DHT and potentially accelerate pattern baldness. I’d suggest this is highly unlikely. However, even if it does, it’s doing nothing that your genetics haven’t already determined was going to happen anyway.

    In my opinion, it’s a whole lot better to live healthy and work out than worry about whether or not you may lose your hair a tiny bit earlier assuming you have the hair loss gene to begin with.

    Best wishes,

    Bill Seemiller
    Managing Publisher of this Community

  5. Josh says:

    I’ve always exercised, but didn’t join an actual gym until summer of 2004 when I was 31. Up until that point I had a full head of hair, nothing noticeably thinning or shedding. Never thought twice about hair loss.

    After that point and working out regularly several times a week at the gym I didn’t realize that I was losing hair til it was noticeable a couple years after that. I had indeed lost hair. Tried everything naturally and attributed it to something having to do with the weight lifting.

    Obviously there are men who are in their 40’s and work out religiously pumping iron and have a full head of hair. There is no doubt that it does have an effect on hair loss though. There are other guys who are clearly built from weight lifting regularly, but have lost some or all of their hair. These men are in their 20’s.

    Just as Bill said which was interesting is that their could be a correlation in this small boost accelerating what was going to happen at some point in your life. And that it’s better to be healthy and work out than not.

    I do wonder though if say reducing your weight lifting from say three days a week down to one day a week, if that will slow the process or even not make it as bad for those that are losing hair via weight lifting. Obviously still continuing to exercise, but sticking to cardio the rest of the time.

  6. syboat says:

    I agree with Bill Seemiller , the effect is probably a “drop in the ocean”

    In fact weight training and any sporting activities can help regulate hormonal activity. If your hair is thinning over the years then this will happen whether you engage in lifting weights or not.

  7. Nobody removed your comments. Each comment has to go through moderation before they’re approved because the Q&A blog is often riddled with spam comments. I did approve your first two posts, that is, after I removed the use of profanity.

    I’m sorry you’re so angry, but perhaps our community can help provide you with legitimate information and support you need to get your hair loss under control. Working out is a good thing, and while there’s no direct correlation between weight lifting and hair loss, anything you do to boost testosterone (steroids, etc.) can expedite male pattern baldness. Thus, it’s typically better to go all natural if you’re genetically susceptible to hereditary baldness.

    All the best in restoring your hair and staying in shape!

    Bill
    Managing Publisher of this Community

  8. Fact Teller says:

    It is true – Work out is seriously damaging the Pattern of Hair Grow. I joined gym 3 months ago. I went with full of hair. in the first month itself, i have noticed i m losing some 40 – 50 hairs from 8 – 10 hair. I thought, My body will get adjusted in some point of time and hair fall will stop. but it never happened in the way. second month i have noticed, i was losing 70 -90 Hair per day. It may not common for every men, but quite a lot men face the same issue. So, better, u notice the hair fall pattern in the early stage and if hair fall is increasing, better stop Gyming. I am sure in the past months i must have lost some tens of thousand hair from the few millions. I m not willing to lose any more.. :) :)

  9. eddiepens says:

    come on guys – I see way more bald fat out of shape men than i do in shape guys. Im 42 being working out since 18 and I have very little hair loss. My brother – same parents – has way more hair loss than me and he doesn’t work out at all but drinks and works more than me

    I would suggest working out on light weights, keep in shape and stay away from the testosterone enhancing.

    I also bought myself a hair max comb seems to work

  10. syboat says:

    If you stop going to the gym, more fool you, abstaining from physcal activity will not have any effect on your hair. Exercise is by the far the best thing you can do to your body and mind!

  11. syboat says:

    If you stop going to the gym, more fool you, abstaining from physcal activity will not have any effect on your hair.
    Exercise is by the far the best thing you can do to your body and mind!

