For those hoping to make the gym a new habit, you might want to consider turning to cannabis if you haven’t already.
Used by a wave of trainers and gym members, cannabis is reported to help benefit in an array of physical and mental fashions. I had seen positive personal returns from using it when I returned to the gym in 2017 and 2018. During that period, smoking pot pre-workout helped me reach modest fitness goals, like running my first sub-10 minute mile and feeling less fatigue and soreness after workouts.
If pot helped a schlub like me, I wondered how many others, including high-performing individuals, were finding similar gains.
During the pandemic, I kept up with the pot-fitness combo. But after a while, I often became distracted by something during my at-home bike and resistance band routines. If it wasn’t what was on TV or Spotify throwing me off, it was what was on my mind.
By late 2022, I needed a change and re-enrolled in my old gym. I wondered if I’d find similar results as before. Would cannabis help me with my workouts? Or would potless sessions lead to better outcomes? And more importantly, would either magically help me figure out how to adjust the ab machine properly?
I set out for answers in late November. The plan was to document my first month back at the gym, doing four workouts per week, two with cannabis and two without. I didn’t have a set regimen for how much cannabis I would consume before going to the gym. Often the amount varied depending on how much I had earlier in the day. But typically, I tried to take three to four hits from my one-hitter or vape pen 15 minutes before going to the gym. On non-cannabis-consuming days, I made it a point not to have pot at least three hours before working out. I brought some for immediately after.
The progress was moving along fine for the first two and a half weeks. I didn’t notice any significant takeaways other than that I struggled to get “in the zone” and focus on non-pot days. The big reveal of that portion of the test came when Miguel, the manager at my Brooklyn gym, reported that “everyone” on staff used pot at some point in the day. That made me question why I was doing this, but I pushed on.
However, the slew of December colds and viruses bit into my plan. Two rounds of head colds made going to the gym reckless for myself and the public. Thus, cutting the self-analysis at Day 15 and eight workouts. Still, my indisputably clinical analysis of the subject allowed me to confirm my hypothesis:
Working out without weed fucking sucks. 0/10 stars, no doubt.
Now that my non-bias, Nobel-caliber lab analysis is published, let’s dive in further. Some people shouldn’t use cannabis at the gym for various reasons. But for most of us, that doesn’t apply. My online interactions and with folks at the gym make it appear that most of us use pot as part of our fitness routines, pre-, post- or sometimes during workouts.
Bain Blackraw heads up South Florida’s B-Raw Fitness, where the 25-year ex-athlete is a personal trainer. A consumer since high school, Blackraw said he smokes joints before intense workouts.
“I love the fact that it gives me extreme focus during my workout,” he said, adding he feels more relaxed when using cannabis. Post-workout, Blackraw said cannabis helps him with muscle recovery and reducing soreness.
Antonio DeRose, a runner, endurance athlete and co-founder of cannabis-centric training brand Green House Healthy, spoke of similar benefits. Along with his co-founder and wife, Heather, the Missouri-based brand has a team of 27 cannabis-consuming runners and cyclists who compete and educate about cannabis use.
“When I consume cannabis before a workout, it boosts my mood, enhances my focus on the run or workout I’m about to perform, and keeps me in the zone while I’m working out,” said DeRose.
The reported results seem similar across the board. Whether a high-performing athlete or an average Joe/Jane, pot may help ease minds and bodies. I had felt these effects pre-pandemic and was happy to see it wasn’t lost.
Working out with cannabis didn’t seem to alter my performance at the gym considerably. What I did notice was that gym days using pot always felt better. Pot elevated my mood, and I was more relaxed overall. I felt more enthusiastic and focused when doing reps. Combined with the right music in my headphones, I was ready to take on the gym with a confidence I hadn’t ever had before.
Shout out an array of playlists to help me get there–including Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy, the Finnish metal band Ensiferum and various pro wrestling entrance songs, including Kenny Omega and Jamie Hayter.
The combination did wonders for my mood. With the music and pot coursing through me, I wanted to do my best. I pushed myself a bit more. It wasn’t as if I felt superhuman or any stronger. Instead, cannabis made me enjoy being at the gym like I never had before. As someone who was never comfortable at the gym, it allowed me to focus on the tasks at hand and laugh at myself when I pulled rookie moves, like not knowing how to adjust a machine. Sadly, I must report that pot did not help me figure out how to do that. Just ask someone for help with that one.
Like in most cases, weed alone won’t reshape your experience, but it does seem to help many at the gym and after rigorous workouts. All I know is that if people like Bain, Antonio, and potentially the entire staff at my gym are doing it, then I’ll keep using pot until I notice any adverse results. And after nearly three weeks off, I will surely be hitting the one-hitter when I go back in.