face clouded in smoke

​Smoking After Working Out: Effects, Muscle Growth and Weed

Smoking after working out is bad for you. This probably won’t come as a surprise to you. After all:

Smoking is bad for you no matter what time you’re doing it at.

But is there any possible way in which smoking marijuana might help you achieve those gains?

Well, the jury is still largely out:

Many people will swear to you that marijuana is the secret to an even better workout.

Yet the science seems to tell us that even if you are taking cannabis vape oil via a vaporizer instead of harmfully smoking it, you might be imperilling your workout rather than improving it…

man lighting a cigarette in the dark

Smoking weed and working out – effects

If you are smoking weed and working out, the effects are probably not going to be positive:

Your lungs

Your lungs are not going to thank you for smoking at any time. If you were smoking actual cigarettes, they would contain tar which would coat your lungs and prevent the air sacs within them from doing their jobs. But smoking any kind of substance will damage your lung capacity and impair your body’s ability to use oxygen, preventing you from achieving your full athletic potential.

Your heart

Smoking marijuana raises your heart rate while you’re doing so and for about an hour afterwards – plus, the increase grows greater the larger the dose you take. If your heart rate might be being pushed higher by physical activity at the same time, things can get dangerous:

  • If you are a very healthy individual, this is unlikely to have any effect on your workout.
  • If you already have an increased risk of heart disease, it’s a potentially risky plan, to say the least.

Your blood pressure

Smoking cigarettes narrows your arteries while making your blood more congealed. Those thinner arteries don’t help when it comes to exercise. That’s because your heart will need to work a whole lot harder to push that blood to your muscles, organs and everywhere else you need it to be to give you the best chance of performing at your peak.

a person performing heavy weights exercise

Does smoking weed before working out lead to better performance?

For all the reasons outlined above, the “smoking” part of smoking weed is not going to do you any favours when it comes to getting a decent workout.

On top of this, marijuana has psychoactive effects. Whether these are beneficial or a hindrance to getting a good workout has not been scientifically proven:

Cannabis before weight lifting is a dangerous idea

Any professional or even an experienced amateur lifter will tell you that lifting weights while under the influence of any psychoactive substance is a stupid and dangerous idea. Marijuana reduces the coordination of most people who take it.

Yet there is some anecdotal evidence it may be beneficial

Some high-profile and very capable athletes say that marijuana use improves their performance:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the NBA and Michael Phelps, the famed Olympian, have said that they use marijuana.
  • A British long-distance cyclist named Roger Boyd cycled around 19 000 miles over two years while vaping and says it has an unfairly negative public perception compared to alcohol, which is much worse for you.

Some athletes report that they use cannabis in place of other medication

Marijuana may offer some people a good alternative to pain relief or sleep medications. Some athletes claim they also use it instead of alcohol (something which is never going to be a good idea to partake in before working out).
If you are taking marijuana for these reasons, you might want to consider a vaporizer and some THC vape cartridges rather than smoking it.

Marijuana hampers your ability to overload

Some athletes swear that marijuana enhances their ability to give a good performance. This may be because it makes monotonous activities like running on the treadmill less boring. Or because it helps them push through the pain barrier.

Yet the science says that cannabis technically impairs your ability to push yourself to your limit when exercising. Known as overload, this is one of the key factors in improving your muscle strength

a person exhaling smoke

Does smoking weed after working out affect muscle growth?

The fact that marijuana is a controlled substance in many parts of the world hampers research into the beneficial medical properties of the cannabis plant. This means that there always seem to be questions asked about smoking weed and muscle growth, but relatively few answers…

One thing which does seem to be clear is that long-term use of marijuana lowers testosterone and growth hormone levels. This means it can lead to a lowered muscle mass – as well as difficulty in building more muscle. Plus, lower testosterone levels will make you more tired which may further reduce your ability to have a decent workout.

Smoking and working out – the alternatives

Many people use exercise as part of their plan to quit smoking. In fact, various studies have shown that people who are trying to quit smoking are more likely to do so successfully if they take up regular exercise as well. Unfortunately, this effect doesn’t last forever. And those cravings might not go away altogether, necessitating nicotine patches, gum or other craving-reduction tactics.

If it is smoking weed after working out that you are worried about, there are already alternatives which you might want to consider:

Smoking is a very unhealthy way to get any benefits from the cannabis plant. It’s probably time to start considering other ways you could be accessing those medically-beneficial cannabinoids without the harm which smoking can cause you.

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