Working Out High: Gym Weed Tips

For some, the idea of mixing exercise with cannabis might seem crazy – and for many it may not be right. But some athletes have enjoyed the mix of the two for quite some time. It’s not just weekend warriors either. World-class athletes from different sports have enjoyed working out high.

One prominent example of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger – seven-time winner of the Mr. Olympia title.

Working Out While High

Before we talk about whether or not the former Governor of California enjoyed a toke or two before hitting the gym – we want to clarify a few important things. 

  1. Mixing the use of cannabis and exercise is not safe for everyone – especially those with pre-existing heart conditions. 
  2. You should not mix cannabis with extreme workouts like rock climbing, skydiving, or cliff diving. 
  3. If consuming cannabis makes you feel clumsy or uncoordinated, then certain activities like swimming, surfing, tackle football, or lifting weights after smoking weed may not be safe. 

In other words, use common sense. While mixing marijuana with a workout can be good for some, it’s definitely not right for all. With that being said, let’s look into the possibility that enjoying a little bit of cannabis before hitting the gym could be a good thing.

Pros and Cons of Working Out High

Back in the early 1970s Arnold Schwarzenegger became friends with the up-and-coming actor and comedian, Tommy Chong. If you’ve ever watched a Cheech and Chong movie, you know Tommy Chong is a fan of cannabis. 

Smoking Weed Before the Gym

During a 2021 guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed that he and Tommy Chong were gym buddies. And that it was Tommy who introduced Arnold to the idea of enjoying some cannabis before hitting the gym.

Arnold said that it was Tommy Chong who taught him that when it comes to working out on weed, moderation is key. In their case, they would only take a few puffs of a joint and then work out. And, in Arnold’s own words, “ … it was really fantastic…”

Could it be that cannabis was the secret behind Arnold’s bodybuilding success all along? 

We kid of course. It was Arnold’s passion, hard work, discipline, and commitment to excellence that helped him win the title of Mr. Olympia seven times. 

Benefits of Working Out High

If cannabis can help us get greater enjoyment from our workouts, then could it be possible that it could help us achieve our fitness goals? Well, that seems to be what researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder discovered during their 2019 research study.

The CU Boulder research study was one of the first to examine cannabis use and exercise. The results, published in Frontiers in Public Health, revealed that those who used marijuana before or after exercising got, on average, 43 more minutes of weekly aerobic exercise than those who didn’t.2

Angela Bryan, a senior author of the study said: “There is a stereotype that cannabis use leads people to be lazy and couch-locked and not-physically active, but these data suggest this is not the case.”3

Potential Benefits of Working Out High

Of 605 legal marijuana users in Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, the study found that 81.7% paired cannabis with exercise – either one hour before or within four hours after their workout. Among those who mixed cannabis with their workouts:

  • 52% said it increased their motivation to exercise
  • 70% said it helped them get more enjoyment from their exercise
  • 78% said it improved their ability to recover from their workout

These findings are encouraging for the millions who don’t meet the minimum exercise recommendations for physical activity. Often, the reasons they don’t include a lack of motivation, a lack of enjoyment from their workouts, and poor recovery. 

Get Into the Flow

In addition to having the potential to improve motivation and enjoyment, and assist with recovery, another benefit of cannabis use for athletes is that it could help them get into a flow state.

A flow state is defined as an “optimal state of consciousness when our brains begin to quiet down, allowing for an increased sense of wellbeing, an elevated sense of energy, and a spiked increase in concentration.”4

Flow states are said to inspire creativity and boost mental and physical performance. 

Caffeine + THC + Exercise = Flow State

Here’s some good news for those whose pre-workout routine includes a bit of THC and caffeine. The mix of THC, caffeine, and exercise has been said to help facilitate a flow state. 

A word of Caution: Since both caffeine and THC can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, it is not safe for all – especially those with a heart condition.

Now that we’ve touched upon a few possible benefits of working out high, let’s consider some things that could go wrong.

