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A Beginner's Training Log - Exercising Out of Depression

Hello everyone. I was always skinny fat growing up so January 2015, I committed myself to gaining mass and strength. I gained 15 solid pounds in 4 months and improved my lifts, some more significantly than others. However, in the summer of that year, my life fell apart and I stopped lifting consistently and lost all the weight I had gained. I started to gain some of it back earlier this year, but the depression remained. I didn’t have the energy to lift or do anything. I turned to using stimulant drugs daily in an attempt to bring the fire back into my life, but all they did was waste more muscle and turn me into a robot. After a month of that, I saw the stims were hurting me more than they were helping and I quit cold turkey, without issue. From then until now I’ve been going through the motions, program-hopping, skipping meals all the time, etc. I have made no progress in that time.

I have decided to simply pretend that I am a true beginner that has never lifted before and start at my original (very weak) starting weights. I’ll progress faster than I did then fortunately, but I’m going to do this the slow and the right way. I wish to shed the past and start completely from scratch with a pure mind and heart.

I hate myself for completely wasting the last year and a half, especially as the end of college is slowly creeping toward me. Every time I enter a gym I am wracked with guilt over my repeated failures. This is my attempt to come to peace with myself.

I hope to make friends as I keep this log.

147.0 lbs.
~11-12% bodyfat

Nutriton Plan:
3200 calories a day, including a quart a milk mixed with a scoop of casein, and 5 tbsp peanut butter daily. The rest will come from wherever, but I’ll make sure I have enough protein and eat to fullness as every major meal.

Workout Plan:
3 days a week, alternating days:

Day 1:
Squat 3x5
Press 3x5
Weighted Chinups: 3x5

Day 2:
Squat 3x5
Bench 3x5
Deadlift 1x5

This will probably change over time.

My first workout will be later today.


Welcome aboard brother

The best advice I can give you as far as sticking with it is to follow a routine you really,and I mean REALLY enjoy.There’s no better way to keep consistant imo

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Hey mate, look at it as a learning curve I’ve been lifting for 5 years now and the first 3 were similar to you, getting into it, giving up, turning to drug and alcohol, hating myself for it etc. Muscle memory will come into play to some extent, for me i forced myself to get up at 5am every morning (before the sun comes up may be different depending on time of year) get to the gym and smash it out, it will be hard to begin with but eventually it will be come habit, to the point where if you don’t get up and go you’ll be miserable during the day, eyes on the prize man, be selfish for a while, focus on your goals, worrying about the past isn’t going to help anything, all this is easier said than done. As for training and nutrition too much just eat healthy and get to the gym daily don’t get caught up in the minimal details till later

Good luck!

Thanks for chiming in guys. I’ve done a similar routine before and enjoyed it, because I was making progress. And I agree, lifting needs to be the thing I wake up and go to bed thinking about.

Anyway, my first workout:

Week 1, Day 1

95 lbs. - 5/5/5

The weight wasn’t heavy but a little heavier than I expected it to be. This has always been my worst lift and I’m not very confident with my form, particularly my foot width and angle. It wasn’t hard at all, but I felt my heart pounding hard afterwards. I’m pretty sure I damaged it a bit with the drugs.

55 lbs. - 5/5/5

I have a better relationship with the press than the squat. My form I think is pretty good, I’m staying tight and everything. The weight was so light here that I didn’t really think about it too much though and had some inconsistent reps.

+0 lbs. - 5/5/5

I do neutral grip. Usually I warm up on the assisted pullup machine, but it’s broken today so I skipped my warmup. It felt harder than I expected to day, but I still had some reps left in the tank.

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Sorry, I haven’t been active here for the last couple weeks. After my first workout, I had a major depressive breakdown that lasted a week. It was one of the most serious ones I’ve had in a long time. I didn’t train at all during last week and went for a few days barely eating. This week I started fresh and have trained 3 out of 3 times. I’ve had a very busy week though and I’ve been splitting up my workout into pieces and fitting them in when I can, but making sure I get everything done. This week, I will try to fit them in specific times during my week. I also really don’t think I ate enough this week but my weight gainer came in the mail a couple days ago and I’m buying a blender today, so I’ll be drinking more protein shakes.

Week 1, Day 1

95 lbs. - 5/5/5

Easier than the first time I did it. My form was better than last time too I think.

55 lbs. - 5/5/5

This was really easy too, not much to say.

