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Resistance Training Breaks Me Out: Help

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I like my body to have that lean, toned look. To get that I have to do resistance training. Resistance training breaks me out.

What to do?

Do we have any fitness junkies here who tend to break out from strength training? What have you done to solve this problem?

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Try doing shorter workouts.


Status: Clear after 30 years. Wow, I guess it's been 6 years, now.

[ Story: Severe Acne since I was 10. 10+ years of Dermatologists, Antibiotics, topicals and ACCUTANE did nothing. Discovered oranges triggered the worst of my cystic acne = about 70% improvement. Tried some nutrient supplements like B-complex with zinc and C, saw palmetto and a BHA like the aspirin mask = more improvement, a lot less oily. Then, Diet changes = Clear.

Regimen: Anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing diet and supplements (for hormones, inflammation, aging, health). No soap or other cleanser except for hand washing! Water only or Oil cleanse. Aloe Vera mixed with niacinimide and a high linoleic acid oil for moisturizer and reduce pigmentation.

Diet effects acne in so many ways: hormone balance, inflammation, Insulin levels, digestion, allergies and intolerances, liver function, adrenal function, SHBG levels, sebum quality, cell function and turnover, nutrient deficiencies, body fat, etc. Basic advice: Eat, sleep, supplement and exercise like you are a diabetic. And eat real food!

For more information, see my Good Things for Acne thread *Moderator edit - Please refer to the board rules (see “Advertising/soliciting”, “Linking” and “Signatures”)*

When you eat stuff, Stuff Happens!


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I don’t see any reason why resistance training would result in an acne breakout. In fact, even experts concede that exercise is a good remedy for keeping away acne. I think if you still are worried you should increase the amount of weights you lift and reduce the repetitions.

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I dont see any reason why resistance training would result in an acne breakout. In fact, even experts concede that exercise is a good remedy for keeping away acne. I think if you still are worried you should increase the amount of weights you lift and reduce the repetitions.

There are a few reasons exercise aggravates acne and can be bad for health, especially any kind of prolonged extreme exertion, such as running 5miles or many of the other workouts people do. You should move around a lot every day, and occasional have short Bursts of extreme activity such as sprinting, hill/stair climbing, and lifting heavy things. That's the kind of activity our systems evolved to fuel and manage.

See the interval training thread for more info on better ways and why. Or try marksdailyaplle blog

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Status: Clear after 30 years. Wow, I guess it's been 6 years, now.

[ Story: Severe Acne since I was 10. 10+ years of Dermatologists, Antibiotics, topicals and ACCUTANE did nothing. Discovered oranges triggered the worst of my cystic acne = about 70% improvement. Tried some nutrient supplements like B-complex with zinc and C, saw palmetto and a BHA like the aspirin mask = more improvement, a lot less oily. Then, Diet changes = Clear.

Regimen: Anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing diet and supplements (for hormones, inflammation, aging, health). No soap or other cleanser except for hand washing! Water only or Oil cleanse. Aloe Vera mixed with niacinimide and a high linoleic acid oil for moisturizer and reduce pigmentation.

Diet effects acne in so many ways: hormone balance, inflammation, Insulin levels, digestion, allergies and intolerances, liver function, adrenal function, SHBG levels, sebum quality, cell function and turnover, nutrient deficiencies, body fat, etc. Basic advice: Eat, sleep, supplement and exercise like you are a diabetic. And eat real food!

For more information, see my Good Things for Acne thread *Moderator edit - Please refer to the board rules (see “Advertising/soliciting”, “Linking” and “Signatures”)*

When you eat stuff, Stuff Happens!


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I don’t see any reason why resistance training would result in an acne breakout. In fact, even experts concede that exercise is a good remedy for keeping away acne. I think if you still are worried you should increase the amount of weights you lift and reduce the repetitions.

A simple google search ("weight lifting acne") will reveal that it is a common problem. I've managed to maintain clear skin for months now but whenever I introduce training, a few cystic pimples pop up.

There are a few reasons exercise aggravates acne and can be bad for health, especially any kind of prolonged extreme exertion, such as running 5miles or many of the other workouts people do. You should move around a lot every day, and occasional have short Burt's of extreme activity such as sprinting, hill/stai climbing, and lifting heavy things. That's the kind of activity our systems evolved to fuel and manage.

See the interval training thread for more info on better ways and why. Or try marksdailyaplle blog

This is good information, thank you. I'll try shortening work outs and perhaps attempt to spread them throughout the day.

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I have the same problem. I started an intense weightlifting program and it really aggravated my skin. So instead I started doing 15-20 minutes of pilates with light weights 4 days/week. So far this hasn't bothered my skin at all, and I've actually gained some muscle, just not as much as I'd like. I'd really like to gain more muscle, but it seems like every exercise that does that also makes acne worse.

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Yeah, prolonged workouts are mostly wasted effort.


Status: Clear after 30 years. Wow, I guess it's been 6 years, now.

