T Nation

Marijuana as Ergogenic Aid?


#1

Here's the beef-
I smoked heavily for like 8 years,lot of marijuana plus 20 cigs a day,ate total crap,sat on my ass,etc.then started cutting down.5 years ago,joined a gym with no real goals except getting 'toned' (shut up!) -i.e. losing some flab,getting a bit of muscle,or atleast looking like a land-based mammal.I started exercising-Coughing my lungs up and wheezing every time I worked out made me quit ciggies and weed real fast.It was life-changing and soon I was pretty much a health freak and dedicated 'lifter'.

I recently started smoking both again for about 2 months,due to several factors (stress/sudden unemployment,etc) then I quit both again,but after a while,decided I like to smoke a little weed-a few times a week,particularly after a training day or socially.

It helps me to relax and my muscles are supple and it enhances a good yoga-style stretch and relaxation session.
I smoke a tiny amount about half the size of my upper thumb 3/4 times a week,in a pipe.I am considering a small pocket sized vaporiser,which removes many,if not all,of the tar and toxic chemicals also present,and extracts mostly the THC,the psychoactive compound in weed.

To my surprise,it has not impaired my performance,but enhanced it,both cardiovascular and strength wise.My recovery time and motivation has improved
I remembered reading that it was claimed that my idol Bruce Lee would sometimes eat a Hash Cake,as his training regime was so intense he would have trouble relaxing and 'switching off' this got me to thinking,despite the haterz,despite the risks,despite the possible negatives,there ARE many positive effects attributed to it.In fact,rest,recovery and relaxation are often singled out by trainers and coaches as very important and often overlooked factors in athletes at ALL levels.There are other ways to get there,but if this gets you there faster and better and seems to agree with you,why not?

I'm not advocating it BEFORE training,or in large amounts,just a little toke or space cake to relax..let's open this debate,with an OPEN mind.


#2

Don't get the vape. You have to smoke a shit ton of weed in that thing to get high; just get a nice bong.


#3

From the T-Nation article 'Roundtable:Stimulants' (Note:slightly edited/abridged excerpt to keep it on point,as the commentators/authors touched a lot upon other drugs used i.e. coke,meth,nubain..)

Shugart: Okay, I've heard stories of pro-bodybuilders snorting coke before training. But I've also heard about guys smoking pot before training. I just don't get the latter, unless it has something to do with pain reduction. Anyway, what are your thoughts on both of those pre-workout "rituals?"

Roberts: Well, the world of anabolics is, unfortunately, very much tied in with a lot of those other recreational drugs like pot and cocaine....I do know of a lot of bodybuilders who smoke daily (mostly regional title holders and such, not too many professionals). They usually claim that it helps with pain or appetite stimulation, which has enough medically sound support to not be an outrageously absurd claim.
Still, the typical lack of aggression most people experience with the use of pot makes it a very poor pre-workout choice. In addition, it has potential side effects like possible infertility and making people actually enjoy the Grateful Dead....

Willson: I think both pot and coke are obviously a bad idea. I'd hope I wouldn't have to explain why cocaine shouldn't be part of any person's life...as far as the marijuana, perhaps they use it because of the potential analgesic effect, but I suspect there may be other reasons. I've actually heard most guys claim that they use it because it allows them to "focus" so much more and feel the contraction so much better. The latter would fit in with a classic response reported in those with a low level of intoxication, that is, heightened sensory awareness....

Unfortunately, available data indicates that if anything, marijuana would hinder a workout as there's supportive data for a muscle relaxant effect and it can cause somnolence (drowsiness.) In cases where there are high levels of intoxication, decreased muscle strength, decreased motor coordination, and poor concentration have been demonstrated.

Now, as far as why I think many may actually use it prior to training... This is going slightly off topic, but I think many do so either for the euphoria or the decrease in social inhibition. I think many require a euphoric state in order to tolerate getting back into the gym in cases where they're otherwise depressed or are dreading the monotony of another day in the gym.

Or, going back to the decrease in social inhibition, I think many seem to have social anxiety prior to gaining a great deal of muscle and afterwards â?? contrary to what they thought â?? it actually increases. Consequently, some may turn to marijuana and find it useful. This, however, is a poor choice as there are legal prescription drugs available to help with this issue.

Now, ignoring my pseudo-psychiatric explanation above, yes, perhaps it's for the potential analgesic action of marijuana or its active constituent. This certainly fits with the scenarios I've seen when it comes to guys becoming addicted to narcotic analgesics (e.g. hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, propoxyphene, etc.) because they're trying to work through an injury.....


