Depression and Fitness Motivation

Fitness motivation when you are depressed. With gyms closed, experienced lifters are getting a taste for what depressed people battle on a daily basis.

It’s hard to get motivated to workout with home workout equipment when you are used to a fully equipped powerlifting gym.   People suffering from depression deal with this daily – for them, getting motivated to workout is like trying to wade thru chest deep quicksand.  The key is to just get started!

Depression, fitness, and lifting weights

Exercise has been shown to improve mood and help alleviate the effects of depression.  Exercise certainly is not a replacement for a mental health professional but in mild cases, it can be enough to get you back on track.

It’s easy to write off people who have trouble getting motivated to workout as “whiners”, “lazy people”, or just plain “undisciplined” … until it happens to YOU.  Depression, even when mild, can be crippling.

Often, people who are depressed simply cannot get the energy to workout even though they know it will make them feel better.  In this video I am going to show you how you can have a great workout even if you feel like you are paralyzed in are in chest deep mental quicksand.

Momentum is the key

The hardest part for many is simply getting started.  First, and most important is a mental reset. Find the printout of the perfect workout you were going to do and rip that f*cker up. When you are in quicksand, there is no amount of willpower, motivation, or determination that will let you power thru that “optimal workout”.  I have a saying:

The “worst workout” you love and do consistently is far superior to the “best workout” you can never get motivated to do. 

You have to get started as this is the hardest part.  To plow thru this mental quicksand, we have to build up a little momentum.  Don’t plan your workout.  You are not making any commitments to an epic workout, you are just going to have fun.  Just think of one single thing that would feel really good right now – no judgments:

  • If you are going crazy from being cooped up in the apartment, go for a walk.
  • If you are a newbie, do a bunch of barbell curls to get a great pump.
  • If you are a powerlifter, maybe you are craving deadlift.
  • If you are an old fart like me, maybe just laying on the floor stretching your lower back would feel good.

Forget about everything else and DO that thing that will feel really good to you. Dont start mentally planning a workout, just focus on how good what you are doing feels and keep doing it. Like meditation, shut the world out and just focus on your muscles and how wonderful what you are doing feels.

Keep it going!

Now you have started to plow thru that mental quicksand and have a little momentum. Like anything that is difficult, the hardest thing is often just getting started.   You did it!   I can guarantee you with 95% certainty that at this point, you are kinda getting excited about doing something else. Now think of another exercise that would feel really good. Not one you think you should do, one that you would LOVE to do – again, no judgements. Start doing that exercise. Maybe you will feel like doing that workout you just tore up, but if not, just keep having fun.  Dont worry about reps, sets, or any other such nonsense – just lift and have fun!

Better than nothing!

Continue your workout this way until you cant think of any more exercises you would love to do. Maybe you only did two exercises, maybe you did five. Doesnt matter, YOU WORKED OUT! Any workout is better than no workout.

At this point, some people will shake their heads and say “What a HORRIBLE way to workout” and then to spew bullshit about discipline and how you should be doing 5×5 or whatever.   You know what F#uck you and your holier-than-thou attitude.  Any workout is Better Than Nothing!  For many people, it’s all they can do.    Remember:

The “worst workout” you love is far superior to the “best workout” you can never get motivated to do. 

Even a short poorly designed workout improves your mood which in turn increases the chances that you will workout tomorrow. Tomorrow you can do that optimal workout you ripped up but getting strong, healthy, and fit requires consistency. Use this technique to slowly build momentum and get a workout when you otherwise would have skipped. For many, if they go a week without working out, this means they will quit until their next new years resolution. Dont let this happen! Use momentum to workout!