Cannabis and exercise

Cannabis has been around for several social and economic cultures, whether seen as something hedonistic, a tool to boost creativity, or for its therapeutical value. Cannabis gained some population amongst every type of social queue.

One of the various therapeutic effects of Cannabis that has been bringing several eyes to this plant would be the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of the plant, becoming a site of interest for plenty of athletes.

Unfortunately, one may wonder, if I don’t smoke, can I benefit from Cannabis?

To figure out various forms of consumption of the plant and how Cannabis can help athletes or during exercise, tips on how to implement working out into your routine, and what CBD is, we spoke to the molecular biologist and weight-lifter Suat Neven.


When did you start implementing exercise into your routine? Which benefits did it bring to your life?

I first started training after I quit my “addiction” to gaming. I was looking for something to fill the gap and be productive versus wasting my hours away in MMOs 16 hours a day. Actually, all day, most times I’d play from around 10 am to 3-6 am with breaks for food and toilet in between.)

I think it had developed as a coping mechanism to deal with my severe depression due to social pressure.

I dropped out of school at 14 y/o and then spent 4-5 years gaming hardcore.

When I was around eighteen, I started losing weight due to being morbidly obese. I went from 95kg to 125kg in 2 months because I moved in with my grandparents and developed this gaming habit versus just being a street kid hanging around on the street all day, skating, roaming, and wasting time.

I dropped the weight quickly due to starving myself, so I ended up skinny fat, this is when I decided to pursue a sport. First, I wanted to go into martial arts to be strong so no one could bully me anymore. (Street life at 13y/o getting my ass beat by adults was no fun.) But due to the gyms only twice a week, I decided to go with lifting instead and getting strong in another way.

My logic was that training 2x per week wouldn’t be enough to be better than mediocre in the long run.

Once I started lifting, I got scammed by trainers, quit after a month due to bad results, and then only restarted due to depression being too severe and seeing a cliché motivational Facebook video of someone going from my situation, being obese, to being jacked within a year, or so.

I just copied everything I saw that guy doing while it was a bad program. I pushed with intensity and got way better results compared to the one from the gym trainers.

“If he can do it. Maybe I can do it too.” I thought.

The results came quite quickly due to being skinny fat. That motivated me to push even harder and find out how to train properly.

Within months of lifting, I was starting to feel better mentally. I could sleep for the first time in my life. I have always had chronic insomnia.

At that point, I had zero confidence also. I always was “that big, fat, ugly immigrant” in my area.

I had never thought I could change, so getting results really got me hooked.

Due to replacing the gaming habit and freeing up so much time, I started doing secondary education on the side while just lifting and trying to become a person I could be proud of.



Cannabis usually has a negative influence on the general community. When did you start finding the plant of your interest, and how did you break the general negative connotation brought to us by society?

My cannabis journey started way later. I had progressed a lot in training by that point. Roughly three years into lifting, I was now getting the needed education to go to university in the future.

To be honest, I had only started my education because my mom pushed me, and I was seriously ashamed of having no school education except elementary school.

I always knew about drugs. My mother was a heroin addict, and my father was a drug dealer. I saw how the drugs destroyed both of them, so I had no intention of trying them, but training, getting into self-improvement, nutrition, and having biology in school made me curious about using mind-altering substances, as in using them to have better performance. That’s when I got a Ritalin script and started using testosterone, so I was more open to the idea of trying weed.

At this point, I had taken a few draws from a joint multiple times due to social pressure here and there. Supposedly, I hit a crack joint once at 14, but I don’t know what was actually inside.

The first time I bought weed and smoked was with my first girlfriend, whom I met in the evening school I was going to at the time.

She one day asked me if I could get weed because she was also curious about trying it. We smoked often on special occasions as we were both prone to anxiety naturally. It just helped us get into the mood to be silly. We would make food and fool around. (Not going to lie, when we broke up, I used it as a coping mechanism every night for a while because it fucked me up.)

From then on, I used cannabis on and off, mainly after getting home from evening school, to numb my heartache. For some time, I became semi-addicted to this nightly habit, but there wasn’t a downside to it, by this point, since being an OG on the darknet, I was also selling some cannabis due to getting it for 3€/g from the UK. This habit was double rewarding.

