T Nation

How to Deal with Time Off Training?

I joined this forum because I needed some advice. I’ve been going through a rough spot in my life and I don’t really know how to handle it.

Training has kept me sane. Even though 90% of my friends and family were never informed, I’ve suffered from anxiety and some bouts of depression for a couple years now. Training has always been there for me when nothing else was, it was literally the one thing I could turn to when life was being sh*tty.

Now that I’ve graduated HS and my dreams of attending a major university were shot down after reality hit that I wasn’t going to be able to live comfortably with the amount of debt I would owe, I’ve been staying with a close relative and working full-time saving up money so I can pursue my dream by next year by going to college.

I’ve not been able to train for the past 3-4 months, and because of a bad diet and very physical job I’ve lost <12-15lbs off my already scrawny-ish frame. While already being self-conscious of my physique, this hasn’t helped whatsoever. I’m just now getting the opportunity to get my drivers license, and have to invest a good chunk money and time to fix my car.

I resorted to taking an Uber to a local gym and finally got to train a week ago, but the harsh reality set in that I can’t afford a $40+ gym membership along with $15+ a day worth of rides to get me back and forth to the gym at this point right now. The feeling of finally getting under the squat rack immediately made me happy again, but it was short lived.

At a minimum I’ll be out of the gym another 2-3 months, and I’m just having a hard time coping with not having my only form of anti-depressant. Literally has been driving me insane.

So T-Nation, what can I do to combat this point in my life where my passion has to be on the back burner for a while? I’d like to hear some stories of how you guys dealt with limited gym access, time off from injury, depression from time off from the gym, etc. Thanks!

TL;DR - I can’t make it to the gym, life sucks, being out of the gym has me depressed, how did you guys cope with this?

Body weight training; heavy sandbags; train with an atlas stone or just boulders; strike a deal with the gym and get a job there; keep searching for scholarships; walk/jog to the gym; join the military and use that to get you through college.

The biggest damned challenge of depression is that it’s the voice in your head telling you that you can’t, and you’re going to have to learn to use the challenges you face to fuel that drive. It can be hard to see this, but that voice is full of shit. I’ve been where you are and put myself through college while working a full time job, and yes, having the same issues. Find your fire and use it. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in your way. It’s not easy, but nothing in life worth achieving is easy.

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Thanks for the advice. I’ve decided to get my 2-year degree at a community college which I should be able to afford, I forgot to mention that. Thanks again for the advice, some of the things you mentioned I’m unable to do but making excuses aren’t going to fix anything. It’s time to quit dwelling on the bullsh*t of life and push through it. In the meantime I’m going to start hammering out some body weight exercises, and throw in some light dumbbell work with what I have.

Look at a community college… I spent my first two years at a community college and my last 2 at a state university… bonus a community college may have a gym or access to a local gym.

You should read some of Joe Schillero’s articles (google). He is a powerlifter who has battled several mental health issues and is very strong and a good read.


Some will work and some won’t, and you can probably think of other solutions that are close to you. You’re right about the BS of life. There is lots of it. I did the same with a community college and still found myself working in a pretty prestigious job after grad school. Just don’t give up.

Yes this is exactly my plan. I’m spending this year off from school to fix my car/license/insure it, make some money and save some to go towards school. Honestly, I don’t know how working full-time/going to school full-time is going to work out. But I’m usually the type to set goals and achieve them so hopefully I’ll be fine.

Can you be more specific about the job?

Any reason you can’t do calisthenics in the meantime? Or maybe get a sandbag for like $50 and use that to train?

There is a LOT you can do without a gym.

I was out of regular training for 5 months while recovering from ACL reconstruction. Sucked, but I got creative. I think you could do the same.


Not a very physical as in lifting heavy things type of job, but I walk around 8-10 miles every day.

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Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’m reading the rest of his articles right now.

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Just finished doing some push-up variations, my motivation has just been low the last couple of months. I will definitely look into sandbags and maybe try and find some old tires. I really liked strongman-ish training when I dabbled a little in it.

You can go pretty far with different push-up and pull-up variations and unilateral leg work like pistol squats if you learn how to do them. Getting a pair of adjustable gymnastic rings would also allow you to do some seriously effective isolation and isometric work.

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I did some weighted push-ups last night, and those were surprisingly difficult. I managed 20 reps with +25lbs, 15 reps with +35lbs, and 12 reps with +40lbs in a backpack. Did some close-grip “incline” push-ups along with 15lb one armed flys and Tricep extensions. Going to make do with what I have!

