CBD for Fitness: Pre and Post Workout Advice

CBD has a variety of health applications, from treating chronic pain and inflammation to improving mood and decreasing stress levels. These effects can improve your physical well-being, but they also have another application: enhancing your workout. Here, we’ll discuss how to use CBD to get the most out of your fitness routine.

CBD As Pre-Workout—Really!

If you’re a fitness devotee, you’re likely familiar with pre-workout supplements, often marketed towards people looking for a boost of energy before they hit the gym. The problem with these products is they’re often laden with caffeine and other stimulants, as well as synthetic ingredients whose effects are poorly understood.

All that caffeine can cause a crash (the last thing you need when you’re trying to push your limits at the gym or on the track), and those additives can cause undesirable side-effects. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the mood-boosting effects of pre-workout without the added stimulants?

Many elite athletes train under the influence of cannabis and consider it a crucial part of their fitness routine. While THC has some very beneficial properties that can help maximize your workout, it’s not the only cannabinoid that can give you the boost you’re looking for. CBD is available legally in all 50 states and can provide many of the same benefits as THC, but without the psychoactive effects that deter some would-be consumers.

CBD can provide the benefits of a pre-workout supplement without the negative aspects: its anti-inflammatory properties can help prepare your muscles for the intense activity to come, helping you lift that extra 10 lbs or go the literal extra mile on the treadmill. Its mood-elevating properties also help prepare you for a workout by alleviating stress and allowing your mind to relax in preparation for your gym session.

Consuming CBD Before A Workout

There are a number of ways to consume CBD as a pre-workout supplement. CBD tinctures can be dropped sublingually (under the tongue) and take effect quickly, but CBD can also be vaporized or dabbed in the form of CBD vape oil or 99% pure isolate, respectively. Inhaled CBD will take effect the quickest, and its effects will last about 3-4 hours, giving you plenty of time for an intense workout. Tinctures take effect within about 15 minutes and are effective for up to 6 hours.

A slower but longer-acting option is also available in the form of CBD softgel capsules. They take around 45 minutes to kick in, but their effects last up to 8 hours, perfect for endurance exercise or a big event such as a marathon or 10K run.

CBD After A Workout

CBD can aid muscle recovery after a workout in addition to helping you prepare for one. Think about it: after an intense training session, you’re usually tired, sore, and maybe even a little bit nauseous. Many people pop a couple ibuprofen, crack open a beer to take the edge off, and call it a day. However, this routine can potentially harm your health in the long term.

Prolonged use of NSAID drugs (such as Ibuprofen and Aleve) can be very dangerous. If deaths from NSAID toxicity were counted separately, these drugs would be the 15th most common cause of death annually in the US. NSAID pain relievers have adverse effects on the liver and the damage they cause is cumulative, meaning that while you may not notice it immediately, long-term use can have serious health consequences.

CBD targets the same inflammation treated by NSAIDs, alleviating it (and the pain it causes) naturally and with no undesirable side effects—your liver will thank you.  CBD is also a natural analgesic (or pain-reliever), meaning it has properties that help stop pain in its tracks. This is especially helpful after an intense workout, relieving muscle soreness and reducing underlying inflammation. This reduction of inflammation can help speed muscle recovery in the long term in addition to the short-term relief it provides.

CBD also has anti-emetic properties, meaning it can help with that feeling of nausea that’s common after an especially intense workout session. Its antispasmodic effects can help ease or eliminate muscle cramps and spasms too, staving off that late-night Charlie horse or those irritating leg cramps that can keep you awake.

CBD is useful for promoting relaxation after a workout, helping ease your mind as well as your body. It can help you unwind after an intense gym session, allowing you to “come down” from your runner’s high. It can also provide protective effects for your heart, lungs, and brain (all the important components), preventing injury due to inflammation.

Consuming CBD Post-Workout

There are a number of ways to take CBD after your workout.  If you’re like most of us, you’re looking for fast-acting relief after you leave the gym. This is best accomplished by vaping CBD oil, which is absorbed through the tissue of the lungs and into the bloodstream, so it takes effect in moments. Another option with a similar onset is dabbing CBD isolate. You can also smoke high-CBD flower (go for an indica strain for maximum relaxation and anti-inflammatory benefits) if you desire.

If you prefer not to inhale your CBD, you can also take it orally in the form of tinctures or CBD softgel capsules.  These forms take a bit longer to kick in—about 15 minutes for tinctures, and closer to 45 for the softgels—but their effects are strong and long lasting; between 6 and 8 hours.

