Before we get started, let’s be clear that smoking a bowl and heading to the gym is a terrible idea if you don’t know your tolerance. A gym is loud and bright and full of people and the last place you want to be red-eyed, cotton-mouthed. That being said, there is some scientific evidence that touts the benefits of weed and working out (although, as yet, nothing 100% conclusive).
There are, however, active ingredients in cannabis that can calm the mind, stimulate endorphins and reduce muscle inflammation.
Does Cannabis Affect a Workout?
Smoking cannabis before exercising may give some the kick in the ass they need to get motivated, help them focus, and help in recovery.
This 2019 study looked at the relationship between cannabis consumption and exercise in American states where weed is legalized.
Six hundred cannabis smokers were studied, with 80% stating they consume cannabis before working out. Those who ingested cannabis less than an hour before workout claimed they worked out more, with an additional 40 minutes more a week added than those who didn’t mix cannabis with exercise.
80% of those surveyed claimed it aided in their muscle recovery, with 70% stating it has added to their level of enjoyment.
Another, newer study suggests cannabis users aren’t lazier than their peers in general and even exercise more.
Cannabis is an intoxicant, meaning consuming it before working out is almost certain to physically and mentally affect the workout.
Physical Effects of Weed and Working Out
- Reducing joint and muscle inflammation is a significant area of cannabis research. Multiple studies have proved CBD helps ease the pain of inflammation and slows its spread.
- Medically, cannabis is used to treat muscle spasms in patients who have Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. These benefits can extend to athletes suffering from cramps as well.
- There are newer studies that suggest THCV improves insulin sensitivity to help boost weight loss. Another reveals the incidence of obesity is lower in cannabis smokers than in those who abstain. While neither of these studies is concrete evidence that cannabis is good for weight loss, it’s not exactly bad news for those who enjoy smoking cannabis and exercising (particularly if you avoid the munchies).
Mental Effects of Weed and Working Out
- If you’re suffering from performance anxiety or lack of focus, then studies suggest CBD is an excellent way to alleviate that stress, creating a sense of calm. Most of those surveyed in this study claimed cannabis helped them “get in the zone”, keeping them focused on the task at hand (this is all, of course, strain-dependent – which we’ll get to further on).
- It’s no secret that weed can help you sleep, but studies have also revealed cannabis can help treat insomnia and soothe those suffering from PTSD and nightmares. After a big workout, the increase in cortisol, hormones and adrenaline can be alleviated with a post-workout smoke.
- Marijuana works on the same brain receptors as your body’s natural endocannabinoids. Meaning, you can give your “runners high” a head start by getting, well, high. It’s a natural mood-booster which may be precisely what you need to either get started on a workout or keep pushing even when you feel like calling it a day.
Risks of Weed and Working Out
If you’re new to weed, aren’t sure of the strain you’ve smoked, or aren’t sure of your tolerance – working out while stoned is not a great idea.
But even if you are a seasoned stoner, it’s not always advisable to combine exercise and cannabis.
- Cannabis, like any intoxicant, can impair your motor skills. High THC levels decrease our reaction time and balance, not a great mix when picking up weights!
- Healthy lungs are essential for fitness, so smoking cannabis can be hazardous for the lungs, particularly cannabis bought illegally and not measured for toxins, irritants, and carcinogenics. If you’re someone with limited lung capacity, you should avoid smoking weed anyway, never mind before the gym!
- Cannabinoids have a complex effect on the cardiovascular system, dialating your blood vessels and increasing your heart rate. While this isn’t so risky when you’re at rest, a spike in your heart rate from exercise combined with cannabis can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack.
- Many professional athletes are under the control of governing bodies, most of whom list THC under prohibited substances. This was in the news recently, as American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was handed a one-month suspension from the U.S Olympic team. She is now set to miss out on this years Olympics.
Choosing the Right Strain
As with any performative substance, cannabis brings with it both risk and reward. Knowing your tolerance, what you’re smoking, and the type of workout you’re doing are all contributing factors when it comes to deciding whether or not marijuana is something to introduce to your pre or post-workout routine.
Most people prefer to use a sativa dominant strain pre-workout with an indica dominant strain for post. You may find that some strains work better for different types of exercise. A strain that helps push through a high-intensity workout won’t be the same that gets you through a long run.
The Best Strain for Weightlifting
Jack Herer is infamous for its happy and euphoric effect. This will help with motivation, naturally energizing you while delivering a high that isn’t hazy or subdued. Jack Herer gives a great body high; it helps magnify your thinking which is ideal for a weight lifting workout.
However, weight-lifting needs serious concentration and the ability to react quickly. Stick to a smaller dose at first to understand your tolerance.
The Best Strain for Running
The Best Strain for Cardio
Green Crack produces a sharp mental buzz and will keep you going with a new burst of energy. Green Crack is a good daytime smoke, blessing the user with a sense of euphoria. It may be all the pre-gym motivation you need!
The Best Post Workout Strain
Seedsman’s Peyote Gorilla begins with a relaxing mental high. It soon spreads to the rest of your body, helping your muscles to relax. It’s an excellent strain to ease any aches and pains.
Click here to grown your own Peyote Gorilla.
Should you Smoke Weed Before Gym?
Drawing definitive conclusions on the matter is difficult. Truthfully, there isn’t enough research to 100% confirm whether cannabis consumption is truly performance boosting.
Like most things weed, it’s on you to decide whether or not introducing cannabis to your workouts is right.
If you’re considering a joint or a vape before the gym (an edible is probably not a great idea), then start slow. Take a small amount, and don’t mix with any other pre-workout. See how you get on. If you find the high overwhelming or can’t focus, either lower your dosage, try a different strain, or avoid it altogether.
However, if it helps you focus, gives you that extra push and makes your workout that much easier – then you’re on to something.
Whatever you do, make sure you drink enough water and stay hydrated.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any experience of weed and working out, and whether or not it worked for you.