With multitudes of us heading back into gyms and onto trails in pursuit of New Year’s Resolutions, many are left wondering how to make the changes stick. Evidence shows that less than 10% of people adhere to their resolutions throughout the year. So what gives? Well, many folks simply don’t enjoy physical activity. What if there was a way to make it more fun? Luckily, there is: cannabis. An increasing number of people are discovering the incredible potential of this miracle plant, and they’re using it to help achieve their (fitness) goals and dreams.
Awareness of the benefits of cannabis for fitness has been gradually increasing for years. Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was famously stripped of his gold medal from the 1998 Winter Olympics for having residual THC in his system. And the 420 Games, an annual event intended to showcase cannabis and its fitness potential, is now entering its third year. But how exactly does one go about supplementing their fitness routine with cannabis? With so little published research on the topic, individual users are left to experiment on themselves. “Cannabis is an atypical supplement in regards to fitness, to say the least," says Andrew Barton, a cannabis and fitness enthusiast at Fairwinds Manufacturing. "A quick Google search on the topic is bound to come up with stern warnings, glowing experience reports, and very little data to back any of these claims.”
I have been using myself as a test subject for several years, and I will happily share what I have gleaned.
Cannabis For Exercise
Whenever I’m about to head to the gym or out for a run, I reach for something heavy in THC. This is the most well-known compound produced by the cannabis plant, and is responsible for the euphoric “high” which has made cannabis so famous. Through extensive self-experimentation, I have found that THC can help me get in the “zone”, the sought-after mental state in which movement feels joyous and pain cannot touch you.
For lifting weights, I get great effects from “dabbing”, or vaporizing concentrated cannabis oils. I’ll select a sativa-dominant strain to provide a boost to energy and focus, and take my dab just before heading out to the gym. By the time I walk through the doors, I have a smile on my face (except on leg day) and I’m ready to work. The effects of vaporized or smoked cannabis are shorter-lived than edibles, and tend to be just about right for a weight session of 30 to 60 minutes. One thing to be careful about here is not to overdo it. Excessive THC in the system can cause you to be more distracted, rather than focused.
Never skip leg day.
For running, I prefer edible cannabis products. Eaten about 30 minutes before I head out, they begin to take effect just as I start running. Edibles provide a more intense and body-focused experience, ideal for longer and more monotonous activities. I have found that the effects of edible cannabis blend almost seamlessly with the “runner’s high”: when I’m deep into my run, I can’t tell the difference between the two. They seem to accentuate one another, resulting in a profoundly euphoric and enjoyable experience… A far cry from the drudgery that so many associate with running.
A note from Andrew: “A little THC transforms any workout, whether lifting, running, or training for a sport. I find that THC also makes me more in tune with my body. It improves focus on muscle contraction, eliminates perception of fatigue, and reduces the ‘burn’ associated with lifting weights."
Cannabis for Recovery
Well known for its body-focused and pain relieving effects, CBD products have been used by many athletes to alleviate post-workout soreness and otherwise hasten recovery. Popular options here include high-CBD edibles, flowers, and extracts, which work by entering the bloodstream and delivering their CBD goodness all throughout the body.
However, many folks prefer a more targeted approach, and in this case topical products are the way to go. Without entering the bloodstream, topical cannabis products do not have head effects and will work only where applied. There is even a cannabis suppository product from the Fairwinds company, which (in my experience) provides fantastic relief and recovery from soreness, with minimal pyschoactivity.
A note from Andrew: “While THC is a great workout supplement, CBD may be even better for muscle recovery. In my own experience, I’ve found CBD to be by far the most effective treatment for DOMS (muscle soreness). Better than anything over the counter, or not. I have also noticed that recovery time is significantly reduced.”
The idea of using cannabis for exercise is still novel for many. It will take a long time to overcome the stereotype of the lazy, unmotivated “stoner." As legalization spreads across the nation and world, we have an opportunity to be living examples of the benefits of cannabis and the ways it can be used in a healthy lifestyle. And with the availability of legal pot here in Washington State, I hope you will consider a bit of self-experimentation with your own fitness routine. What do you have to lose?
Article by Bryce Eadie; a marathoner and former personal trainer who serves as an Assistant Manager & Medical Marijuana Consultant at Herbn Elements.