Natural bodybuilder Brandon Lirio weighs the pros and cons of marijuana and bodybuilding using some research backed by studies mixed with personal experience.

Brandon Lirio may be an all-natural bodybuilder when it comes to competition… but he’s not opposed to using marijuana to both enjoy life a little more while also benefiting from its recovery benefits. As the United States leans closer and closer to a federal legalization of marijuana – with nearly half of the US states now legalizing it – it’s becoming more common  to question how weed interacts with different subcultures. There has been conversation around weed and bodybuilding in the past – but does this drug carry more pros or cons for the bodybuilding lifestyle? In our latest episode of U-Natty States Of America, Brandon Lirio answers the question – can marijuana make you a better bodybuilder or does it hurt your gains?

Over the past decade, there has been an optimistic push for marijuana and marijuana based products. More and more states have legalized the drug or at the very least decriminalized it. CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, had a massive boom sold as topical ointments and tinctures. Suddenly, the pot leaf was no longer a symbol of rebellion. It was everywhere.

Science has also been optimistic about the medical benefits of THC and CBD, ranging from help with neurological disease to aiding in something as simple as inflammation. This is where marijuana, and more specifically CBD, has intersected with the sports world.

So can smoking weed be a benefit to bodybuilding? Or does it ultimately create a distraction that hurts bodybuilding and fitness endeavors? Brandon Lirio has been an avid marijuana smoker for quite some time. Using some research studies and his own personal experience – he attempts to answer this question.

Weed & Recovery: Can marijuana help enhance REM sleep for bodybuilders and athletes?

One notion that Brandon Lirio explores is the idea that marijuana can help reduce inflammation and also relax a person to help optimize sleep. In bodybuilding, recovery is just as important as the workout – as this is the time that muscle repairs stronger. For those who struggle with sleep, this can slow down or reduce the recovery process.

Brandon Lirio discusses studies that he has read that seem to be in conflict with each other. There are some studies that show the relaxing quality of weed can reduce anxiety and help for a deep sleep. Other studies, however, found that marijuana can raise anxiety and make it harder to sleep. So what’s the real answer here?

Ultimately, the biggest struggle about marijuana studies is the lack of long term research. Because the drug is illegal federally, it limits what kind of studies scientists can pursue. Only now with many states legalizing it has more in-depth studies begun – but it will take some time to truly understand the long term connections.

On a more anecdotal level, Brandon Lirio thinks it comes down to the individual and how they respond to the drug. But one thing that is important to consider is the growth of tolerance to weed. Over time, the more marijuana you consume the less it will effect you. So the question is raised – at one point does weed become not worth it compared to other methods such as saunas or cold plunges for a deep sleep?

It’s up for each individual to decide but it’s one thing that should be considered before adding marijuana into your bodybuilding “supplement stack.”

Can marijuana be used to help increase appetite for bulking?

The use of marijuana often leads to an increased appetite – also known as “the munchies.” Brandon Lirio admits that this can be an effective tool for those who struggle to eat enough calories during their bulking bodybuilding prep. However, it’s important to not succumb to a lack of inhibition and consume dirty snack foods. If smoking weed helps with your appetite but you’re only bulking on chips and greasy burgers – the weed might actually be doing more harm than good.

Brandon Lirio also stresses the importance of considering how you will want to consume marijuana if you decide to utilize it for bulking. Smoking vs vaping vs edibles all have different effects. And as usual, it effects each individual differently when it comes to potency.

Considering health and the act of smoking

Brandon Lirio also wants to bring up the big elephant in the room – smoking anything is bad for your lungs and can also harm others via second hand smoke. While marijuana does not contain anywhere near the same level of chemicals that cigarettes do – it is still putting smoke into your lungs. That’s bad.

Luckily, marijuana comes in various other forms in more plentiful varieties now that it is becoming less taboo. Weed now comes in forms of drinks, candies, cookies, and oils. Each one will have different effects in terms of how strong a dose and how long it lasts. But it does provide alternatives to inhaling smoke. All of this should be considered before deciding to engage with weed as a tool in your bodybuilding and fitness arsenal.

Wrap Up

So is marijuana a game changer for bodybuilding? Probably not. Brandon Lirio thinks that weed can be useful for certain individual bodybuilders – but it’s not a “supplement” that will become a go-to for all athletes. What is most important is to do your research, try it out for yourself, and see if it is a benefit to you.

You can watch Brandon Lirio talk about weed and bodybuilding in full detail by watching the latest episode of U-Natty States Of America above. Don’t forget to check back every Wednesday for new episodes only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

A list of studies Brandon Lirio references:

Jacob Ladon is a staff writer and former amateur bodybuilder. He has been passionate about bodybuilding since he was 15 years old and discovered the joys of training in the gym. He reports and comments on all bodybuilding related matters.