With tens of millions of people embracing it, cannabis is no longer a substance best consumed in the shadows. More research has also helped cast much-needed aspersions on long-held stereotypes. One of the most damaging is the suggestion that marijuana is a drug for ‘lazy’ people. Or worse, it causes you to become sluggish!
In reality, the cannabinoids in weed could help fuel your aerobic workout.
There is also an erroneous belief that sativa strains are energizing, while indicas make you sleepy. The correlation is there, true, but it is down to the cannabinoid and terpene content of strains, rather than merely being an indica or sativa.
It so happens that most sativas have a combination of compounds that lend themselves to more energy. Meanwhile, indicas tend to have compounds that help you relax. However, a sativa-dominant hybrid can promote a calming feeling, and an indica-dominant strain could do the opposite.
What we intend to show you in this article is evidence that cannabis CAN help aid your aerobic workouts. We conclude by outlining three strains for exercise, and three for post-workout recovery.
The ‘Lazy Stoner’ Myth Busted
If weed users are so listless, why do they have a lower prevalence of obesity? A study by Le Strat and Le Foll, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in October 2011, uncovered something astounding. People who used cannabis at least three times a week had a significantly lower rate of obesity compared to individuals who didn’t use pot in the previous 12 months.
A more recent study by YorkWilliams et al., published in Frontiers in Public Health in April 2019, was another hammer blow to the ‘weed makes you a sloth’ campaign. The researchers surveyed over 600 cannabis users in ‘legal’ American states regarding their exercise habits and health factors.
A staggering 80% of respondents claimed they used pot just before, or straight after, exercising. Also, they spent more time exercising in ‘minute per week’ terms than people who didn’t combine the two. Approximately 70% of those who responded to the survey said that using the herb before a workout made the process more enjoyable.
One possible reason is the chemical interactions involved. The so-called runner’s high is a euphoric feeling that happens when a person reaches the sweet spot in their workout. This has long been attributed to the release of endorphins, without concrete evidence. Another suggestion is that the good feeling you have when exercising begins in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Numerous members of the survey admitted that cannabis helps them face a tough workout that they wouldn’t otherwise complete. And 78% of respondents suggested that the herb enabled them to recover faster.
Don’t Expect to Break Personal Bests
Available evidence suggests that cannabis makes you more likely to want to train. However, it probably won’t help you smash records. Yes, a few people will buck that trend. One of the survey respondents says she broke her best marathon time in the Boston Marathon.
She ate a hash brownie before the race. However, she admitted that she knew the course well. The runner also had an excellent period of training before the race. However, she said the brownie made her ‘feel good’ and she ‘felt no pain.’
As any marathon runner will attest, one of the biggest obstacles to finishing is the pain you feel as you clock up the miles.
A study by Ware et al., published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine in September 2018, looked at how marijuana impacted the performance of elite athletes. It found that cannabis use degraded peak performance. It was only a qualitative study, so they don’t know how much of an effect weed has on a workout.
Nonetheless, it seems likely that you should steer clear of cannabis if you intend to beat a record. Pot is probably not going to help with your timing or critical judgment, either. As it can lower blood pressure and elevate heart rate, it isn’t a good idea for people high on adrenaline to try it. Indeed, don’t go for a massive training session the first time you try to workout while high!
What marijuana can do is improve your level of enjoyment. This potentially makes it ideal for usually ‘dull’ sessions where you must perform a repetitive action without being unduly challenged.
Choosing the Right Strain for a Workout
First and foremost, remember that everyone reacts differently to cannabis. If you have never tried it before, make sure you do so before you consider working out after using it! When training, begin with a small amount to see how it impacts you. Also, stick to a relatively easy day. For example, when you are hoping to run a distance that is usually comfortable for you.
Don’t automatically presume that sativa-dominant hybrids will give you energy or indica-dominant ones will make you tired. That said, most people prefer to use a sativa strain before exercising. Individuals that like a post-workout hit usually opt for an indica version to aid recovery.
