Working Out High: How To Work Out With Weed

This article was originally published on Weedmaps and appears here with permission.


Since quarantine, I've been in and out of the "Ballpark of Fitness." You know the ballpark — even the most conscientious of you have done time there. Close your eyes and pretend it's 2020, on the edge of summer, when we thought the consequences of eating like life was a six-week BBQ could easily be addressed. I was way out in the Parking Lot of Fitness, heavier than I had been in five years.

But better nutrition — and having most places open back up — at least got me back into the building and 10 pounds off of my goal weight. The seats aren't far from the field, and I'm dreaming myself into the field of play.

And these days, I hit the gym on Sunset Boulevard in LA with a small bottle of Care by Design's full-spectrum CBD tincture — the peppermint 1:1 Max Drops. With 1,000 milligrams of both CBD and THC, it's the strongest stuff legally available in California. With this, my cannabis fitness regimen is a living, breathing program.

How I dose when working out with weed

As a too-young teen cannabis consumer, I blew trees and trained for high school 5Ks. And there's usually pot involved before I play a pick-up game. As I age, the infused gummies accompanying my hikes have become a dynamic mainstay. Still, much of the plant's potential gifts to exercise were wasted on me in the past because of my overdoing it before working out.

But, seven years ago, the era of legal weed opened up in the Pacific Northwest. That's when and where I started to read the labels of dispensary cannabis products. That information transferred over to the gyms, yoga studios, and basketball courts I frequented from Portland to LA. And over the past seven years, I've dropped and kept off 50 pounds, mostly from a physical practice fueled by cannabis.

Weed doesn't merely get me to this gym or on that hike — a cannabinoid carrot on a stick — the plant deepens my physical engagement throughout the experience.

It's quite easy to have a bad exercise trip if I'm dosing cannabis mindlessly. Once, early in my Pacific Northwest experimentation, I puffed too much of a stronger-than-usual, sativa-leaning flower minutes before spin class. Pushing harder than my conscious mind realized, I saw my heart rate jump higher than ever. I panicked and jumped off the bike before running out of the room.

So, in my experience, starting low and taking it slow is the way to go.

Setting up your weed and workout regimen

Stuff like the above hasn't happened to me in years. It's far easier for me now to have a consistently terrific experience with cannabis, in any exercise context. Here's what's worked for me:

Find your fit

Know that finding your bespoke upbeat strain is the never-ending story of cannabis fitness.

Take that spin class example. My preference is to be “up" for a spin sesh, but strong sativas overexcite my mind, so I avoid them, opting for a Hi-Ball energy beverage or Red Bull instead — Bang if I'm feeling savage.

Whether you toke, eat cannabis, or apply patches, stay open to the strain that suits your physical fitness journey. As trial and error learning projects go, this kind is pretty enjoyable.

Find your level

As I mentioned above, “start low and go slow" is a cliché worth remembering. The tincture that I'm using would blow the lid clean off of my day if I distractedly dosed. Each drop contains 1.5 mg THC and CBD, so I add to my tongue or energy drink the equivalent of what I'd consume in edibles. Carefully.

While it's undeniably more interesting to consume cannabis edibles and tinctures incrementally and across your workout, the effects can linger hours after you're done.

Timing is everything

Say that I'd opted to go bowling instead of heading to the Sunset gym. The idea is certainly not to have Mary Jane hit in that window when I'm trying to tie those strange shoelaces at the bowling alley; euphoria in an athletics context is best utilized in the throes of activity. Golfers enjoy waves of calm while they line up a put, not so much while parking at the club. The bowler enjoys an enhancement to their strike, and I feel like a champion after pulling through my third kettlebell set.

My personal preference in timing my consumption is for the cannabis waves to build on my inclination to break my workouts into acts. I take 15 drops before my arrival, then I add 15 more into the energy drink I plan to sip over the next hour or so.

After 15 minutes of elliptical work, I'd get up to about 50 milligrams of THC and CBD, which is a lot for me. Know what amount of THC and CBD is a lot for you before you start working out so you can gauge your limits appropriately.

Plan for the future

Between the flush of completing a workout and the goodness of cannabis, life after your workout won't feel routine. You might have a hard time finding the bus or your Uber driver. So to avoid that frustration, build a period of downtime in your fitness plan.

Post-exercise stretching, for example, never feels better than when supported by cannabis. Got access to a sauna, hot tub, or steam room? I don't have to tell you how satisfying that can be — and head clearing.

Remember, we're all different

My aims include making the most of my intellectual and spiritual life while destroying a workout, so I usually consume between 25 and 40 milligrams of THC per 90-minute session. For many, a quarter of that is the most you'll want to consume — perhaps much less.

If you're new to cannabis, consider experimenting in your home first before venturing out to your gym or park. Take a few puffs of a joint or drops of a tincture before doing a yoga or stretch sesh to see what feels right for you.

Who knows, you might just find that weed makes workouts more compelling.

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