Effects of Weed on Training

Yes, we’re gonna talk about weed (pot, reefer, Mary Jane, skunk, kush, ganja,…that good s#*t). I know that the effects of weed on weight training and athletics, in general, has been of some concern lately. Some bodybuilders, MMA fighters and other athletes use it. It is supposed to help them relax after their training or athletic performance, soothe sore muscles, and aid with recovery. Now, I’m not going to look into smoking it per say, but just ingesting it, and what the effects will be in the short and long term. Smoking, in general, comes with other problems (damage to lungs). I’m only interested in the effects of marijuana itself…and just in adults…for now.

What is weed? I am being serious here. Let’s assume that there are those out there, who don’t quite know what it is, and get it out of the way. Weed or cannabis comes from the cannabis plant (cannibis sativa). It contains over 100 cannabinoids (class of chemical compounds). The two main ones, that we are concerned with, are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive chemical (makes you high), whilst CBD or medical marijuana (click here for CBD products), has been used for a wide range of medical applications.

Claims about weed benefits 

Aside from the high and feelings of well being, lets look at the potential benefits of consuming weed. We’ll examine which ones are plausible and which ones are complete nonsense. Again, we’re looking at this from the point of view of athletic performance, for the most part.

Helps with bulking If you’re a bodybuilder or know anything about bodybuilding, you know bulking refers to eating more to gain muscle. You really need to eat a lot, in bodybuilder_bulkingexcess of what you would require to just maintain. So, the claim with weed is that, after the high wears off, you’re gonna want to raid the fridge. You appetite opens up. Big time. Well, this is actually true. Again, it is worth mentioning, not everyone knows this. The reason is that activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) by THC,  leads to stimulation of appetite through  hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. These neurons are typically associated with satiety, but when stimulated by the CB1R, appetite increases [1]. So if you’re bulking and don’t feel hungry, weed can potentially be a useful tool. This also makes it an excellent aid for cancer patients and other sick people, who lose their appetites due to treatment protocols or the illness itself. Well, now we know why Popeye smokes it. Ummm…yeah, green, smokes it in a pipe, skinny guy (we’ll discuss this later), talks gibberish ’cause he’s high all the time…spinach my ass.

Suppresses Appetite Huh? You just said it stimulates appetite. Relax, remember I said there are two main compounds, THC and CBD. Well THC stimulates appetite and CBD suppresses it. Strains of weed with a high CBD content smoking_weedwill help you to feel satiated [2]. In addition, there is an interesting effect with chronic weed users (even with low CBD content) where obesity rates are low, as well as incidences of diabetes. Now, don’t get to excited just yet. Yes, there is a correlation. But as I have said many times before, correlation is not causation. Researchers don’t really know why this happens and more research is needed to find the cause.

Acts as an anti inflammatory and analgesic Studies have shown that weed helps relive pain associated with neuropathic, chronic, postoperative, and that related to fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. It acts as an analgesic and works through neuromodulation/neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory means [3, 4, 5]. Both THC and CBD combined seem to be the most effective for pain management. So, it would make sense that bodybuilders and other athletes opt for consuming weed, to help with pain and inflammation after a grueling workout or event. This will essentially reduce the effects of over training and aid in recovery. I actually use CBD ointments on sore muscles after a grueling workout.

Adverse effects of weed usage

We must also look at the adverse effects of weed, to see if it is worth using it, in both the short and long term. Then we can weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision on whether or not to try it. I must emphasize, that I am not advocate for it, or against it, in anyway…yet. I simply want to know the truth. No bias here.

Addiction That’s the question that everyone wants answered. Proponents for legalizing weed, claim that it is not addictive, like alcohol, painkillers or any other drug out there. But is this smoking-weedreally true? One 2006 study, found that in a sample of adolescents and young adults, high frequency use of weed, exhibited dependency symptoms. This was independent of the use of other illicit substances and alcohol and nicotine [6]. High frequency use,was defined as, use at a rate of 3-4 times per week. Low frequency use was: monthly:⩽3 days per month and weekly: 1–2 days per week. The higher the usage, the greater the number of dependency symptoms manifested, and the greater the withdrawal effects.

What was not established was the amount of THC that was present in the cannabis being used. The study also did not make any comparisons to alcohol and other drug usage in terms of dependency. In other studies, it was found that dependency for cannabis was around 9%, compared to alcohol, 15%, and tobacco at 32%, for initial experimentation with each substance [7, 8].

