Effects of Weed on Weight Training

Yes, we’re gonna talk about weed (pot, reefer, Mary Jane, skunk, kush, ganja,…that good s#*t). I know that the effects of weed on weight training and athletics, in general, has been of some concern lately. Some bodybuilders, MMA fighters and other athletes use it. It is supposed to help them relax after their training or athletic performance, soothe sore muscles, and aid with recovery. Now, I’m not going to look into smoking it per say, but just ingesting it, and what the effects will be in the short and long term. Smoking, in general, comes with other problems (damage to lungs). I’m only interested in the effects of marijuana itself…and just in adults…for now.

What is weed? I am being serious here. Let’s assume that there are those out there, who don’t quite know what it is, and get it out of the way. Weed or cannabis comes from the cannabis plant (cannibis sativa). It contains over 100 cannabinoids (class of chemical compounds). The two main ones, that we are concerned with, are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive chemical (makes you high), whilst CBD or medical marijuana has been used for a wide range of medical applications.

Claims about weed benefits 

Aside from the high and feelings of well being, lets look at the potential benefits of consuming weed. We’ll examine which ones are plausible and which ones are complete nonsense. Again, we’re looking at this from the point of view of athletic performance, for the most part.

Helps with bulking If you’re a bodybuilder or know anything about bodybuilding, you know bulking refers to eating more to gain muscle. You really need to eat a lot, in bodybuilder_bulkingexcess of what you would require to just maintain. So, the claim with weed is that, after the high wears off, you’re gonna want to raid the fridge. You appetite opens up. Big time. Well, this is actually true. Again, it is worth mentioning, not everyone knows this. The reason is that activation of cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1R) by THC,  leads to stimulation of appetite through  hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. These neurons are typically associated with satiety, but when stimulated by the CB1R, appetite increases [1]. So if you’re bulking and don’t feel hungry, weed can potentially be a useful tool. This also makes it an excellent aid for cancer patients and other sick people, who lose their appetites due to treatment protocols or the illness itself. Well, now we know why Popeye smokes it. Ummm…yeah, green, smokes it in a pipe, skinny guy (we’ll discuss this later), talks gibberish ’cause he’s high all the time…spinach my ass.

Suppresses Appetite Huh? You just said it stimulates appetite. Relax, remember I said there are two main compounds, THC and CBD. Well THC stimulates appetite and CBD suppresses it. Strains of weed with a high CBD content smoking_weedwill help you to feel satiated [2]. In addition, there is an interesting effect with chronic weed users (even with low CBD content) where obesity rates are low, as well as incidences of diabetes. Now, don’t get to excited just yet. Yes, there is a correlation. But as I have said many times before, correlation is not causation. Researchers don’t really know why this happens and more research is needed to find the cause. To try CBD products click here

Acts as an anti inflammatory and analgesic Studies have shown that weed helps relive pain associated with neuropathic, chronic, postoperative, and that related to fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and cancer. It acts as an analgesic and works through neuromodulation/neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory means [3, 4, 5]. Both THC and CBD combined seem to be the most effective for pain management. So, it would make sense that bodybuilders and other athletes opt for consuming weed, to help with pain and inflammation after a grueling workout or event. This will essentially reduce the effects of over training and aid in recovery.

Adverse effects of weed usage

We must also look at the adverse effects of weed, to see if it is worth using it, in both the short and long term. Then we can weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision on whether or not to try it. I must emphasize, that I am not advocate for it, or against it, in anyway…yet. I simply want to know the truth. No bias here.

Addiction That’s the question that everyone wants answered. Proponents for legalizing weed, claim that it is not addictive, like alcohol, painkillers or any other drug out there. But is this smoking-weedreally true? One 2006 study, found that in a sample of adolescents and young adults, high frequency use of weed, exhibited dependency symptoms. This was independent of the use of other illicit substances and alcohol and nicotine [6]. High frequency use,was defined as, use at a rate of 3-4 times per week. Low frequency use was: monthly:⩽3 days per month and weekly: 1–2 days per week. The higher the usage, the greater the number of dependency symptoms manifested, and the greater the withdrawal effects.

What was not established was the amount of THC that was present in the cannabis being used. The study also did not make any comparisons to alcohol and other drug usage in terms of dependency. In other studies, it was found that dependency for cannabis was around 9%, compared to alcohol, 15%, and tobacco at 32%, for initial experimentation with each substance [7, 8].

