Are you trying to build bigger, stronger muscles?
If so, you may have heard about CBD and its potential uses as an exercise supplement.
Well, it’s true:
CBD has a variety of benefits that can work wonders for anyone trying to train their best.
Here’s a closer look at CBD and how it can help you build muscle and strength.
The Importance of Muscle Mass for Athletes
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or weightlifter to understand the benefits of building muscle mass.
Developing stronger, more efficient muscles is important for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete or not.
Unfortunately, our muscles need to undergo physical stress in order to grow.
And, as we live ever more sedentary lives, our bodies generally don’t undergo enough stress in our day-to-day to promote regular healthy muscle growth.
That’s basically why we exercise.
By pushing our bodies in a controlled manner, we can create the right kind of stress that encourages it to adapt to new challenges and become more efficient.
Below I’ll take a closer, more detailed look at how our bodies build muscle.
How Does Your Body Build Muscle?
In order to help you understand the benefits of CBD for muscle growth and strength, you first need to understand the process of muscle building.
As I mentioned earlier, workouts are basically designed to put your body under stress in a controlled environment.
Weightlifters looking to put on muscle mass, for example, tend to lift weights that weigh around 80% of their “1 rep maximum.”
This allows them to push their muscles in a controlled manner, encouraging them to grow bigger and more efficient while maintaining good form and avoiding injury.
Let’s imagine you’re at the gym working out your biceps with a few sets of bicep curls.
Bicep curls are an isolation exercise in which the biceps do most of the work of lifting the weight.
As you curl the bar upwards, the muscles fibers in your bicep contract, moving the bar towards your shoulders.
Then, as you lower the weight, the muscle fibers expand to control the lowering of the bar back down to the starting position.
As you repeat this movement and potentially increase the weight, you’re causing microscopic tears in the fibers of your bicep muscle.
After your workout, your body starts repairing this damage, making the muscle bigger in order to be more efficient the next time around.
Over time, your original workout will seem easier, and you’ll need to increase your weight in order to promote further muscle growth and development.
How Hormones Affect Your Ability to Grow Muscle
Hormones play a very important role in muscle growth.
Studies show that exercise increases the levels of anabolic hormones like Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in the body, both of which play key roles in muscle development and weight loss.
Both testosterone and HGH help promote protein synthesis, which in turn helps repair the damage in your muscles after exercise.
Unfortunately, the stress of exercising also increases the level of cortisol, a stress hormone that does exactly the opposite.
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to physical and environmental stress.
Increased levels of cortisol can metabolize protein in the muscles for fuel, which in turn hinders the repair and growth of muscles.
Unfortunately, our bodies produce cortisol naturally in response to a variety of stress.
In fact, our cortisol levels are at their highest in the morning and slowly decrease during the day, reaching their lowest at night (which is also when the body does most of its muscle repair).
People with abnormally high cortisol levels may find that, despite working out regularly, they struggle to build muscle in the same way as others.
This can also happen to people who work out too long or do not give their body the chance to recover properly before getting back to the gym.
When present in normal concentrations, however, cortisol also has its benefits:
For example, cortisol helps breakdown compounds to create the glucose necessary to fuel the body.
It also helps the liver process toxins, regulates blood sugar, helps with memory, and more.
The Role of Inflammation in Muscle Building
Inflammation also plays a key role in muscle building.
Our body relies on inflammatory processes to help heal the microscopic muscle damage we cause during exercise.
In fact, inflammatory signals in the worked muscles help trigger the repair process by alerting your body to the damage that needs to be tended to.
Unfortunately, chronic inflammation from high amounts of fatty tissue can also negatively affect your ability to develop muscle.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that high levels of inflammatory compounds in fatty tissue can negatively affect a person’s ability to gain muscle.
The study focused on 22 postmenopausal women who, over 9 months, underwent a 3 day per week resistance training program.
The more chronic inflammation from fatty tissue the women had, the harder it was for them to gain muscle from their training.
So, just like with hormones, a healthy, balanced inflammatory response is key to building bigger, stronger muscles.
How Can CBD Help You Build Muscle and Strength?
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve heard about the growing number of athletes and other sporting professionals who swear by CBD as a training supplement.
That’s because CBD has a variety of health benefits, many of which directly affect your body’s ability to perform and recover from training.
For example, CBD can help control your hormone levels, manage your metabolism, improve your sleep, and even improve your energy levels during the day or before an event.
Now that you have a better understanding of what goes on in your body during and after a workout, let’s take a closer look at how CBD can help you build muscle and strength.
3 Ways CBD Can Help You Build Muscle and Strength:
1. CBD Can Help Regulate Cortisol Levels
Remember how we touched on the importance of hormone balance for muscle gain?
Well, it turns out that CBD can help you regulate the levels of hormones like cortisol.
In doing so, CBD can help you maximize your muscle building potential.
In 1993, research from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, explored the effects of CBD on prolactin, growth hormone, and cortisol levels in a group of 11 volunteers.
The volunteers’ blood hormone levels were measured, and they were then given a dose of CBD or a placebo in a double-blind setting (meaning neither the participant nor the researchers knew what people were getting).
