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 British Columbia is without a doubt the most open-minded and liberal province in Canada when it comes to cannabis. Although our province-wide pride for our world famous B.C. bud doesn’t prevent the topic of marijuana usage or legalization from being a polarizing issue for our residents. Most people fall into one of two camps, the ones that say weed is the solution to basically all of the world’s problem (Jah know), or the others who think that the world will burn with each flick of a “drug-user’s” Bic. Just kidding, there are tons of personal, political, environmental, and economic reasons for why one may support or oppose marijuana usage, and I’m here to discuss none of those particular arguments at all.

What I want to discuss is not really mainstream in the health and fitness world (not yet at least). The Stoners and the Jocks are two cliques that are not well known for mingling, but research suggests that maybe they should get to know each other a little bit. There are plenty of ways that using marijuana before and after a workout can maximize your performance and your gains.

1. Pot Increases Metabolism

Two compounds found in marijuana, THCV and cannabidiol, raise metabolism, speed fat loss, and lower cholesterol. So basically regular pot users who don’t even exercise have, on average, a lower BMI, fasting insulin levels 16% lower than non-consumers, and 17% lower insulin resistance levels. Just by sitting on the couch and toking, stoners are skinnier, have lower rates of diabetes, and therefore are contributing to their health. Now, just imagine the benefits of blazing in the hands of someone who lives and eats healthy. [1]

Plants with high concentrations of THCV are relatively rare, but I uncovered 4 strains of appetite-suppressing weed, bred under the moniker of “skinny pot.” They are: Durban Poison, XJ-13, Blue Dream, and Doug’s Varin. [2]

2. Weed Decreases Anxiety to Keep You Motivated and in the Zone

You might think that a couple of hits from the bong might cause you to forget your priorities and leave you locked on the couch, but that’s not necessarily true; Its all about mindset. There are times when anxiety is the biggest obstacle behind getting yourself motivated, and since marijuana is a well-known anxiolytic (anxiety reducer), when it takes effect it can actually cause you to become revved up and ready for your workout. I’m sure a strong indica might hinder performance, but finding yourself that perfect sativa-dominant strain will have you ready to take on the world.

Another motivation-killer is just pure and simple boredom, especially on long runs or cardio days. Weed happens to be one of the best ways to get yourself in the zone and stay uber-focused. I can definitely vouch for this one, the right weed can make the most mundane of activities, like washing dishes or organizing your sock drawer, seem like something that you could do for hours. Apparently, many long-distance runners admit to using vaporizers or edibles before a marathon, in order to remove monotony and stay in a steady rhythmic zone. [3]

3. Cannabis Contributes to Endurance

A runner’s high and a weed high are actually not all that different, you may have heard of the body releasing endorphins during exercise, but did you know that exercise stimulates the endocannabinoid system as well? The body releases these chemicals to increase your threshold for pain, and doing so helps you ignore the discomfort involved in sustained exercise. Pair your body’s natural high with a kick of weed and your endurance will be off the charts. [4]

Weed also has bronchodilating effects, allowing more air flow into the lungs, as well as also vasodilating properties that mildly increase your heartrate. Both of these effects deliver increased oxygen throughout your body, hence improving performance of endurance athletes. [5]

4. Ganja Can Help Your Muscles Recover

The findings on whether marijuana supports or hinders muscle related gains is quite mixed. One thing we do know for sure is that weed promotes rest and discourages stress, and that letting muscles recover is half the equation when it comes to results. Muscles growth is the outcome of recovering from damage and consequently adding intensity, although, if you don’t give your muscles a chance to fully recover, it isn’t possible to up the intensity level of your next workout, hence no gains. Also, a person under any form of stress cannot be in an anabolic (muscle building) state. Marijuana’s properties as an anti-inflammatory, sleep-aid, and stress reliever make it ideal for winding down and recovering from a hard workout, and a hard day in general. [6]

5. The Herb Can Make You a Better Athlete

Cliff Drusinsky is a 39-year old elite triathlete and owner of Denver Colorado gym F.I.T.S Conditioning. What is special about Cliff is that he uses marijuana edibles to enhance his training regimen, and encourages the clients at his gym to do the same. He’s found himself the perfect strain that provides him with energy and focus. His designer strain doesn’t cloud his mind, but rather, “slows down his thought process” and “dials in his brain.” Cliff argues that in sports that require repetitive motions, athletes frequently rush through their exercises, or pay too much attention to the pace clock or their partners, and that weed can take you to a meditational place where you can train smarter and concentrate solely on improving technique. Cliff’s magic marijuana strain, if you are wondering, is called Super Lemon Haze, and he takes a large (30mg) dose in the form of homemade vegan fruit and nut bars before training. [7]

Cliff isn’t the only elite athlete who has admitted that weed has helped make him a better at his sport, but I would caution the limitations of using it to improve your sports performance. In higher doses weed slows down motor responses, so that using it in complex games, ones that use fast decision-making or quick reflexes, or using it during a workout where you are learning new exercises would be against better judgement. And of course marijuana affects every person differently, former Denver Broncos tight end Nate Jackson warned that “some people get high and their muscle memory locks in and they feel like they can’t miss,” but, “some people get high and fall apart.” [8]

Research on the benefits of using marijuana is not yet at a completely robust stage, and an individual’s body chemistry will cause different effects depending on the user. For athletes who use to weed to enhance their training it is all about weighing the potential costs against the potential benefits.

19+ Medical Marijuana Patients Only