If your reason for going to gym is muscle building, to the point that you avoid marijuana for fear of it affecting your results negatively, then it is time to rethink your plan. At the simple mention of the name Arnold Schwarzenegger, it becomes clear that pot can actually help. Schwarzenegger famously celebrated his 1975 Mr. Olympia win with some fried chicken and a joint being the envy of everyone.
Using Cannabis to Build Muscles
The next day, however, Schwarzenegger woke with all his muscles intact. The pot, and the fried chicken, had no lasting consequences. Transitioning from novice weightlifting into bodybuilding requires immense effort, plenty of time, and unwavering dedication. They monitor estrogen, testosterone, and growth hormones to sculpt the muscles they want.
Muscle builders must also focus on diet, including nutrients and supplements. Before one even starts to gain weight, the effort of muscle building is overwhelming. However, if you enjoy your weed, then you might ask if it will prevent you from achieving your goals. Answering this question involves discussing two areas of study: Behavioral impact and chemical effects.
Influence of Marijuana on Hormones
Numerous studies suggest that THC could potentially decrease the production of testosterone, but only temporarily. In rat studies, tests showed THC suppressing hypothalamic-pituitary axis, or HPA, activity. A widespread misconception is that the HPA produces most of the body’s testosterone, and when inhibited by THC, for example, then naturally levels will drop.
However, the reality is that the HPA only produces approximately five percent of the body’s total testosterone. Leydig cells actually produce the vast majority, as they stimulate the male testes to secrete it. This means that THC is able to reduce only five percent of the body’s production by inhibiting the HPA, but only for 24-hours at most.
There is also a widely held belief that because cannabis increases the production of estrogen, it can cause gynecomastia, or “man boobs.” This is false. Both males and females produce estrogen naturally, and marijuana is certainly able to interact with it. Studies on rats of both genders demonstrate that the painkilling effects of cannabis are much more intense in female rats with higher estrogen levels.
When THC enters the blood brain barrier, it immediately starts competing with estradiol to bind with estrogen receptors in the brain. The theory is that, when both genders have elevated levels of estrogen, receptors will not bind with THC as much, leaving more available for use elsewhere in the body’s endocannabinoid system, making it ideal for those using cannabis for pain relief.
Then, there is the human growth hormone, or simply GH. Produced by the pituitary gland, GH has the job of regeneration and cell growth. Growth hormone is essential for building muscles, but it is just as crucial for new tissue growth in the organs and brain. The liver processes GH and converts it into IGF-1 and other anabolic growth factors.
Scientists conducting a study back in 2002 discovered that, when administered to rats, THC in concentrated doses could decrease the amount of growth hormone the pituitary gland produces. This is because THC causes the hypothalamus to release a chemical called somatostatin, a naturally occurring compound the body uses to slow the production of GH.
Clinical Trials on Humans
Scientists did conduct clinical study on humans to establish the effect of marijuana on GH production. It found that although THC lowered levels of testosterone well within a healthy range, it increased production of GH and elevated cortisol levels, albeit insignificantly. It is important to note that researchers did not use regular pot users in the study, and therefore, did not consider tolerance.
The view of science is to conclude that using marijuana does not have any major impact on the hormones so essential for developing a muscled physique. In every case, THC does interact with all of these hormones, but neither negatively or permanently. Additionally, one must also consider the effects of marijuana on behavior, as well as how it affects a bodybuilder’s mental health.
Using Marijuana Motivationally
We now know that, on a chemical level, using marijuana will not affect your muscle development in any bad way, but you need to calculate behavior into your final decision. The typical stereotype of a pothead is a lazy, overweight, spaced out, and unmotivated individual, but the truth could not be more different. Most cannabis consumers destroy these stereotypes in their everyday achievements.
To decide if marijuana will inhibit or enhance your gym goals, you need to do some introspection, as it forms part of a whole. Muscle builders must maintain a specific diet to complement their goals, such as eating huge quantities of calories to gain the weight. Marijuana will certainly help you build the appetite needed to consume such vast amounts of food, so the munchies can be extremely useful.
To motivate themselves, most bodybuilders stick to a pre-worked formula designed to pump them up and help them focus. For many, cannabis is just what they need to achieve the right state of mind, to be “in the zone,” while calming and relaxing the muscles after a stressful workout, as well. However, it is important to moderate your consumption so that weed does not become the reason you quit.
There are two distinct categories of marijuana: Sativa and Indica. Sativas make users energetic and incentivized, whereas Indica makes you sleepy and less inclined to complete a workout. Use the right strains, which you may need to experiment with a bit, and always stick to taking the right dosages at the right times. Too much can be the opposite of helpful, even potentially unpleasant.
For bodybuilders and those just wanting to look ripped, cannabis can be an extremely valuable addition to your workout. It can stimulate appetite to help you eat. It can induce the sleep required for muscle growth and restoration, and it can help you focus mentally on your training routine. Marijuana affects everybody differently, but it will not harm your muscle development in any way. It will only help.
Author Bio – John Levy is the author of this post. He is a cannabis researcher and blogger by profession. Currently, John is working with Pot Valet, which provides marijuana delivery service in Santa Monica. John has extensive experience in cannabis industry and he loves to explore and share the health benefits of cannabis and related products with the community. Follow his company on Facebook, Twitter and GooglePlus.
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