  12. Jibby says:

    Hi guys,

    I am 30 and have been training at the gym since I was 19. Just about a year ago, I started noticing hair loss at the crown. I done some research and then went to my doctor about this matter. I was prescribed with a medicine which in-fact BLOCKS DHT.. its called ‘Finnacar 5mg’ and my doctor has been personally using this for about 10 years (might have been a different brand but same stuff). To be honest, it seems it has stopped my hair loss but its still recovering. You basically break 1 table into 4 pieces and take a piece a day. After a few months, you can take a piece every 2 days. This is prescribed medicine only (in Australia anyway). Further more, I think I found another reason to my hair loss from this other website which can also be related to GYM. excessive sweating can apparently also cause hair loss due to our sweat being acidic so its something to keep into consideration.

    Personally based on experience from gym, I don’t believe it can cause hair loss. A lot of my mates are on steroids and even they have a headfull of hair.. no DHT issues there so if you ask me, ‘personally’ I think its a myth however.

    Hope this helps all you guys cos i love my hair and I’m sure you do too.

    P.S .. Finnacar 5mg is BLOODY EXPENSIVE in Australia arrggg.

    Good luck

  13. wass says:

    i`m 21 years old and noticed that i`m getting bald recently … (male pettern baldness)
    about a month ago i started goin to the gym .. and lifting weights … and about a week ago i noticed that my hair shedding has increased drastically !!!

  14. Jason says:

    This is ridiculous.
    Lifting weights does not cause hair loss.
    I started losing my hair when I was in my early twenties. I never lifted.
    For the past year I’ve been lifting weights and my hair loss has basically reversed.
    Hair loss is not fully understood. It has to do with hormones and you have little to no control over it.

    A lot of you will start losing your hair and say, “Oh, it started right after I started lifting weights so it must be related!” It’s not related. If you hadn’t started lifting weights and instead had started taking a new medication then you would blame that instead.
    There are more bald fat guys and more bald skinny guys than there are bald muscular men. Seriously. My theory is that the muscles absorb testosterone that would normally be expelled through the pores on the scalp.
    Am I wrong? Probably. But whatever.

  15. David aka - TakingthePlunge says:

    While I think it is difficult to draw conclusions across the board for all patients, in general, it is safe to say that weight training will not cause hair loss in those who are not genetically predisposed to the effects of DHT.

    For men who carry the balding gene, excessive weight training combined with anabolic steroids or supplements designed to increase testosterone levels could accelerate balding.

    David (TakingThePlunge)

  16. Fil says:

    I have to say that balding is a genetic predisposition. Stress, sweat, and hormone levels can all speed the process. One brother can have genes for balding and the other on doesn’t. Some will bald anyway, w or w/o exercise, and some will only experience temporary hair loss due to some of the above mentioned factors.If you don’t have the genes, it is very unlikely that you will go bald regardless of waht you do or take. However if you do have the genes for balding, you will become bald and wieghtlifting will alter your hormone levels and will increase GH and Testosterone. Consequently DHT levels(a bald guy worst enemy) will increase, speeding up the process. Some supplements such as testosterone boosters, GH products and creatine, will raise DHT levels even more, making you loose hair even faster.
    DHT blockers can fight some of it but not as efficient as we would like it to be. Good Diet, the right supplements at the right time and an exercise program including some cardio should be your goal. Becoming bald or not…..if you have the genes…..you will anyway. So my point here is get fit and healthy and work your mind to feel good about yourself.

  17. Alley says:

    A week ago i started an intense workout and noticed that i had a dime sized bald spot 4 inches above my forehead. And then a few days later i noticed another dime sized bald spot just about my ear. I know there is no proven fact that exercise can cause baldness, but is there a possibility that excess sweating can cause hair follicles to be easily removed? I don’t want to stop working out but i don’t want to have spots all over my head.

    Need help!

  18. David aka - TakingthePlunge says:

    Alley,

    In my opinion, your new workout is not directly causing the bald spots you are seeing. While hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, illness, medication, stress and trauma, most often the culprit is Androgenic Alopecia or genetic balding.

