We know. This sounds a little far fetched. Just hear us out.

Turns out, marijuana as a part of the exercise routine is actually increasingly popular — even among professional athletes. These exercise gurus claim that weed can be a highly effective tool to get more out of your workout. Those people dominating your spin class, leaving you in the dust during a race, or bench-pressing 200lbs, might have toked up before hitting their routine. You might be surrounded by weed-loving gym-rats all the time, and never even have a clue.

“I’d know if people in my gym were high,” you argue. Well, actually, you wouldn’t. People who use ganja for gains don’t actually get stoned. They typically practice microdosing with CBD heavy strains as part of the preworkout buildup. It’s not enough to get high (which, you’re right, would be counter-productive) but it’s enough to get the benefits.

It’s important to note, research is only just starting to delve into this topic, but those studies that have been completed and years of anecdotal evidence, suggest that marijuana might have a lot of potential for improving athletic performance.

Here are the most commonly reported benefits of using marijuana to boost your gains.

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1. Helps You Get ‘In the Zone’

The flow state, the zone — whatever you call it, you know what we’re talking about. This is the state in which your brain almost goes on autopilot, as your movements become fluid and natural. You typically experience a deep calm and focus.

Weed can help you access this zone more readily. You can focus more on your reps and breathing, and less on what’s happening around you. Choose a strain that’s calming and helps with focus. You’ll be in the zone before you know it.

Our Recommendation: Choose a calming, high focus strain like Harlequin, Jack Herer, or Super Lemon Haze.

2. Quells Pre-Workout Angst

Some of us experience pre-workout anxiety. It’s the worry about how we look in our workout clothes. The anxiety when you are at the gym: “Is anyone watching me? I must look like such an idiot…I have no idea what I’m doing!”

A small hit of weed before a workout can help quell pre-workout jitters and keep you chill and relaxed. This is important not only because it helps your overall experience be better (and you’re then more willing to go back the next day), but it also keeps your muscles relaxed. Lots of tension in the body during a workout makes it easier to injure yourself.

Our Recommendation: Choose an anxiety-easing strain like Blue Dream, Strawberry Cough, or Sour Diesel.

3. Alleviates Exercise-Related Pain

It’s hard to stay consistent with an exercise regime when you’re in pain. A few tokes of the herb before and after can help you avoid that pain and relieve inflammation. Cannabis is an analgesic, which means it relieves pain. Even Olympic athletes know this — Ross Rebagliati uses cannabis after his workouts to manage sore muscles.

Managed pain means you can push harder through a workout — but keep in mind, we’re talking about the normal discomfort of a tough workout. Do not continue pushing through an injury or if something is legitimately hurting.

Our Recommendation: Choose a high CBD strain like Harlequin, ACDC, or Canna-Tsu.

4. May Speed Up Recovery Time

The cannabinoid CBD is the non-psychoactive chemical in the plant. Studies are indicating that it may speed up healing time and recovery. A quick recovery is essential for gains. The faster your muscles repair from a workout, the better your recovery and the more consistently you’ll be able to workout. If your muscles are on fire from lactic acid buildup and your body is inflamed, it will take longer to build muscle. CBD may be able to speed up that recovery time. Test it out for yourself and tell us what you think.

Our Recommendation: Choose a high CBD strain like Ringo’s Gift, Sour Tsunami, or Sweet and Sour Widow.

5. Boosts Mood and the ‘High’

A small amount of weed before a workout can give you a mood and energy boost that only grows during the workout itself. If you go into a workout feeling cheerful and energized, you’ll find you can push yourself further and are more likely to keep coming back for more.

And of course — there’s the high. We’re not talking about a weed high, we’re talking about the runner’s high. During a runner’s high, your body releases hormones and cannabinoids during and after a workout that cause you to feel a little ‘high’ or euphoric. (It’s not all that different from an actual high, really.)

Regular consumption of weed can intensify this natural high. The human body stores THC in your fat cells. As you exercise, fat is burned — and releases tiny amounts of stored THC into your bloodstream. These small doses of THC boost the euphoria athletes experience after a great workout, encouraging you to go further and longer, but also already setting a positive expectation for your next workout. Your brain will begin to expect a ‘reward’ for a workout and you’ll find you’re back more often and are more excited to be there.

And suddenly, the phrase ‘runner’s high’ has a whole new meaning!

Our Recommendation: Choose a sativa strain like Sour Diesel, Durban Poison, or Tangie.

