Working Out High: Should You Give It a Shot?

Working out high might seem like a somewhat dubious idea at first, but a growing number of people find that using cannabis before exercising helps them get more from their workout.

Before we get into the potential benefits and pitfalls of working out high, first we need to cover a couple of essential guidelines.

3 Things to Consider Before Mixing Weed and Workout

The first important aspect we need to address is quantity.

Too much cannabis can either have a sedative effect, or it can produce a high that is just too overwhelming for working out. 

The amount of cannabis needed for a successful workout should be significantly lower than what you would consider using for recreational purposes.

This amount will differ depending on your personal preferences, but a general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t take more than a few tokes, either from your vaporizer, or a joint.

If you plan on using edibles, you probably shouldn’t go over 2mg or 3mg of THC on your first attempt.

The second crucial aspect to consider is the type of weed you want to use for your workout.

The cannabis plant has two distinct subspecies, Indica and Sativa, and the effects they produce are different. 

The Indica-induced high is best described as a relaxing and mellow experience. It commonly makes you end up slouching on your couch, with absolutely no enthusiasm for a workout. 

Sativa strains are a better choice for exercising since they have a much more uplifting and energizing effect.

Cannabis also comes in a wide variety of hybrids (a genetic mixtures of both Indica and Sativa strains), but for your first crack at working out high, a better choice would be purebred Sativa strain. 

Another important element to consider is the consumption method

Smoking joints or blunts is considered less healthy, but smoking right before a workout is even worse, as it can put an unnecessary strain on your lungs.

Edibles are a far healthier alternative compared to smoking cannabis, but the main downside of using edibles before an exercise is that they require a longer (and typically unpredictable) amount of time to start working. 

The first noticeable effects of edibles usually occur after 30-120 minutes. The exact time when you will start feeling high depends on several factors, including your metabolism rate and what you had to eat that day. This erratic feature makes edibles less than ideal for training.

Finally, vaporizers are probably the best option for working out. 

Using these devices is healthier than smoking because vaporizers don’t combust weed. Since cannabinoids enter the bloodstream through your lungs, you’ll get high very quickly, and be ready for your training session in a matter of minutes.

A Word of Caution

Note that using cannabis as a tool to enhance your workouts is definitely not for everyone. Some people are just too sensitive for weed, and if you don’t enjoy cannabis during leisure time, chances are you also won’t enjoy it during an exercise.

You should also steer clear from mixing weed and training if you are new to cannabis

Getting accustomed to THC’s psychoactivity takes some time. It’s a good idea to wait before adding cannabis to your fitness regimen until you start feeling familiar with the complex effects it produces. 

You also need to avoid working out on cannabis if you’re suffering from a heart disease. One of the effects of cannabis is that it lowers blood pressure, which causes the heart to beat faster. This effect is not considered threatening for healthy individuals, but it poses a real risk for people with cardiovascular issues.

Individuals under 18 should also avoid using cannabis in general. Modern scientific research found that exposing a young developing brain to cannabinoids from cannabis can have a detrimental effect because they interfere with the delicate balance of internal endocannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2-AG), and the developmental processes which they are a part of.

Finally, you might want to consult your physician if you’re uncertain about whether you should implement cannabis into your fitness regimen.

Now that we’ve covered the ground rules, we can move on to the main part of this article which you’re probably most interested in – the advantages and disadvantages of working out high. 

Pros and Cons of Working Out High

Using cannabis before working out offers many potential benefits to the athlete, but it also comes with some disadvantages. Let’s first cover the good stuff.

Cannabis Can Motivate You

If you enjoy working out, you’ve probably been in a slump at some point in time. One of the most important things about training is consistency, and that’s exactly where most of us fail. 

This is especially true for highly repetitive training sessions such as weight lifting, running or rowing. Even though it might seem counterintuitive, the right type (and correct dosage) of weed can turn your stagnation around. 

One of the best effects of using cannabis as a workout supplement is that it gives a new twist to the entire training experience. Being moderately high during your session can uplift you mentally and breathe new life to your incentive.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that you have to get high every single time you work out, but when you’re really lacking motivation, you can use weed as that much-needed kick. 

Cannabis Can Boost Your Energy

While getting too much Sativa in your system can leave you feeling jittery and restless, the right amount will energize you in the best possible way.