#4

I want this thread to be unbiased,despite the fact I smoke-

So,from teh interweb-(unedited)

Remember the case where the snowboarder Ross Rebagliati lost his gold medal in the Olympics for the fact that they has suspected he had marijuana in his system? It was alleged that he has smoked a joint with some friends sometime within 48 hours to the time he competed. He allegedly explained that he was in the room but did not consume any. It is scientifically said that you can get it in your system through external exposure but not to the extent his reading came. There were also variations is the proven amount in his system. In the end he was deemed by the NOC to loose his medal, the politically correct thing for the powers that be to do.

The funny thing is that marijuana has been scientifically proven to HINDER performance in higher energy sports and slightly relax judgment for some. The same effects do not happen to everyone and marijuana has been shown to assist in health issues as well as concentration and relaxation. The chances that it helped him win his run are close to ZERO. If anything this would have made him less agile, slower to respond physically to the quick movement needed for orientation through the course. He would have a lag feeling and uncomfortable paranoia if anything. Most competitors will not use this as an enhancement and especially not before a chance like competing in the Olympics.

The thing is that training high or competing high will hinder your awareness plain and simple. What you do on your own quiet time is up to you and marijuana has been debatably shown to help in recovery from exercise but used during exercise it is definitely not beneficial and with weight training can result in injury.

The bottom line is that there is no athletic enhancement in general by utilizing this drug prior to working out or toward the Olympics for that matter!! Of course there must be rules and adherences to Olympic sports. There must be a code of conduct regardless of your personal feelings toward political issues such as this. Being a competitor in a sport is not the time to debate the rights or wrongs of what a drug is or how it challenges activity. If you choose to compete in a certain sport then you are agreeing to play by the rules handed to you, even the political rules and even the unsaid. Part of being a good sport is showing your ability to follow rules regardless of your opinion and if your opinion is strong enough in conflict then you would choose not to compete.

You can be rest assured that lifting weights at full mental, conscience awareness is the smartest idea. If you are serious about wanting results then you will want to put your full mind into your workouts and forgo the use of drugs or alcohol prior to training. Alcohol is detrimental to your fitness results and has been proven so where as pot has not. Part of muscle building depends on your ability to bring mind into body; the best way to achieve this is 'straight'.


#5

From The Washington Times-

Smoke yet to clear on marijuana effects:
Impact on athletes is uncertain

By Tim Lemke
Thursday, February 19, 2009

Michael Phelps avoided arrest in connection with his use of a marijuana pipe at a party in South Carolina last fall. But he has not dodged questions about why, as the world's most accomplished swimmer, he would consider taking the drug in the first place.

Reasons aside, he joins a long list of athletes who have been tied to marijuana, including Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard and Washington Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes, all of whom have acknowledged taking the drug on the side. It begs the question: Does occasional use of marijuana affect athletic performance?

Numerous medical studies have shown that marijuana can impact a person's hand-eye coordination and the ability to concentrate and maintain attention. And a 2007 study from the Yale School of Medicine showed that long-term marijuana users can suffer the same debilitating lung problems as those who smoke cigarettes over a long period of time.

But it's less clear what that means for a young athlete who smokes marijuana occasionally during breaks in training. While doctors and trainers contend the short-term effects can be problematic, they acknowledge that some marijuana users claim the drug helps them deal with anxiety, stress and depression.

â??It's still a very popular, recreational, 'let your hair down' way to party for athletes,â?? said Dave Ellis, a nutrition and conditioning consultant for college athletic programs and professional teams. â??It's probably as popular as ever. I have to laugh because I think there's a lot of it going on.â??

But knowing whether these athletes are hurting their abilities is tough to know, trainers and doctors said, because there has never been a scientific study on marijuana use and athletic performance. Finding subjects for such a study is challenging because researchers can't ethically ask people to take an illegal drug, and it's also hard to pinpoint the effects of marijuana if someone also drinks or smokes cigarettes occasionally.

Nevertheless, athletic trainers said they would like to see more information on how marijuana affects lung performance, if for no other reason to back up their own belief that it can be harmful.

â??I think the thing that needs to be studied are the effects of taking that hot, 400-degree smoke and putting it in your respiratory system,â?? said Shawn Vass, a speed and agility trainer who operates Xtreme Acceleration Sports Performance, a specialized gym in Bethesda that caters to top athletes. â??When it comes to a high-performance athlete, you want to make sure your breathing element, your filter, is as clean and as powerful as possible.â??

