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Guest Column: How does cannabis affect strength training?

By Samantha Olivier
Special to Cannabis Daily Record

How does Weed Affect Strength Training?
It won’t stimulate you, it definitely won’t make you do anything useful, yet somehow, weed and exercise are connected in many ways.

Some passionate stoners/bodybuilders have decided to do a little research on this subject, and here’s what they have found out.

Runner’s high, you say?
It is not that big of a surprise that the human body stores a decent amount of tetrahydrocannabidiol or THC in fat, which is, at the same time, the main psychoactive of cannabis. Shocking, huh? Furthermore, studies have shown that this process can give an extra boost to your workouts.

When our bodies are burning fat, small amounts of THC are released into our bloodstreams, which produces a similar effect to taking a few “hits.” The levels of THC are increased by around 15% once your exercise is complete.

THC is also proportional to our BMI – the greater the BMI, the more THC will be reintroduced into our body.

This leads us to the conclusion that runner’s high and stoner’s high are the same thing, right?
As you already know, exercise is good for us not just because it prevents obesity, but also because it decreases our stress levels.

But, contrary to popular opinion that endorphins are the only ones that make you feel excited and make your physical activity feel great, it has been discovered that exercise in reality activates your endocannabinoid systems, just like marijuana does.

This system is actually a group of lipids and cell receptors that is introduced into our bodies by cannabinoids. That same system is responsible for your appetite, memory, mood and easing pain.

It is possible that our body produces its own cannabinoids in order to ease the pain from our workouts, and this is why we are feeling a little “high” afterwards.

Muffin tops hate marijuana
Marijuana has both short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects known as the “munchies” are: an increased appetite, relaxation and a demotivating effect. In other words, this suggests that the use of marijuana can lead to fat gain.

However, the long-term effects are mirrored in an adaptation by our cannabinoid receptors, which include the reverse effects (reduced appetite). This statement is supported by population studies, where it was shown that stoner bodybuilders were leaner than those who didn’t smoke (maybe they were secretly using weed edibles as a training recovery but we will never know).

Also, at the same time, CBD and THCV (another cannabinoid in marijuana) decrease fat storage and increase fat burning.

Basically, we may say that marijuana with higher levels of THC will cause fat gain more likely than the one containing a higher cannabidiol and lower THC.

Gender differences
There are some incredible differences between men and women when it comes to marijuana effects:

  • Women are less responsive to the appetite-stimulating effects
  • Women have a higher sex drive after using
  • Men experience greater energy homeostasis effects
  • Women experience much higher pain-reducing effects, as well as anxiety alleviation

How does marijuana affect your muscle growth?
Let’s say that you have decided that today you want to use marijuana before your standard lifting session, for which you already have all the movements hardwired in your brain and could do them with your eyes closed. What is going to happen once weed is involved?

Although the popular opinion is that it will reduce your gains, the answer is going to remain unclear.

For example, since long-term usage regulates the expression of your CB1 receptor in a similar manner to blood sugar swings which lead to insulin resistance, some people claim that THC can impair muscle growth, since it interrupts the mTOR signaling pathway (important for protein synthesis).

Furthermore, studies that were performed on six volunteers have shown that marijuana inhibits growth hormone secretion – which is connected to muscle building. But of course, an important detail is that they used enormous doses of weed (210 mg THC per day for 2 weeks). Also, mTOR disruption by THC was examined on rats, not on human muscles.

On the other hand, a non-psychoactive component of weed, CBD, was proven to regulate mTOR in a completely different way than THC, as well as killing breast cancer cells, ameliorating epilepsy and increasing cognitive performance.

This means that different components do different things for our muscle synthesis.

Are you a bodybuilder who enjoys ganja? What are your experiences? Let us know in the comments.

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