Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


CBD for Improved Athletic Performance
Posted By Alex Eriksson (Anabolic Health)

CBD Marijuana and athletes? That will surely raise a lot of eyebrows. Weed isn’t something an athlete will ever consider, and for good reason. What if marijuana can actually help improve athletic performance? What if it’s not all bad at all? We’re talking about a special compound in marijuana. It’s called cannabidiol or CBD.

So, what exactly is CBD?

Simply put, it’s one of the many active compounds in marijuana. However, it does not produce the psychoactive effects that marijuana is most known for. Those are caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), not CBD. In fact, CBD is one of the active compounds in marijuana linked to medical benefits.
This fascinating compound is extracted from marijuana strains that contain very low levels of THC. These strains usually contain less than 1% of THC with much higher concentrations of CBD. Because of their low THC content, these strains can actually be grown legally.

What are the benefits of CBD?

Many studies highlight marijuana’s potential in promoting better health and boosting athletic performance. Of course, the majority of these benefits are linked to the unique properties and action of CBD in the body.
Now, we’re not saying athletes should start smoking weed before training or competing. What we’re trying to say is that athletes should consider taking CBD, not anything mixed with psychoactive THC – and those who’d choose to take the compound should be able to enjoy these perks:
Lowered cortisol
Cortisol is most known for its connection to stress. Having high amounts of cortisol in the blood translates to high-stress levels. That’s not good if it happens over a prolonged period.
Well, taking CBD can help lower the amount of cortisol in the blood. This can help the tissues to relax and recover. For athletes, this is very important. After all, a faster recovery rate opens the opportunity to train harder, longer, and more frequently.
This cortisol-lowering effect is also great for reducing anxiety levels. It helps the brain regulate growth hormones and adrenal functions more efficiently.
Improved sleep quality
There are so many reasons why everyone should get enough sleep, even the toughest athletes. Sleep, for one, is the time when the body relaxes and recovers. It’s like a chance for the body to get its daily reset.
Unfortunately, many find it difficult to get enough sleep. Aside from that, many factors affect the quality of sleep – or how refreshed you are upon waking up. The good news is that CBD oil can help with these.
This compound works in contradictory methods, depending on the dose. At very low doses, it acts as a stimulant. It activates receptors that caffeine does, making it harder to fall asleep.
At moderate and high doses, CBD can help promote better and more restful sleep. Therapeutic doses of CBD are typically moderate to high concentrations.
Controlled appetite
CBD oil has been shown to suppress appetite.
Did that confuse you? Marijuana is indeed known to cause “the munchies”, meaning people end up binge eating after smoking some weed. This is one of THC’s effects, not of CBD.
By suppressing appetite, CBD makes it easier to manage food intake – meaning keeping track of calories becomes a lot less complicated as well. This can help in weight management, regardless of whether you’re aiming to shed pounds or simply to stay within a specific range.
Reduced inflammation
Inflammation is one of the body’s main responses to injury and infection. It is part of several processes that help maintain tissue integrity and promote healing.
However, if the inflammatory processes cannot solve the reason behind an existing injury or irritation, inflammation becomes more of a problem than a solution. There are many other factors that can cause the inflammatory process to go awry.
For an athlete, inflammation can seriously hinder progress and reduce performance. Well, muscles get inflamed after an intense workout – and that’s perfectly normal. The longer inflammation stays though, the longer it takes for the body to recover.
That means the athlete won’t be able to use the muscles at optimum capacity. This also means that the athlete won’t be able to train as frequently and as hard as intended.
CBD oil can help reduce inflammation. This process is not limited to reducing inflammation in the muscles from intense activities. It can also be applied to other kinds of inflammation, such as those that manifest in the joints.
Improved insulin sensitivity
Athletes need lots of energy – even during the recovery period. Insulin is the hormone responsible for making sure that the tissues, especially the muscles, have enough supply of energy. Yes, it’s insulin that ensures that glucose gets absorbed into the blood, is brought to the tissues, and enters individual cells.
That’s why low insulin sensitivity is a serious problem. This condition makes it harder for the body to produce energy for the muscles. It can also prevent the body from building lean muscles.
Poor insulin sensitivity promotes the storage of extra glucose into fat instead of getting it into the muscles and the liver. Glucose in the liver and muscles are stored in the form of glycogen, which helps in muscle development. And since the problem promotes fat storage, it makes it so much harder to achieve a lean, sculpted physique.
Fortunately, CBD oil can help improve insulin sensitivity and assists the body in its attempts to keep the hormone within the right levels.

Does CBD have a downside?

Athletes really have a lot to gain from CBD. One downside, however, is the poor absorption. In other words, most of the compound gets flushed out instead of getting absorbed into the blood and delivered to the target tissues.
One good way of enhancing absorption though is by taking CBD oil along with black pepper and turmeric. While there are other options, these two are generally deemed most effective (aside from being widely available and rather inexpensive).
All in all, being generally safe and legal, CBD is arguably one of the best supplements for those who regularly engage in the most demanding physical activities.

Incidentally, if this has got you thinking about your own diet, you might like to swing by Fantastic site.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


Leave a Reply

What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength


Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

Logan's 'Quarantine Sale' Courses

As much as I love training with free weights (and the occasional machine, for specific things) I'm partial to the occasional dose of bodyweight goodness. Particularly when travelling.

If you're keen to dive into this training approach even deeper, you may wish to check out Logan's 'Quarantine Sale' Courses.

Various courses looking at the world of bodyweight training from many angles, perfect for when you're housebound for a little while.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men's health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on 50 Foods That Boost Testosterone and follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.