Some studies have offered insight into how the drug is perceived compared to legal substances like tobacco and alcohol. Dr. Harrison Pope, director of the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory at Harvard's McLean Hospital, said his study of bodybuilders and weightlifters showed that marijuana use was widespread even among those who refused to smoke or drink out of fear of potential effects on their training.

â??From my experience, these people scrupulously abstain from alcohol and scrupulously abstain from tobacco because they know it will interfere with their weightlifting or overall athletic performance,â?? Pope said. â??The impression I get was that they fell back on marijuana because it was an intoxicant that they could use without having as much of an effect on their performance as the two legal intoxicants, alcohol or tobacco.â??

But the fact remains that many athletes have had long, successful careers while taking marijuana on the side. Mark Stepnoski, a former offensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers, told ESPN in 2003 that he was a frequent user of marijuana during his career. Stepnoski is an advocate for its legalization.

â??I have used marijuana, and it's never prevented me from accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish,â?? he said.

Ellis, however, said he has collected considerable anecdotal evidence in analyzing body composition of athletes and that those athletes who have lost muscle mass or increased body fat are often involved in drug use. Ellis said it can have a noticeable effect on the ability of athletes to play well during the course of a long season.

â??Marijuana users don't thrive like they should versus someone who can breathe normally,â?? Ellis said. â??I don't think it's anything good for these athletes. We're talking about people trying to recover from one competition to the next. Anytime you have something that impedes oxygen transport or screws up blood pressure, then you've got endurance outcomes where these athletes are going to struggle.â??

Vass, who has worked with top runners and players from the NFL, NBA and English Premier League soccer, acknowledged that many athletes smoke marijuana in order to reduce stress and relax when away from the court or field. But he said he believed taking marijuana, even during the offseason, can have an effect on performance at a later time.

â??A true athlete is always in training mode,â?? he said. â??Like [Redskins quarterback] Jason Campbell may take a little break between his last game and the Pro Bowl, but then it's time to go to work. Anything that happens in between affects the work he has to do. If you're trying to be a high level athlete, you need to stay clean during the off time or just retire.â??


#6

The choice of champions!
14 times gold medal winner Michael Phelps hitting the bong...


#7

And of course....Arnie


#8

Arnie denied taking the drug.In his defense,it doesn't look like he was inhaling or inhaling MUCH in that clip,it may have been peer pressure,it looked to me like he was trying to fit in or show off-I included it for comedy value mostly,but who knows? Governor Arnold was also quoted recently as saying 'Marijuana is not a drug,it's just a leaf'....


#9

And Bruce Lee?- from teh interweb-

An autopsy revealed that Bruce Lee most likely died from an adverse reaction to an ingredient in the prescription Equagesic tablet given to him by Betty Ting Pei. The presence of cannabis (marijuana leaves) was also found in his stomach, but not in an amount that could kill him (it is believed that he chewed it). Yet, it may have been this combination of cannabis with one or more of the ingredients in the Equagesic tablet that caused his brain to swell from 1,400 to 1,575 grams (13%), leading to a cerebral edema, a condition that is defined as an excess accumulation of water in the intra- and/or extra-cellular spaces of the brain. The condition can be brought on by an allergic reaction, such as in Bruce's case.

Although it is uncommon, it is possible that Bruce was allergic to cannabis (marijuana). This allergic reaction could have been heightened by the Equagesic tablet that he ingested. Doctors officially declared Bruce Lee's passing as "death by misadventure," but the doctors who had treated Bruce for a similar prior incident (see below) believe that Bruce died from the marijuana he ingested. The type of marijuana he was taking (Nepal hashish) was one of the most near-lethal strains of unrefined hashish.

(The analgesic known as Equagesic is a painkiller that combines Aspirin and the muscle relaxant meprobamate. Some forms may contain the opioid ethoheptazine. The drug can be taken to relieve tension headaches, however it was banned from use in the UK in 2002, as less toxic alternatives became available.)

Had Bruce Lee been previously taken to the hospital for the same condition that led to his death?
Yes. On May 10, 1973, a little over two months before his death, Bruce passed out at Golden Harvest Studios in Hong Kong while dubbing his voice for Enter the Dragon. The air conditioners at the studio had been turned off, because the noise they made interfered with the dubbing process. The extreme heat was a likely factor in Bruce's collapse. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated by his family doctor, Dr. "Don" Langford and neurosurgeon Dr. Peter Wu. Both physicians believe that the cause of Bruce Lee's death approximately two months later was the result of his use of cannabis (marijuana leaves), particularly through his preferred method of consuming the substance, not by smoking it, but instead by chewing it or eating hash brownies and cookies.

