Marijuana is hardly considered a performance-enhancing drug. Its most famous effects are lack of coordination and slow reaction times, both of which hinder athletes at every level in their training. Yet, many athletes don’t realize that weed can be a significant boon to your workouts — if it is administered properly.
Cannabis has rapidly become a health craze, and even fitness enthusiasts are finding ways to safely and effectively incorporate it into their everyday activity. Here is the best advice for using marijuana to enhance your exercise and boost your gains.
Use THC for Long, Repetitive Training
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the dominant psychoactive compound within cannabis. It affects the body and mind by binding to receptors within the endocannabinoid system, primarily located in the brain and digestive system. Though different people experience slightly different effects from THC, most commonly people feel incredibly euphoric, slightly dazed and moderately hungry. Higher doses of THC will result in more intense effects, which could transform into paranoia, loss of coordination, lower inhibitions and more.
Though THC isn’t ideal for workouts that require hand-eye coordination, agility or a particular form, THC can make more repetitive forms of training a bit more enjoyable. Some long-distance runners and cyclists swear by THC for improving their focus, reducing distractions and generally making the experience of training more fun. If you struggle to get through cardio days, you might want to try dosing with THC beforehand and paying attention to your attitude and results.
However, you should be careful with how much THC you put in your system before you plan to train. If you aren’t familiar with using marijuana, you might want to talk to a budtender at a Colorado marijuana dispensary about the best dosage for your body size and tolerance level. It is best to start with a micro-dose of THC, which might not make you feel a full-body high but could provide useful effects during your workout.
Use CBD in Rest and Recovery
Then, after your workout, when your muscles are sore and your body in need of rest and recovery, you should take some CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second-most-prevalent cannabinoid, or compound unique to cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, and it does not bind to receptors within the endocannabinoid system. Instead, CBD seems to influence the endocannabinoid system to produce more of its own compounds, called endocannabinoids. Different endocannabinoids have different purposes, and more research is needed to better understand exactly what effects CBD has. However, CBD does seem to be useful in managing mild and moderate pain and reducing inflammation — which is exceedingly beneficial during the muscle recovery process.
After a hard workout, your muscles are torn, and the body often sends blood to your muscles in an attempt to heal them rapidly. Unfortunately, this extra blood causes inflammation, which is uncomfortable and even painful. Reducing that blood flow slightly will improve your body’s ability to heal itself, getting you back to training much sooner.
Plus, there is some evidence that CBD is useful in reducing stress and anxiety, helping to improve relaxation. Because so many athletes (pro and amateur) enjoy the process of training, you might feel stressed during periods of rest. Taking CBD might help you feel less anxious about being out of the gym, enjoy your period of recovery and even get better sleep — all of which will drastically improve your next training session.
CBD doesn’t have psychoactive effects, and there doesn’t seem to be any negative side effects associated with the compound’s use. However, you should try to use CBD products in moderation, to ensure that your body manifests the right effects when you truly need them. There are all sorts of CBD products to try, including topicals that you apply directly to your sore areas. Again, you might want to get advice from a CBD expert, and you might also want to discuss using CBD with your doctor and personal trainer.
Not every athlete wants to introduce cannabis to their exercise routine — and that is every athlete’s prerogative. But, if you struggle with maintaining focus during endurance training sessions or you have particularly brutal muscle recoveries, you might consider either THC or CBD as a viable solution.