[ Story: Severe Acne since I was 10. 10+ years of Dermatologists, Antibiotics, topicals and ACCUTANE did nothing. Discovered oranges triggered the worst of my cystic acne = about 70% improvement. Tried some nutrient supplements like B-complex with zinc and C, saw palmetto and a BHA like the aspirin mask = more improvement, a lot less oily. Then, Diet changes = Clear.

Regimen: Anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing diet and supplements (for hormones, inflammation, aging, health). No soap or other cleanser except for hand washing! Water only or Oil cleanse. Aloe Vera mixed with niacinimide and a high linoleic acid oil for moisturizer and reduce pigmentation.

Diet effects acne in so many ways: hormone balance, inflammation, Insulin levels, digestion, allergies and intolerances, liver function, adrenal function, SHBG levels, sebum quality, cell function and turnover, nutrient deficiencies, body fat, etc. Basic advice: Eat, sleep, supplement and exercise like you are a diabetic. And eat real food!

For more information, see my Good Things for Acne thread *Moderator edit - Please refer to the board rules (see “Advertising/soliciting”, “Linking” and “Signatures”)*

When you eat stuff, Stuff Happens!


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you might want to check out Chris Kresser's new podcast (released 5.6.13) regarding this topic. I don't know if it is allowed to post links so you better google yourself

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Have you heard of ZuzkaLight? She has a youtube channel and a blog where she posts workouts. Most of her workouts are short and use either body weight only or relatively light weights. I haven't tried any of her workouts yet, but they look like they might be short enough to not aggravate acne.

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Have you heard of ZuzkaLight? She has a youtube channel and a blog where she posts workouts. Most of her workouts are short and use either body weight only or relatively light weights. I haven't tried any of her workouts yet, but they look like they might be short enough to not aggravate acne.

You don't necessarily want light weights. You want brief but intense Exertion.Heavy weights achieve that.


Status: Clear after 30 years. Wow, I guess it's been 6 years, now.

[ Story: Severe Acne since I was 10. 10+ years of Dermatologists, Antibiotics, topicals and ACCUTANE did nothing. Discovered oranges triggered the worst of my cystic acne = about 70% improvement. Tried some nutrient supplements like B-complex with zinc and C, saw palmetto and a BHA like the aspirin mask = more improvement, a lot less oily. Then, Diet changes = Clear.

Regimen: Anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, blood sugar stabilizing diet and supplements (for hormones, inflammation, aging, health). No soap or other cleanser except for hand washing! Water only or Oil cleanse. Aloe Vera mixed with niacinimide and a high linoleic acid oil for moisturizer and reduce pigmentation.

Diet effects acne in so many ways: hormone balance, inflammation, Insulin levels, digestion, allergies and intolerances, liver function, adrenal function, SHBG levels, sebum quality, cell function and turnover, nutrient deficiencies, body fat, etc. Basic advice: Eat, sleep, supplement and exercise like you are a diabetic. And eat real food!

For more information, see my Good Things for Acne thread *Moderator edit - Please refer to the board rules (see “Advertising/soliciting”, “Linking” and “Signatures”)*

When you eat stuff, Stuff Happens!


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Have you heard of ZuzkaLight? She has a youtube channel and a blog where she posts workouts. Most of her workouts are short and use either body weight only or relatively light weights. I haven't tried any of her workouts yet, but they look like they might be short enough to not aggravate acne.

You don't necessarily want light weights. You want brief but intense Exertion.Heavy weights achieve that.

A typical workout with heavy weights would be 30-45 minutes with about 5 exercises with 2 sets and 10 reps each. Doing this 3x a week really upset my skin. I was getting inflamed acne, which I don't usually have, and my skin also became much more oily. Ideally I'd like to still be using heavy weights, but I'm not sure how to modify this without breaking out. One set with heavier weights instead of 2? Less reps?

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Yep it's normal and just about unavoidable. The very hormones that are released when you workout and that give you a strong and hard body also happen to be the ones that stimulate oil production on the skin. I've seen it for years with myself, fellow teammates, and just regular people in the gym.

More oil = More acne

The more effective your workout is, the more hormones you body will begin to produce; thus increasing the chance of acne in people with problematic skin.

All you can do is make sure your skin is cleaned within a reasonable time after your workout. Sweat and oil sitting on your skin for very long is not good.

Long-time fitness junkie and athlete here, If you want some workout advice PM me or post a question.

Personally, I'd rather look and feel strong/fit even if it means some acne every now and then.


People never cease to amaze me. Some with their brilliance, others with their ignorance. eusa_think.gif

Here's A Few Acne.org Threads Of Mine You May Find Useful/Interesting (updated 7/25/13)

-- DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

-- How to Ice Inflammed or Picked at Cysts

-- Milk of Magnesia Uses

Other Threads Worth Looking At

-- Oily Skin Research Thread: This shows some of our previous efforts and explains the mechanisms behind oily skin.