Cons of Working Out High

Let’s start by repeating what we mentioned earlier. Consuming cannabis before participating in activities like rock climbing, cliff diving, or ocean swimming can be dangerous.

Also, if smoking cannabis tends to make you feel clumsy or uncoordinated, then you’ll want to avoid exercising while high. Otherwise, you could end up dropping a heavy weight on your foot while trying to re-rack your weights – or worse.

A Warning for Anyone with a Heart Condition: consuming cannabis can raise your heart rate and blood pressure immediately after consumption. If you have a heart condition and consume cannabis ahead of your workout, you could start your workout with an already elevated heart rate, or blood pressure. And, if you push yourself a little too hard – it could be too much for your heart to handle.

That’s why anyone with a heart condition should avoid mixing cannabis with exercise.

Something else that could go wrong is that you smoke the wrong weed strain before your workout. Different strains of cannabis will have different effects. Some might provide a full body relaxation effect. Others could help to energize the mind and provide mental clarity. 

The last thing you want to do is take a couple of puffs of a hard hitting indica and end up stuck on the couch – instead of in the gym. That’s why you should do your research and test out the cannabis product you plan on mixing with your workout ahead of time.

We’ll share some tips to help you select the best gym weed later on.

Before we move on, it’s important to note that just because a strain or edible works well for someone you know, that does not mean it will be best for you. The effects of each strain of cannabis will be different for all. That’s because we all have a unique endocannabinoid system (ECS) that processes the active compounds in cannabis differently. 

Now that we’ve covered some of the potential cons of mixing weed with your workout, let’s consider a few different types of workouts you can enjoy while high. 

Running While High

One activity that might be safe to enjoy while high is running or jogging. If it’s your first time running while high, you’ll want to start out with an easy jog.

Those who have enjoyed a little cannabis before a run have said that it helped them: 

  • Feel more relaxed and focused on their form
  • Get greater enjoyment from their runs 
  • Experience less workout related stress 
  • Recover better 
  • Enjoy a sense of euphoria 

We all know a runner who can’t stop talking about how great they feel after a run. They talk about it so much, some might get annoyed by it. But, you know what?

Science seems to back up what they’re saying. 

What Is A Runners High?

A runner’s high can be described as a sense of euphoria that some people experience during or immediately after a run or workout. For some time, it was thought this euphoric feeling – known as runner’s high – was caused by the release of endorphins. But, recent research seems to say this is not the case.

In April of 2021, the results of a study were published in the journal, Psychoneuroendocrinology. The study found that runner’s high was more likely caused by endocannabinoids than endorphins.5

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids that are naturally produced within our bodies – whether or not we consume cannabis.

Authors of the study wrote, “ … endorphins don’t seem to play a major role. We found, instead, that running stimulates endocannabinoid release, and based on our present and earlier findings, we conclude that endocannabinoids are responsible for a runner’s high.”6

Specifically, researchers believe it’s the endocannabinoid known as anandamide that promotes the feelings of euphoria associated with runner’s high. Anandamide was named after the Sanskrit word for bliss or joy, due to it being a mood enhancer that can provide a calming effect. 

How CBD Can Help You Make the Most of Your Anandamide

Anandamide is naturally produced by our bodies. Usually, AAH enzymes break down the anandamide in our system. The cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD), however, can inhibit those enzymes from breaking it down.

By doing so, CBD allows the Anandamide to attach to the receptors in our brains – which results in the calming effect commonly attributed to CBD.

Does Smoking Weed Affect Your Running Stamina?

A systematic review of literature related to the effects of cannabis consumption on sports performance was conducted in 2020. The study focused on two key measures of fitness – maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 Max) and  peak work capacity (PWC).

Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 Max) is considered to be the gold standard measure of cardiorespiratory fitness. Peak work capacity (PWC) estimates the maximum power a person is capable of outputting.7

The study found that, “The strongest predictors of athletic performance (VO2 Max and PWC) were not found to be significantly different between groups in any of the included studies.”

The result of the review basically indicated that “no evidence exists for ergogenic or ergolytic effects from chronic cannabis consumption.” 

