Is marijuana a performance enhancing drug?
More and more athletes are starting to swear by using topical cannabis creams, edibles, and even smoking weed before, during, and after workouts. However, if you smoke weed before exercising, will you increase my endurance? Will you be able to run that extra mile? Put up those extra reps? Play an extra quarter?
Cannabis and its main components CBD and THC offer an array of effects and stimulation for the mind and body. Whether those effects are going to make you a tougher, more endurance-worthy athlete, however, depends on how you approach your exercise and what you want out of it.
Cannabis: A Natural Workout Supplement
For endurance athletes like triathletes and marathon or other distance runners, exercising presents unique challenges. Focus, stamina, and swelling all affect how long an athlete can go hard during their training.
For these athletes, and just recreational folks looking to improve their exercise endurance, cannabis can be much more than an alternative to beer or a social fun-enhancer. In fact, cannabis can be something else entirely when it comes to fitness. One way of seeing things is to look at cannabis as a genetically engineered workout supplement.
It focuses concentration during exercise and can alleviate anxiety during competition or performance. It’s a fast acting anti-inflammatory and pain reliever that helps numb and relax post-workout muscle soreness. And it does that without the potentially harmful side-effects of other painkillers and steroids.
All Brawn and No Brains?
Athletes know that peak performance comes from mind-body harmony. But if cannabis is known to have positive effects treating pain and muscle soreness, it’s also known to influence cognition.
Although the consensus on this varies, it can definitely happen. Ingesting cannabis can disrupt hand-eye coordination and decrease reaction time.
Furthermore, these effects can last up to a day and a half, sometimes longer. Cannabis can modify decision-making and attention. But most users are after exactly those pleasurable psychoactive effects that THC provides.
What about workout endurance, though? Chancers are when you’re running laps on a track or working out in the weight room, cat-like reflexes and reaction time aren’t your top priorities.
Chances are, you probably just want to enjoy yourself a little more when you’re in the middle of grueling, long, and boring workout session.
If cannabis helps give you more motivation to workout, then yes, it increases your endurance. If what you’re after is an increase in brawn, without much concern for brains, cannabis can be an important workout supplement.
Endurance: Marijuana and Muscles
So you’ve smoked up before working out, put on your favorite playlist, and are about to start a training routine you know like the back of your hand.
How will marijuana affect your muscle building?
The truth is, we don’t really know. Research on animals has shown that THC can interfere with a nerve receptor that’s essential for making protein to build muscles. But those studies used super-high doses and were done on rats, not on humans. So THC only hurts muscle growth in theory, but maybe not in practice.
CBD, on the other hand, tends to interact with muscle-building proteins and pathways in a productive way. It’s kind of an antidote to the adverse effects of THC. But only more testing will show for sure.
So when it comes to exercising harder and longer, the pain-busting and motivation-spiking effects of a cannabis dose can be a big boost to endurance.