-- My failed but enlightening experiment going the "less is more" route, aka "The Caveman Routine"


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Have you heard of ZuzkaLight? She has a youtube channel and a blog where she posts workouts. Most of her workouts are short and use either body weight only or relatively light weights. I haven't tried any of her workouts yet, but they look like they might be short enough to not aggravate acne.

You don't necessarily want light weights. You want brief but intense Exertion.Heavy weights achieve that.

A typical workout with heavy weights would be 30-45 minutes with about 5 exercises with 2 sets and 10 reps each. Doing this 3x a week really upset my skin. I was getting inflamed acne, which I don't usually have, and my skin also became much more oily. Ideally I'd like to still be using heavy weights, but I'm not sure how to modify this without breaking out. One set with heavier weights instead of 2? Less reps?

Heavy weights will actually stimulate the greatest production of hormones unfortunately (Can provide academic sources if you want). What you can try to do is lower the weight but increase the number of reps per set; focusing on perfect form and good tempo with the lighter weights. This will slightly adjust how your muscles fatigue, and turns the exercise more towards endurance rather than strength training.

So pick a weight than you can perform 12-15 reps to fatigue for, then do 2 or 3 sets. This rep range will still give you a great cardiovascular workout as well as make you strong and toned. It might be worth a shot for a week or two to see if you like it.

I work with heavy weights in the 8-12 rep range because I want the greatest Testosterone spike, while it will give the best results it will also mess with your skin the most.

Honestly though, the difference will be pretty small. Testosterone and it's derivative DHT are double edged sword; just try to find balance with a workout that you like AND that you skin likes lol

And length guidelines for a workout are very person specific. It depends on your recovery ability, fitness goals, and lifestyle. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed 4 hours of strength training in any given week unless you are training for something, being directed by a trainer, or are an athlete and know what you're doing. I know people that workout 6 times a week for 40 min each; and some that workout 3 times a week for 1.5 hours each. Find what you feel the best doing; the duration of your workout will have little to no affect on your acne other than from how long sweat is on your skin.

(Those time guidelines don't include cardio, you can do that as often as you have the energy for)


People never cease to amaze me. Some with their brilliance, others with their ignorance. eusa_think.gif

Here's A Few Acne.org Threads Of Mine You May Find Useful/Interesting (updated 7/25/13)

-- DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

-- How to Ice Inflammed or Picked at Cysts

-- Milk of Magnesia Uses

Other Threads Worth Looking At

-- Oily Skin Research Thread: This shows some of our previous efforts and explains the mechanisms behind oily skin.

-- My failed but enlightening experiment going the "less is more" route, aka "The Caveman Routine"


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Have you heard of ZuzkaLight? She has a youtube channel and a blog where she posts workouts. Most of her workouts are short and use either body weight only or relatively light weights. I haven't tried any of her workouts yet, but they look like they might be short enough to not aggravate acne.

You don't necessarily want light weights. You want brief but intense Exertion.Heavy weights achieve that.

A typical workout with heavy weights would be 30-45 minutes with about 5 exercises with 2 sets and 10 reps each. Doing this 3x a week really upset my skin. I was getting inflamed acne, which I don't usually have, and my skin also became much more oily. Ideally I'd like to still be using heavy weights, but I'm not sure how to modify this without breaking out. One set with heavier weights instead of 2? Less reps?

Heavy weights will actually stimulate the greatest production of hormones unfortunately (Can provide academic sources if you want). What you can try to do is lower the weight but increase the number of reps per set; focusing on perfect form and good tempo with the lighter weights. This will slightly adjust how your muscles fatigue, and turns the exercise more towards endurance rather than strength training.

So pick a weight than you can perform 12-15 reps to fatigue for, then do 2 or 3 sets. This rep range will still give you a great cardiovascular workout as well as make you strong and toned. It might be worth a shot for a week or two to see if you like it.

I work with heavy weights in the 8-12 rep range because I want the greatest Testosterone spike, while it will give the best results it will also mess with your skin the most.

Honestly though, the difference will be pretty small. Testosterone and it's derivative DHT are double edged sword; just try to find balance with a workout that you like AND that you skin likes lol

And length guidelines for a workout are very person specific. It depends on your recovery ability, fitness goals, and lifestyle. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed 4 hours of strength training in any given week unless you are training for something, being directed by a trainer, or are an athlete and know what you're doing. I know people that workout 6 times a week for 40 min each; and some that workout 3 times a week for 1.5 hours each. Find what you feel the best doing; the duration of your workout will have little to no affect on your acne other than from how long sweat is on your skin.

(Those time guidelines don't include cardio, you can do that as often as you have the energy for)

Thanks for the reply; that was very informative. A few months ago I tried doing a full body routine 3x a week, and my skin went crazy. It got super oily for days after each workout, and I was also getting inflamed pimples which I don't usually get. Since then I've been doing pilates and light weights with lots of reps with no issues. I've wanted a change though, and I think I might try the 12-15 reps that you suggested.

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