Does Alcohol Damage Muscles?

Dear Davey,

I was about to start working out when my friend mike was complaining to me about how we wanted to lose weight. So I invited him to join me. He declined by saying, “I’m drinking at the moment and you shouldn’t work out when you drink because it dose more damage to your muscles.”” Is this true? Dose drinking actually do muscle damage when working out?


Hey Sam,

Alcohol, depending on how much you drink, can have a fairly dramatic impact on your body’s muscles.

For one, alcohol hinders the process of protein synthesis (i.e., the production of muscle proteins needed to grow your muscles). By preventing muscle growth, you’re not going to make gains at the gym.

Second, according to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, binge drinking can cause “acute mypopathy.” Myopathy is myopathy is a muscular disease in which the muscle fibers do not function for any one of many reasons, resulting in muscular weakness. In other words, binge drinking can greatly hinder your performance at the gym by preventing your muscles from working properly.

I suspect that your friend is referencing myopathy in his refusal to work out. However, it’s the alcohol - and not the physical activity - that is the problem. It’s an important distinction.

The University of California San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics Department put together a comprehensive bulletin about alcohol and its effects on performance. Some of these include increased fat storage, delayed reaction time, decreased testosterone and many more.

The bottom line: If you make the decision to drink, it’s important to to do so in moderation; alcohol abuse and misuse can certainly sabotage your gym results.

Hope that helps! And when alcohol abuse is starting to take its toll on the body of a friend or a loved one, perhaps it’s time to get a professional alcohol intervention specialist to help out.


About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Actually, I found your answer unhelpful. The idea that you will “damage your muscles” by working out is just silly. I assume Sam’s friend is not guzzling while lifting. You could certainly hurt yourself lifting while intoxicated. But if I understand correctly Sam’s friend drinks at other times of the day. Now depending on how much this may or may not be a problem. But it has nothing to do with working out. Working out can only help, not hurt.

    • yes of course!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!running is a very high-intenistyy aeroibc exercise whichc means it burns much calories in short period of time. 30 min of RUNNING is pure fat-burning. and you wil see results in a matter of weeks.make sure to control your portions and eat healthy and well also.good luck

  2. I had a different take than BOTH of you. It says ” “I’m drinking at the moment and ” the important part being AT THE MOMENT. So yeah A: you shouldn’t work out during or directly after consumption of alcohol. And B: I would assume the question referred to whether or not being intoxicated WHILE lifting would be detrimental to your muscles.

    So the article doesn’t answer the question, but neither does the poster Charley at the bottom either.

  3. The article clearly states:

    “…according to the Institute ofAlcohol Studies, binge drinking can cause “acute mypopathy.”

    myopathy is a muscular disease in which the muscle fibers do not function for any one of many reasons, resulting in muscular weakness…”

    Perosnally I think that answers the question.

  4. “binge drinking can cause “acute mypopathy.” ”
    Where is binge drinking mentioned in the original question?

    From what I’ve been reading the dehydration from drinking, as well as the loss of electrolytes from the diuretics in the alcohol causing you to urinate more often, can cause muscle cramps and makes strains sprain and muscle tears occur more frequently.

    Actually here:
    “Another issue to be taken into consideration, is that whilst under the influence of alcohol, ones muscles are a lot more relaxed,pain threshold is higher and muscles are more likely to cramp.
    Thus it is far more likely that one will over stretch ones muscles leading to all sorts of pains and strains.

    Alcohol also increases heat loss, dilating the blood vessels and diverting blood to the skin, making it more likely for muscles to cool too much, thereby becoming weaker and slower.
    Alcohol also tends to induce over heating.
    It also inhibits ADH (anti diuretic hormone) which regulates the body`s fluid distribution.
    The combination of these can lead to hypothermia in cold climates and further increase dehydration in hot climates.

    It can also reduce the aerobic capacity of the muscles, resulting in more anaerobic muscle respiration, which becomes more painful and ultimately damaging.

    Lactic acid production can be increased and so by increasing the likelyhood of exercise fatigue. Alcohol inhibits the body from producing the vital blood sugars that help prevent this.

    One would be placing an increased strain on the heart, it has to keep up with more excerted effort with dilated vessels, a less efficient fluid/electrolyte distribution system whilst running at higher temperatures with less “good” energy reserves.

    All in all not really a good idea, especially for serious athletes/sports players.

    Read more:

    It’s not fact checked or anything, but that seems more like a on-topic answer than assuming the poor kid is a binge drinker.

  5. + I have seen on german TV channel a test, where two girls wanted to lose weight, so they rather had few drinks than eating properly… and than they were told that they just drunk the calories of an proper meal.

    Alcohol is a calory bomb, I quess.

  6. Damn that boy is f’ing hot….even w/ the g-string. SLUUUURP!

    Anyways, alchy bad! I’m training for the tough mudder course and am staying far far away from alcohol. Even going for a dry New Years. That’ll be a challenge…

  7. christopher says:

    drinking before a workout-not a good idea-afterwards having one shouldnt be that much of a problem-but in moderation.not having any at all would be best.binge drinking-no no.if you workout you really dont need a drink-those endorphins kick in-why do the downer-when your so up?drinking before a workout would impair your reaction time and reflex.again having say a glass of wine would be ok now and it.

  8. A lot of people have already talked about the difference between “drinking in general” vs. “drinking while working out”, and regular drinking vs. “binge drinking”. These are good distinctions to make.

    But I’d like to point out another negative effect of drinking IN GENERAL if you have serious fitness goals. The problem isn’t just the effect of alcohol on muscles, and it isn’t just the time you spend drunk.

    Alcohol has longer-lasting effects than just the time that it is in your system. For an indeterminate amount of time after you’ve had alcohol, your system is slowed, your body is slower to recover from general activity, and you are unmotivated. If you go out drinking, you are less likely to eat well or on a good regular schedule the next day, you are likely to be sluggish and less active overall, and the after effects can even mean you’re getting non-optimal workouts for days afterwards (depending on how drunk you were).

    So I’d say that if you have SERIOUS fitness goals, you have to think about more than just the time spent drunk and the number of calories in a beer. You have to think about the fact that it’s disrupting your energy, routine, and diet for days afterwards.

  9. not to mention that drunk weight lifting can cause severe trauma when the gym starts spinning and you drop the weights on your head..


  10. It seems to happen with alcohol in general for me. I had a daqurie the other night and same thing, shoulder pain.

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