6. Helps Regulate Insulin

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine showed that cannabis users had 17% lower insulin resistance levels and lower average waist circumferences. In case you need a refresher, insulin is the hormone that tells your cells to take in sugar (glucose) to burn for energy. If your body isn’t handling insulin correctly, or you have too much unused glucose in your cells, you pack on pounds. The cannabinoids in cannabis help keep your metabolism and insulin levels steady.

7. Better Sleep

A few puffs of a heavy indica will send you to sleep in no time. It can be hard to wind down after a hard workout. Getting into a relaxed state so you can ease into sleep is important for a good, deep sleep. Sleep is when our bodies can get some serious healing done, so the more sleep you get, the better. You’ll have less aches and pains and way more energy.

Our Recommendation: LA Confidential, God’s Gift, or Bubblegum Kush.

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Who Shouldn’t Try This

  • Anyone under age 21. Legal reasons, but also, your brain is still growing. Let it do its thing.
  • People with heart issues. Weed is a muscle relaxant, which can affect the smooth muscle of the blood vessels. This means lowered blood pressure, which means the heart has to pump a little faster and harder. For your average Joe, this isn’t a problem. For anyone with a heart condition, this is a risk.
  • Anyone engaging in high-risk or fast-paced sports. We do NOT recommend mixing weed with fast-paced or risky sports. If you’re putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, you shouldn’t be adding to the risk with possible cognitive impairment.
  • You’re a pro. If you’re a professional athlete who’ll be tested for THC, this is not worth losing your career.
  • You’re new to weed. It’s best not to try experimenting until you’re familiar with all the strains that suit you best. Weed affects us all differently. Make sure you know exactly how your body handles it, especially if you’re new or haven’t responded well to weed in the past.

The Research (or Lack Thereof)

Before we go further, we should let you know that the science supporting a lot of the medicinal claims of cannabis are extrapolated from animal studies. However, many of the human studies that do exist, support the conclusions of those other studies.

To be clear, to this point, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t found that ‘marijuana is safe or effective for treating any health problems’. Therefore, any claims on the medicinal uses of marijuana aren’t substantiated or supported by the FDA.

Tips for Success

  1. Microdose. The amount you’ll take is going to be much lower than normal. Remember, the point is not to get stoned. Take small doses and increase as you feel comfortable. Stop experimenting if you feel your heart rate is getting too high during the workout or if you’re feeling anxious.
  2. Use high or 1:1 CBD/THC strains. Most of the benefits will come from the CBD. Choose a strain with higher CBD or a 1:1 ratio. THC impairs motor performance and your ability to think quickly — both things that are needed when exercising.
  3. Avoid smoking. As an athlete, the last thing you want is damage to your lungs. Inhaling smoke, whether cigarette or joint, can cause irritation to the bronchial passages the lungs. The last thing you need before a workout is a coughing fit that leaves your eyes watering and your lungs burning.
  4. Go for the vape. Herbal vaporizers heat up the oil to evaporate the cannabinoids. A vape gives a much smoother hit without the risks associated with smoking. Vaping also hits you more quickly. For those of us with busy schedules or who immediately hit the gym on our way home from work, this is hugely helpful.
  5. Try sublingual tinctures. Edible dosing can be tricky because it can take a long time to take effect, depending on what you’ve eaten, the dose, and even the strain. Instead, we’d suggest trying sublingual tinctures. Place a few drops under your tongue and wait. You usually feel the effects within 10-30 minutes if you hold it in your mouth. Even so, it can still be challenging to get the dose right for a workout (for recreational uses, you don’t need to be so precise). If you’re set on edibles, you can also try edible protein bars or microdosing with mints.
  6. Don’t try this with illegal weed. Well, obviously, right? But there’s more than just the legality issue. If you live in a state or province where weed is illegal, most of the marijuana you can get your hands on contains high levels of THC and very little (or no) CBD. THC alone and especially in high levels, really isn’t going to help you. In fact, it’s well known that THC impairs motor performance and cognitive function. Only try this with high CBD strains or strains you are familiar with.

Want to Get Started?

First, go to your favorite budtender to ask their advice. It’s best if they also workout with weed, as they’ll have an insider’s knowledge on what works best for them. If you’re experimenting on your own, just remember that weed is like any other tea, herb, or supplement. Its utility depends on your unique physiological makeup.

Our personalities play a part too. Some cortisol-junkies can find the calm weed gives antithetical to their idea of a good workout. Play around with it and find what works (or doesn’t work) for you.

And, as always, the team here at Diego Pellicer is here to help you out. Stop by our Seattle weed store for insider tips and input.

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Diego Pellicer
2215 4th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
206-624-0070