Getting high before working out may sound like a self-defeating premise. After all, stoners aren’t necessarily known for their ripped physiques. But as attitudes toward marijuana and the laws governing it keep changing (medical marijuana is currently legal in 29 states, recreational marijuana in nine), so do its uses.
Nowadays, pot isn’t just for getting silly and eating your weight in Goldfish crackers. Veterans swear by it in treating their PTSD; Whoopi Goldberg wants you to use it to ease your period cramps with her very own line of holistic cannabis products; and the NFL is basically one giant bong, with an overwhelming majority of its injury-prone players using weed for pain management.
“Cannabis is the strongest anti-inflammatory found in nature,” says Boris Scharansky, co-founder of Papa & Barkley, a California-based topical marijuana brand. “It activates receptors in our body that help regulate critical bodily functions and, by doing so, helps bring our bodies into homeostasis. It’s a game changer in terms of opening up fitness to more people.”
San Francisco’s as-yet-unopened Power Plant Fitness certainly agrees. Billing itself as the world’s first cannabis gym, its members will be able to buy and use weed on-site before and after their workouts. So what are the benefits of hitting the reef and then the racks?
Well, first of all, weed affects everyone in different ways, so if you’re not a regular toker, you may want to avoid having your first high-time with heavy weights lifted directly over your head. Cannabis may also reduce your ability to work at peak performance, and THC (the psychoactive part of the marijuana plant) increases your heart rate and decreases your blood pressure, which can make you light-headed.
“I like to cycle long distances, and using THC on these rides has allowed for better focus and endurance,” says Scharansky. “However, I’m also a medical user and my tolerance is higher, so I can function with higher levels of THC.”
Keep in mind that because the government considers marijuana a Schedule 1 drug (like heroin and cocaine), there is little to no scientific research about its medicinal benefits. Nevertheless, some government research has been dedicated to CBD (the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant with said medicinal benefits), which the World Anti-Doping Agency recently removed from its list of banned substances.
“A novice user should stick to topical CBD or whole-plant CBD capsules before and after workouts to limit recovery time and manage post-workout soreness,” Scharansky says. “But taking too much CBD (in excess of 100 milligrams) may make you drowsy, so take care to use a smaller dose before your workout and a larger one afterwards.”
Weed’s fitness benefits are also dependent on the type of strain. High Times, the rolling paper of record, recommends sativa-dominant strains such as Green Crack, Jack Herer, and Sour Diesel, as they’re more uplifting and less nap-inducing. And for all you exercise-averse potheads out there who are already sold on Mary Jane but need some convincing to hit the gym, consider this: Exercise can actually intensify your high. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.