I was addicted to weed for a while and met a heavy smoker, so we became friends. At this point, I still wasn’t over that ex-girlfriend, so I went alongside his drug abuse habits like smoking bong and taking other recreational drugs frequently.

At that time, I was still flipping stuff and started getting into meds too.

Codeine, oxies, xans due to them being cheap af in UK and expensive here. Codeine, Oxy, Xans due to them being cheap in UK and expensive here.

At this point, my drug abuse was out of hand since it earned me money.

You’d see me with a bottle of codeine, some Xans, and up to 10 pre-rolled joints. I wasn’t addicted to the meds, but I had been abusing them too much, and weed became an all-day thing.

Brexit really saved me at that time as drugs became too expensive.

Around the time I got my dog, Mai, I was clean off drugs, just smoking weed in the evening to relax. It took me quite a while to find a balance with recreational drugs.

My whole family died over this period, natural causes for my grandparents and liver cirrhosis for my mother. I was mentally really fucked up, which led to the drug abuse.









How did Cannabis enter your exercise routine? And how much did it influence your exercise? 

I met my now best friend in the gym, and we randomly talked about weed. He was doing his master’s in computer science at that point, and the lockdowns started rolling up. He showed me that you can enjoy weed and not be a loser.

Since the lockdowns and poverty, plus all my university internships being canceled and the gyms being closed, we had to find a way to lift.

We built a lifting station in his backyard. We’re both autistic, so even if we are friends, we’re both anxious. I also have a tremor, which gets worse from heavy lifting, so we got into the habit of just lifting and then smoking some weed since there was nothing else to do. It helped us relax.

Except this time, it wasn’t as a crutch. But as a way to increase our life quality.

It was fun lifting weights with him and his girlfriend, smoking a small J together, and eating healthy food afterward.

We didn’t always smoke, but only when we felt like it.

There wasn’t a tangible benefit, except it removed my tremor, making me more social and sleeping better.


Do you have a favorite strain? Or a strain that you’ve noticed a significant difference amongst others?

Yes, I prefer to smoke pure Indica, if available. Strong Sativa can make me paranoid if they are 25% THC. I like Girl Scout cookies, Gelato, Runtz, OG Kush, and more along those lines. 

I plan to buy and germinate some Biscotti Mintz seeds once they are legalized in my country. I also like good Hash.

Indica give me a body high, and Sativa has more of a mental effect.


What are the exact benefits of consuming Cannabis before/ after the gym?

I rarely consume it prior to the gym. As a strength athlete, it impairs me too much for heavy lifts. But bodybuilding-type training can be fun while having a buzz. It makes you more sensitive to sensing the pump and the contraction.

I like to smoke weed after the gym, just a tiny amount. It allows me to calm down quickly and removes my tremors.

Strength training mostly has the problem of fatiguing the CNS, so being able to calm that by taking a “somewhat” harmless molecule in an instant can be useful.

During the lockdowns, I started smoking weed after lifting, before walking Mai as it allowed me to be less dangerous if someone messed with me.

The lifting has a stimulating effect due to cortisol, so walking around amped up is risky, as my impulse control at that point in time was terrible, probably also due to being put on paroxetine, a terrible SSRI, which made me manic and impotent. (Thanks doctor!)

I was struggling with social isolation and having to pay hundreds to test myself so I could lift rough times.

I wasn’t addicted to weed, though I just used it after lifting and pre-food again.

So, one small hit post-gym and then a regular hit because food tastes amazing on weed. Some days, I wouldn’t smoke at all.


Plenty of people who don’t smoke think Cannabis is unavailable for them. Which other methods of consumption are there in the Cannabis world? Are they equivalent when it comes to its benefits?

Edibles are probably the alternative for people who don’t smoke. However, since the THC gets metabolized differently, eating it makes it way more potent for some people, so be cautious.

That’s why I very rarely eat cannabis. It also really impairs me.

I believe the best way to try cannabis for a new timer is to vape it. Either dry herb vape or one of those prefilled vapes with THC/HHC.

