The recent cannabis renaissance has proven above and beyond just how extraordinary a plant can be. The long list of benefits just keeps growing and it’s starting to look like we can add “workout enhancement” to the list. Several athletes have expressed including it in their training, either pre or post-session. Research even shows that the brain processes a “runner’s high” that’s indistinguishable to a marijuana high. “Cannabis” and “healthy lifestyle” are no longer mutually exclusive. It’s high time we ditch the “lazy stoner” stereotype in favor of a new one — the Canna-Athlete. Working out just got a whole lot more rewarding.
Elevate Your Exercise
Exercise and cannabis are both associated with producing a euphoric “high,” but that’s not all they have it common. As it turns out, they both activate our body’s naturally-occurring endocannabinoid receptors, which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis and regulating mood, appetite and pain. It was previously believed that endorphins were responsible for achieving that “runner’s high” but a study published by PNAS concluded that it was the endocannabinoid system that played a key role. To our brains, toking up and hitting the treadmill look one in the same.
But before you ditch the gym altogether, perhaps you should consider using the two in tandem for an enhanced exercise experience. Workout classes that incorporate the use of marijuana have been gaining traction like Ganja Yoga or the upcoming grand opening of Power Plant Fitness, a gym in San Francisco that encourages the use of cannabis. Forbes recently reported on the 420 Games, a national tour of fitness events that advocates for responsible adult use as a part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Podcast host and comedian Joe Rogan talks frequently about toking up before training on the Joe Rogan Experience, which tops 11 million monthly downloads. TV show host Chelsea Handler even did a segment on her new Netflix series where she vapes with some concentrate before working out with a retired MMA fighter. Fringe fads come and go, but as cannabis becomes more integrated into our society, will pairing weed with your workout become the next #fitspo staple?
Catching More Gains with Ganja
Using cannabis in conjunction with your workout routine can even be performance-enhancing. From marathon runners to martial artists, a growing number of athletes have reported that using cannabis before or while working out can help streamline their focus. Repetitive and grueling training sessions can be made enjoyable when activated with THC. Muscle recovery and reducing inflammation post-workout can be expedited with CBD. Cannabis in general can relax nerves, helping you get out of your head and into your body. Whether you prefer to vape, eat, use topicals or take a cannabis-infused epsom salt bath, there are effective health-conscious options for everyone and they are frequently used by the athletic elite.
After decades of relentless pot-proganda that reinforced the “couch potato” cliché, several professional athletes have become trailblazers for the paradigm shift. Olympic snowboarder and marijuana advocate Ross Rebagliati almost had his gold medal taken away in 1998 when it was discovered there was THC in his system, but the decision was overturned because cannabis was not yet on the list of banned substances. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been a vocal advocate and card-carrying medical marijuana patient for years. Marijuana didn’t stop Randy Moss from becoming one of the NFL’s most celebrated wide receivers. UFC fighter Nate Diaz recently gave a post-fight press conference while taking hits off a CBD pen. When asked about it, he said it helps with the “healing processes and inflammation” and that “it will make your life a better place.” One by one, the multidisciplinary list pro-athletes are making those lazy stoner myths obsolete.
Curious about cannabis use amongst athletes, I spoke with Denny Prokopos, a black-belt Jiu Jitsu champion, gym owner, coach and certified Kundalini yoga teacher in San Francisco about how ganja benefits his enormously active lifestyle. He said that his decade-long personal experience showed him that cannabis “helps you get in the zone and go. It brings you to the now.” He also uses cannabis to manage the intense pain that can come along with extensive training, even noting that it “helps [him] train more and for longer” while also aiding in muscle recovery thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. When it comes to medicating before his workout, “It’s always sativa. Either Trainwreck, Candy Jack or Lamb’s Bread.” Sativa strains are notoriously stimulating, sometimes making users feel antsy or anxious, so it makes sense they would be the perfect workout supplement. With edibles, he “keeps it as low dose as possible” but stressed that it’s important to find what works for you.
Unfortunately, there’s not much conclusive research on the relationship between #beastmode and cannabis, thanks to the DEA monopoly on medical marijuana research. However, the anecdotal evidence is worth considering. It is important to be aware of our own physiology and stay safe while enjoying cannabis-enhanced physical activity. Be sure to take it slow and stay hydrated if you’re new to cannabis or just starting out with a new exercise regimen. But it may be what takes your fitness plateau to the next level.
We wanna know your thoughts — Do YOU medicate before or after hitting the gym?