Does Smoking Weed Make Your Workout Better?

When we think of smoking weed, the first picture that probably comes to mind is of a bunch of folks huddled in a corner relishing the euphoric high, or of creatives seeking clarity from a haze of smoke to create a magnum opus. The furthest thing from our minds is perhaps the image of an athlete, the stereotypical picture of health, hitting a bong while training for a triathlon. 


If you think that weed smokers are far too relaxed to sweat it out, some Olympic-record breakers might beg to differ. According to Business Insider, Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, one of the greatest sprinters alive, have admitted to smoking pot and openly embraced this lifestyle. In fact, cannabis users often exercise just as much as people who don't smoke, if not more, as stated in a study published in Preventative Medicine.

Scientifically, is there a connection between smoking pot and working out? Here's what experts and weed-smoking gym-goers have to say about it.

Smoking weed can make your workout more enjoyable

According to Psychology Today, cannabis makes everything exciting, be it a walk around the kitchen or the sight of the ceiling. The primary component of marijuana, THC, releases a flood of dopamine that results in a euphoric high and amplifies your sense of excitement. Studies on marijuana use have shown that it can also alleviate aches and pain.


For this reason, it's no wonder that hitting a bong while pumping iron is becoming more popular in several parts of the world, including the U.S. For instance, 81% of respondents to a 2019 Frontiers survey of more than 600 people in U.S. states in which recreational weed use is legal favored smoking pot while sweating it out. Most respondents who used cannabis shortly before or after exercising lauded its help in making their high-repetitive exercises less boring. Approximately half of those surveyed said the runner's high produced by marijuana had boosted their motivation to keep trim. 

"It helped me zone out while running on the treadmill, and allowed me to focus on the sets I was doing with weights and machines," 34-year-old cannabis journalist Andrew Ward told Insider. Dan LaMorte, a comedian who had previously hated exercising, attributed his newfound interest in sports and the melting away of physical discomfort to marijuana use.


Cannabis does take away the discomfort of putting in the effort, but not without its downsides.

The impact of smoking weed depends on your type of workout

The effect of marijuana on your workout depends on the type of activity you choose as well as the expectations you set, Jordan Tishler, M.D., a Harvard-trained physician and expert in cannabis therapy, told Insider. Tishler further points out that there haven't been many conclusive scientific findings linking cannabis use with workout effectiveness. However, marijuana use is not recommended for people who intend to engage in more demanding sports endeavors like a race or a deadlift.


According to several studies published in the National Library of Medicine, smoking weed can take a toll on those with existing cardiac problems. "Marijuana smoking is particularly risky for people at high risk for heart disease," Dr. Kenneth Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard University, told Healthline.

In several experiments on marijuana's effects on exercising, researchers found that healthy participants who smoked weed before joining fitness tests saw their heart rates and blood pressure go up rapidly. As a result, they had a difficult time completing the exercises.

At the end of the day, marijuana is a two-edged sword. Whether working out stoned is good for you depends on how committed you are about pursuing sports as well as your existing health conditions. If you want to give this experience a shot, start with low-impact exercises such as cycling and swimming. In case your goal is to become a high-profile athlete, you might want to ask a budtender for their expert advice.