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Every fitness influencer makes working out look so easy. They love to say things like, “Waking up and getting there is the hardest part!” Lies! It’s not that easy to create and stick to an exercise routine when your body sabotages you along the way. Besides physical exhaustion you also need to factor in mental fatigue and muscle soreness — they’re all conspiring against you to keep you safely swaddled in your warm bed.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s a secret that the experts are finally owning up to: they use cannabis. That’s not to say they’re getting heady before a spin class. It’s everything from microdosing before lifting weights to adding a CBD-rich body balm for recovery to taking a hit of indica to help you sleep better. Read on to hear about how, when, and why you should incorporate cannabis in your wellness plan.
The Scientific Proof
Research around weight and cannabis shows that it could help with your metabolism and that led scientists to investigate how exercise could also factor in. A 2019 study showed that users in states where it was legal worked out more than the average American. Those who consumed before exercising said it motivated them to get moving. On top of that, cannabis made the entire experience more enjoyable — a THC-high could feel like a runner’s high and also may help repetitive motion (like being stuck on a treadmill) feel less mind-numbing.
Consider Your Dosage & Strain
Okay, you’re curious — now what? Well, first up you need to decide if you want indica or sativa. It depends on your state of mind and your goals. Daniel Rice, a personal trainer in Los Angeles, finds that if he’s feeling tired he’ll go for sativa whereas if he’s anxious, indica will get his head in the right space. For Brandon Anthony, a dance instructor, he prefers a hit of indica — it makes him feel less self conscious and he can dig into the choreography. And for writer Jessica Gerlock, who used cannabis to lose 100 pounds, a THCV-dominant strain provided the focus she needed for workouts.
That said, you’re not consuming a large amount. Everyone agrees dosage is crucial — and microdosing might be the way to go. Both Rice and Anthony are big fans of LEVEL Protabs, which go under the tongue and take less time to kick in than edibles. So be it a sublingual or a tiny hit of your favorite strain, start small and see how you feel. If you need help selecting a strain, a MedMen hospitality associate can point you in the right direction.
Choose the Right Workout
Anything that requires quick decision making like rock climbing, skiing, or even a new HIIT class is probably a bad idea. Cannabis might be great for repetitive motion and focus but it's probably not so helpful if you’re reacting to a changing environment. If you need to work on your cardio or strength and require an extra boost, try microdosing before a run or weight lifting session. Should you want to stretch it out, yoga and Pilates are mindful practices that work well with cannabis. Dee Dessault, founder of Ganja Yoga, suggests slow flows and not a sweaty vinyasa session. And just because it’s not intense doesn’t mean you won’t see progress — a hit can make holding pigeon pose less uncomfortable.
Use It Only for Recovery
Not everyone uses cannabis before they exercise, plenty of fitness instructors find it more appropriate for recovery. The logic makes sense: you’re more likely to do two spin classes on back-to-back days if your legs feel strong and the best way to do that is by targeting soreness before it even begins. Both the founders of Lit Method, Justin and Taylor Norris, and Oraya Method’s Nicole Drakulich prefer skipping dosing before a workout in favor of using a pain-relieving topical like Papa & Barkley Releaf balm 3:1 CBD:THC. Justin and Taylor also incorporate dosist’s relief pen in their nighttime routine to optimize their sleep.
Make It a Ritual
Regardless if you want to consume before or after, experts agree that you need to make it a part of your routine. It could be the last step when you’re getting dressed for a workout — throw on your tank top and then slip a sublingual under your tongue. Or make it a point to rub in some muscle balm after your post-exercise shower. Cannabis won’t drag you out of bed at 5 a.m. for Barry’s Bootcamp but it can make it easier for you to motivate yourself.