Okay, so on the surface it seems that high frequency users (3-4 times/wk) are more likely to have a weed dependency, but still lower than alcohol and tobacco. What we don’t know is, what percentage of THC was present in the cannabis used in the studies. The strains today have exceeded 10% THC compared to 4% from 30 years ago. Some studies have reported strains, with as much as 15- 30% THC [9, 10, 11]. Clearly there needs to be more studies comparing the concentration of THC, with varying frequency of users, to make any definitive statement about dependency.

So as an athlete, you might not want to indulge on a regular basis (as defined in the previous section) and for now, keep an eye on THC concentration. Obviously, using just before weight training or any activity requiring high levels of skill, may not be wise. Dropping a barbell on yourself or sustaining an injury due to impaired judgement is stupid.

Psychosis and Neurological damage I am going to avoid looking at research solely in adolescents. I am more interested in the effects on adults. If you’re a kid, you shouldn’t doobiebe using period. One study determined that heavy cannabis users (> 10 times/month) are more likely to to be at risk of psychotic symptoms than light users. This was based on, observing lower levels of  CSF anandamide (chemical associated with prevention of schizophrenic psychosis) in the body in heavy users compared to light or non users [12]. Now, this study only examined a small group of people…33 to be exact. It also only shows that they may potentially be more vulnerable to psychosis.

Another study showed that heavy usage of cannabis resulted in changes to the corpus callosum (CC) and white matter (WM) in the brains of both, individuals with and without schizophrenia [13]. The CC has a fundamental role in inter-hemispheric connectivity. Changes in microstructure of the CC and WM have been reported in patients with psychosis. The study was based on users who started in their teens and not adult users. In many of these types of studies, teen users have shown more vulnerability to the effects of damage compared to adults. This particular study was also small, just 56 subjects and looked at users who partook of high potency ‘skunk’. Again a pattern of high usage and high potency cannabis.

Summary 

The overall trend, seems to be that high potency weed, with THC content exceeding 10%, used on a regular basis (3-4 times/wk) can lead to damage to the brain, possible schizophrenia, dependency and withdrawal.  As an athlete, moderate use could provide benefits in terms of pain management and anti-inflammatory benefits, which leads to faster recovery. If you’re a bodybuilder occasional use of weed, with higher concentrations of THC compared to CBD, might open up your appetite which could aid in bulking…provided that the food being consumed is healthy and rich in protein, rather than unhealthy and full of sugar and simple carbs. If you’re looking to diet, there are studies that show CBD acts as an appetite suppressant. Topical CBD can be used for anti-inflammatory purposes and from my experience works well.

Now, you have all the information you need. I am not trying to sway you in one direction or the other. Weigh the pros and cons and make a decision about how you want to use weed, if you want too at all.

If interested in CBD products click here

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35 Comments

  • Clement says:

    Thank you very much for this great post, you have really providedgreat insight into the health benefits and the hazard of weed. I think if properly used and not abused it is great for sportmen and help relaxes the muscles. But on the contrary it is easy to get addicted and it also causes mental disorder. 

    • admin says:

      I don’t think there is any evidence that it is easy to get addicted to. In fact indications are that it is less addictive than alcohol…

  • Kent says:

    I’m a runner and I use weed all the time during my training, I don’t think it helps me run faster or train harder but it makes the process more int. I also used to think that the whole addiction to weed thing is a lie, but after having done weed for almost 9 years now I do depend on it because I need it to wake up, to start working, to train, to do anything. It’s like some people like to drink many cups of coffee per day, for me it’s weed.

  • Lady Esther says:

    Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this article. Personally, I only know one thing about weed it can be harmful to your brain and for men the issue for having enough sperm count. I do not see  any good to using weed but I can understand if it’s going to be use for medical purposes. Not to enhance a body, just do exercise and lift weights and if that not enough think of your health. 

    I am not a smoker or even drink that much- the drink at a gathering. No if it’s not for medical purposes why destroy your body that way. Can see it. But to each it’s own. Unfortunately, because each person makes decisions…not all decisions are for the well-being of that person.

    Thank you for sharing, this very interesting article.