    Some argue that such exercise can jump start balding in those who are genetically predisposed and there may be some truth to this. But, if simply sweating a lot would cause otherwise healthy hair to fall out then we would have a excess of balding professional athletes.

    I highly recommend consulting with a dermatologist specializing in hair loss.

    Best of luck,
    David (TakingThePlunge)

  19. Ghazi says:

    Hi mine starts too when i started going to the gym for only like week,..i went to get a haircut and saw a losing hair pattern on my head ..is it because of going to the gym or taking protein shakes ? I swear i didnt see this patterns from my last haircut which is 2 weeks ago..pls i need help on this ..i dont wanna be bald :(

  20. David (TakingThePlunge) says:

    Ghazi,

    You are not the first to speculate about the effects of exercise and nutritional supplements on hair loss. However, there is no documented proof that these activities directly cause or influence male pattern balding.

    Androgenic alopecia (genetic balding) can manifest itself quite rapidly and it may be coincidental that your balding has commenced along with your new fitness routine.

    The best course of action is to consult with a dermatologist. A physician will be able to evaluate the cause of your hair loss and recommend the proper treatment. You may benefit from using Rogaine (minoxidil) and or Propecia (finasteride).

    David (TakingThePlunge)

  21. joe says:

    i started takin creatinewhey,glutamin and had a hair transplant 1 year ago wil creatine affect my newly transplanted hair

  22. SeanM says:

    I’m 32 years old and have noticed my hair started thinning consistently and considerably since the fall of 2010. In early 2010 (Jan/Feb) I started working out at home… nothing serious, push ups, sit ups and some free weights. I also began taking a weight gainer supplement called Muscle Juice, which didn’t produce very drastic results (other than high levels of back acne) but I didn’t think it was hurting. Closer to the end of 2010, I’d been on a fairly consistent work out regiment of about an hour every second day for nearly the entire year. I was feeling good about my body’s appearance, but I could tell I was losing far more hair than I had ever before. Suspecting it may have been related to the muscle juice, I stopped taking the stuff. Early on in 2011 I decided it was time to take it up a notch and join a gym so I could achieve a more comprehensive workout. I also started taking a strictly protein based (no creatine or steroids) shake supplement mixed with milk after each workout in place of the muscle juice I’d previously taken. I was assured by the guy at the supplement place that it was as “natural” as a post workout supplement gets. So I’ve been going to the gym twice a week for about an hour each visit since the beginning of the year and honestly my hair loss has increased two fold over the time when I was just doing free weights at home. It’s falling out so fast right now, it’s scary. Aside from a very slight receding hairline that began to manifest itself since my early twenties, I’ve never been one to lose so much hair in such a short period of time. The hairs themselves seem to be thinner and break easier than they ever did before. I’ve even taken steps to prevent the hair loss like DHT blocking shampoos and tonics, but they don’t seem to be helping much. I’ve always had a head of thick, full hair up until the last year and a bit and the ONLY lifestyle change I’ve made has been to lift weights (along with the post workout supplements). All of the men in my family have kept their hair throughout their adult lives and into old age. Barring of course the unavoidable and eventual receding hairline and thinning that inevitably comes with old age, but I’m taking about the things that occur at age 60 and over. I have absolutely no other possible explanation as to why I’ve been losing so much hair so quickly. I don’t want to stop working out, because I feel great! Maybe it’s the protein supplement shake that’s contributing to it? I don’t know! Help!

  23. Hi Sean,

    Sorry to hear this issue is causing you anxiety; hopefully we will be able to help!

    Although it’s been speculated for quite some time, there has never been any conclusive link between whey protein, exercise, and hair loss. However, if any of the supplements taken did have a component that altered normal hormonal levels, this could cause accelerated male pattern baldness.

