In a world filled with testosterone, protein shakes, and a myriad of supplements, is there room for one more? Can CBD work for bodybuilding? Judging by the various infomercials marketing weird and occasionally wonderful ways to build muscle, the answer is a definite ‘YES.’ The size of the health and fitness industry means it’s no surprise that CBD and bodybuilding are a potential match.
Is CBD Good for Bodybuilding?
Those who use CBD for bodybuilding believe it helps them in a wide variety of ways. That a growing number of gym-goers want to try cannabidiol is no shock. After all, it is an industry notorious for selling an array of supplements. Some, like creatine, are backed by science. Others are utterly ridiculous with no apparent benefit other than the bank balance of the creators.
For those seeking an edge, bodybuilding and CBD is a combination that makes sense. Unlike THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis, CBD does not produce a ‘high.’ Therefore, there is no danger of you being stoned as you try to break a bench press personal best! The cannabinoid impacts the cannabinoid receptors found in the human body and brain. The primary receptors are CB1 and CB2.
Although CBD doesn’t directly bind to receptors like THC, it has an indirect effect. This appears to provide users with an array of benefits. From a bodybuilding point of view, the most salient are recovery from workouts, better energy levels, and improved sleep.
At present, it is much easier to find CBD than THC. In the United States, both remain on the list of controlled substances. The issue with CBD is confusing because it comes from the hemp plant as well as from marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances, but not CBD. In general, it is easy to find, but a handful of states, such as Idaho, make it tricky.
Does CBD Build Muscle?
In bodybuilding circles, any supplement capable of helping boost muscle mass is snapped up by eager gym rats. There is a suggestion that CBD can help with the muscle-building process. First and foremost, be wary of any brand that makes health claims with regards to cannabidiol. The FDA has clearly outlined that such an action is illegal. Vendors can’t make any medical claims or say CBD cures or treats any condition. It doesn’t matter whether there is compelling evidence.
The likely answer is that CBD does not directly build muscle. However, it could have an array of benefits that pave the way for an individual to increase their muscle mass. Think about it: If you could recover faster, you could complete more workouts overall. Through this process, you would likely benefit from a higher level of muscle. No ingredient or product in the world helps you gain muscle without also working hard!
Those familiar with bodybuilding have probably heard of anabolic and anti-catabolic supplements. Catabolic hormones cause muscle loss. As the name suggests, anti-catabolic products reduce the production of catabolic hormones. Anabolic supplements boost the production of anabolic hormones. This particular process helps protein synthesis and leads to faster muscle growth.
CBD doesn’t replace anabolic products. However, it potentially offers an alternative to anti-catabolic ones. Remember, CBD connects with the CB receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). It helps regulate the body’s metabolism and appetite.
Why Do Bodybuilders Take CBD?
As you’ll discover in the next section, there are lots of potential benefits for bodybuilders that use CBD. However, one of the most crucial is the impact of CBD on inflammation. The inflammatory process involves swelling, pain, heat, redness, and loss of function. It is an essential immune response that can keep us protected from harmful microorganisms.
Bodybuilders need acute inflammation. It is a short-lived process that helps kill foreign bodies. After it achieves this process, the antibodies change gears and remove residue while repairing damaged cells. If you have ever trained hard, you will experience the pain that comes with this form of inflammation. Though it hurts like hell, it is a good thing!
What you don’t want is chronic inflammation because it causes muscle breakdown. It can persist for months or longer without the necessary immune response to shut it down. As well as damaging muscle growth, chronic inflammation contributes to various diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
The standard way to tackle chronic inflammation is through NSAIDs. A 2017 study by Lilja et al. found that high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit muscle growth. CBD, on the other hand, could help reduce chronic inflammation without hindering the muscle-building process. Cannabinoids are strong anti-inflammatory agents. CBD, in particular, has a distinct way of interacting with the ECS that could help reduce inflammation.
A review of over 130 studies by Rudroff and Sosnoff, published in Frontiers in Neurology in 2018, found something interesting. It discovered that CBD could reduce inflammation in the body, improve mobility, and reduce pain in patients with multiple sclerosis. The reviewers said CBD was “Anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective.”
CBD Benefits for Bodybuilding
There are many other ways in which CBD is beneficial for bodybuilding. Here is a brief outline:
- Better Sleep: The body needs sleep to rebuild and heal the muscle tears associated with weightlifting. If you don’t get enough rest, your body has problems synthesizing protein into muscle. There is a suggestion that CBD helps create a relaxed and sleepy effect.
- Increased Energy: It is tough to do a great workout when you feel sluggish. CBD could help by regulating the blood sugar levels in your body. This, in turn, impacts the level of insulin you produce. By maintaining a lower level of insulin, the body burns more glucose into energy, rather than converting it to fat. As well as seeing better muscle-building results, you may also enjoy having more ‘zip’ in your workouts.
- Reduced Stress: High cortisol levels can slow down muscle growth. If you produce a lot of this stress hormone, you will find that it hurts your muscle-building exploits. CBD potentially reduces the level of stress a person feels. As a result, you benefit from a lower rate of cortisol production.
Now that you can see the benefits of CBD oil for bodybuilding let’s look at the professionals that use it.
Bodybuilders Using CBD
- Lee Priest: Born Lee Andre McCutcheon, this Australian bodybuilder used to compete in the International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB). There, he won a multitude of titles over a career that spanned almost two decades. Priest has recently spoken out over how CBD has proven more beneficial to him than opioids.
- Joey Swoll: Joey Sergo is a leader in the fitness industry and has featured in numerous fitness and bodybuilding magazines. These days, he offers online coaching, but only for serious trainees. One look at his physique suggests that he employs a brutal training regime of his own. He is another big name in the fitness industry that apparently uses and endorses CBD for recovery.
- Dave Palumbo: As well as competing in various competitions, Palumbo was the Editor-in-Chief of Muscular Development magazine. He also founded RxMuscle.com and owns Species Nutrition. Again, he seemingly believes cannabidiol can help bodybuilders in their recovery phases.
Final Thoughts on CBD Bodybuilding
In the end, there is unquestionably a positive link between CBD and bodybuilding. Unfortunately, the cannabinoid is not federally legal in the United States. This is one of the reasons why there is relatively little clinical research into it at present. Until researchers can perform unencumbered tests, it is difficult to see the FDA change its stance.
Fortunately, those who want to use CBD for bodybuilding shouldn’t find it too hard to locate. There are dozens of reputable brands that offer the cannabinoid. Possible benefits include lower stress, better sleep, and reduced inflammation. It is the latter that has the most considerable interest for individuals looking to build muscle.
If you want to give it a try, there are lots of options, including edibles, tinctures, and topicals. It is best if you begin with a small amount to see how your body reacts. Gradually increase how much you take until you are happy with the outcome.