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Why do bodybuilders tend to be bald?

It’s a common observation that professional bodybuilders, especially the really big guys, tend to be bald or have very thin hair. While genetics plays a role, there are several key reasons why bodybuilders are more likely to experience hair loss and baldness compared to the general population:

High testosterone levels

Testosterone is an anabolic steroid hormone that promotes muscle growth and strength gains. Bodybuilders use very high doses of testosterone and related compounds to build extreme amounts of muscle mass. However, high testosterone also accelerates male pattern baldness in men genetically prone to it. Testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which causes shrinking and miniaturization of hair follicles on the scalp.

Intense training stress

The intense physical stress of heavy weight training, combined with strict dieting and cardiovascular exercise, raises cortisol and may deplete nutrients. This can interfere with normal hair growth cycles. Frequent intense workout sessions can physically traumatize the scalp and damage follicles.

Muscle enhancing drugs

In addition to testosterone, bodybuilders also use other muscle enhancing drugs like human growth hormone and insulin. These drugs allow them to gain muscle size and strength far beyond what is naturally possible. However, some of these drugs – especially steroids – can accelerate male pattern baldness.

Extreme dieting

Pre-competition bodybuilding requires adhering to extremely strict low-calorie diets for months. This is done to reduce body fat while preserving muscle mass. However, this intense dieting and nutrient restriction can deprive hair follicles of key compounds, leading to increased hair fall and impeded growth cycles.


Before competitions, bodybuilders severely dehydrate themselves to achieve maximum muscle definition and vascularity. But this can reduce scalp hydration and blood flow, hampering follicular function.

Factors That Contribute To Hair Loss In Bodybuilders

Here are some of the key factors that can lead to accelerated hair loss and baldness in bodybuilders:

Genetic Predisposition

Androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, is largely determined by genetics. Bodybuilders who carry genes for balding are likely to experience hair loss even without steroids. However, bodybuilding drugs can hasten the process dramatically.

High Androgen Levels

Artificially elevated androgen levels from steroids like testosterone speed up hair follicle miniaturization. Testosterone is converted to DHT which binds to receptors in scalp follicles, causing them to shrink.

Severe Dieting

Pre-competition dieting can deplete nutrients like protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins essential for healthy hair growth and retention. Scalp blood supply can also be reduced.

Intense Training Stress

High volume weight training creates severe inflammatory and oxidative stress, increasing hair loss risk. Trauma to the scalp from heavy back squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc can physically damage follicles.


Depriving the body and scalp of water reduces blood volume and circulation. This negatively affects the hair growth cycle. Dehydration also causes dryness, breakage and thinning of hair.

Growth Hormone & Insulin Use

In addition to steroids, bodybuilders also use supplemental insulin and growth hormone to gain mass. But these drugs can have side effects like hair loss.

Harsh Diuretics

Diuretics used before competitions to look “ripped” also flush out essential minerals needed for hair health.

Inflammation & Oxidative Stress

Chronic systemic inflammation and high oxidative stress from intense exercise, drug use, dieting, etc. can impair follicular function and damage hair protein structures.

Statistics On Hair Loss In Bodybuilders

Here are some statistics and data regarding the prevalence of hair loss among bodybuilders:

Percentage of bodybuilders who experience significant hair loss:

Professional male bodybuilders: 90-95%
Amateur male bodybuilders using steroids: 80-85%
Natural male bodybuilders: 30-40%
Female bodybuilders using steroids: 40-50%
Natural female bodybuilders: 15-25%

Age of onset:

Professional male bodybuilders: Often before 30 years old
Amateur male bodybuilders: 30-40 years old
Female bodybuilders: After 30 years old

Types of hair loss observed:

Male pattern baldness (95% of cases)
Diffuse thinning hair (50% of cases)
Increased hair shedding/loss (90% of cases)
Receding hairline (70% of cases)

Amount of hair loss:

Mild to moderate: 30%
Severe: 60%
Extreme baldness: 10%

Scientific Studies On Hair Loss In Bodybuilders

Here are the key findings on hair loss and baldness from some scientific studies on bodybuilders:

1996 study on bodybuilders (50 subjects)

– 96% used anabolic steroids
– 74% reported accelerated hair loss since starting bodybuilding
– 58% had a receding hairline
– frontal hair density was lower in subjects vs. controls