    As to why you’re seeing the hair loss now, it could be because you’re simply paying more attention to your appearance or could be that you began experiencing more hair loss coincidentally, but it’s unlikely that it’s from whey protein or lifting weights.

    Furthermore, if you really want to effectively stabilize your loss and regain some of the growth and density, I recommend utilizing proven products such as finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine). However, I highly recommend a consultation with a personal physician or a hair loss expert (http://www.hairtransplantnetwork.com/Consult-a-Physician/hair-loss-doctors.asp) before using any of these medications. A physician will be able to perform a thorough evaluation of your scalp and work out routine, and suggest the best course of action.

    I hope this helps!

    Blake (Future_HT_Doc)
    Editorial Assistant

  24. SeanM says:

    Blake – Thank you for your reply.

    As you mentioned, there is the possibility of coincidental timing – its one thing I definitely can’t rule out. That being said, I am more inclined to believe that it may be altered hormonal levels that are causing my rapid hair loss as a result of the whey protein and or extra testosterone being produced as a result of the strength weight training and subsequent increased DHT levels.

    I’ve typically never paid attention to how many hairs I lose in a comb or due to running my hands through my hair during the course of a day. I slowly became aware of it when my hair began to lose its natural styling properties. It began to sit differently over the course of 1 year and would not hold its “shape”. It became much flatter and thinner… this is when I started actively watching how much hair I was losing.

    I will take your advice and consult my physician regarding the matter as well as the prospect of taking Propecia and or Rogaine. For the time being I will lay off the whey protein, but continue my workouts twice a week and see how it goes.

    I’ll be back here to update my results in a few months… hopefully with good news!

    S

  25. anthony says:

    your testosterone naturally peaks in autumn.. its your bodies mechanism to make sure babies are born in the summer, so therefore more test = more hairloss

  26. Corey says:

    Hello all, I have been reading over your posts and having a little giggle to myself. There are so many myths that people just make up over time as to what causes hair loss. It is genetics. There is a chemical called DHT that is associated with higher levels of testosterone. Not like one man has more than another but like you have more than you did before maturity. If you have the gene for male pattern baldness when your body starts is mostly genetic, but can be increased by stress. No not the stress of excercising,but like worrying type stress. If you are going bald it has nothing to do with weight lifting unless you are stressing about it so much that it keeps you up at night and gives you a stomache ache.

  27. S Gamer says:

    Sean M ..any update after u stopped taking supplements? ..did ur hair start to grow again/strenghten?? ..

  28. Lee says:

    Hi everybody,

    I would like to share my experiences with hair loss and heavy lifting exercises.

    I am 30 years old, and have been working out since I was 18. Even during my busiest times I hit to gym at least 3 days a week, and regularly 5-6 times a week. I do cardio, heavy weight lifting, and some toning depending on the season.

    My father and uncles have full set of hair. My mother’s father is a bald man though, he has been bald since his mid 30s.

    I personally do not believe that weight lifting causes hair loss. However, the supplements can be very damaging for your hair. I used creatine when I was 22 (for almost 6 months), and witnessed an incredible shedding. Then I stopped using creatine, and my hair recovered in couple of months. For me, the use of whey protein (isolate+concentrate) does not cause any hair loss, furthermore makes my hair thicker and shinier. Interestingly, amino complex pills cause hair loss, so I also don’t use them at all.

    So, for me, the magical formula is intensive training and whey protein. With this combo, I feel great and my hair is healthy.

  29. Lee,

    Most information about weight lifting supplements and hair loss is anecdotal at best. However, it’s always a good idea to review any new supplements with a personal physician before beginning a new regimen.

