"Blazing" Through Your Workout: Marijuana as a CrossFit Pre-Workout

Disclaimer: If you, unlike our guest blogger, live in a state where marijuana is illegal, don’t break the law…or some shit. Also, street drugs (marijuana included) are on the banned list for the CrossFit Games.

I like to smoke marijuana before I CrossFit. I know the normal perception of a smoker is a lazy pot-head laying on the couch all day eating peanut butter with his bare hands – but I’m here to tell you – there’s another group of marijuana enthusiasts out there. A group that would rather “do shit” when we are stoned. A simple search of the terms “marijuana + crossfit” will let you see, we are not alone.

I don’t like long runs or rows in a workout – but when I smoke, I love running. Long runs, short sprints, 2000m rows, it doesn’t matter – I embrace the monotony when I am high. I hate workouts with a heavy barbell in them, but I have an easier time pushing through those heavy extra reps or grinding through burpees or box jumps - when I’m a little blazed.

Marijuana could be the prescription for you hitting a PR on your next workout.

Marijuana could be the prescription for you hitting a PR on your next workout.

I haven’t smoked before a workout session in quite some time before this week. I worked a job in the airline industry where I got tested regularly so I had pretty much quit smoking for the last couple years. Now I run my own business and have a medical marijuana prescription. Most of my usual training partners get lifted before we train – so I decided to take it back to the old school and joined my gym partners in their daily mind-altering pre-workout ritual

I felt fantastic. I usually do an 800m run for my warmup, I doubled that and ran at almost a PR pace, did some mobility work and then cruised through a metcon, finishing in a time I didn’t think was possible for me when I initially looked at the saw it.

The next day I followed the same prescription. Again, posted a good number on my front squat and a PR'd my "Diane" time.

Arnold enjoying a celebratory joint after winning Mr. Olympia in the documentary "Pumping Iron."

Arnold enjoying a celebratory joint after winning Mr. Olympia in the documentary "Pumping Iron."

Many of the folks who CrossFit and smoke marijuana, favor using it as a recovery tool rather than a preworkout. In today’s supplement rich environment, pre-workouts that mimic the effects of speed or cocaine are favored over a mellow body high. I have taken some crazy pre-workout powders. Ear-itching, heart pounding, flushed skin – I can get behind that for a session that will only involve heavy lifting for low reps. If there is conditioning work? Let me burn some trees and chill out a little. Getting a little high just seems to bring my mind and body together in a way I struggle to achieve in a sober state.

My background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is what first introduced me to the idea of smoking to improve physical performance. BJJ is rife with smokers. I first met Seth Waggener when we trained together at a Jiu-Jitsu spot in South Carolina. Many of us used to smoke in the morning, do Jiu-Jitsu for hours, then hit the beach and surf all afternoon. Marijuana promotes creative thinking – and in Jiu-Jitsu, creative thinking and chaining techniques together is what separates you from your competitors.

The author (not pictured) met wild/STRONG founder Seth Waggener (center) during their time training together in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ culture has many proponents of the beneficial properties of marijuana when it comes to training.

The author (not pictured) met wild/STRONG founder Seth Waggener (center) during their time training together in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. BJJ culture has many proponents of the beneficial properties of marijuana when it comes to training.

While CrossFit doesn’t require creative thinking mid-wod – the movements are the movements, you just do them - the mind-body connection is important for me. The more in-tune I can be, the better I perform. The monotony of the reps becomes a song in your head, a symphony of human movement that entertains you as you complete it – allowing your mind to be open to the possibility of continuing when before it might have told you to stop.

Smoking marijuana is not recommended. Instead, try using a vaporizer or edibles to get your THC.

Smoking marijuana is not recommended. Instead, try using a vaporizer or edibles to get your THC.

With legalization slowly finding a foot-hold in the west, the ability to ingest THC without the harmful effects of inhaling smoke into your lungs, is easier than ever. In some states you can walk into a store and buy edibles, vaporizers and many other tools and accessories to enhance your experience and make it a less harmful one on your body.

While some people may smoke and simply want to check out, for me, weed is a performance-enhancing drug. I don’t think it’s for everybody – I think a lot of people would perform poorly if they tried to use it pre-workout. I think it depends on what you struggle with during a metcon. If the struggles are mental – I would recommend trying it out. Bob Marley once said “When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.” Sometimes revealing your strengths and weaknesses to yourself – can improve your performance and bring clarity to improving those weaknesses.

I train with the same group of people every day. That group includes one female Games athlete and three regional athletes. All four ingest some form of marijuana before at least three workout sessions a week, with one of them using a vaporizer before every workout. These are high-level athletes who understand their bodies at a level most CrossFitters only dream of.

Again, this works for me, it works for them. This is not scientific – if you are looking for that sort of article, they are out there. There is plenty of research available to you. This is an article about how I use it and how it impacts my mental state before and during a workout.

A couple words of caution. If you use it pre-workout, don’t be an idiot and get blazed before driving to the gym – have some common courtesy to those you share the road with and don’t give cops a reason to pull you over and give you a DUI. If you live in a state where weed is legal, you still can’t get ripped and drive. Stop being an idiot. Ingest the THC on site before you warm up. Also, make your dinner or post-workout meal ahead of time. The munchies are real and no matter how great you did on the WOD, you can’t out-train those 17 cheeseburgers you got at the drive-thru on the way home. Weed may be Paleo (Rob Wolf says “no”) but that whole sleeve of Oreos you just wolfed down, sure as shit is NOT.