Weed has come a long way since plastic baggies and secretive sessions of mystery tokes. The recent explosion of cannabis strains, products, and devices has rocketed the industry to near unlimited heights—and it only continues to grow. And with weed coming out of the shadows of prohibition and the “War on Drugs,” it has been swiftly incorporated into other industries that benefit yourself and the community.
Fitness enthusiasts and newbies alike have flocked to healing cannabinoids and motivational strains to recover from or fuel daunting workouts. But you can’t expect to smoke an energetic strain right before yoga and feel blissed out in savasana. Nor would vaping a body-heavy strain serve you on a 20-mile run. The key to combining weed and exercise is selecting the right strain for your favorite workout to enhance your focus, energy. and mental clarity.
Further, finding the perfect strain for your intended purposes requires quite a bit of experimentation—what works for us, your friends or family, may not work for you. Cannabinoids, the healing chemicals that make up the cannabis plant, are extremely individual and affect your unique endocannabinoid system in myriad ways, but these recommendations should help you narrow your options and get you started on the right foot.
Harlequin: the best strain for running
Numerous unbiased studies have found CBD and THC to be beneficial for chronic pain, inflammation, and various health complications. And as your body changes through new workouts, it’s essential to recover torn muscles in the most soothing way possible. Not only will these cannabinoids calm the nervous system and boost recovery, but you may also feel less fatigued after a particularly grueling run.
A high-CBD strain, like Harlequin, is a great place to start on your fitness journey. Due to its near equal (and sometimes CBD heavy) ratio of CBD to THC, this strain will make you feel weightless without imparting an intense psychoactive effect. Bonus: Harlequin is chock full of the terpene myrcene — a highly anti-inflammatory chemical commonly produced in CBD cannabis varieties. So it can help you push through those first few miles when everything hurts like hell.
Compared to smoking, vaping is less harsh on the lungs, which need to be nice and healthy for all that aerobic activity. Look into shatter, dabs, vape pens or even make your own rosin with this superstar workout strain.
Lavender and ACDC: the best strains for yoga practice
Combining cannabis with vinyasa is a hotly debated topic in the yoga community. If you’re intrigued by the idea of using pot as a tool to explore your practice on a deeper level, consider indulging before your next class. But what strains work best for which type of yoga?
If you prefer a gentler yoga flow more suited before bedtime or after a particularly stressful day, consider the aptly named Lavender for a relaxing session that will ease you into comfort and stony bliss. This indica-leaning hybrid can aid in sleep and enhance a calmer state of mind. Note: Lavender is sometimes more suited for the experienced consumer due to its naturally high THC content. Approach this strain with intention before your practice to reach serenity without anxiety.
Looking for a bright strain that will complement a morning flow or rigorous routine? Turn your attention to ACDC. Like Harlequin, ACDC is rich in CBD and contains healing myrcene, but it also boasts the terpene pinene. Pinene is an important heavy-hitter in the terpene world, it contains anti-inflammatory properties, but it also has neuroprotective tendencies, which is perfect for clearing out mental build-up and intensifying mental focus during yoga.
Pineapple Express and Blue Dream: the best strains for hiking
Hybrids combine the best of both worlds in cannabis. They can help you relax while providing an invigorating mental effect perfect for exploring the outdoors. And if you’re new to cannabis, Pineapple Express and Blue Dream tend to be the most common picks for beginners; however, they shouldn’t be scoffed at for even the most dedicated of cannabis consumers — especially when venturing out into nature.
Pineapple Express combines the traits of parent strains Trainwreck and Hawaiian for a long-lasting, energetic buzz that can give you enough oomph to make it to the top of the mountain and back. It’s also swimming in the terpene limonene, which produces a fragrant anti-anxiety effect perfect for wandering legs with wandering minds. Many limonene lovers also point to its psychoactive and creative effects which may give you a heightened sense of closeness to the nature around you.
Another sativa-heavy hybrid perfect for long hikes is Blue Dream. This strain tends to be a little more calming than Pineapple Express due to a touch of linalool terpenes, yet it’s bright enough to keep you going during more strenuous excursions. Keep this stress-relieving strain on hand when you’re gearing up for a full day outside.
There’s so much to explore when it comes to fitness and cannabis — and the science keeps moving forward. It’s important to scrutinize which strains work with your system in a cohesive and healing manner, and never forget to search the terpene content for an added boost. Cannabis and your body should be symbiotic; explore and experiment for the best effects.
Kate Kasbee contributed to this article.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps