If you use marijuana and want to build muscles, you may ask yourself whether marijuana and bodybuilding are compatible with each other. Well, they are, but you should know some nuances.
When we are talking about professional bodybuilders, we should understand that their way of preparing for competitions is much more complicated than just exercising in the gym. Apart from building muscles, their routine includes at least a proper diet and hormones monitoring. Hormones like the human grown hormone (GH), estrogen, and testosterone influence your physique goals. So let us have a look at what happens to your body on a chemical level when you consume marijuana.
When it comes to testosterone, it is produced in two parts of the body: in Leydig cells, which are situated in male testes, and in hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) in your brain. Studies conducted on rats show that THC affects only the HPA, and the effect is not permanent. So indeed, THC can reduce the testosterone production, but the thing is, HPA is responsible only for 5 percent of the whole testosterone production in your body. And the effect lasts for less than 24 hours.
More than this, HPA can build a tolerance to THC, so one day, you will smoke yet another joint, and even those five percent will remain with you.
Those men that are afraid to get “man boobs” because of smoking marijuana can have a sigh of relief. Another study conducted on rats shows that THC indeed interacts with estrogen, but this interaction leads not to making a user more feminine but to activating the pain-relieving effect of THC. Therefore, females are at least 30 percent more sensitive to THC than males, and this sensitivity makes them more vulnerable to the negative side effects like paranoia and anxiety. So, more pain relief, maybe more anxiety, but definitely no “boobs.”
Building muscles directly depends on GH that helps the cells multiply and regenerate. A study conducted in 2002 revealed that after consuming THC, the GH in rats started to decrease. It happened because THC activates the release of somatostatin that in its turn stops the GH production.
However, a study conducted on humans (not on rats this time!) shows that THC increases the GH production. Slightly, but it does.
Therefore, as you can see, marijuana indeed interacts with the hormones that are responsible for your muscle growth, but none of this interaction is significant or crucial for the bodybuilding goal. More than this, none of these studies considers the effect of tolerance. So more research has to be conducted in order to find out everything about the processes that are going on in the body of a regular user.
While marijuana use does not initiate any big changes in your body on a chemical level, there may be some problems with other aspects of your training.
You may have heard this stereotype of a marijuana user who is overweight, lazy, and unmotivated. Since you are working on your body muscles, we assume you are absolutely not like this. But the truth is that some negative effect of marijuana use can indeed compromise your motivation, and it will.
If you need to maintain a special diet, then munchies can cause problems for you. Unless you really need some extra calories, we would suggest you either choose the strains that do not have the “munchies effect” or simply avoid buying any unhealthy food at all—it is better to eat carrots and chicken than a Snickers bar.
Some strains make you energetic, others make you sleepy. So if you want to remain focused and pumped up during the workout, you had better not smoke those relaxing joints before the training. They can come in use for your after-workout formula, when you want to calm down and let your body return to the routine life rhythm.
The relaxing effect of marijuana may become useful if you have problems with sleep. A bodybuilder requires a nice deep sleep in order to restore the strength and let muscles regenerate. The munchies effect can be useful if you have problems with appetite. The mood elevating effect of marijuana may keep you motivated to continue your workouts.
The good thing is that we are all different, and the wide choice of marijuana strains allows us to find a perfect fit for any of us in any situation. Monitor your marijuana use, keep on exercising, move towards your goal, and do not let some prejudice lead you astray.