+0 lbs. - 5/5/5

I trained in the morning and the gym was getting too crowded for my comfort level, and I was feeling very self-conscious. I did my chinups later in the same day. They were easier than last time too.

Week 1, Day 2

105 lbs. 5/5/5

I had a ton of homework to do so I decided to just do this one exercise and save the next two for later. I rushed through and cranked everything out in about 15 minutes.

85 lbs. 5/5/5

I really can’t remember the last time I benched. I have high hopes for this lift though because at the peak of my strength so far, I was benching just over my bodyweight at 160 lbs. This was my strongest lift, but when I lost weight, this lift fell the farthest and became my weakest.

Regardless of that, 85 lbs. was really easy.

135 lbs. 5

Not heavy, but shitty form. I have kyphosis and so I’m not really built for deadlifts. I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping my upper (not lower) back from rounding at any weight. I bought a posture brace off Amazon that solves the issue but I didn’t bring it along for this workout.

Week 1, Day 3

115 lbs. 5/5/5

I finally did a workout all in one shift. Squats aren’t getting any harder yet and my form is improving as well, although that means nothing at low weight. I’m getting better at taking advantage of the stretch reflex.

65 lbs. 5/5/5

These are still easy as well. More consistent form than last time. I’ll add 10 lbs. one more time then go by 5 lb. jumps until I can’t.

+5 lbs. 5/5/5

Added weight to the belt. It actually felt easier than last week. The very last rep was slower than all the others though.

Week 2, Day 1

I know I tried to not split up my sessions, but I didn’t get to start my workout until 10:30 pm because all the squat racks were full and the gym closes at 11:00. So I did squat and bench one day and deadlift the next morning.

125 lbs. 5/5/5

It felt like an increase of more than 10 lbs. It’s still far from the realm of hard but I feel no stronger now than I did as a complete beginner a year and a half ago. Back then, I made it to 145 lbs. on squat before needing to go to 10 lbs. a week. I’m hoping this time I’ll make it to 175. The last set felt easier though, maybe I just needed a little extra warmup today.

I’ve been feeling a bit of knee pain lately but squats don’t aggravate it.

95 lbs. 5/5/5

My arms feel like pool noodles today even though there’s no good reason for them to be sore. Again, I had a really shitty time warming up and 95 lbs. felt like 135 lbs. Again, it was much easier on my second and third sets though. I want to hopefully increase my bench in 10 lb. jumps until I get one plate on each side.

155 lbs. 5

I remembered to bring my posture brace today. My form was better but not that steady. I’ve lost a fuckton of strength in this lift. 135 felt like 185 and 155 felt like 225. Hopefully I start feeling better soon.

All of my lifts were iffy today. If I was at real weight, I wouldn’t set any PRs on a day like this.

One strange thing I’ve noticed is my cardiovascular fitness has taken a massive shit over the weekend. I’ve never trained aerobically and I’m skinnyfat, but I was huffing and puffing biking up the slightest of hills for any distance. Maybe it’s just the cold air.

Week 2, Day 2

Had to split it up yet again because although I came earlier, the equipment rental station closes early so I couldn’t check out my dip belt for chinups. Those were done the next day.

135 lbs. 5/5/5

At least I finally have the big boy plates back on the bar. This session felt a lot like the last session where the weight felt heavier than expected on the first set but on the latter two it didn’t feel much heavier at all. Still heavier than I’m used to 135 being though. I am warming up thoroughly and properly, I’m sure of that.

75 lbs. 5/5/5

Mostly good but I found myself hoisting the bar up with my lower back on a couple reps. I must maintain better focus throughout and not rush through.

+10 lbs. 5/5/5

I did chinups under many unfavorable conditions today. Because of the way everything in my day was laid out, there was only one time I could lift today. First, it was during rush hour which causes me anxiety at my weight. Second, I’d just eaten a big meal and felt weighed down. Third, I’d donated plasma earlier that day and not only are my fluids not up to normal, but I had a bandage wrapped around my elbow joint the whole workout which unbalanced my movements a bit. Fourth, I forgot to change out of my bulky long-sleeve shirt beforehand. I thought I would do a bad job, but I actually did pretty solid. There were a few more slow reps this time though.

Almost two weeks in and I’ve yet to have a killer workout. I have been eating a lot consistently the past few days though and I’ve gained some water weight already.

