CBD is having a moment — a very long one, we should say.
The major non-psychoactive component of cannabis is everywhere these days, and in virtually any form you can think of. You can have CBD oils, CBD capsules, CBD gummies, isolate powders, topicals, vape liquids, and even pet treats.
There’s a lot of positive buzz around the health benefits of CBD when it comes to bodybuilding. Those trying to get into shape and build lean muscles are always on the lookout for new supplements that could boost their physical productivity and put more desired mass on their core.
In a world filled with testosterone, protein shakes, and a plethora of supplements, it seems that there’s still room for one more.
There is a decent amount of evidence to support the benefits of CBD for bodybuilding. From improved sleep and muscle recovery to better weight management and sharpened focus, this article will cover every positive aspect of using CBD in your fitness routine.
Let’s answer one important question first.
Should You Use CBD for Bodybuilding?
People who use CBD for bodybuilding report improvements in many aspects of their life. A growing number of gym-goers want to try cannabidiol to verify the worth of its hype. Many supplements are backed by science, while others are utterly daylight robberies aimed at pulling as much money from the customer as possible.
For those seeking to go beyond their limits, using CBD for bodybuilding makes perfect sense considering the myriad of benefits that are closely related to this form of physical activity. Unlike THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t produce a high, so you won’t get stoned as you try to go through the workout of your dreams.
Instead of binding directly to any of the CB receptors in the brain, CBD signals the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to improve their performance and produce more of its natural cannabinoids (endocannabinoids). The ECS is the major regulatory network within our bodies; it is responsible for maintaining the chemical balance between all critical functions, including metabolism, pain perception, sleep cycles, immune response, body temperature, appetite, and more.
From the bodybuilding point of view, the most salient benefits of CBD are higher energy levels, improved sleep, and better recovery from workouts.
Cannabidiol can also reduce stress and anxiety and ease inflammation, which is particularly important for professional bodybuilders, as they put way more burden on their bodies than an average gym-goer.
Does CBD Oil Help You Build Muscle?
If you tell any gym rat that there’s a supplement capable of helping boost muscle mass, they will run for it faster than Usain Bolt for his Olympic record. Some brands suggest that CBD can help spur up the muscle-building process, which is against the FDA compliance rules as companies aren’t allowed to make any health claims regarding their products.
The likely answer is that CBD may be involved in building muscles, but it doesn’t do it directly. However, it could have a range of benefits that can make it easier for you to build lean muscle mass. If you could complete more workouts as a result of being able to recover faster, you would likely benefit from a higher muscle mass.
No substance can help you gain muscle without exercising. You need to induce that microdamage to the muscle fibers and then nourish them while leaving enough time for recovery — supplements such as CBD concentrated oil can only help boost that process.
That being said, CBD doesn’t replace anabolic products, even though it offers an alternative to anti-catabolic supplements. Keep in mind that CBD is the modulator of the endocannabinoid system, meaning it helps regulate the body’s metabolism, appetite, and recovery through an indirect interaction.
Why Do Bodybuilders Take CBD?
In the next section, we’ll elaborate on the major benefits of CBD for bodybuilding from a bodybuilder’s perspective.
One of the most crucial benefits is CBD’s impact on immune communication and inflammatory responses. Inflammation involves redness, pain, heat, and swelling — sometimes even loss of function. It’s an essential response of the body that keeps us protected from harmful compounds that interact with our bodies.
For bodybuilders, acute inflammation is a desired event. It’s a short-lasting process that helps kill foreign molecules. After achieving this state, the antibodies work to remove residue while healing damaged cells. This also requires proper nutrition to have a happy ending. If you’ve ever trained so hard that it made your muscles burn and hurt like hell, it’s a good thing if you’re working out to build muscle.
On the other hand, chronic inflammation is something you definitely don’t want because it triggers muscle breakdown. Chronic inflammation can last for months or longer without the necessary immune response to end it. As well as stopping the muscle from growing, chronic inflammation can lead to various autoimmune diseases such as arthritis pain, Alzheimer’s, or Crohn’s disease.
Many bodybuilders take NSAIDs to tackle chronic inflammation. This, in turn, can inhibit muscle growth too, according to a 2017 study by Lilja et al (1).
CBD has remarkable anti-inflammatory effects but it doesn’t hinder the muscle-building process when taken. CBD has a distinct way of interacting with the ECS that could help lower inflammation.
According to a review of over 130 studies by Rudroff and Sosnoff, published in Frontiers of Neurology in 2018, the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD can also contribute to improved mobility and reduced pain levels in multiple sclerosis patients (2). The review also highlighted the antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective benefits of CBD.
Benefits of CBD for Bodybuilding
1. CBD for Weight Management
Trying to lose weight? Here’s some good news for you.
In a 2008 animal study published in the PLOS One Journal, scientists concluded that CBD blocks a receptor in the brain so that ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, is unable to take effect (3).
A study published in Nature Journal has found a link between taking CBD and increased levels of leptin in the brain (4).
Unlike ghrelin, leptin is the hormone that makes us feel satiated. Increased levels of leptin are associated with reduced cravings for unhealthy, sugar-rich foods, helping individuals to achieve their weight goals faster than without CBD.
2. CBD for Muscle Growth
In a study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, CBD’s anti-catabolic properties were shown to enable proper regulation of hormone levels in the body (5).
CBD helps maintain the right cortisol levels, allowing for more effective muscle growth and protein synthesis throughout a bodybuilding routine.
These properties can also be used for slowing the breakdown of muscle muss and helping athletes build more lean muscle.
Moreover, CBD may indirectly boost muscle growth by improving stamina. When a person is able to spend more time bodybuilding without the muscles getting tired, they can experience faster results from their hard work.
3. CBD for Post-Workout Recovery
As mentioned, lifting weights can cause micro damage to muscle fibers. Those muscles then become inflamed, which results in pain response, as the body is trying to repair. The most common symptoms of this state include soreness and stiffness.
Research has shown that CBD might reduce soreness and swelling by reducing inflammation. On top of that, CBD may help dampen the sensation of pain after a heavy workout.
Finally, CBD may also reduce muscle spasticity from neuropathic damage, which often causes the muscles to twitch in pain.
4. CBD for Improved Sleep
No matter how perfect your workout routine, diet, and supplementation plan are, they will never compensate for the lack of quality rest. Sleep is essential for every human on this planet, especially for those living an active lifestyle.
Sleep affects almost every process in the body, from the release of growth and stress hormones to the immune response, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and attention levels.
In a study published in Pharmaceuticals (Basel) in 2012, 160 milligrams of CBD proved to be as effective as a sleep aid called nitrazepam — increasing the participant’s duration of sleep (6).
Experts generally agree that moderate to high doses of CBD might have therapeutic potential for the treatment of sleep disorders, including insomnia.
5. CBD for Reduced Stress and Anxiety
Exercising is generally recommended for individuals who want to reduce stress. Workouts have proven psychological benefits that can help support physical health. The stress reaction is necessary for humans to survive, but nowadays, stress has become our everyday companion.
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your health. It can cause the body to release too much cortisol and adrenaline, leading to problems with concentration, low self-esteem, anxiety, and irritability.
CBD has strong anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties. It uses similar pathways as conventional SSRIs antidepressants but without the severe side effects of the latter.
Bodybuilders Who Use CBD
- Lee Priest: this Australian bodybuilder used to compete with other top-of-the ladder bodybuilders in the 1980s and 90s in the International Federation of BodyBuilders. After a 20-year-long career and winning a multitude of titles, The Sultan of Symmetry (that was his nickname back then) retired. A priest has recently spoken out about his CBD treatment for pain; he openly said that CBD has proven more beneficial to him than opioid drugs.
- Dave Palumbo: Palumbo not only competed in various competitions, but he was also the Editor-in-Chief of Muscular Development magazine. He also created RxMuscle.com and is the owner of Species Nutrition. He believes that cannabidiol can help bodybuilders recover from intense workouts.
- Joey Swoll: Bon Joey Sergo, Swoll is a leader in the fitness industry and has been featured in the most popular bodybuilding and fitness magazines. Today, his career revolves around coaching, but only for bodybuilders who take the sport seriously. Joey Swoll is known for his god-like physique that is a result of a brutal workout regime. Just like the two above bodybuilders, he also supports the idea of using CBD for recovery.
CBD and Bodybuilding: Another Piece of the Puzzle
As you can see, there’s an obvious positive link between CBD and bodybuilding. As more sports organizations lift their ban on hemp-derived CBD under the new federal law, CBD products are becoming more accessible across the United States. You can easily find them over the counter in organic health stores, pharmacies, supplement shops, and online.
The best part about using CBD for bodybuilding is that it affects so many aspects of this sport. From better concentration to improved recovery and effective weight management, CBD is a versatile tool that can take your bodybuilding routine to a new level.
If you want to give it a shot, there are lots of options, such as oil capsules, oil drops, edibles, and topicals. It’s best to start with lower doses to see how your body responds to CBD — and adjust the dosage from there. Gradually increase the amount of CBD oil in your routine until you are satisfied with the effects.
Do you use CBD for bodybuilding?
- Lilja, M et al. “High doses of anti-inflammatory drugs compromise muscle strength and hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training in young adults.” Acta physiologica (Oxford, England) vol. 222,2 (2018): 10.1111/apha.12948. doi:10.1111/apha.12948
- Rudroff, Thorsten, and Jacob Sosnoff. “Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis.” Frontiers in neurology vol. 9 183. 22 Mar. 2018, doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00183
- Kola, B. et al. (2008). The Orexigenic Effect of Ghrelin Is Mediated through Central Activation of the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001797
- Di Marzo, V et al. “Leptin-regulated endocannabinoids are involved in maintaining food intake.” Nature vol. 410,6830 (2001): 822-5. doi:10.1038/35071088
- Zuardi, A W et al. “Effect of cannabidiol on plasma prolactin, growth hormone and cortisol in human volunteers.” Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicasvol. 26,2 (1993): 213-7.
- Zhornitsky, S. and Potvin, S. Cannabidiol in Humans — The Quest for Therapeutic Targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel) 5,5 (2012): 529-552.