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Loads of good tips here…

Get a couple pairs of moderate/light dumbells or a girly fixed weight stick off craigslist and you can get great all in one workouts with these…

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That’s a pretty good chest and triceps workout already. If at some point you can afford to get a pull-up bar and rings, it’ll basically allow you to work your entire body at home. Ring push-ups, flies, pull-ups, dips and bodyweight curls are all awesome but it’s also a lot easier to work legs since you can balance yourself with the rings while doing pistol squats.

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Some bands can also add variety to your training


Check out stuff by Ross Enamait (especially Never Gymless) and visit his forum for suggestions. You can get far with just bodyweight and weighted bodyweight exercises and stuff you can get for cheap/free. Run a length of chain through a pool noodle and put 2 carabiners on it and you’ve got yourself a $10 dip belt that you can use for weighted dips, pull ups (buy a doorway pull up bar for another $10) and hip belt squats. Sprint hills and stairs. Push/carry/drag heavy shit around. There’s a lot that can be done with next to nothing.

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EVERY SINGLE advice up to this point is gold.

I goofed off way too much during high school to get a scholarship. And I barely squeaked into a four-year university.

Trust me when I say I rode my bike everywhere, took the bus everywhere else, and had to BUST MY ASS in the summers working construction - which also taught me there’s often a huge difference between gym-rat strong and real-world strong.

So you’re doing the smart thing getting your generals done at a community college. I’m not convinced the quality of education - for the first two undergrad years at least - is that different.

Just like williamk8987 said, a community college should have a gym for students.

If not, ask the local gym if they give student discounts. Once you are able to commute there without breaking the bank, this can help save some coin.

I don’t know where you live. But if weather allows, you can buy and fix up a beater bicycle and use it as a daily commuter. Be sure to get a helmet, reflective vest, blinker light for the back and mini head light in the front. And obviously a good lock.

If you live in a big city without bike lanes, however, I don’t recommend it - ESPECIALLY late afternoon, when everyone is stressed, tired, distracted and are often stupidly trying to speed home.

Riding in this environment is a skill in and of itself with huge consequences which can happen in the blink of an eye. Little tricks, like looking into the side mirrors to see if the driver has noticed you, learning to read car language (a vehicle that tends to skirt the divider lane on one side is probably going to change lanes towards that side), knowing how to predict behavior based on the make/model (bmw owners tend to be the biggest cunts and subaru owners tend to be the nicest), and on and on and on…

Re: calisthenics, every single advice you got so far is fantastic. I’ve been preaching the importance of body weight training ever since I joined this forum. This type of training, if properly done, WILL build a solid foundation that you can take into the weight room.

As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t do a BARE MINIMUM 15 non-kipping pull ups, 50 push ups, 15 one-arm push ups, you might be strong in your respective event but you’re not complete and I seriously doubt you’re in optimum health.

Nutrition-wise, you’ll again have to get creative. Look up home-made protein bar recipes which, after you pass the learning curve, are surprisingly good. There are plenty of lifters who got big and strong eating ground beef, chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables.

No need whatsoever to get the Gucci supplements. Get whatever protein powder and creatine you can find on sale and as long as it doesn’t have you running to the toilet, you’ll be okay. Food is simply the most anabolic thing you can consume.

Don’t forget fermented foods for digestive health. In my line of work, it’s not the the money I make - it’s the money I keep. In a similar vein, it’s not the food you eat, it’s the food your body can absorb.

Do NOT UNDERESTIMATE water. NEVER underestimate water.

When grocery shopping, go the market’s website and look for what’s called ‘Loss Leaders.’ These are the items the market is discounting to bring in traffic while they bump up prices on other things. Be a savvy shopper.

Ultimately, this purgatory you’ve found yourself in will teach you to be creative and shove aside whatever stands between you and your goals. Don’t be surprised if you look back on all this and are grateful for the experience.

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Agreed with your final statement, and thanks for all of the sound advice. Honestly I live smack dab in the middle of a decent sized city (not NYC size, but far from rural), with probably the biggest bonehead drivers I’ve ever seen. I don’t see biking a safe alternative honestly. I own my own car (without a license yet, which is kind of ironic, but I’m going for my test in 2 weeks) it’s just going to be a couple months before it’ll be “drivable” it needs some time and money spent into it.

I can probably bang out 50 push-ups or at least 40, those other 2 I’d have no chance of doing right now. Never could manage a one-arm push-up, and even while Deadlifting 405x3 and doing strict one arm DB rows with 110lbs for 3x6-8 I could only manage about 8-10 strict pull-ups. :frowning: I think those goals are something I could shoot for in the meantime!

I get a 10% discount at my local grocery store with my grocery card, and thanks for pointing out the gym membership deal while being in college. I’ll definitely need to check that out.