High-Intensity Strength Training Reduces Depression By 50%

Clinical research coming to light finds that high-intensity strength training reduces depression by 50%. The study conducted among a group of elderly people ranging in age from 60-84 found a significant reduction in their symptoms. High-intensity strength training includes resistance training and/or lifting weights.

The Singh, Stavrinos, et. al. methodology included “The Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression (HRSD) (17 item scale, 0–52) (19), was the therapist-rated measure of depression (5,8,20), and as recommended, a clinical response was defined as a 50% or greater improvement in HRSD score.” Not only did the study find an eye-popping 50% reduction on the Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression, but it has lead to firm conclusions:

“Regardless of the reasons, high-intensity training protocols are indeed a potentially invaluable tool that could in some way help millions suffering from depression.”

This discovery may not be the most widely welcomed considering the industrial pharmacological complex’s suffocating, icy grip on the nation. The reasons why high-intensity strength training works to combat depression are as interesting as they are varied.

Kelly Coffey, a personal trainer diagnosed with depression years ago thinks the benefits of high-intensity strength training are twofold. On one hand, a sense of accomplishment turns toxic thoughts of “I can’t” and “I’m worthless” into “I can” and “I’m powerful.” On the other, the mindless aerobics of motoring along on an elliptical lacks the total mental focus weightlifting requires to avoid injury. The reasons lifting weights works to fight depression don’t stop there.

This list notes the potent effectiveness of strength training, equating to taking antidepressants, as well as the increased production of BDNF that is a key physiological factor in people with depression. The importance of BDNF, which regulates mood among other things, is a recurring finding among depression studies. People suffering with depression have low BDNF levels. Researchers right here at the University of Texas found in “all healthy young adults, a session of high-intensity exercise was linked to both higher BDNF levels and improvements in cognitive functioning.” What does this tell us?

Whether you’re depressed or not, weight training makes for a healthy, boosted brain. So now that you’re ready to hit the weights at the gym, let’s take a look at what to do.

Many regimens recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise to maintain physical health. However, if you want to benefit from high-intensity training, 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity training is required. If training to combat depression 3 days a week for 8 weeks of high-intensity strength training is advised. If you’re looking for an excellent, first-hand account of a depressed person and their results committing to high-intensity training, have a look here.

For further learning on the subject and how high-intensity exercise boosts your health, watch this Ted Talk.

You can also watch Dr. Michael Otto, professor at Boston University and co-author of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders, discuss the benefits of exercise for mental health. 


Finally, here's a deeper discussion of high-intensity interval training and the positive effects on your health by Dr. Mike. 

We wish you all the best, much discipline and lots of dedication if you're getting started on your strength training journey. Getting stronger means being healthier, both in mind and body. Sometimes just lifting that first weight feels like climbing a mountain, and every time after that, it feels more and more like a molehill. Gift life a lift Fringe Nation!


Adam Miezio
Adam Miezio

Author