3 Tips to Deal with Exercise ADD


By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
2/18/2013 6:00 AM   :  61 comments   :  68,788 Views

I see it happen all the time on exercise forums or via my friend Facebook: Exercisers (from enthusiasts to newbies) get so pumped up about a particular workout that it's all they can do, talk about or think about...for a while anyway.

After a few days (or a couple weeks if they're lucky), these people are already gung ho for something else. While their enthusiasm and consistency for working out is a very good thing, they ultimately end up complaining for not getting results.

But wait: Isn't a good thing to try new workouts to create that "muscle confusion" or get better results?
Yes—to a point. But if you're dipping your toe in too many different workout "waters" without ever fully diving in, it can be a recipe for frustration!
Yes, its great to mix up your workouts, try new things to keep from getting bored, and to continue challenging yourself. However, if you don’t give your body time to progress or a chance to master certain movements, you may never see results! A little repetition in your workouts is a good thing; it will make you stronger and more efficient, build cardiovascular stamina and muscle strength, and improve your coordination and skill thanks to practice and repetition over time.
Think about it this way: You didn’t learn to swim the first time you jumped in the water, did you? And you didn’t simply try to swim one day, then move on to a one-day stint of learning to ride a bike or to play basketball, did you? No (at least I hope not!). You kept practicing and learning new skills like how to hold your breath underwater, how to tread water, how to perform different strokes. Over time, you got better and better at it, and were able to swim better, faster, more efficiently. Mastering your workouts should be similar.
If you do happen to find yourself suffering from a little "exercise attention deficit disorder," where you can't commit to any one program or workout for very long, keep these tips in mind when creating your own personal workout program:
1. Try to stick with the same weekly routine for about 4-6 weeks.
While everybody is different, adaptations to exercise (like strength gains, cardiovascular improvements, etc.) usually occur around 4 to 6 weeks. That means in order to actually feel, see or notice some changes from your workouts, you’ll need to be consistent with your plan for at least a good month. I’ve seen too many folks quit after two weeks into a plan because they weren’t losing weight. Focus on how you feel (like feeling stronger or moving more easily during the workout)—not how you look—and the rest will take care of itself over time. If sticking to one workout plan is driving you crazy, create a simple calendar. List your workouts for each day, then try to find satisfaction in completing the full plan of 4-6 weeks of that strength-training program.
2. Vary your workouts on a weekly basis.
Sticking with the same plan doesn’t have to equal boredom! Mixing things up on a day-to-day basis fights exercise ennui and helps to balance out your program. A weekly routine should include a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility work at both high and low intensity levels; the only repetition should be within workout categories. So do the same strength-training class/exercises/DVD twice in a week, and maybe the same cardio workout (running, Spinning, Zumba, etc.) so that you can build the routine and see improvements. Leave a day or two for "whatever you want" workouts to mix things up and keep your week exciting.
3. Focus on fun first, fitness second.
One of the biggest reasons I think it’s easy to get pulled into the "short attention span" trap is that it’s so easy to be persuaded to try that latest and greatest exercise program, gadget or trendy routine (it looks so great on that infomercial!). And when we try it, its nothing like the commercial said it would be. In fact, it’s usually a) boring, b) too hard, c) exhausting, or d) all of the above. So instead of looking to advertisements to tell you what your workout should be, ask yourself first: What type of movement do I enjoy? If you’ve always loved moving to music, how about starting with a music-based workout plan? Try some Zumba DVDs, or take that hip hop dance class, or make an awesome workout playlist to walk to.  If you prefer the stress-reducing effects of exercise, try mind-body techniques like yoga, Pilates, or zone out in the quiet, repetitive nature of swimming. Finding ways to incorporate what you love into your own special workout program can help you look forward to your workouts and make you more likely to stick with long term.
And while it is important to be consistent with a program in order to get results, it doesn’t mean that you should feel obliged to stick with a workout or plan that you simply don’t like or one that doesn’t work for your body or fitness level. As you experiment with finding what works best for you and what you enjoy most, be sure to listen to your body, and create a rotation with your workouts that allows for both mastery and variety. You may find yourself feeling better, stronger and even more inspired to keep on sweating!
Be honest: Do you have exercise A.D.D.? How do you deal with it? What are your tips for finding and sticking to a workout routine long enough to get the results you want?