If you’ve gone really hard at the gym, it may be a good idea to pair a more immediate form, such as vaping, with a longer-lasting form, such as CBD softgels.  This will help alleviate the immediate soreness and exhaustion you feel while countering inflammation over a longer period of time, helping you recover faster and feel your strongest more quickly.

If you find yourself in need of localized relief after an injury or strain, a topical CBD salve can work wonders. The CBD in topicals works to combat inflammation at the surface level while your systemic CBD (like softgels or vaping) works from the inside to ease internal inflammation. Use both together for maximum effectiveness, especially if you find yourself injured after an intense training session.

CBD & Drug Testing

While CBD is legal at the federal level, it’s not completely without risk when it comes to drug testing — an important consideration for some competitive athletes. This is not necessarily because CBD itself will trigger a false positive, but because trace amounts of THC could, in theory, register on a drug test.

Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception.  There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture:  avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.  A smattering of studies show that even isolate-based products may not be completely risk-free under certain circumstances.

If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. Read more about the science of CBD and drug testing to help make an informed decision; we’ll walk through the potential risks and try to provide as much context as possible.


CBD is more than just a beneficial medicinal supplement, it can help you take your workouts to the next level. It can also speed muscle recovery and help you get back to 100% more quickly, reducing muscle inflammation and soreness. It even has applications for sports injuries, helping speed healing and reduce inflammation in muscles and tendons—and even concussions. If you’re looking for a healthful way to get the most out of your workout, try CBD!

How to Exercise High: Cannabis Tips for Athletes

The idea of a pre-workout routine is commonplace in the world of athletics. Maybe you pound a protein shake, visualize your run, or go through your favorite warm up. However, for many athletes, cannabis consumption is an essential component of their pre-workout routine and they consistently travel with a stash. In addition to the mental piece, cannabis also induces physical effects that can enhance athletic performance – or at least make it more pleasurable. You’re probably wondering, how can cannabis possibly be considered a ‘performance enhancing drug’? Cannabis provides many benefits that athletes are able to harness before, during, and after activity. This guide will help you understand how cannabis aids in athletic performance and how to leverage these benefits in your own athletic endeavors.

  1. Start with Strain: Cannabis Sativa

    Weed is weed, right? WRONG. Just like there is good weed and bad weed, there are two primary species of cannabis, they are known as cannabis sativa and cannabis indica. You can think of this like red wine and white wine. Whether you’re an experienced consumer or just learning, selecting the appropriate strain is one of the most important, yet often overlooked steps.

    As a general rule of thumb, most athletes will benefit from incorporating a sativa strain into their pre-workout routine, as opposed to an indica strain, which is better suited for recovery. Sativa strains provide increased energy, focus, creativity, and euphoria. On the other hand, indica strains provide stress and anxiety relief, suppress nausea, and appetite stimulation, which are great choices for your post-workout cannabis therapy.

    There are also hybrid strains that take on characteristics of both the indica and sativa species. Because each of us has a unique brain and endocannabinoid system wiring, we all respond to cannabis is slightly different way. This means that selecting strains is easier said than done, but a quick conversation with your budtender or caregiver should help you find the appropriate sativa for your next workout.
    Popular sativa strains often end in ‘haze’ like Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze, Purple Haze, Ghost Train Haze. Other popular sativas are Sour Diesel, Jack Herer, Durban Poison, Acapulco Gold, East Coast Sour Diesel, Strawberry Cough, and Green Crack.

  2. Use a Vaporizer or Eat Edibles

    Vaporizersediblestinctures, and topicals are best suited for athletes. Despite its prevalence, smoking cannabis is not actually the preferred consumption method for most athletes. Smoking is simply not as effective at delivering isolated cannabinoids (the therapeutic compounds in cannabis). Remember, the THC in your edibles or vaporizer came from cannabis buds, so make sure the cookie or concentrate is labeled sativa.

Vaporizing: Vaporizing either flower or cannabis concentrates will deliver immediate benefits and the effects will last anywhere from 30-90 minutes. You’ll achieve the same effects if you dab as well. A solventless sativa-hybrid dab before skiing really helps us find the flow.

Edibles: Ingestion of cannabis results in a delayed onset time. Relief likely wont be felt for 30+ minutes; however, the effects will last for 2-4+ hours, which is ideal for endurance activities like running, backpacking, climbing, or swimming.