Okay, so on the surface it seems that high frequency users (3-4 times/wk) are more likely to have a weed dependency, but still lower than alcohol and tobacco. What we don’t know is, what percentage of THC was present in the cannabis used in the studies. The strains today have exceeded 10% THC compared to 4% from 30 years ago. Some studies have reported strains, with as much as 15- 30% THC [9, 10, 11]. Clearly there needs to be more studies comparing the concentration of THC, with varying frequency of users, to make any definitive statement about dependency.

So as an athlete, you might not want to indulge on a regular basis (as defined in the previous section) and for now, keep an eye on THC concentration. Obviously, using just before weight training or any activity requiring high levels of skill, may not be wise. Dropping a barbell on yourself or sustaining an injury due to impaired judgement is stupid.

Psychosis and Neurological damage I am going to avoid looking at research solely in adolescents. I am more interested in the effects on adults. If you’re a kid, you shouldn’t doobiebe using period. One study determined that heavy cannabis users (> 10 times/month) are more likely to to be at risk of psychotic symptoms than light users. This was based on, observing lower levels of  CSF anandamide (chemical associated with prevention of schizophrenic psychosis) in the body in heavy users compared to light or non users [12]. Now, this study only examined a small group of people…33 to be exact. It also only shows that they may potentially be more vulnerable to psychosis.

Another study showed that heavy usage of cannabis resulted in changes to the corpus callosum (CC) and white matter (WM) in the brains of both, individuals with and without schizophrenia [13]. The CC has a fundamental role in inter-hemispheric connectivity. Changes in microstructure of the CC and WM have been reported in patients with psychosis. The study was based on users who started in their teens and not adult users. In many of these types of studies, teen users have shown more vulnerability to the effects of damage compared to adults. This particular study was also small, just 56 subjects and looked at users who partook of high potency ‘skunk’. Again a pattern of high usage and high potency cannabis.


The overall trend, seems to be that high potency weed, with THC content exceeding 10%, used on a regular basis (3-4 times/wk) can lead to damage to the brain, possible schizophrenia, dependency and withdrawal.  As an athlete, moderate use could provide benefits in terms of pain management and anti-inflammatory benefits, which leads to faster recovery. If you’re a bodybuilder occasional use of weed, with higher concentrations of THC compared to CBD, might open up your appetite which could aid in bulking…provided that the food being consumed is healthy and rich in protein, rather than unhealthy and full of sugar and simple carbs. If you’re looking to diet, there are studies that show CBD acts as an appetite suppressant.

Now, you have all the information you need. I am not trying to sway you in one direction or the other. Weigh the pros and cons and make a decision about how you want to use weed, if you want too at all.

P.S. The Healthy Goat was recently seen wandering the streets of Manhattan, with a dopey look on his face. Earlier in the day he had a lot of  ‘special’ brownies. Try as he would, he couldn’t figure out why they were so special…so he ate a whole batch looking for answers. The Stoned Goat was last seen raiding a local 7 Eleven, consuming everything in site. When the cops showed up, rumor has it, he looked up and asked, “what seems to be the trouble osifer?”

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26 thoughts on “Effects of Weed on Weight Training

  1. Very thorough and in-depth article. I learned more than I wanted to, and not enough at the same time! Thanks for taking the time to explain many different things about weed.

    I’m still not convinced I’ll use it for any weight training I plan to be doing, but it is something that I will make sure to consider next time I hit the gym.

  2. Fascinating article, I enjoyed the reading as it was written well and kept my attention. The laws are changing across the USA and more research will take place as time goes by.
    This is still a highly debatable topic but there are clear benefits resulting from medicinal usage of cannabis and I can see where it can also be useful in weight training.

  3. I watched an interesting video by Elliott Hulse relating to this topic and I found it quite interesting. He said that he used to smoke pot quite a lot when he was younger before training and it didn’t effect him at all, it actually made him better. You seem quite confident in all of your statements. Are you really confident that weed actually causes schizophrenia?

