Marijuana and Sports – Does Getting High Affect Performance?


Do you remember several years ago about the case where the snowboarder almost lost his gold medal in the Olympics because he was under suspicion that he had smoked marijuana during the competition? It was alleged that he had smoked a joint with some friends sometime within 48 hours of the time he competed in his event. He allegedly explained that he was in the room while others smoked and he might have had a contact high but did not consume any marijuana directly. The fact is that marijuana can, indeed, get into your system through external exposure by inhaling it from a surrounding area (secondhand smoke). There were also variations in the actual amount of this drug in his system. In the end, the snowboarder was allowed by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to keep his gold medal due to insufficient evidence.

The funny thing is that marijuana has been scientifically proven to actually hinder athletic performance in sports, not enhance it. The same effects do not happen to everyone and marijuana has been shown to assist in health related issues as well as being beneficial for concentration and relaxation. The chances that it helped the snowboarder win his race are close to zero since marijuana is definitely not a PED (performance enhancing drug). If anything, ingesting this drug would have made him less agile, slower to respond physically to the quick movements needed for the detailed orientation required throughout the snowboard course. He would have had a “lagging” feeling and maybe an uncomfortable paranoia, if anything. Most competitors will not use this type of drug as an enhancement and especially not before a chance to compete in such an esteemed competition like the Olympics.

Training high on weed or competing while you’re high on other types of recreational drugs will hinder your awareness plain and simple. What you do on your own quiet time is up to you and marijuana has been shown to help in recovery from exercise, but when used during exercise or sports, it is definitely not beneficial and can result in injury when used in conjunction with physical activities like weight training.

The bottom line is that there is no athletic enhancement provided by utilizing marijuana prior to working out and especially at the highest level of athletics like the Olympics. Of course, there must be rules and regulations to Olympic sports and this includes illegal drugs. There must be a code of conduct regardless of your personal feelings toward political issues such as whether or not marijuana should be legal. Being a competitor in a sport is not the time to debate the rights or wrongs of what a drug is or how it challenges a specific activity. If you choose to compete in a certain sport then you are agreeing to play by the rules that are handed to you, even the political rules that you might not agree with. Part of being a good sportsman is showing your ability to follow these rules regardless of your opinion and if your opinion is strong enough against these rules, then you should choose not to compete.

The take away message to the regular “gym-goer” who works out a few times a week, is that it’s very important to lift weights at full mental focus and conscious awareness in order to maximize your training sessions and overall results. Working out while being high is a big disadvantage and will only hurt you in the gym. If you are serious about wanting real results then you will want to have a true mind-muscle connection during your workouts and forgo the use of any type of drugs or alcohol prior to training. Alcohol is detrimental to your fitness results and has been proven to lower important muscle building hormones like testosterone. Part of muscle building depends on your ability to connect your mind with your body and the best way to achieve this is to be sober and aware. So, put down the bong and focus on your training sessions so you can work hard and reach your fitness and physique goals faster!

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About Author

Linda Cusmano

Linda is a national level fitness and figure pro who dabbles in bodybuilding competitions, obstacle and strength challenges along with fitness model competitions. She is a triple certified elite personal trainer and the owner of Body Rush Personal Training. See my profile page for more information!

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