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I was going to hit the gym, until I got high. I was going to get-up and max my squat, but then I got high. La da da dadada I am not seeing any results, and I know why—why man? HEY EHHHH, because I got high. Because I got high. Because I got high, la da dadadada.
Despite the fact that I just used an Afroman reference, I am hoping that it won’t diminish the scientifically-backed information I am about to bestow upon you—proving that the whacky tabaccy, devil’s lettuce, ganja, herb, bud, chronic, or whatever other sweet nickname you have for marijuana CAN actually improve your performance in the gym as well as give you results.
With all the recent flack that marijuana has received over the past couple years, between its legalization in twenty-three states, and for its recreational use in four of those, I think it’s about time that we address its effects on lifting or find out if there even is any.
First, let’s delve into why many current fitness enthusiasts, such as those over at Livestrong, believe marijuana is counterproductive to achieving your physical and mental goals, and see why they are nothing more than falsities:
Long-term use has been associated with changes in the body resulting in lowered muscle growth and mass.
Livestrong doesn’t tell us who is included in their testing pool, but I am going to err on the side of caution and assume it’s most likely those who aren’t concerned with their health to begin with—the typical lazy stoner, as in James Franco from Pineapple Express.
Weed is a depressant—negating the positive mental benefits of working out.
Fact: Depending on which type of strain you smoke, Indica or Sativa, marijuana can act as either a downer or a stimulant. Alcohol is also a depressant, and the leading detrimental substance when trying to pack on lean muscle and decrease body fat.
Daily use lowers testosterone in men, which reduces adequate muscle growth.
Yes, studies have shown that initial marijuana consumption for first-time users does lower testosterone levels on a minuscule scale. Not only is the drop in test deemed insignificant, but it’s also proven to regulate normally for long-term users smoking three joints per week.
Marijuana increases the chemicals in the brain that affect hunger, especially for sweets, leading to excess in calories and higher body fat percentages.
It’s called self-control. Use the munchies to eat chicken and veggies, and all-of-the-sudden you’re burning fat and adding lean muscle.
Now, let’s take that, rewind it back, and first understand the natural muscle building process to find out how it works in conjunction with marijuana use.
- Optimal exertion of your muscles causes micro-damage.
- Through rest and proper nutrition, the micro-damaged muscles start the recovery process.
- Upon recovery, muscles overcompensate for the damage caused by lifting, resulting in the addition of lean muscle tissue–increasing strength and endurance.
The effectiveness of your workout can be boiled down to its intensity and recovery, which are directly proportional to one another. The more intense the workout, the more time you need to recover in order to increase strength and stamina.
Avid body-builders and gym rats generally use a caffeine enhanced pre-workout to maximize the intensity of their output, and a post-workout recovery cocktail filled with amino acids and supplements promoting muscle repair, replenishing energy stores, and reducing soreness.
While these supplements have plenty of benefits, they ignore perhaps the most integral elements of ensuring proper recovery—rendering them much less effective than often perceived.
Here is what they don’t do: Improve length and quality of sleep, relieve stress, and encourage nutritional volume and frequency to support primary levels of muscle growth and fat loss.
Let’s think about the way potheads are portrayed within society and on the silver screens. They nap literally everywhere, care about very little, and are continuously hungry.
Of course, not everybody that smokes weed is Spicoli. That representation is cast in part by mainstream Hollywood. Though, marijuana is clinically proven to reduce stress, one of the most counterproductive elements to muscle growth (it puts your body in a catabolic state, increasing fat), enables longer periods of REM sleep, and aids in one’s efforts to eat every three hours—a difficult task for many.
To Put it Bluntly:
You know what they say, “Study high and get high scores.” So lift high and get high…results? Wrong, for some of us. If you’re getting stony boloney (I know it’s spelled bologna) before a workout, you very well may be unmotivated, lethargic, and out of breath due to the inherent act of smoking. It’s people like you that give ammo to the implied negative side effects of pot on muscle growth.
Read em’ and Weed:
Prior accusations that marijuana is not conducive to gaining muscle simply aren’t true. Yea, if you smoke a heavy Indica before leg day, you may feel more tired and less amped to max your squat. On the other hand, long-distance runners often smoke a vaporizer before a race. It helps maintain tunnel-vision-like focus on the rhythmic stride needed to sustain a competitive pace.
If you channel your munchies to eat sweets, obviously you will get fat. Use it to make chicken breast and brown rice taste better and to eat on a more frequent basis, you get results. Use weed as a recovery tool to better your sleep regimen, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed, not depressed. What about the fact that Marijuana has been ingrained within the foundation of Yoga for centuries? Alleviating the stiffness and discomfort associated with deep stretching, and acting as a catalyst for the integration of mind, body, and spirit.
Every person is different. Some can smoke before a workout, some can’t, and some don’t like smoking at all. It’s a highly personal choice.
My recommendation if you enjoy the occasional toke? Spark one up before bed or after you lift—it complements a protein shake and a stretch nicely . . . not that I would know or anything.
Just look as these immensely athletic stoners who have no problems dabbling with some reefer and smoking the competition:
Michael Phelps: He has to smoke a sh!t ton of weed to eat TWELVE-THOUSAND calories per day.
Ricky Williams: He was probably zooted, but he’d still run your ass over.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Nothing is more entertaining than watching old school Arnold ripping a joint.
Santonio Holmes: Dude is way more coordinated than humanly possible. Remember that Super Bowl catch against the Cardinals in 2008?!
Ross Rebagliati: Snowboarding gold medalist—it must be the high…altitude?
Usain Bolt: Considering he’s Jamaican, he’ll burn one then burn you.
Tim Lincecum: Back to back Cy Young winner. He practically toked with Cy himself.
Remember, everything in moderation. Utilize this natural resource properly, and the sky is the limit (see what I did there?).