Posted on March 15 2019
Cannabis hasn’t exactly always been known for its energy boosting effects, so it’s probably a little appalling to hear that people are actually incorporating cannabis into their workout routine. In fact, people are utilizing cannabis both before and after their workout. Many claim that cannabis helps them get more out of each session, while others dote on bud’s ability to help them recuperate after a heavy workout.
Cannabis-friendly gyms allow people to experiment with cannabis and add it into their workout routine as they see fit, which has made one thing apparent: using cannabis for working out is a unique experience for every person. The effects and benefits you reap from using cannabis depend greatly on the kind of cannabis you use, when you use it, and how your biology reacts with cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Terpenes have a lot to do with it. Since strains high in the terpenes myrcene and linalool are linked to relaxation and improved sleep, they may not be the best choice for smoking before gym time. Instead, you might choose a strain that is high in THC-V, which some people have linked to energy boosting effects. A strain like Durban Poison may have higher levels than most strains, around 1.5 %.
Still, there are ups and down to using cannabis alongside your workout routine. Going to the gym high works well for some people, while others prefer smoking after a workout to relax and recover. Taking a look at the possible pros and cons will help you design a cannabis-infused workout routine that works for you.
The Good Side: Going to the Gym High and Using Cannabis for Recovery
There are communities filled with athletes who swear by using cannabis to enhance their workout sessions. The reasoning behind this is generally along the lines of using cannabis to increase focus and boost stamina. One reason that many people may benefit from going to the gym high is because of cannabis’ ability to ease pain and inflammation. Reducing these effects throughout the workout may give athletes the stamina needed to push out a few more reps or push themselves overall. Cannabis’ impact on anxiety may offer a benefit to athletes, especially those who suffer from competition related stress. For those who generally suffer from anxiety, cannabis might be able to help clear some mental fog to increase mental focus during a workout.
Still, some people don’t care for the strong effects cannabis has on their cognition before heading into the gym. Many people just utilize cannabis after a workout instead. Some cannabinoids, like Cannabidiol, have been shown to help reduce cortisol. Since cortisol is produced by your muscles during a workout, cannabis might be a good option for lowering cortisol levels after each session. Research shows that THC can help reduce inflammation and pain, and many of these studies involve moderate to chronic levels of pain. Many athletes say cannabis is just what they need to soothe sore muscles after a heavy session. This relief may extend well into the night and help you sleep better, too, leading to more energy and a more productive workout the next day. Certain pharmaceuticals based on THC have even been used to treat chronic sleep disorders.
The Bad Side: Harms of Smoking Before the Gym and the Munchies
Smoking before going to the gym may pose benefits for some people, but there's still always some level of harm to your lungs when you smoke anything. Plus, as many people have noted, the effects on cognition may actually make it harder for some people to focus or mentally prepare for a workout. For some people, THC induces anxiety, especially in high doses. It's possible that small doses of cannabis before a workout may be more beneficial than large doses, which may affect cognition too heavily to drive or operate gym equipment safely.
That being said, experienced cannabis users should have an idea of their limits. That makes it easier to avoid adverse effects while you slowly incorporate cannabis into your workout routine. For inexperienced users, it may be better to try cannabis a few times at home before heading off to the gym.
Many of these possible adverse experiences don't apply to smoking after workouts, especially if you are just planning to relax and give your muscles a break. However, it's well known that THC can induce a vigorous appetite, usually called “the munchies”, which might not mix well if you're also following a restricted diet.
CBD May Have the Most Benefit for Athletes
Still, another option exists that allows athletes and casual gym-goers an opportunity to reap the benefits of cannabis while avoiding many of the adverse effects. CBD for athletes is increasingly popular. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects. Many people find that CBD does not impair their cognition in any way that would make it difficult to get in an effective workout.
The supplements might carry all of the other benefits of whole plant cannabis, though. Studies have shown that CBD also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Other research identifies cannabidiol as an effective pain-relieving supplement. These effects may make it beneficial to use CBD before a workout (for increased endurance) and afterward (for increased muscle recovery). If you have never used cannabis before and are wary of the effects of THC, Cannabidiol may be a great place to start. Because CBD for athletes is so popular, there are a variety of products that make it easy to incorporate Cannabidiol into your existing routine. These products, like capsules, edibles, or topical muscle rubs, are easy to use as needed and carry with you every time you hit the gym.
Tips for Adding Cannabis to Your Workout Routine
If you've decided to try adding cannabis to your workout routine, there are a few steps you can take to help you find a dosing plan that fits your needs.
- For new users, you should try cannabis before committing to the entire gym experience. New users may also benefit from using Cannabidiol first before deciding if whole plant cannabis is better.
- If you're going to smoke cannabis before a workout, start small. A few hits should be a good place to start. If you find that the effects wear off to quickly but don't have any negative cognitive impacts, you can slightly increase the dose next time. Remember not to ever drive while intoxicated.
- When using cannabis after a workout, it is best to consume it within 10-30 minutes after the session is complete. This gives the cannabis time to start working before the full onset of muscular inflammation and pain sets in.
- Always drink plenty of water while using cannabis for workouts. Drinking water is essential to great health during any physical activity.
- If you are on a daily medication or suffer from serious health conditions, talk to your doctor about how cannabis may affect you. Cannabis doesn't have many known drug interactions, but smoking does have an impact on your blood pressure and other bodily functions. Your doctor will be able to help you decide what's best for you.