    Very best and much success on your online business endeavors,

    LadyEsther 

  • rmjia says:

    Thank you for sharing this interesting article. I have learned that there are more and more products in the market which are CBD infused such as food and beverage. My concern is that if those unaware has tasted the CBD infused food and beverage, won’t they get addicted in the long run? Is this a marketing strategy to get products sold in the market? Hope you can share a little on this. Thanksz

  • Winslow says:

    I believe your presentation is well written and gives both the pros and cons of weed. There is a reason it’s called weed of course and has been used for a long time. I can see that there are many uses beyond smoking to get hi. My daughter swears by the cream used for muscle pain. 

    I personalty don’t use it mainly do to my age and having seen its misuse all over the world. This in itself does not make it a bad product for some illnesses as you have described.

    You have provided any reader with a clear and concise way to make the proper decision on their own behalf on whether to use it or not.

    Good job. — Winslow 

  • Cheri says:

    You’ve definitely provided some good insights and “food for thought” on the use of weed for athletes in training. As you state, it should be a well-thought-out decision based on personal indications (like needing to increase appetite or aid in workout/event recovery) compared to potential personal risks. Using is definitely a “hot button topic,” so your well-researched article is especially helpful to those wanting to make the best and most-informed decision for themselves.

  • Susan says:

    My experience with smoking weed is from long ago back in the 70’s and I would agree the side effects then were always happy and hungry.  Today there is more control with the growing process and they have found so many benefits with the production of the different strands, I feel that all this is going to boil down to a personal opinion on the subject.  For me I would rather see someone smoke weed than drink alcohol which affects motor skills and reaction times.  Weed mellows people I have never heard of anyone smoking weed and getting into fights or causing trouble. But as for training for athletes I think more research would need to be done to see if it is beneficial for them.

    Thanks,

    Susan

  • Daniel says:

    I really think that this article is very interesting. I know that weed is legalized in some countries but I did not know of such benefits it has for our body. I would use it for appetite suppressing but it is not legalized here in my country. I think that although it has its benefits, side effects are more dangerous so I think that it is better to stay with homemade recipes.

  • Amer Malas says:

    Thank you for the detailed information about weed, honestly I heard a lot of conflicting info about weed, many claim it heals many neurological and phycological cases, while others focus on the damage weed can cause, now I understand that CBD is the good part while the THC is the bad part, so we can take CBD and avoid the harm, thank you for digging into the weeds of this topic, very useful information. 

  • Claudia says:

    Weed on training in the gym is something real and many people do it for the fact of what weed has. It helps with muscles to take away any soreness or inflammation. A lot of athlete do it and even some companies ( like the Big 3) allow the players to use it. I wouldn’t be surprise if they start letting it happen in other sports around the world.

  • Desa says:

    Thank you so much for this informative article. I admit that I knew none of these things you mention about weed, particularly the two main compounds–THC and CBD–and the differences between them, using only my intuition that told me never ever to even try this stuff…or any drugs or cigarettes or to drink more than a couple of drinks every year. Though others may still choose to use weed, even as I am more informed from your post, I am more convinced than ever that my intuition was correct. 

    You say the studies are small but statistics establishes that at sample size of only 30 or more we can assume normalcy–or that the sample size is sufficient enough to be representative of the population as a whole. 

    The brain is too important for my life’s work to risk any potential ill effects so I will continue to abstain, but I at least can now appreciate the value these compounds can have for people medically who are in much pain and need appetites stimulated. 

    Thank you for breaking it all down so honestly and clearly! Great work here!

  • Donnie says:

    Great work on a very misunderstood part of society. As a user from many years ago I was surprised that the strength of Marijuana has increased to a level of up to thirty percent THC. I think you are absolutely right that more studies are needed to include the strength of the marijuana. I am not sure I believe in the physical dependency of Marijuana. I have not smoked in thirty years and when I stopped due to a career move I had no withdrawal symptoms. Thanks for an interesting post.

  • Cathy says:

    I am an advocate for marijuana, but mainly for its benefits as a strong pain killer. I saw a documentary once on how cannabis rub can help to subdue muscle and joint pains and I thought that would have been helpful for my muscle ache after running a full marathon. Never a big fan to consume NSAIDs so the latter is definitely my choice – when my country legalize its use of course. 

  • Mina Kim says:

    I don’t have full information of weed, nor used it. All I know is the negative side of it. And I never heard that its been used by some athletes either.

    If taking weed helps bodybuilders to gain appetite, will it also help people who wants to gain weight?

    Thank you for this article.

