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!