-From the book 'Fighting Words'


#10

For me, chronic use will make you weaker because your muscles will be relaxed too much to lift those heavy weights [ personal experience] but a J every few days wont hurt and it helps you get that DEEP, REfRESHING sleep everyone wants.


#11

Bill Walton case in point.

A friend and I tried smoking once before training (right when I first started lifting) with the idea that we'd be more focused and be able to feel the reps better. The end result was we were so f'ing paranoid that the other dudes and owner of the gym knew we were high and therefore were disrespecting them and their training that we had trouble concentrating and just couldn't wait to get done and get the hell out of there.
This was Ray's gym in SC - close to Parris Island - and had a pretty serious crowd: power lifters, Marines, etc. We had to get our workouts directly from Ray everytime we went in so that made things worse right off the bat. We were like 'do you think Ray know's we're high? Did he make the workout extra difficult 'cuz he knows were baked out of our gourd?'

Stupid experiment and complete waste of time.


#12

Okaaaay,But I'm not talking about PRE-workout.
I think thats stupid.agreed.
I mean a few times a week,or after training,that night,to relax and loosen up those muscles.
If the recovery is directly related to how relaxed and supple you get afterwards,sleep,etc.,surely the recovery rate and growth would improve?

I mean,I just pulled Bruce Lee,Michael Phelps and Arnold Schwarzenegger off the top of my head.
Who on here can say they even come CLOSE to their level?
Many other successful athletes,particularly Bodybuilders/Powerlifters are cited in the above articles...


#13

Understood. Maybe try Rolfing instead of Reef(er)ing:

I think DeFranco has a video w/ the Thera Cane also:


#14

weed helps me relax. It guarantees restful sleep which is otherwise sometimes a problem. Helps counter the CNS stimulation from a late workout or hard day or ephedrine.


#15

weed helps me relax. It guarantees restful sleep which is otherwise sometimes a problem. Helps counter the CNS stimulation from a late workout or hard day or ephedrine.


#16

I'm pretty severely allergic so I don't give a shit. Although recently I've come to see it as less of an evil, I just think people use it like alcohol; i.e.- as an excuse to act like a retard.


#17

I can't speak to any ergogenic affects, but I was surprised to learn about the anti-microbial effects of marijuana smoke:

"...researchers tested five cannabinoid marijuana ingredients against the superbug MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. All five did a lot of damage to the bacterium. And two of the substances don't even appear to be psychoactive, meaning they could be turned into medications that don't cause a high. Because the last thing you want to administer to a patient incapacitated for weeks in a hospital bed experiencing the horrors of an out-of-control staph infection is an anti-bacterial drug that would also lighten his mood."

Mirsky, Steve. "Hungry for Change" Scientific American, November 2008.


#18

For me, smoking and liftin go hand in hand. sometimes i like some before a workout, and it leads to greatly increased muscular awareness. i also generate different exerises that allow me to modify my workout. i never plan a workout, nor keep a log after a workout, weed is nice to relax with. in general, weed is a potent second perspective on life, and helps me achieve a much greater degree of comfort with my body and mind. it helps me become one with my goals.

however it also leads to paranoia in the gym if you dont want people to know your high, since the more you worry the more weird you look. the lethargy is also unfortunate, though sometimes you go from tired to pumped without noticing it (cause your high).

it can help or hinder your eatin, depending on your mindset and experiance controllin cravings. you think sugar cravings are bad? try wanting something (lucky charms) but no matter how much you eat, your not satisfied (though at the same time, your oddly at peace).

is it right? good? devils grass?
nah just somethin that could make the world a more peaceful place.

cocaine is interesting, as research has shown that none chronic (haha) use is not damaging to the body. its just a little pick me up for the nervous system. unfortunately, most people either ocasionally blow coke or frequently stay high. neither really fulfill a healthy mindset regarding its use.

lsd is by far (in my exp) the most beneficial drug in a stable person, as it can open up new physical horizons. however, many people are to grounded in a false reality to accept the ludicrous sense of tripping.

cant argue with me, i only trust my experiances


#19

Surely you mean SOME people ABUSE (not USE) weed OR alcohol as an excuse to act like a retard....


#20

I think I can sum it up like this-
I felt good when I started out smoking weed,and realised benefits,to a point,after which I got diminishing returns....
I felt good when I started out training/fitness,and realised benefits,to a point,after which I got diminishing returns....

Bring them both together,with a bias towards training/fitness,and you have harmony
-yin and yang...