Neither CBD nor the placebo had any effect on the volunteers’ prolactin and growth hormone levels.
However, the researchers noted that CBD significantly reduced cortisol levels in the volunteers.
Based on the results, the researchers concluded that CBD may interfere with the secretion of cortisol into the bloodstream.
While this is a small and dated study, its findings add up.
After all, a lot of recent anecdotal evidence shows that people find CBD beneficial for fighting stress and anxiety (which are often caused by heightened levels of cortisol).
Many people also find that CBD helps them sleep better in the evening, which could also be caused by decreases in cortisol levels and drops in stress/anxiety before bed.
How CBD delivers these benefits isn’t 100% clear.
We know that CBD indirectly stimulates the endocannabinoid system by stimulating specific receptors and ion channels throughout the brain and body.
In doing so, CBD can stimulate activity in specific parts of the brain that control our mood and response to stressful stressful stimuli.
For example, research shows that CBD can promote neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells) in the hippocampus, a part of the brain responsible for managing our emotions (such as fear and anxiety), memory, and more.
Research also suggests that the endocannabinoid plays a key role in the excretion of hormones from the hypothalamus, the center of our endocrine system.
Stimulating CB1 receptors, for example, has been shown to inhibit endocrine function, which may be another reason why CBD and other cannabinoids seem to affect how we manage stress.
While we still don’t completely understand how CBD affects our endocrine system, one thing is clear:
CBD seems to be able to inhibit the secretion of hormones like cortisol, and could therefore help minimize the catabolic effects of this hormone and maximize your potential for muscle gains.
2. CBD Can Help You Sleep Better
As an athlete, I’m sure you understand how important sleep is.
Most of the recovery that your body undergoes after working out happens while you sleep.
Your cortisol levels are also at their lowest during the night, making it the best time for your body to repair the damage from your workout and rebuild your muscles.
Unfortunately, you’re probably also aware of just how many people struggle to get proper, restful sleep.
If you struggle to get the kind of quality sleep you need in order to recover properly from your workouts, I’ve got good news:
CBD can help.
There’s a growing body of research that proves that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in mediating how we sleep.
Studies show that endocannabinoid activity can affect various sleep factors, including how long it takes us to get to sleep, how much time we spend in the different sleep cycles, and when we wake up.
Research from the University of Sao Paolo, for example, shows that CBD can affect the sleep-wake cycles of lab animals.
The researchers tested various doses of CBD on lab rats and noted very interesting findings:
First of all, the scientists found that high doses of CBD significantly increased the total time the animals slept.
Secondly, the researchers found that these higher doses of CBD also increased the time the animals spent in non-REM sleep, which is considered part of the sleep cycle during which the body does most of its recovery.
Other research shows that CBD can also affect sleep stability (or the amount of time we stay asleep without disruption).
In 2016, a team of US researchers explored the effects of endocannabinoid activity on sleep.
They found that directly stimulating endocannabinoid receptors in mice improved the animal’s sleep stability. See the report here.
Just like the research from Sao Paolo, this study also found that endocannabinoid stimulation lead the animals to spend more time in the non-REM stages of sleep.
And if this evidence wasn’t enough, I can also vouch for CBD as a sleep aid.
Both my wife, Sara, and I regularly use CBD supplements to get a better night’s rest.
My wife works a really stressful job that leaves her anxious and stressed.
After a particularly tough day at work, Sara would often spend hours tossing and turning in bed beside me, regardless of the fact that she was physically exhausted.
Ever since she started using CBD, however, Sara finds herself getting to sleep faster and waking up feeling refreshed and rested.
And while I don’t struggle from stress and anxiety like Sara does, I do occasionally have problems sleeping.
I’m an amateur triathlete, and I tend to get pretty nervous in the days leading up to a triathlon.
That’s where CBD really work its magic.
Instead of laying in bed stressing about the upcoming event, CBD helps me get to sleep quickly and wake up feeling motivated and relaxed.
Many professional athletes also use CBD to help them sleep and recover.
For example, many professional hockey players use CBD before bed in order to sleep better and recover faster from games and practices.
3. CBD Can Boost Your Energy Levels
One final way CBD can help you build muscle and strength is by increasing your energy levels.
While CBD is renowned for its anti-anxiety properties and calming effects, it can also help give you that extra boost of energy when you need it.
The trick is just using smaller doses.
When used in large doses, CBD can produce some slight sedative effects, which is great for people dealing with anxiety, stress, or sleep issues.
In smaller doses, however, CBD can help increase energy levels and keep you focused.
That’s why, for example, I often use CBD together with my pre-workout.
I find that a small dose of CBD oil (like a ¼ of a dropper for example) or even just half of a CBD gummy can give me a subtle boost of energy before the gym and keep me focused right through to the end of my workout.
Improve Your Muscle Gain and Strength With CBD Today
If you’re interested in trying CBD as part of your workout regime, make sure you do your research.
As you probably know, there are countless brands of CBD on the market, and it can be hard to separate the quality products/manufacturers from the rest.
To find quality products designed for athletes, make sure to visit my homepage and read my reviews of oils, workout supplements, gummies, and other CBD products for athletes. Find my recommendations here.