Pre-workout supplements are a popular performance-enhancing product used by many athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts worldwide. The use of “pre-workout” dates back to the 1970s when bodybuilders began using caffeine to increase energy and focus before working out.
CBD is an ingestible compound that has gained popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits, and now some people are wondering if CBD can be used to produce positive results in athletic performance.
CBD pre-workout supplements are a relatively new product on the market, and although there are proven benefits for using them separately for varying purposes, combining them to improve athletic performance is still in question.
Let’s talk a little more about both CBD and pre-workout supplements on their own, and then we can address the questions surrounding CBD pre-workout supplements.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many cannabinoids that can be found in the hemp plant. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not produce the “high” associated with THC use. CBD oil has been shown to offer various health benefits, including reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and improving anxiety and sleep.
Some people believe that taking CBD pre-workout can also help improve athletic performance. CBD is said to help increase energy levels, improve focus, and reduce post-workout recovery time. However, evidence to fully support this is currently lacking.
What Is the Difference Between CBD and THC?
THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that produces the “high” most often associated with cannabis use. CBD and THC are both present in cannabis plants at differing levels and have different effects on the body.
CBD is extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants, as CBD is present in trace amounts in both (1). That said, hemp plants have a low THC level of <.03%, whereas marijuana plants have a high THC level typically ranging from around 5-20%. Due to this, THC is typically extracted from marijuana plants. Both marijuana and hemp plants are considered cannabis plants.
There is talk of both CBD pre-workout and THC pre-workout having potential benefits for athletic performance (2).
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (3). The ECS is a network of receptors and cannabinoids that help regulate various bodily functions, including sleep, appetite, pain, and immunity. CBD binds to receptors in the ECS, which in turn helps to modulate the ECS and its functions.
Along with the health benefits we mentioned before, such as improved sleep and reduced inflammation, CBD is also said to help improve athletic performance by increasing energy levels, improving focus, and reducing post-workout recovery time. CBD is also said to help reduce anxiety, which can be beneficial for athletes who experience performance anxiety.
What Is Pre-workout?
Pre-workout supplements are designed to help you maximize your workout. They typically contain a combination of caffeine, amino acids, glucose, nitrates, and vitamins that help improve energy levels, endurance, and focus. Some pre-workout supplements also contain Creatine, which is a compound that has been shown to help improve strength and muscle growth.
How Does Pre-workout Work?
Pre-workout supplements give your body the nutrients it needs to improve athletic performance. Usually, pre-workouts come in pill or powder form, and you are instructed to take pre-workout 30 minutes before athletic activity.
The caffeine in pre-workout supplements is said to help improve energy levels and focus. The amino acids in pre-workout supplements help improve endurance and support muscle growth and repair. The nitrates in pre-workout supplements improve blood flow and deliver more oxygen to your muscles (4). The vitamins in pre-workout supplements help improve overall health and energy levels.
Will Taking CBD Pre-workout Boost Your Performance?
Given what we now know about pre-workout and CBD, you would assume that there are potential benefits to combining the two as a CBD pre-workout or taking them separately. The question to ask is more geared toward how and when to ingest it, depending on your objective. So let’s break it down.
Can CBD Boost Your Performance?
There is abundant evidence supporting pre-workout use to improve athletic performance, but CBD is a different story. CBD has only been studied in a limited number of human trials, so there is currently not enough evidence to support its use for performance enhancement.
That said, there is evidence to support the claims that CBD is said to help:
- Reduce inflammation
- Speed up recovery
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce anxiety
- Manage pain
- Increase focus
- Control appetite
- Increase energy
- and more
Whether you are an athlete or not, these benefits are undeniably helpful in achieving improved overall physical health.
So while CBD might not yet have the evidence to support its use as a performance enhancer, there is an excellent chance that taking CBD pre-workout supplements may help to boost your performance.
How To Optimize Performance With CBD
CBD can work in optimizing performance in a few different ways. Let’s break it down into how it can help during your workout after your workout and with improving overall health, thus boosting performance.
During Your Workout
If you want CBD benefits during your workout, a CBD pre-workout is probably not the best option for you. This is because to get the best results from pre-workout, it is suggested you take it 30 minutes before your workout. In contrast, CBD can take 1-2 hours to kick in.
Instead, it is best to take CBD sublingually (under the tongue) in an oil or tincture form a couple of hours before your workout and take pre-workout separately. This will possibly assist in energy, focus, and performance by reducing burning and fatigue in the muscles.
After Your Workout
If you are searching for post-workout benefits such as faster recovery times, reduced inflammation, and pain management, then a CBD pre-workout may be the best option for you. However, this does depend on how long your workouts last.
The reason is that the pre-workout ingested 30 minutes before your workout will improve performance during physical activity. Conversely, CBD will kick in around the time you complete your training (1-2 hours after ingesting with pre-workout).
Overall Health and Performance
To improve overall health and performance with CBD, either of the above options may provide benefits. Taking CBD at any time of the day or night potentially offers discussed benefits, such as improved sleep and anxiety control that will help with optimal performance (5).
How To Take CBD To Boost Performance
There are a few different ways you can ingest CBD. One of the most popular ways to take CBD is by putting a tincture under the tongue. CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream quicker this way and allows you to feel the effects almost immediately.
Another common way to take CBD is by ingesting CBD capsules or edibles. CBD capsules are ideal if you are looking for a more long-lasting effect since they are digested and metabolized by the liver.
Vapes and CBD oils are also popular methods of CBD ingestion. Vaping CBD is one of the quickest ways to experience the effects of CBD since it is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream when inhaled. CBD oils can be taken the same way as tinctures, by putting a few drops under the tongue.
Lastly, topical CBD products such as CBD creams, balms, and patches are available. These are perfect for localized pain relief and can be applied directly to the skin.
CBD Dosage For Performance
There is no one-size-fits-all CBD dosage, and the amount you should take depends on factors such as your weight, age, metabolism, the severity of your symptoms, and the CBD product you are using.
It is suggested that you start with a low CBD dosage and increase gradually until you find the perfect amount for you. It is also important to note that CBD can build up in your system over time as it is highly soluble in fat. It is possible it can take 2-3 weeks to clear from your system (6).
Regulations for Physical Competition and CBD
CBD is a legal substance in most places worldwide and is not currently banned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) (7). CBD was removed from the list of prohibited substances in 2018 and is now considered a supplement by WADA. CBD is not currently on the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) banned substance list.
It is important to check with your specific organization or governing body before using CBD products. If you are subject to drug testing, you should use CBD isolate products since they do not contain any THC. Using CBD products with even a small amount of THC can lead to a positive drug test.
CBD has become a popular supplement for many people seeking to improve their overall health, well-being, and performance. CBD pre-workouts are gaining popularity as more people look for natural ways to improve their performance.
As discussed, CBD pre-workouts offer various benefits that can improve energy levels, focus, recovery times, and more. It is essential to do your research, pay attention to possible adverse side effects, and make sure you are using CBD products from reputable sources (8).