How Does Weed Affect Muscle Growth?
Weed and muscle growth? Well, that’s controversial.
These days, most people know that weed isn’t that bad for you. It can be debated whether it’s actually more healthy than alcohol.
But does smoking weed affect muscle growth and athletic performance?
Does it affect the hormonal milieu in your body? Does it promote weight gain or even weight loss?
First of all, I do smoke weed occasionally, but that’s not what it’s about today.
But lately, I reconsidered that habit of mine. If you studied the effects of cannabis use on the testosterone levels – you’d reconsider it as well. But more on that later.
Cannabis, marijuana, sativa, weed, dope, ganja – there are many names. you might remember the legendary scene from the classic Pumping Iron, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger smoked a joint.
So, hey – if the king of bodybuilding could build ones of the best bodies on this planet while smoking weed, then everybody can do that, right?
In this article, you will learn more about the effects of smoking weed in the context of muscle growth and fat loss.
We all know that certain athletes train and live in completely different conditions.
It would be simply stupid if one wanted to transfer the principles of a well-trained Schwarzenegger to a natural beginner.
What follows is a scientific, objective review of weed, based on the lead question, “What if cannabis was an ordinary supplement?
Let’s get right into it.
How does Weed affect Muscle Growth & Fat Loss?
The concept of homeostasis has its roots in biology and refers to the active balance between anabolic (i.e. tissue building) and catabolic (i.e. tissue degrading) activities that cancel each other out.
This ensures that the status quo is kept and no changes are realized. (End result is, for example, a relatively constant body weight with the same composition over many years).
Attempting to reduce body fat mass or grow muscle is – at least for the most part – a significant departure from the body’s homeostasis.
An intended departure that affects either the anabolic or catabolic activity of the body.
If your body gets signaled that it HAS to adapt, a change takes place in the body tissue (as the catabolic side dominates, you lose muscle or fats, if the anabolic side dominated, the other way around).
When this process is complete, your body will go back to homeostasis will reach a new equilibrium in which it will adapt to the current condition of the body.
The reason why I mention all this is due to the way weed works – which, of course, also applies to smoke. Or to put it more specifically:
1. Cannabis can improve survival at the cellular level or induce cell death.
2. Cannabis can inhibit or even induce/enhance the action of the adenyl cyclase enzyme. – Important for human tissue.
3. Cannabis can provide a balance between neurogenesis and neurodegeneration.
4. Cannabis can both increase and reduce estrogen.
5. Cannabis can reduce or increase carnitine palmitoyltransferase expression and activity – depending on the cell type.
6. The activity (agonism) of cannabinoid receptors of THCs can even be counteracted by other components of cannabis.
The use of cannabis seems to be able to affect a whole range of body functions through the cannabinoid system. Some reactions appear to have a positive effect on homeostasis some don’t. Pretty confusing isn’t it?
Weed: Ingredients & Metabolism
Weed, or known as cannabis, contains the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol. the actual name is delta-9-tetrahydohydro-cannabinol, but let’s stay with THC.
THC affects not only the nervous system but also the endocannabinoid system and thus has a certain influence on the perception and the psyche of humans.
The exact potential for addiction and harmfulness is a controversial topic in today’s society.
As with alcohol, chronic cannabis users show tolerance development, but there are many advocates who claim that cannabis use is less harmful than alcohol and can even be healthy.
Cannabis use is a double-edged sword – a coin with two sides, it has advantages and disadvantages.
It is the only plant known to date that acts on the endocannabinoid system of the body (consisting of the receptors cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2)).
The perceived “high” is the result of acute consumption. Only a few know that the THC is stored in the fatty tissue, from where it finally licks “droplets” and enters the circulatory circuit (which is why you fail at a drug test weeks after consumption).
The metabolism of THC occurs through hydroxylation and oxidation reactions via the liver.
The THC leftovers are excreted via urine.
Weed & Testosterone
Now it gets a bit more interesting.
What is the effect of weed on the body’s own testosterone levels?
Studies in rats given a dose of 3-6 mg/kg for a test period of 36 days show that testosterone levels have been reduced by as much as half (already at 3 mg/kg).
The decrease is thought to be due to the decrease in 3?HSD activity, an enzyme crucial to testosterone synthesis.
Another study shows an inhibitory effect of gonadotropin-induced testosterone synthesis as a result of THC administration.
In addition, there is also a correlation between THC and progesterone, a sex hormone.
Testosterone reduction was also demonstrated by Barnett in 1983.
In this study, the subjects received intravenous THC over a period of 50 minutes. The testosterone level in the test group decreased significantly over the subsequent hours compared to the placebo group (5.5 +/- 0.5ng / mL placebo group vs 3.5 +/- 0.5ng / mL THC group.)
All points in one direction:
“In humans, the results are somewhat mixed. Not all studies show a decrease in testosterone yet the significance of the result is a ‘minor, statistically insignificant’ drop to 1 / 3rd suppression of testosterone levels. Overall, it appears to be a suppression of free levels of testosterone in males and females after smoking cannabis. “(Source)
Interestingly, such results were not found in isolated THC administration, suggesting that other components of cannabis sativa are responsible for the decrease in endogenous testosterone levels. (Source)
I think it should be clear: if you want to build muscle mass, you need high testosterone levels, because the more testosterone, the better.
Further hormonal effects from smoking weed affect some other key hormones.
The Cone study notes a short-term increase in growth hormone (from 1ng / mL to 2ng / mL) compared to the control group.
The luteinizing hormone, on the other hand, decreases in acute cannabis use (in the male: responsible for sperm maturation, in the woman responsible for ovulation), although this effect does not seem to be of a long-term nature.
