Marijuana has been around for thousands of years. We don’t know who’s the first person known to smoke or grow it, but the traces lead us all the way back to the Chinese empire (around 2500 BC).
As the laws regarding cannabis are becoming less harsh, with more states legalizing or decriminalizing its use, there are also notably more athletes that are starting to speak about their cannabis habits as well.
The plant is popular among runners, skiers, cyclists, and bodybuilders, but whether there are any positive effects on their workout goals is still up for debate.
When it comes to bodybuilding, serious guys spend a lot of time, money and energy pursuing mass and taking care of every little detail that might influence their muscle-building success. This article will explore the question regarding marijuana’s potential effects on behavior, hormones and cognition.
Please note that cannabis use, as described here, should be construed as legal medical or recreational use.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is one of the most far-reaching systems in the human body. Compounds in marijuana, CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) being the two main ones, bind two main receptors in our bodies and brains.
These receptors are CB1 and CB2, named after the marijuana constituents. When these two receptors are bound by exogenous cannabinoids (when consuming marijuana), several metabolic processes are impacted.
The endocannabinoid system controls immune function, temperature regulation, sleep, stress reactivity, appetite, and pain sensation (among other processes). Also, fat and muscle tissues utilize these receptors to control their own processes.
You can perceive your marijuana smoking habit as a way of busting into your metabolism’s mainframe, something like a metabolism hacker.
Marijuana and Physical Performance
There are several studies showing that marijuana impairs psychomotor abilities. However, in these studies, researchers used very high amounts of marijuana. For example, researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business found out in 1991 that the complex human/machine performance (participants were active pilots) can be impaired after smoking a moderate dose of marijuana, and that the user may be aware of its influence.
The studies on marijuana’s effects on the human body are still unreliable and insufficient for making a definite conclusion about the matter.
Avery Collins, a Canadian ultramarathoner, describes running under the influence of cannabis as a “spiritual happening”, but he’s actually talking about runner’s high. He says that, instead of slowing him down, eating cannabis edibles before and after the race enhances his performance and experience.
Okay, runners may find that a certain amount of THC enhances their performance, but what about muscle building? This leads us to marijuana’s hormonal effects, as testosterone and HG hormone are the main hormones that affect your muscle growth.
In 1976, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that administration of THC at a dose of 210mg per day for 14 consecutive days resulted in suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and a threefold decrease in HG hormone response.
However, two things make us question these study results: first, a 210mg dose per day is a huge dose, and second, the study is more than 40 years old.
People with a low-to-medium THC tolerance experience the effects of cannabis with a 5-25mg dose, while a dose of 80+ mg of THC is required by those with a very high tolerance.
As for testosterone, there are studies that show that testosterone levels in marijuana-consuming men were 44% lower than in those who don’t use marijuana. However, this was challenged by a larger study of marijuana users that found no effect on testosterone levels.
Many other studies found cannabis users to have normal testosterone levels, in addition to normal levels of prolactin, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone.
Along with this, smoking is not the only way you can intake cannabis. There are many effective topical CBD and cannabis products which are highly effective for your muscles!
Personal Behavior and Marijuana
We concluded that low-to-moderate marijuana amounts don’t impair one’s cognitive and chemical functions, but personal behavior can negatively influence your bodybuilding goals. Whether it will boost or hinder your gym performance depends on you.
For example, as a bodybuilder, you’re careful when it comes to nutrition, as you need to consume the right amount of the right calories.
If you smoke marijuana and lack discipline when it comes to munchies (usually, people eat a lot of junk food and processed sugars), it won’t do you any good.
Also, smoking cannabis or consuming cannabis concentrates after workout can make your resting days more effective, calm you down, lower stress, help you sleep better and improve your appetite.
The conclusion is that marijuana won’t mess with your body’s ability to build muscle. It affects us differently, because we are all different. Enjoy the herb, but keep yourself disciplined, don’t let it affect your training and dieting plans, and you’ll keep building muscle.