  4. I enjoyed reading this article. I know, as you probably do as well, that many professional athletes use weed before training and after.
    Apparently it expands your lung capacity when used by eating or vaporizing it.
    Also, the anti-inflammatory properties look pretty convincing.
    On the issue of dependency, I think it comes down to more of a psychological component rather than a physical issue in the case of symptoms such as with alcohol or opiates.
    Marijuana is still a highly debated substance, pun intended, it’ll be interesting to see what happens once some more in-depth research becomes available.

  5. Great post and really well researched. I like to train myself but ever since my youth I have stayed away from the use of cannabis. I’m not against people using it but for me personally, it started to affect my mental health.

    I can definitely see it benefiting those bodybuilders that are in bulking season though.

  6. A very interesting and fairly thorough article. I can speak from over 30 years of use.

    I debunk some of the studies you wrote about. I think they are slanted. Weed never was addicting or I never developed any psychotic behavior. I smoked a lot (everyday for 30 years).

    When it was time for me to quit I just quit and it didn’t have any negative effect on me.

    I’m much older now and suffer from pheripreal neuropathy and sever chronic pain. I’m lucky enough to live in a state that has medical marijuana. I’ve already spoken with my primary care doctor and he says that he has a lot of elderly patient using marijuana (I think they probably used when they were younger). Although he couldn’t advocate it’s use to me (receives federal funds) I read between the lines and came to the conclusion that he was OK with me using it.

    I am in the process of getting my state medical marijuana card. I will be glad to use again for many reasons. I probably should have never quit in the first place. I never had any bad effects from it’s use.

    1. Hi Robert, 

      I understand where you’re coming from, but one person cannot debunk studies based on his experience. There are always exceptions to the rule. Also without knowing the THC content of the weed in the studies or the one you used, valid comparisons cannot be made.

  7. You know, this is a really interesting article. I particularly like the fact that you are drilling down past the headlines and actually questioning the research that is out there. Too often, scientific research is published and reported in the media without taking into account things like quantity and quality. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about weed, beef or sugar.

    1. Yup, people make all kinds of comparisons without really knowing what they’re comparing and come to erroneous conclusions.

  8. Very Interesting. I wasn’t aware studies on weed were being conducted to this extent. In the research you have done, have you seen where the studies apply typically to men, or are they pretty gender neutral? I ask because I know their are some differences between male and female weight trainers.

  9. Very interesting article. I have been going to the gym for 4 years now and I never even thought about weed usage and gym. I know some people that do that and I didn’t even know about the reasons they do that. Never thought that smoking pot can help you when you are bulking. gain, great article.

  10. Hello,

    Wow, I found that an interesting read. I’d never thought of athletes digesting weed before to use it’s benefits.

    I like the way that the article was written from a neutral standpoint giving arguments for and against.

    My personal opinion is that consenting adults should be allowed to carry out any activity they like as long as it does not cause harm to anyone else.

    Thanks again


  11. I lived in Colorado for many years, so this something I have heard about over the years. Some in colorado have concentrated on the use of marijuana to combat head injuries resulting from playing football and soccer. There have been reports stating that it helps the brain recover faster. You are correct that athletes that want to use marijuana to help them should consider the THC levels and may want to look at digesting it other than smoking.

  12. Great post. There does seem to be some awesome benefits to smoking weed. The effects on appetite, inflammation, and discomfort could be helpful to most active people. However, the addiction potential, psych, and neuro issues make it challenging to use long-term. I appreciate the specific recommendations that you provide, which summarized everything nicely. Definitely something to consider. Thanks.

  13. I did not know weed could help in weight training, mainly bulking. I always thought weed helps people lose weight because of what I seen. They were probably heavy users though. I am not against it nor am I with it. So it really do not matter what weeds does but it is nice to know the effects for myself. Thanks for the info.

    1. If you’re a chronic user, using a strain with high THC content can actually help lose weight. Eventually the signal to make you hungry is ignored.

  14. Wow, great article on the pros and cons of weed use, although with a slant towards how it will effect those trying to bulk up. I hadn’t considered the use of weed for purposes outside of recreational or medical use, therefore your article was particularly fascinating. The science in the article is extremely informative in being able to understand the differences between the two main chemical compounds and how it affects the body – this alone will help readers make a more informed decision in general. And I love the bit about Popeye, I’ll never look at him the same again. I plan on sharing this article with some teacher and gym friends as I think it would lead to particularly interesting and enlightening discussions. Thanks!

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