Smoking weed also causes an increase in the circulating cortisol level (stress hormone).
Weed and Body Fat
One last point that may be worth addressing is the impact of cannabis use on body fat.
Cannabidiol (a phytocannabinoid) contained in cannabis has the properties of an adrenergic ?-2 agonist (which is responsible for the stimulation of adrenoceptors).
Thus, the substance acts in the exact opposite direction of the popular fat burner supplement Yohimbine. This basically means that it has a beneficial effect on the maintenance of fat deposits. -No one wants that.
So if you want to lose body fat, you’d better drink a cup of green tea instead of rolling a joint.
Does smoking weed affect muscle growth and athletic performance? You will learn more about the effects of smoking weed on muscle growth and fat loss.
The Weed Effect: Marijuana And Muscles
To smoke or not to smoke?
We’re all familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory celebration after winning the 1975 Mr. Olympia title. It’s a popular scene from “Pumping Iron” that many people still reference today. It depicts Schwarzenegger smoking marijuana and eating fried chicken, all while wearing his “Arnold is Numero Uno” t-shirt. It’s a great piece of film history for sure. One take away is that the fried chicken Arnold had that night was no doubt some of the best he’s eaten in his entire life. Another is – how does marijuana effect muscle growth?
There have been many studies on the effect of marijuana on testosterone. The consensus is that the results have been split down the middle. In users who have smoked little to no marijuana, there have been signs of a slight decrease in testosterone production levels, a big red flag for any bodybuilder. However, studies have also shown that regular smokers have maintained their testosterone levels. Testosterone is a major part of growing muscle, so smoking weed will likely end up being a gamble for any bodybuilder.
Many people have cited marijuana’s effect on their bodies post workout. After a hard pumping day in the gym, its always essential to give your body adequate rest in order for your muscles to repair and grow. Supporters of marijuana have stated that smoking or ingesting the plant makes them feel relaxed after a long day at the gym and this can help ease tension through the body for even better rest.
An increased appetite is another side effect of smoking marijuana that can’t be avoided. This can be helpful or hurtful depending on the user’s discipline. On the one hand, if a smoker still manages to plan out their diet and adhere to strict guidelines, then increased appetite will likely not be an issue. In fact, if you plan things out you could use the munchies to bulk. On the other hand, if a user is prone to binge eating, and putting anything into their mouths, then it could backfire. Fighting off urges are hard enough without something sending your hunger into overload.
Marijuana can at times effect ones mental focus – having ill effects on short term memory. The relaxation felt during smoking can also hurt mental drive, and that carefree lethargic feeling some users get. This kind of mental disruption could end up effecting long term focus during training. The last thing we want, is to feel uninspired and lazy in the gym. Bodybuilding takes a dedication and focus to make continuous gains.
Best Way to Get Green as a Bodybuilder?
There’s a real tendency for smokers to have a lazy streak. Sure, marijuana may stimulate the mind sometimes, but if you’re looking to get into the gym and make some gains, it could leave you lethargic, planted on your ass and too lazy to do anything. It may not happen to everyone but to those who are affected, it can be a hindrance.
Some people have gone so far as to state marijuana’s effect on their nervous system. They cite the plant’s ability to calm down their nervous system, giving them that extra push in the gym. For this reason many people have said they’ve had their best workouts while they were high.
The smoke inhalation is definitely a concern for any hardcore bodybuilder. Muscles need oxygen for proper growth and if you smoke with blunts or papers you’ll be taking in all the toxins from the artificial byproducts. This especially effects your oxygen levels if done before a workout. If you do choose to smoke, using a vaporizer would be the way to go.
In many cases, marijuana has been used as pain relief for patients. As stated above, marijuana can have a relaxing effect. This effect includes relaxing the muscles and removing the soreness suffered by a tough workout. A few post workout puffs can go a long way to taking away any nagging pains one might suffer from a hard session in the gym.
Not everyone feels the same effects of marijuana and ultimately, like anything else, having too much of it can be potentially harmful. The consensus seems to be that with regulated use, marijuana’s effect on the body and any internal hormonal changes become balanced over time. Despite that, smoking in general is always a risk and isn’t something to be done on a whim. We at Generation Iron understand that marijuana is an illegal substance in most states of the U.S. (and the U.S. Federal Govt. still considers it illegal) and in no way condones the illegal use of the substance. But if you’re of age and living in Colorado, Washington, Oregon or Alaska where its recreational use has recently been made legal, then by all means puff or ingest away, but always in moderation.
Final GI Roll-Up
Marijuana, weed, pot, grass, reefer, ganja, sticky-icky – whatever you wanna call it, it’s hands down the most popular illegal drug in the U.S., if not the world. And just like all other drugs including; alcohol (legal), cigarettes (legal), prescription drugs & coffee – too much of it will have some sort of negative effect. Although no one has ever reported a death due to overdosing on Marijuana, unlike these other drugs, it still remains illegal in the eyes of our Federal Government. We love Arnold here at GI, and he obviously smoked weed back in the day, as did president Obama, and many of our iconic artists and athletes. When used in moderation, many feel the plant’s main effects to the human body are happiness, hunger, relaxation and creativity. Others feel paranoid, lazy and sleepy. In any case, there’s good and bad to everything, so if weed makes you happy then go for it, if it has negative effects, then stay away, but it should be no one else’s choice but your own After all, we’re still in the land of the free – or are we?…
What’s your opinion on the topic of marijuana, exercise & muscle growth? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Schwarzenegger smoking marijuana and eating fried chicken, all while wearing his "Arnold is Numero Uno" t-shirt. It's a great piece of film history…