Thanks to recent legal developments, just about everyone is hyping CBD these days, especially as a tool to recover from tough workouts. CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of the 100-plus chemical compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant, and it shares a lot of the same anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety and analgesic benefits as THC, except it doesn’t get you high — or arrested.
What it does do is interact with specific receptors in your brain, which can affect your mood and how you perceive pain. In a good way, of course, as 42 percent of CBD users have reported giving up traditional medications like Tylenol or prescription drugs like Vicodin in favor of CBD, and 80 percent of those people said they found the products to be “very or extremely effective.” Plus, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances in January, allowing competitive athletes to start using it for recovery.
CBD comes from the hemp and marijuana species of the cannabis plant; when it’s extracted and diluted with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil, you get CBD oil, which you can now find infused in everything from gummies and oils to massage creams, chocolates, coffee, beauty balms and bath bombs. FYI: Hemp-derived CBD is legal at a federal level, but marijuana-derived CBD is subject to more complicated state laws and regulations. If you live in one of the 10 states where cannabis is legal for medical and recreational use — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont or Washington — you’re in the clear either way
Between the boom in CBD products and the fact that research is still ongoing (the FDA has actually issued a warning against CBD products that promise unrealistic results), it’s hard to know where to start. So we turned to the trainers who make a living studying and schooling others in the best recovery practices. Here are their best CBD recs.
Xwerks CBD Oil
Kevin Moore, CSCS, a Bradenton, Florida-based personal trainer, swears by Xwerks CBD Oil. “It checks all the boxes from my research on what to look for in a quality CBD oil: full spectrum, C02 extraction to maintain purity and potency, no additives or preservatives and their third-party lab results are always updated,” he says. Compared to other CBD oils, Moore says Xwerks had more of effect with less of a dose, too.
Moore tends to take one to two servings with his final protein shake before bed. “I sleep incredibly soundly and at a much higher quality (according to my tracking on Whoop) when I take it versus when I don’t,” he says. “If all it did was improve my sleep, it would be well worth it, especially given the impact of sleep on recovery, but I also notice a decrease in the general aches that come along with heavy training and, frankly, age.”
Resilience CBD Sports Cream
Over the past year, Matt Pippin, CSCS, owner of Pippin Performance in San Diego, has been using CBD oils himself and recommending them to his athletes for recovery. “What I look for in a CBD oil is quality and effectiveness,” he says. “One study found that over 70 percent of the CBD products contained more or less CBD than listed on the label or contain other elements that aren’t labeled. That’s a huge problem!” His brand of choice, Resilience, has high quality control standards. “They put all of their products through third-party testing and print a barcode on the bottom of their products that verifies the testing so you can go on their website, plug in the code, and see for yourself what’s in the product,” he says.
Pippin recommends applying the brand’s CBD Sports Cream or CBD Body Lotion to your hips, shoulders, spine and anything else that might be a little tender or beat up; using CBD topically may help with reducing inflammation and pain. The more you recover today, the harder you can train tomorrow, Pippin says.
Nature’s Root Cannabidiol Rich Hemp Oil Tinctures
Cannabis and CBD have been a huge part of NASM-certified personal trainer and athlete Heather DeRose‘s personal training and coaching. “CBD is an amazing tool for personal trainers to help get their clients out of pain and able to get their bodies moving for overall health and wellness,” says DeRose, who has held group fitness classes where participants consume cannabis products before, during or afterward.
When it comes to her training and running, DeRose tries to consume 10 to 30 milligrams of CBD a day — typically through recovery smoothies. “It’s delicious and convenient and aids in inflammation, especially after training sessions,” she explains. DeRose chooses Nature’s Root cannabis tinctures because they don’t separate or have a strong oily aftertaste. Pro tip: the cherry blossom tincture tastes great in smoothies with cherries, and the orange spritz works wonders in her cocoa protein smoothies.
BKLYN CBD Chill Time Drops
As a trainer at Tone House (one of New York City’s toughest gyms), Adrian Williams knows going all-out on recovery is just as important as doing that in the gym. And since he often finds himself doing his own training after he’s done with all his clients, he takes BKLYN CBD Chill Time Drops to come down from that workout high.
“I usually take drops at the end of the day as a way to simmer down when I come home,” he explains. “After you work out at night, it’s probably one of the best things you can do to offset the high heart rate and blood pressure of intense exercise, as well as the anxiety of a long day.” As the drops are taken sublingually, they enter the bloodstream quickly and the effects are almost instantaneous, he says. “It makes me feel calm and clear, without that post-workout crash sensation.”
Green Roads Soothing CBD Topical Cream
Meghan Takacs, a trainer at New York City’s exclusive Performix House, is an avid runner and USA Track and Field-certified coach who says CBD is crucial for her performance. “As a runner, I deal with hamstring and calf fatigue,” she says. “I like the topical cream because it specifically goes after muscle pain relief in a targeted area, pinpointing the muscle fatigue and soreness; I typically apply it the night after a hard workout. I find it easier to use than drops or edibles because it serves a sole purpose — muscle pain, a lot like amino acids.”
And while there are a lot of topical CBD creams out there, she opts for Green Roads because it’s all natural. “The CBD is only extracted from hemp,” she explains. “They also use CBD oil CO2 extraction, which extracts the purest form (solvent-free). It acts a lot like Performix’s ISO BCAAs, which has an extended release, specifically to muscles that require recovery.”