Get your medical card online in minutes!

Get started

Weed and Weight Lifting: Is It Safe to Lift While High?

a woman doing weight lifting

Growing numbers of cannabis users are combining weed with their workouts, citing benefits such as increased motivation, greater enjoyment, better focus, and a more rapid recovery. However, questions are also arising about the safety of combining cannabis with certain forms of exercise, such as weightlifting.

While weightlifting ranks as one of the most popular forms of physical activity to engage in while high, teaming the two can carry risks. Research indicates that getting high can impair movement and balance and lead to delayed reaction times — which may be dangerous for those lifting very heavy weights. For those who choose to lift weights after using cannabis, we urge caution. Ideally, you should at least have a partner spot you for safety and technique.

Get Your Medical Card

Connect with a licensed physician online in minutes.

Cannabis Use and Lifting Weights

Marijuana use is increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. Anecdotal reports suggest that marijuana users generally endorse consuming cannabis before and after they work out. In one recent survey of 605 cannabis users, 81.7% of participants revealed that they found it beneficial to combine exercise and cannabis use.

Of those surveyed, 68.9% used weed within one hour before exercise, while 82% used cannabis within four hours after exercise. 67% of participants consumed cannabis both before and after exercise. Most interestingly, those who worked out under the influence of weed tended to work out significantly longer (averaging 159.7 minutes per week) than those who didn’t (averaging 103.5 minutes per week.)

Another recent survey provided insight into the specific forms of exercise cannabis users enjoy engaging in when high. Of the 54 physical activities mentioned, weightlifting ranked as the fourth most popular, with 44% revealing that they had lifted weights while under the influence of cannabis. These survey respondents revealed diverse benefits from using cannabis before physical activity, citing reasons such as an enhanced exercise experience, increased focus and concentration, and an improved mind/body connection. However, they also cited some unexpected drawbacks.

Some negative experiences reported include an elevated heart rate or being too intoxicated to continue working out. However, there were zero cases of negative experiences when people reported using non-psychoactive CBD products before exercise.

Other more general research exploring the effects of cannabis (containing THC) suggests it can impair movement, balance, and coordination, delay reaction times, and detrimentally affect decision-making. Weightlifting benefits from careful judgment, timing, coordination, and the ability to react quickly. If you’re contemplating combining weed and weight training, it’s vital to be aware that intoxication may impact your performance positively and negatively.

Download Free Guide to CBD

Marijuana’s Impact on Muscle Growth

In general, reviews indicate that cannabis consumption does not enhance athletic performance, contrary to long-standing beliefs about doping in professional sports. Experts suggest that marijuana use should be avoided before exercise to optimize performance.

When it comes to the effects of marijuana on muscles, there are no studies specifically exploring whether weed use impacts muscle growth. However, research delving into other topics, such as the effects of THC on testosterone, suggests there may be a negative correlation between marijuana use and muscle mass.

In some animal studies, THC has been shown to significantly lower testosterone levels. On the other hand, human studies report mixed findings. Some have demonstrated that THC lowers testosterone, while others have found that it produces no effects. Testosterone plays a critical role in strength and resistance training. In fact, it is considered the major promoter of muscle growth and muscle strength in men. Other research suggests that THC may also detrimentally impact growth hormone production. Growth hormone plays a critical role in building mass for weightlifters.

While it’s not possible at this stage to make any firm conclusions about whether cannabis affects muscle mass, the circumstantial evidence currently suggests that individuals focused on increasing the size of their muscles may wish to avoid excessive cannabis use.

Does Smoking Weed Decrease Strength?

There’s also a scarcity of data exploring whether weed decreases strength. However, as reviews generally indicate that cannabis can detrimentally impact exercise performance, it’s possible that strength may also be compromised. The data that does exist suggests that cannabis exerts either a null or detrimental effect on strength-based activities.

A number of studies have no reported differences in aerobic fitness, blood pressure, muscular strength, endurance measures, work capacity, or perceived exertion between marijuana users and non-users. Other research specifically testing handgrip strength found that participants showed no apparent effect after smoking a moderate dose of THC (18.2 mg).

However, another study that investigated the effects of CBD supplementation suggested that CBD appeared to reduce muscle damage but was also correlated with reductions in strength within 24 hours of supplementation.

Finally, it’s important to point out that many athletes believe strength can be most effectively recruited when balance and precision are enforced. Marijuana usage can detrimentally impact both. Without optimal precision and balance, technique may be compromised, and it could be challenging to express one’s strength effectively.

The Bottom Line

At present, there are inadequate human studies to determine conclusively whether it’s safe to use weed while weightlifting. While cannabis users report that combining cannabis with their workout can enhance focus and enjoyment, circumstantial evidence suggests that marijuana may also detrimentally affect one’s athletic performance and even inhibit muscle growth.

Get Your Medical Card

Connect with a licensed physician online in minutes.

diamond icon

Frequently Asked Questions

Is weed good after a workout?

Many cannabis users turn to weed after a workout to help promote recovery. Research also suggests that CBD may specifically help with muscular recovery following strength training. This is due to cannabinoids’ and terpenes’ anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Is it good to smoke weed before lifting weights?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that smoking weed before lifting weights may be advantageous for those who want to enjoy their workout, increase focus, and get out of their head and into their body.

However, large quantities of THC may also detrimentally affect exercise performance by impairing coordination, motor function, balance, decision-making, and reaction time, which could be potentially dangerous when lifting heavy weights.

Is it okay to smoke weed after lifting weights?

Smoking weed after lifting weights may help with muscular relaxation and recovery. However, smoking weed after a weightlifting workout may not be appropriate for professional athletes or those who hold increased muscle size as a goal. Circumstantial data suggests THC may inhibit testosterone and growth hormone production.

However, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) includes cannabis on its list of prohibited substances, with some concerns that it could function as a performance-enhancing drug due to its ability to relax muscles and speed up recovery. This suggests that cannabis could be both beneficial and detrimental, depending on the type of exercise, dosage, and how it is used.

Keep Reading