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  • 11
    I kind of have exercise ADD. I handle it by consistently doing a variety of things. Every week I do at least one sessions of running, one of biking, one of swimming and two strength training sessions along with one "free choice" day. So if I do that same variety every week for a couple months, I figure I'll see results without getting bored. - 2/18/2013   5:02:11 PM
  • 10
    Yes, I do have exercise ADD. I always seem to be the most consistent at walking, which I really enjoy. I let that be the base of my plan and have enjoyed walking a "virtual route" from my hometown to Denver to keep me going. I make up a chart for a work out over twenty sessions, about 10 weeks. That gives me a goal and keeps me going. I do like to mix things up a little. I also like dancing and moving to music, so I use these things for variety too. - 2/18/2013   11:01:51 AM
  • 9
    I do step aerobics on Mondays and Fridays, PiYo on Wednesday, and Zumba on Saturdays. Is this enough variety? Or too much repetition week after week? I'm never sure. :)

    PiYo uses body strength and is very tough! I know I should do real weight workouts, but I'm intimidated to do it at the gym. I occasionally do a weight workout from a DVD, but not often enough. - 2/18/2013   10:49:15 AM
  • 8
    Is it bad that I don't have a set "Routine"? I kind of just do whatever feels right that day. If I feel like running, I'll run. If I feel like biking, then I'll do that. And if I want to go to a class, or play basketball - it depends wholly on my mood. I feel like that's a better fit for me. If I plan to run 5 days a week, and one day it just sounds like the worst possible idea, then odds are I won't do anything *at all*, which is obviously worse than switching it up to something that actually sounds fun. - 2/18/2013   10:47:10 AM
  • 7
    I really like George St. Pierre's Rushfit workouts. I bought the set of 6 or 7 different workouts DVDa so it comes with a 2 month training schedule. It offers lots of variety and even throws in days where it says to just do cardio, I usually do the elliptical or Spinning bike. - 2/18/2013   10:20:44 AM
  • NICOLE0233
    I guess I got some what lucky to get out of the "trap" when I started my new job and joined their gym for associates, at no cost. They have different fitness classes everyday of the week, and repeat every week of the month. I usually stick to running, but cross-train or join some of the weekly fitness classes (yoga, spinning) to mix it up a bit.
    So now, no more exercise ADD and I am actually looking forward to and enjoying my workouts - so much now I've even gotten some exercise over the weekend. Stick to the things you enjoy. - 2/18/2013   9:48:57 AM
  • 5
    Variety is the spice of life and I found that training for a Sprint Triathlon gives me all the variety I need. Currently training 4 days a week at the gym, switching between running, swimming and cycling. Then I throw in some core work, yoga and weight training. Even within the core disciplines I add variety (Drills, Endurance and Recovery). I find having a schedule really helps keep the mix going. - 2/18/2013   9:11:05 AM
  • 4
    I recently discovered Leslie Sansone walking videos and I have accumulated 5 videos to date [plus one that I do at church once a week!] I use them 3 times a week but don't necessarily repeat a video during the week.
    I also like to use the treadmill at least 2-3 x's a week but I vary the incline and speed throughout the workout to give me a little variety. - 2/18/2013   9:00:38 AM
  • 3
    I rotate my exercises daily. Day 1 is yoga, day 2 is strength, and day is 3 cardio - all three days also include a one mile walk. After day 3 cardio I go back to yoga and rotate through. - 2/18/2013   8:59:47 AM
    I Jazzercise at least four times a week , this class combines budy sculpting with weights. I also speed walk on my treadmill everyday to preapre for 5k's . I also mix in some Cycling when the weather permits. I like to stay witha routine with my exercise except when I cycle , I like to cycle to a different destination. What ever works! - 2/18/2013   8:29:27 AM
  • 1
    I really enjoy doing cardio dance DVDs at home, but after my first couple of months on sparkpeople, I started getting bored with them. So I picked up a few more, and rotate them. This way it takes several weeks for me to repeat a workout, and I don't get bored with them. - 2/18/2013   8:13:23 AM

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