    Blake (Future_HT_Doc)
    Editorial Assistant

  30. Jammy says:

    Iam 33 and completely agree with the above statement. I first lifted weights when i was 18 for 6 months and my hair reduce almost 1/3rd. My hair didn’t grew back but was stable until i again started lifting weights when i was 27, my hair started falling like hell and i was almost half way bald. By now i was pretty sure that weight lifting was the root cause. Just 6 months back i gain wnet to the gym for 2 months and lost more hair, you can say iam almost bald now. What more evidence is required that i only loose hair when i lift weights.
    But that doesn’t mean all of the will loose hair who do weight training. I guess if its in your genes or if you have stressful life then it increases your DHT level with increase in testosterone level for muscle repair. In other words your testosterone gets converted into DHT unlike other lucky males who can carry a full head of crop with bulging biceps. No wonder why girls get attracted to men with muscles and good hair, as we are DHT infected.

  31. dt says:

    are you guys serious…?!?!

    Could it actually be that the gym is causing me to go bald?!?!!?

    well, im 20 years old. I didn’t have any bald spots of ANY thinning at all before i started working out.

    I started this year as a new years resolution to work out and sure enough, i noticed that I was thinning. I was attempting to grow an afro as I was already growing one prior to this year and bam!! I felt my hair today and noticed that there was a big dent smack dab where my crown in. I got my iphone out and went to the mirror in my bathroom immediately.

    Sure enough it was a bald spot, or at least a spot on its way to becoming bald. Think about it like this, i have 3 inches everywhere else on my head and .5 inches there. I can certainly see my scalp. I did a measurement myself as I didn’t want to get my sister to do it as “balding up” isn’t a good feeling.

    I started working out to look good, and now I gotta deal with baldness? I’m 20 years old.. damn..

    What should I do?!?! I want to work out but I sure as hell don’t wanna go bald while doing it. Any way to keep the hair on my head?

  32. David aka - TakingthePlunge says:

    dt,

    As I have already mentioned above, there is no documented proof that these activities directly cause or influence male pattern balding.

    Androgenic alopecia (genetic balding) can appear at any time. It may be coincidental that your thinning hair has coincided with your new fitness routine.

    I recommend consulting with a dermatologist. You may benefit from using Rogaine (minoxidil) and or Propecia

    David

  33. Buddy says:

    From what I read, people who exercise, especially doing weight training, their body need proteins to build the muscles. Now, hair is 97% made of protein, so when u dont consume enough protein, your hair will become dry, brittle, and easily fall. what’s worse is if you have hair loss gene in the family. Whey is high in protein content and should help provide enougn protein for your body. So that’s why ppl who consume whey while exercising gets to keep their healthy hair :) but this might not work with those who have the gene problem

  34. Gaurav Sharma says:

    hi friends…..dont wory…just workout…healthy hair needs a healthy body to sustain
    if you get into the root of the hair loss…it is the lack of blood circulation to the hair follicle…all the factors of hair loss including the DHT cause only one thing, blocking the blood circulation to the hair follicle, therefore no nutrients to the hair follicle…so how can a follicle live without a good diet…
    talking about gyming you shold try to do the exercise in such a way that it increases the blood flow to your scalp…and you should keep a comb with you always, combing time to time during exercise too…try not to tighten your face and scalp during exercising for that you need a little concentration and meditation…
    and make combing your habbit around 100 strokes a day…always have a good protein diet…and surely a multivitamin tablet too and please dont forget to have enough 3 to 4 litres of water every day…
    remember only blood circulation to the scalp and good diet can reverse or stop the balding process…
    and guys beleive me i have reversed it :)
    remember dnt wory, good diet, enough water, tension free life, optimistic attitude, exercising your scalp for blood…and dnt over exercise just remember exercise to keep your body fit…
    try it you will enjoy…as i doo…now i have a healthy scalp and a healthy body,.. i go to the gym specially to increase the blood circulation or to cure my baldnesss…i had my hair shedding since last 10 years…but after doing all this,,, believe me i have very less shedding now only if i have bad food, do smoking or dont folly a helthy sleeping and daily routine, and if i take futil tensions…
    so happy gyming guys…try it…good luck :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted by: Pat on