Yes, you can use cannabis before a workout. It may surprise you the number of people who do it on a regular basis. Perhaps when you were a teenager you thought of people “toking up” outside the gym was a burn-out thing to do, but it’s something that athletes like Jim McAlpine have been doing for years to enhance his workouts, and it ended up inspiring his entrepreneurial endeavors. He now runs the hugely successful 420 Games and became co-owner of the world’s first cannabis-friendly gym, Power Plant Fitness, after pitching the idea to former NFL player (and PPF co-owner) Ricky Williams. Finally, a gym where cannabis will hold no more stigma than a person’s choice of protein shake or Spotify lifting playlist.
With the green rush causing cannabis business to go through the roof in legal states, more athletes realize that it’s time to “come out of the closet” and use cannabis to enhance their fitness and do so with pride. The next step is to understand better the relationship between cannabis and exercise and how to use one to enhance the other safely. All new members of Power Plant Fitness, for example, will be required to undergo a Cannabis Performance Assessment to find out if they should even be using cannabis while exerting themselves.
What is the right cannabis dosage for working out?
It’s important to come to terms with your motivations for mixing the business of fitness with the pleasure of the psychedelic, pain-busting herb. McAlpine, for instance, is staunchly performance-minded and not looking to mess around. It’s like the difference between eating to fuel your exercise and just eating for the pleasure of the taste.
Finding just the right dosage is crucial if you want to accentuate your focus toward things like long runs and heavy weights without breaking your motivation. The key is to remember that cannabis affects everyone differently and that the “start low, go slow” rule applies when you’re starting out on your marijuana health kick.
Start thinking about marijuana as more of a supplement to get you in the right state of mind. Cannabis encourages the body to remain in a state of homeostasis despite what’s going on in the environment around it, so beyond getting the dosage right, it helps to pay attention to breathing and relaxing into a calm state. The same thing that makes cannabis so harmonious with an activity like yoga—the mindfulness and body awareness—can inform a power-lifter or jiu-jitsu practitioner as well.
And it’s an optional supplement that may not go with every workout or sport. Some strains are great for helping focus during a game of golf but may not help you out when playing hockey. Don’t jump head first into dangerous sports high for the first time. Your fitness routine should be a balanced mixture of things you like, and that challenge you without putting your health at risk. It’s one thing to play tackle football sober and then medicate once the game is through and another to jeopardize your safety by running onto the field stoned.
If you’re new to working out, then you might be of the mind that a gym is an intimidating place full of hardbodies. So, just picture how you might feel under the influence of a dab, blunt, or edible. And too high of a dose won’t even let you get to the front door. Start with what you are comfortable with, whether that means a smaller than your usual dose or an environment that is less overwhelming, like an outdoor hike or bike path. And slowly work up from there to more challenging activities or events, increasing your dosage only when you are ready. Many athletes find a 5–10mg dose of THC to be a great “microdose” that allows them to stay clear-headed and energetic while still feeling the pain relieving effects that enable them to work out longer.
Once you’ve set your dosage, it should allow you to build your fitness schedule to incorporate cannabis in a way that the marijuana becomes a part of your focus, ritual, and recovery. No more Advil, washed down with some Gatorade, in anticipation of hitting the wall. A small dosage of an edible, or even one of those medicated 5mg mints that are gaining popularity, and you could soon be running your best 5k yet. Some athletes even claim to experience a drop in their rate of injury.
And the cannabis road to recovery doesn’t end with smokable and edible forms of the herb. There are balms, ointments and bath salts that will while away your aches and pains, so that you can hit the trail, soul cycle studio or CrossFit gym again sooner. In fact, if you are iffy about vaping before a workout, you can always start with using the plant strictly as a recovery tactic. And if THC isn’t your cup of tea, you can rest assured that there are more anti-inflammatory properties in products that are high in the compound cannabidiol, some of which can be found with little to know psychoactive THC. Cannabis is a fabulous tool for releasing stress and promoting calm and the fact that you don’t even need to get high to enjoy it is certainly something that will help bring more curious non-tokers into Power Plant Fitness and similar programs.
Top 3 strains for working out
Common sense for a seasoned marijuana user would be to stick to the lighter sativa strains for activities and save the heavy indicas for the post-workout relaxation. But with all of the strains now available to us, from CBD-rich strains to hybrids, the lines aren’t so clearly drawn. Hybrids especially have unpredictable effects on different people. The best thing you can do is become a discerning advocate of consumption. Look for edibles and other products that fit in with your regimen and have fun experimenting safely with strains and activities. As you do so, try to journal your workouts to track your progress, as well as observations about how certain strains and products affect you so you can set up a more sustainable routine as you go.
This SinCity Seeds strain is a sativa-dominant hybrid strain with a strong sense of purpose. Relax as it’s motivating influence takes you for a hike, a power yoga class, or finishing up your chores. The strain was born from a marriage of White Strawberry and White Nightmare strains, so expect some softness (and a gorgeous strawberry candy aroma) mixed with something a little harsher and invigorating.
Animas Seed Co. made this stimulating cross from Slick Willie and Icarus. It hits fast and lasts long, so feel free to use it to fuel your long runs, cross-country skiing, or other endurance activities. Perfect for early morning activities, The Brotherhood rivals a cup of coffee in its get-up-and-go attributes. In fact, you’d better leave this one to daytime medicating altogether, especially if you typically have trouble sleeping.
Another hybrid, this one mixes the genetics of Sweet Tooth and OG Kush for a citrusy sweet lemon drop candy aroma. It creates both a body and cerebral sensation that makes devout fans out of Sweet Kush users. The body effects help to relax achy muscles and ease the pain of heavy lifting so that you can use this strain to warm up into a workout or to cool down after. One recommendation is to microdose with Sweet Kush before a workout and then use more to punctuate it. Novice cannabis consumers beware until you know how strongly Sweet Kush affects you.
Still worried about the stigma of mixing cannabis and fitness?
Don’t worry; you’re not the only one. Even McAlpine had doubts in the in-between period between high school and creating the 420 Games and Power Plant Fitness, probably the world’s first—or at least the first to advertise it—ganja-friendly gym. Even he tried to pursue a corporate (read: more reputable) career for a while before starting his first athletic brand, snowbomb.com.
Do you dream of a future where athletes openly reap the benefits of cannabis without the stigma, in the same way, they go for a beer after a big event? Then the future is here, my friend.
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