If your goal in the gym is to build muscle, but you are afraid that marijuana will affect your results, I’ve got one word—ARNOLD.

bodybuilding-feature

After winning the 1975 Mr. Olympia title, Schwarzenegger famously enjoyed a fat joint while eating some fried chicken. The next day, Arnold woke up and his suit of muscles remained—the weed (and fried chicken) had not dissolved his physique.

The Science

bodybuilding molecule Marijuana and Bodybuilding: Does Weed Affect Muscle Growth?
Photo credit: Weedpad

Transitioning from someone who is a novice weightlifter into a bodybuilder takes a lot of time and dedication. Bodybuilders spend a lot of time monitoring hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and growth (hormone) in order to achieve the muscle gains that they desire. Other important aspects of being a successful bodybuilder include, proper diet, focus, dedication, and time. Without even picking up a weight, the effort that goes into becoming a successful bodybuilder is daunting.

If you are a marijuana user and also a bodybuilder or aspiring to become one, you might wonder if marijuana is in any way detrimental to the pursuit of your goals. There are really two aspects of the answer to this question—a chemical “sciency” answer and a behavioral answer.

Marijuana and hormones – “Sciency” stuff

Testosterone

Studies show that THC can potentially reduce testosterone production, but not permanently.  Tests done on rats showed that THC could suppress the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis or HPA. A common belief is that the HPA is responsible for the majority of testosterone production, and when suppressed by let’s say THC, testosterone production will also be thwarted. The fact is, the HPA is only responsible for about 5% of the body’s testosterone production. The majority of testosterone production comes from Leydig cells that promote the secretion of testosterone in male testes. So, it is possible that THC can decrease the 5% total testosterone production coming from the HPA, but for at most a 24-hour period. As you build a tolerance, it will take more THC to affect your HPA, but not necessarily the cannabinoid receptors responsible for getting you high.

Estrogen

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