Week 2, Day 3

Best workout of the new program to date I think. I managed to do it in one shift. I was the only one there on a Friday night so that helped I think.

145 lbs. 5/5/5

I’m definitely noticing the weight increase now. I never really slowed down though, even on my last rep, so that’s good. I’m going to add another 10 lbs. but I’m not sure if I can make 10 lb. jumps all the way up to 175 like I wanted to. I’ll take it as it comes.

105 lbs. 5/5/5

Nothing much to say. My form is mostly good except for a slightly inconsistent elbow position sometimes. It’s feeling easier. Only two more sessions before I get back to 135.

175 lbs. 5

Best deadlift session so far, I stayed nice and tight. Not worried about this lift yet. I’m going to abstain from using chalk until I get past 225.

Nice consistant progress

A 225 deadlift is a matter of time

Thank you. I’ve hit weights far higher than the ones I’m doing now before, including a 275 lb. deadlift, although my form was quite bad due to the upper back posture problem I mentioned early. With the posture brace, I have deadlifted 235 for reps with good form and little problem.

Week 3, Day 1

I had low hopes for this workout. I stayed up very late last night to study for an organic quiz that I took today and did poorly on. I added a little more preworkout than I usually do and it worked. I had the first workout today that I feel proud of.

155 lbs. 5/5/5

I felt mediocre during my warmup, but when I got to the work sets, I noticed that my form has improved significantly on most reps - standing up more straight and better foor position. The weight as at the point where it felt heavy enough to count but light enough that I could do it for several reps past my 5. On the last set, I really focused on the Valsalva maneuver - took huge breaths, I felt rock solid.

Still, I think the most prudent decision I can make right now is to go down to 5 lb. jumps. I have surpassed my bodyweight by this point.

80 lbs. 5/5/5

I got stuck with the thick bar which I hate. I made the most of it though and got through all my reps without really slowing down.

+15 lbs. 5/5/5

I expected to struggle on these today but to my pleasant surprise, I cranked out all my reps damn near effortlessly. This is important to me because when I first ran a linear progression program, I stalled at this weight for weeks, and now it was so easy. I was going to microload after this, but because I felt so dominant here today, I’ll add 5 lbs. instead.

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Week 3, Day 2

My workout was one day late because all of Wednesday I was swamped preparing for the lab and the test I had the next morning. I was really behind on sleep, and for the first time in 2 weeks, I missed my calorie goal because I didn’t have my shake. So I was in a shitty mood up until I showed up at the gym. I took my PW and felt sick afterward, so I lay down on the couch in the lobby for a while. I seriously considered going home. I decided to just do squats and do the rest tomorrow. I finished my squats and was feeling better so I said why not just finish the workout? I left the gym in a much better mood that lasted the rest of the day.

160 lb. - 5/5/5

As I said earlier, I was running on low food and sleep so I actually didn’t expect to complete everything. To my surprise, it was only as hard as the last time I squatted which is to say, not that hard at all.

115 lb. - 5/5/5

I wish I could just get up to 135 already. The bench is like my squat, not feeling stupidly light any more, but not heavy enough to struggle with it. In fact, all my lifts are at about the same difficulty level at this point. My bench sets were decent today, but sometimes, I lowered the bar at too much of an angle toward my head.

195 lbs. - 5

I noticed my back rises a bit before my hips do but other than that, I think these were good.

Week 3, Day 3

After two solid workouts, I felt pretty weak today honestly. Nothing was moving as fast as it was last time I did the exercises. I took a long-ass time too, lots of rest breaks.

165 lbs. - 5/5/5

First squat session that was slow. My form was still good but most reps took a while to do. Nothing like the grinds that are sure to come I’m sure.

85 lbs. - 5/5/5

This was pretty wimpy too. Again, no grinders, but not a whole lot of power to it.

+20 lbs. - 5/5/5

This was once again the best exercise of the day. I only felt a little slower on the last rep. I’ll add another 5 lbs. next time.

Hey man, looking great on the progress. If you’re ever worried about form on squats, deads, etc I’m sure a lot of people here would be glad to help you out.

As someone that has suffered with training through anxiety, I know how it feels to be unmotivated especially when it comes to eating. Some days I’d rather lay in my bed and not communicate with anyone, it was mentally draining to just interact with someone else during the day.

Just keep up the linear progress, keep your form in check, and stay consistent!

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