This weed-inspired vigor can help you run a few extra miles, or give you an extra push needed for those dreadful finishing reps.

As previously mentioned, determining the perfect amount of weed for a workout is very much a personal journey. While you’re in the process of finding your sweet spot, it’s advisable to start low and slowly work your way up.

Your unique sensitivity to cannabis also plays a huge role. If you tend to get high easily, you should limit your intake accordingly.

Don’t take more than a couple of puffs on your first try, and if necessary, gradually increase the dosage. 

Cannabis Can Give You Focus

Sometimes when we’re training, instead of being in the moment, our mind has a tendency to wander off and fixate on the numerous aspects of our life, which causes us to completely lose our focus.

Weed has the ability to help us access what’s known as the “flow state”, where we are completely immersed in the activity that we’re participating in.

This laser-focused state of mind can be very beneficial during a workout, because if we are 100% aware of our body and the movements we’re doing, we’re more likely to experience a very precise and effective training session. 

It’s important to point out that the overall amount of cannabis used in the process plays a crucial role here, since too much weed can cause the mind to function in a completely chaotic manner, which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Cannabis Can Make Your Workout Fun

Some people really love working out, and have absolutely no issues with hitting the gym several times a week.

For others, frequent training sessions are more like a tedious biweekly burden. If you view exercising as “that dull thing you need to do”, cannabis might just be what you’re looking for.

Weed has an innate ability to make even the most trivial things seem awesome, and can definitely help you transcend the mundane, repetitive nature of a workout.

Cannabis Might Help with Recovery

One of the most important aspects of any type of training is the resting phase, where the muscles recuperate and grow. 

Allowing your body to adequately recover from a workout is typically accomplished through proper nutrition and sufficient hours of sleep, but most of us live pretty hectic lives, which leaves our bodies tired and inflamed. 

The second most prominent cannabinoid in cannabis is CBD (also known as cannabidiol), and the scientific community suspects that it is capable of naturally lessening inflammation. 

Consuming cannabis on a regular basis should therefore help our muscles and tendons recover more rapidly, resulting in an overall better form and performance.

Cannabis Can Change the Way We Feel Pain

Weed is well-known for changing the way we perceive pain, and because of this effect it is medically prescribed for various types of chronic pain.

This feature can also be beneficial for exercising, as it can help us push harder (run longer or get those few extra reps), which in favor elevates the intensity of our training to a certain extent.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should overexert yourself in case you’ve suffered an injury or strained something during a workout.

Cannabis Can Interfere with Coordination

One of the potentially worst effects of weed for training is that it can diminish coordination.

While this effect doesn’t pose much of a threat for simple repetitive movements such as jogging or rowing, it could be hazardous during complicated motions that require a great deal of coordination.

Therefore, you shouldn’t use cannabis before or during any type of dangerous or extreme activities, since the euphoric effect of THC may easily result in an unnecessary injury.

Cannabis Can Impair Judgement

This is another negative facet of working out high, since getting stoned may lead you to try something that you’re not objectively capable of doing. 

You can reduce this effect by always keeping in mind that you’re high, which should hopefully deter you from doing anything that could jeopardize your safety. 

You can also lower the chance of any mishaps by making a deal with yourself that you won’t try anything too ambitious while you’re working out high.

Finally, the risk of injury can be additionally minimized if you consume a small and responsible amount of cannabis before a workout.

What Does Working Out High Feel Like?

Some people experience a very enjoyable run while high, especially if jogging outside. 

Weed can help you focus on your breathing without having to try too hard, and you can find your neighborhood and the people roaming the streets a lot more interesting and eye-pleasing. Your favorite running playlists can also sound a lot cooler when you’re slightly baked. 

Another exercise that can be interesting when stoned is the rowing machine. There is something about the hypnotizing nature of rowing that sits really well with cannabis. 

As we previously mentioned, you should be careful about your judgment when working out high, especially when doing heavy-lifting exercises like deadlifts and squats. Weed is capable of diminishing your coordination, and performing powerlifting exercises with heavy weights is probably not the best idea when you’re high.

All in all, working out high from time to time can offer a change of pace and it can be nice to switch it up a bit and perform your favorite workout like a stoner.

About the author
Joan Abrams

Content writer & research psychologist. Passionate about science and humanities. Loves spending time in nature, reading books, and exploring new cultures.

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