Tinctures: One of the more discreet options, but a bit more challenging to acquire in non-legal states (although you can make your own). Relief likely won’t be felt for 15+ minutes; however, the effects will last for 1-3+ hours.

Topicals: Perfect for treating muscle, joint, and surface-oriented pain. This type of treatment does not provide the typical THC ‘high’, it is simply localized pain relief similar to Bengay or IcyHot.

  1. Start with a Small Dose

    Managing dosage can be the most challenging part of the process. That said, you should try any new cannabis products at home in a comfortable setting to see how your body responds before incorporating them into your exercise routine. Research and anecdotal evidence shows that there is a fine line between enhancing performance and detracting from it. Dosage in this case refers to managing the amount of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis (as other beneficial compounds like CBD are non-psychoactive). You will notice that the recommended dosages vary with each consumption method.

    Vaporization: Take just a couple slow and steady inhalations; the effects will be felt within minutes. Wait a minimum of 15 minutes before deciding to repeat. You can always bring a portable vaporizer with you for additional dosing.

    Edibles: For occasional consumers, we recommend 5-10mg of THC. In the state of Colorado, 10mg is considered a single serving size.

    Tinctures: 2-4 drops of the cannabinoid-rich liquid under the tongue is often a sufficient starting dose. The effects will be felt within roughly 15 minutes.

    Topicals: Start with a few sprays and apply more as desired. Because they are non-psychoactive, you run little risk of overdoing it.

  2. Get Outside

    Going to the gym is probably not going to deliver the experience you’re hoping for. The energetic nature of cannabis sativa can sometimes create anxiety, so you don’t want to be on the treadmill or bench press and wondering if everyone knows you’re high. Hit the park, the trail, the beach, the mountain…anywhere with some fresh air and space to connect body and mind.

  3. Choose the Right Activity

    For your first high activity, it’s important that you pick an activity that you are competent in and passionate about. Consuming cannabis before trying any new sport probably won’t go too well, unless you’re Travis Pastrana. It is also important to set challenging but achievable goals in conjunction with the activity. Practically, this means picking the right ski run or a realistic run time.

  4. Push Yourself

    Cannabis is a mood enhancer that increases your pain threshold, which means you won’t hate that grueling hill or that final lap quite as much. As some athletes say, the THC helps you embrace the suffering.

  5. Find Your Zone

    Everyone reacts differently to each type of cannabis, which means some activities and strains are going to pair better than others. For example, someone doing one hour of yoga will want a totally different strain, dosage, and consumption method than a backpacker. To learn more about how choose, check out a few of our favorite cannabis exercise ideas.

  6. Use CBD for Recovery

    what is cbd oil

    Cannabis is an extremely potent plant from a medical perspective. There are specific strains that are rich in a compound called CBD. Instead of getting you ‘stoned’, CBD works in myriad ways to heal your body.

What are the Benefits?

Increased Pain Tolerance: Cannabis is an analgesic, helping to alleviate pain both during and after exercise. Some athletes are actually able to increase their pain threshold by using cannabis prior to exercising. Andrea Giuffrida, an associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, explains “the endocannabinoid system works like endorphins” – aerobic exercise actually activates the endocannabinoid system in the same way that the cannabis plant does. Thus, endocannabinoids (produced naturally in the body without aid from cannabis), which regulate pain, mood, and memory, can actually help you push through an intense workout similar to the effect of endorphins.

State of Flow: Cannabis helps athletes induce a mindset that is ideal for entering the state of flow. Consuming certain cannabinoids leads to increased focus and energy levels. For a more on how cannabis helps athletes get in the zone, check out our guide.

Creativity: Cannabis stimulates creativity by allowing the brain to connect seemingly unrelated concepts. This allows athletes like skiers, surfers, and mountain bikers to pick more creative lines and make connections they otherwise may not have made. Many athletes self-report an increased sense of fluidness or float when using cannabis with sport.

Improving Mood: Cannabis is a mood enhancer, helping athletes enjoy and focus on repetitive athletic tasks.

Anti-Inflammatory: The potent anti-inflammatory effects of THC and CBD can be used to help athletes loosen up prior to exercising. Cannabis helps alleviate stiff, sore muscles and joints.


    Consume cannabis sativa via vaporizer, dabbing or edibles
    Trying the delivery method and dose at home beforehand to find your preference
    Get outside, do an activity you’re competent in, and enjoy