Known clinically as striae, stretch marks are usually associated with pregnancy for women, when your belly expands faster than your skin can stretch. But women looking to compete in bodybuilding competitions, or who just want large muscles, can also get stretch marks at the gym if they bulk up in a hurry. If you are currently hitting the weights, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing those annoying purple lines on your skin.
Lift weights, but cut back on the poundage. When you lift really heavy weights, you run the risk of bulking up quickly, which can stretch your skin. Keep your weights to moderate levels and perform higher reps. Aim for the 12 to 15 range. Keep your rest periods to 60 seconds or less.
Eat enough food to fuel your workouts and promote muscle gain, but do not go overboard. Any type of fast weight gain can lead to stretch marks. Prevent this from happening by keeping your calories under control. Follow a healthy diet that is loaded with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Also drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Aim for at least 10 cups daily.
Perform cardiovascular exercise. This can lead to an efficient caloric expenditure and prevent you from bulking up too quickly. Do cardio three days a week for at least 30 minutes. Running, fast-paced walking, stair climbing and swimming are good cardio exercises.
Apply a skin moisturizer one or two times a day. This can keep your skin supple and soft, and further safeguard you from developing stretch marks. Use cocoa butter or some form of cream that's enriched with antioxidants and minerals.
Exfoliate your skin to stimulate circulation and remove old skin cells. Use a soft-bristled brush while you are in the shower and go in circular motions. Work your way from the areas farthest from your heart toward it. Target all of the areas where stretch marks from exercise commonly appear, such as the upper arms, shoulders and chest.
Items you will need
- ✓ Skin moisturizer
- ✓ Soft bristled body brush
- The best time to apply skin cream is after a shower when your pores are open.
- Avoid illegal and unhealthy practices with your workouts. Take the natural approach with your workouts by staying away from steroids. According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic steroid use can cause stretch marks.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.