You may also find that certain strains work better for specific activities. What helps during a monotonous run might not assist you in a HIIT-style workout, and so on. It is also a good idea to use cannabis oil or an edible. If you choose the latter, expect it to take an hour or more to affect. For a more immediate impact, consider vaping marijuana.
Great Strains for an Aerobic Workout
Below, we provide you with three strains to help boost your workout, and three to help you recover post-exercise.
This is arguably one of the best marijuana strains for running. It is a sativa-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of Swiss and Thai sativas, a Nepali indica, and Colombian Gold. Harlequin is famous for its relatively high combination of both THC and CBD. You could get up to 15% of each.
Users report a feeling of weightlessness but never feel in danger of being overwhelmed by an intoxicating high. It is full of myrcene, a terpene known for its apparent anti-inflammatory effects. When you use Harlequin, you may find it easier to get started, or to complete those last few tricky miles.
Some believe this strain is overrated due to its reputation from the Pineapple Express movie. However, it is a delicious tasting type of cannabis that offers a nice, mellow high. This, of course, is a stark contrast to the craziness depicted in the film! It is a cross of Trainwreck and Hawaiian.
With a THC of up to 25% and just 1% CBD, it is easy to believe Pineapple Express will prove too much. However, it provides a more even high than you might expect. Users also claim it offers an energetic buzz that transforms a dull training session into an enjoyable one. Consider using it if you plan to embark on a long hike up a mountain, for example.
Occasionally called the ‘espresso’ of marijuana strains, Durban Poison is another viable option for pre-workout use. It is purely South African sativa with a THC content of up to 20%. It has minimal CBD, and cannabis lovers sometimes try it as a replacement for a morning cup of coffee.
It begins with a strong cerebral high that helps inspire and invigorate. The stimulating euphoria it can cause may give you the extra ‘kick’ you need in the gym. It is perhaps a suitable option if you are embarking on a high-intensity aerobic workout.
Great Strains for Post-Workout Recovery
Please note that the idea of cannabis helping with recovery mainly depends on user anecdotes. There is evidence that it has anti-inflammatory properties, but not enough to make a concrete recommendation at present. If you are still interested and want to learn more, here are three strains of interest.
Great White Shark
This potent strain is a cross of a South Indian sativa, South American, and Super Skunk. It is a sativa-dominant strain, but it bucks the trend in many ways. Great White Shark could encourage creativity, and has a THC that ranges from 12% to 21%. With minimal CBD, it provides a noticeable high.
However, despite its sativa leanings, this strain could help you become more relaxed and calmer. Users often turn to it in a bid to ease any nerves they feel. Others recommend Great White Shark to deal with chronic pain. You may find that it helps loosen stiffness and enable you to get on with your day.
Girl Scout Cookies
The name is deliberately disarming, as Girl Scout Cookies is a potent strain. It is a slightly indica-dominant hybrid, that’s a cross of OG Kush and Durban Poison. With a THC content that could reach 28%, it can hit you hard, so novices should steer clear!
The high begins by stimulating the temples and then spreads into the body. Those who enjoy Girl Scout Cookies claim it is the ideal sociable strain. After exercising, you will love the growing effects on your body as it relaxes in a state of complete bliss.
This strain is a cross of OG Kush and LA Confidential. The fruity flavor is appealing to many users, and it is renowned as one of the best ‘lazy day’ strains around. Its THC content can vary significantly, from 12% to 24%. It is a slightly indica leaning hybrid, that can help you relax. Some users say LA OG helps them feel sedated.
Perfect after an intense workout, LA OG relaxes muscles and leaves you with a long-lasting feeling of calm. The high tends to creep up on users and can take up to 20 minutes before becoming apparent.
Final Thoughts on Great Marijuana Strains for an Aerobic Workout
Whether you are choosing a high-intensity workout or a low impact activity, there is likely a strain waiting for you. Though not set in stone, most people prefer sativa leaning cannabis before a workout. In contrast, indica dominant hybrids are the preferred option for post-training recovery. As we said, there is no hard and fast rule.
As well as trying the strains listed above, you can experiment with others. Let us know how you fare in the comments section. Finally, please exercise caution when using weed before or after a workout. It is also best if you steer clear of the herb during a training session!