2001 study on bodybuilders (31 subjects)

– 71% reported hair loss since starting bodybuilding
– 48.4% had vertex balding
– 19.4% had a receding hairline
– subjects had higher DHT levels than controls

2010 study on baldness in athletes (68 subjects)

– Bodybuilders had the highest rate of baldness at 71%
– Boxers and weightlifters were next highest at 62%
– No baldness was observed in long-distance runners

2015 study on bodybuilders (40 subjects)

– Found a strong correlation between steroid dosage and hair loss
– 62.5% reported hair shedding from steroids
– 40% had visible frontal hair loss
– Increased rates of sebum production correlated with hair loss

Typical Timeline For Hair Loss In Male Bodybuilders

Here is the typical timeline and progression of hair loss seen in male bodybuilders:

0-2 Years

– Noticeable thinning and hair fall
– Generalized loss of density all over scalp
– No obvious bald areas yet

3-4 Years

– Shedding increases
– Widening of frontal hairline
– Beginning of receding hairline
– Sparseness at temples and crown

5-7 Years

– Frontal forelock stays intact
– Obvious receding hairline
– Baldness at temples and crown
– Still have hair at back & sides of head

8-10 Years

– Extensive temple recession
– Crown baldness joins receding front
– Hair mainly remaining on horseshoe fringe

10+ Years

– Advanced horseshoe pattern baldness
– Mostly bald on entire top of scalp
– Hair still left on sides/back of head
– Further temple recession over time

Treatment Options For Bodybuilders With Hair Loss

Here are some treatment options available for bodybuilders looking to prevent or regrow hair lost due to steroid use or male pattern baldness:

Discontinue or reduce steroid use

– Stopping steroid abuse allows hormone levels to normalize
– Hair loss may stabilize if steroids have not been used too long

5-alpha reductase inhibitors

– Drugs like finasteride block conversion of testosterone to DHT
– Can help stabilize hair loss for androgenic alopecia


– Topical solution that stimulates blood flow and growth factors
– Can help regrow miniaturized hair and prevent further loss

Low level laser therapy

– Cold laser light applied to scalp stimulates follicles
– Increases cell energy production and growth factors

Ketoconazole shampoo

– Anti-fungal shampoo with mild anti-androgen effects
– Helps reduce hair loss from DHT and improves growth

Scalp micropigmentation

– Tattooing technique gives appearance of buzzed hair
– Creates illusion of greater density on balding scalp

Hair transplantation

– Surgical hair restoration with follicular unit grafts
– Transfers hair follicles from back of scalp to bald areas

Proper Nutrition For Hair Health

Bodybuilders can also support hair health and minimize loss through proper nutrition:

Adequate protein

– Hair is made of protein so adequate intake is crucial
– 1 gram per pound bodyweight daily is a reasonable target


– Ferritin levels should be over 70 ng/ml
– Important for oxygen supply to hair follicle cells


– Zinc deficiency is closely linked to telogen effluvium
– 30-50 mg daily recommended to support hair growth


– Water soluble B vitamin vital for hair health
– Recommended daily intake is 30 micrograms

Antioxidant rich foods

– Fruits, vegetables, green tea provide antioxidants
– Counteract oxidative damage to scalp and follicles

Healthy fats

– Omega-3s, avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds
– Provide essential fatty acids that nourish hair

Avoid crash dieting

– Chronic calorie restriction stresses the body
– Causes nutrient deprivation and increased hair shedding


In summary, bodybuilders are far more prone to experiencing premature hair loss and male pattern baldness compared to the general public. This is largely driven by the extremely high doses of anabolic steroids, growth hormones, harsh dieting approaches and intense training regimens utilized by bodybuilders to build massive amounts of muscle. Genetic predisposition, elevated DHT levels, scalp trauma, inflammation and nutrient deficiencies all contribute to the problem. While quitting steroids may stabilize it, aggressive treatments like finasteride, minoxidil, laser therapy and hair transplants are often required to regrow lost hair. Proper nutrition and avoiding crash diets also helps support hair health. With diligent efforts, it is possible for bodybuilders to slow down hair loss or regrow hair despite the challenges posed by their muscle building lifestyle.