That way, they can start by taking microdoses.

Funnily, it’s the other way around with CBD. It has poor oral absorption and great absorption when inhaled. (x10 Bioavailability, eating with a fatty meal is x4)

I think people are underestimating the power of topical CBD as well.  It helps skin recovery, hair growth, and probably more things. I’ve used it in my hair loss product.


CBD has gained fame among athletes and patients with pathologies or injuries. How does CBD work?

I believe this has come from a good marketing strategy from companies who started with those “rub on CBD creams”, paying many influencers to act as it helps.

I think the main benefit of CBD is the same as other plant molecules. It’s a great lipophilic anti-oxidant and regulates gene expression while also activating 5ht1a and TRPV receptors.

I don’t know too much about TRPV receptors, but there seem to be some health benefits and neurological benefits from activating them. I also heard about CBD using up one enzyme that metabolizes an endocannabinoid. However, I don’t know if that helps more than CBD itself.


Some theories say smoking Cannabis before running might increase the so-called “Runner high.”                                                              Do you believe this to be true? If so, how would that work?

It should be due to the exogenous cannabinoids using up the enzyme, leading to higher anandamide levels.

“CBD inhibition of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) with increased anandamide has also been reported (Bisogno et al. 2001De Petrocellis et al. 2011) – this is another proposed indirect mechanism of action.”

So, I guess the theoretical answer would be yes, but since I’m too heavy to run for prolonged periods of time, I will never find out.



Learn more about Cannabis with The Cannabis Dictionary by Alex Halperin



We’ve spoken about CBD and Cannabis strains, but are there any other cannabinoids that have helped you?

One of the various things that makes Cannabis unique in the plant kingdom is its variety of terpenes. 150+ have been identified, while there are only 100+ cannabinoids in the plant.

Very recent studies show that terpenes synergize with THC in numerous ways and have many health benefits.

That being said, yes! But, I do encourage people to be very cautious with synthetic cannabinoids due to the situation with the legal market. I have switched from smoking cannabis to pure HHC, hexahydrocannabinol.

The main reason is that it’s very inexpensive, shown to be weaker than THC, and it also being legal.

1g weed costs me 8-10€,

1g HHC, roughly 5-6g weed, costs 3€.

Some of these “semi-synthetic” cannabinoids might have good potential, but I haven’t tried them yet.

I’m curious about trying H4-CBD. It will probably be the next test. Studies show similar benefits to CBD and HHC. It’s anti-inflammatory, but unlike CBD, it activates the CB receptors, which should give a high.

I also like to use CBD as a lipophilic antioxidant due to its low price.

10g of CBD is like 20€. I don’t think there are many other antioxidants as good as CBD. Its sleep-promoting effect seems to be on par with melatonin as well, and they even are synergistic.


Lastly, how would you motivate someone who doesn’t regularly implement exercise in their routine to exercise? And where can people find your work, training routine, and advice?

That’s a tough one.

I think the best way to get them started again is to design the protocol based on their daily routine. If they always have free time, when it’s time to lift, this way they are less likely to skip.

I also like to start with simplified programming based on the client’s favorite exercises/training style.

There are many ways to get results, so using one the client enjoys also helps with consistency.

Also, designing a workout protocol that has them lifting as little as possible, with the most results, is a good way to smooth them in.

This is where the psychological part of coaching starts. You’ve got to act with absolute confidence, as the more the client believes in your methodology, the more he will believe in a good outcome.

You will help them visualize their future results by speaking of them. You’ve got to hype your skills and the client’s potential up.

Some things that give acute benefits like L-Citrulline + Red Beet Powder, also help them look better fast.

Currently, I’m only on Instagram and Patreon. However, I want to also get into video content like YouTube or start giving courses since, at the moment, most people who do so are either undereducated or overpriced.

In the long term, I want to completely crush the idea that wealth is necessary for optimal performance, health, or longevity.

If I can reach enough significance one day to make a change in this industry, I will also formulate supplements and sell them priced fairly, to take the money away from these greedy and evil people who milk their followers’ hard-earned money with no remorse.




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