Ergolytic is an adjective that means to hinder. Ergogenic is also an adjective. It means to enhance. So, the review of literature seems to indicate that chronic cannabis use does not enhance or hinder athletic performance or capacity.

Does Cannabis Provide a Mental Boost?

Instead, the study points to the mental health benefits that cannabinoid therapies can provide athletes facing the psychological pressures associated with competition.

A May 2022 study that looked into, How and Why Adults Use Cannabis During Physical Activity found that the most common reasons people used cannabis along with their workouts were that it helped them focus and concentrate, better enjoy the exercise experience, and enhanced the mind/body/spirit connection.8

In addition to the potential mental edge it could provide, cannabis could also improve recovery – due the fact that it is an analgesic. That means it can help to reduce pain. 

So although science says cannabis does not hinder or enhance performance – taking a few puffs of weed could provide a mental boost and help reduce the pain you feel during a run or workout – which could help to increase your endurance.

This is why cannabis use is prohibited in many endurance competitions. 

Tips for Smoking Weed and Running

Less Is More – consume in moderation ahead of your run, walk, or hike. You may also want to avoid THC edibles since dosing can be more difficult to control.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Smoking – smoking can be harsh on your lungs and airways. So perhaps take a couple puffs from your vape instead.

Start Slow – If you’re new to mixing running with cannabis – start with a nice slow jog to familiarize yourself with the experience to avoid accidents or injuries. 

Have Some Water Handy – running can dehydrate you and smoking weed can give you cotton mouth. So, bring some water along.

Don’t Overdo It – slowly increase the intensity and length of your runs – to avoid injury.

Tips for Selecting the Best Gym Weed

Select a strain that provides uplifting and energizing effects. In the past, strain type has been used as a guide to the effects you can expect. Today we know that a lot more goes into determining the effects a particular strain might have – like their cannabinoid and terpene profile.

With that said, you can use strain type as a general guide to the effects you can expect. For example, sativa strains of cannabis tend to provide uplifting and energizing effects. Indicas, on the other hand, tend to provide more relaxing full-body effects. Because of that:

  • Sativa strains tend to be a popular choice before a workout
  • Indica strains tend to be popular after a workout as a recovery aid

Remember, these are just guidelines. Ultimately it’s your endocannabinoid system, and the way it processes the cannabinoid and terpenes in your cannabis, that will determine how a strain affects you. 

That’s why it might be a good idea to keep a journal of how each strain makes you feel during your workout – so you can dial in the cannabis product and dose that’s right for you.  

Where to Get the Best Gym Weed

Bloom’s dispensary locations in Maryland, Missouri, and Ohio have a wide selection of cannabis flower and products. Whether you’re looking for a sativa strain to enjoy ahead of your workout, or some indica to help in your recovery Bloom is your one-stop canna-shop.  

Missouri Bloom Dispensaries:

Dispensary in Cameron, MO

Dispensary in Cape Girardeau, MO

Dispensary in O’Fallon, MO

Dispensary in Springfield, MO

Ohio Bloom Dispensaries:

Maryland Bloom Dispensary:

Starting July 1, 2023, Bloom’s dispensary in Germantown, Maryland opened its doors to adults over the age of 21 as a result of recent changes to Maryland’s Constitution which legalized adult-use recreational cannabis in Maryland.

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger Says He Used to Worked Out While Stoned With Tommy Chong
  2. The New Runner’s High? Examining Relationships Between Cannabis Use and Exercise Behavior in States With Legalized Cannabis
  3. The new ‘runner’s high’? 80% of cannabis users mix weed, workouts | CU Boulder Today
  4. Flow State and Cannabis
  5. Exercise-induced euphoria and anxiolysis do not depend on endogenous opioids in humans – ScienceDirect
  6. “Runner’s High” Depends on Endocannabinoids (Not Endorphins) | Psychology Today
  7. Chronic cannabis consumption and physical exercise performance in healthy adults: a systematic review
  8. How and why adults use cannabis during physical activity