  • Strahinja says:

    Hi,

    I never smoked weed, but some of my friends did and although the smoke wasappealing to me, I didn’t want to use it :)I feel that if I use it whenever I feel nervous, bored or similar, I willconnect those feelings to it, and than I would be really addicted. I smokedregular cigarettes for 4 years and I stoped one year ago. I have to say that Ifeel much better – more energy, clearer thoughts.

    Although weed can have good effects, I’m not sure if it is good for long termuse.

    I support cannabis oil and similar products for healing of people and animals,but not sure about this one.

    Regards,

    Strahinja

  • Tim says:

    Awesome article.

    Really appreciate the detail you went into here! I never considered the possibility of using it to aid in recovery AND increase appetite.

    Me and some friends are regulars at the guy and compete against each other for gains and one guy in particular has issues not with putting in the work, but getting the required amount of food down, and keeping it down. I didn’t take him seriously at first until we started flatting together and saw the `effort` he had to put in compared with myself.

    However, overall I think the best thing for recovery is sleep!

    Thanks again, great work.

  • Mary says:

    Hi,

    Perfect day to read this article, I am Canadian and pot is legal as of today. I never thought about weed in connection with training. In my younger days I played women’s hockey at a high level of competition. It would not have been advisable to be caught using, probably back then I would be handing my uniform back. Amazing how times have changed. So it is hard to comment personally on how it might of affected my training. I was a much smaller player then average so weightlifting was a must for me, in order to be strong enough to compete and remain injury free.

    I was given medicinal marijuana in the spring after my knee replacement, I have sever arthritis. I am not a smoker and I found the taste was awful, so the question was, did I actually smoke enough to alleviate the pain, since I did not find a lot of relief. I am going to try oil in capsules and I guess some of the edibles are not bad. At the moment I am back on my arthritis drugs and pretty comfortable but not pain free. When I go for my second knee replacement they have to remove some of my drugs and pain gets quite intense, so I will give it another go then.

    Mary

  • Shaun Bradley says:

    Considering I am a daily smoker of cannabis, since I started working out recently, I have been wondering what the effects could be. I have to admit I am a tiny bit addicted to weed but if I go without it there isn’t any major side effects. I just get a little moody occasionally.

    Most of the time I use it to aid in my chronic pain but also it helps me sleep and eat better. I tend to use the CBD’s in the morning and daytime mostly since it doesn’t have any noticeable effect for being ‘high’.

  • Babsie Wagner says:

    It seems like I am hearing about the CBD Oil all the time now.  I have come across it on a sign on our local shop in town, and then a couple of the websites I’ve visited lately have had CBD Oil for sale.  Everything I read about it shows it is really quite an amazing product, and good for pain.  I’m going to get some and see if it helps my friend who has terrible pain in her knees.  It’s worth a shot.  Thanks for the info.     -Babs

  • Eli says:

    This is quite interesting. I never used CBD but I worked in a rehabilitation for drug addict women institution before. They started the same as you proposed; for losing weight mainly, but in the end they got addicted to it and can’t live without it. Though it helps a lot out there medically or in other ways, what’s addictive should be used moderately and with guidance. Without proper guide with doctors or someone who’s not into it, a user is bound to get addicted to it. 

  • Joo says:

    I have learnt so much from your article about weed. I have come across the immense benefits of cannabis when researching for remedies for my children’s eczema. It seems that it’s such an amazing plant, able to treat all kinds of diseases and discomforts. Also heard about THC and CBD, but never really knew their differences until now. Thanks for all the great information. Now I’m convinced to try it out for my kids. 

  • Yanick says:

    I got to be honest i don’t know a lot about weed but i know for some people weed has good effects on them but as far as im concern it is probably my system that doesn’t take it. For me if i smoke some i can only take 2-3 puffs i have enough it is just enough to make me sleep if i smoke more than that it tends to give me headaches and i tend to loss memory but the article is very interesting

    • admin says:

      Try CBD edibles instead. CBD isn’t psychoactive, and you don’t necessarily have to smoke anything. Just get edibles.

  • Michel says:

    Weed has recently been legalized in South Africa and there are a lot of people worrying about high people at work and on the roads.

    I think on the other side of the coin it will help a lot of people medically.

    Although you will benefit as a body builder, I am also sure most people don’t want to gain weight as it seems to make you really hungry.

    • admin says:

      I generally use CBD, which doesn’t make you hungry. If you use THC, like with everything else, use in moderation.

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