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3 Tips to Deal with Exercise ADD

By: , – Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
2/18/2013 6:00 AM   :  61 comments   :  60,825 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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Comments

  • 61
    I believe I'm getting out of my exercise ADD thanks to you Jessica and your dvd's/u-tube videos, and even targeted exercises workouts I see on various sites. With the latest few dvd's, and the great variety they offer, I get a good workout and I enjoy it. I'm really glad to have the Strength and Balance and Dance workouts for a different form of exercise. They feel great, I love the flowing movements, and it's just what I needed to add to the cardio/st workouts. I feel well rounded, and I enjoy your routines. Thank you! - 6/17/2014   6:51:15 AM
  • 60
    So since I do cardio, strength, and yoga in one day, daily does that make it exercise ADD, or routine? Filling in two hours of activity is hard, and doing two hours of just cardio is hard for me since I'm housebound where I live. Forget trying to do two hours of strength and/or yoga! I need the mix off all three to fill up those fitness minutes, and it's the only activity I get all day since I'm not in school, or working at the moment so don't get the idea that I'm over exercising. If it weren't for those two hours I'd have nothing to get me off my butt aside from food, and the bathroom. - 5/28/2014   10:52:04 AM
  • 59
    I don't really have exercise ADD. I've completed a 12-week program of strength training and cardio on my own. But, I know changing the routine can help with muscle confusion and will try to add or switch an activity and immediately I get bored by the change! I'll be starting a new 12-week round at the end of January and switching from running to swimming come summer. And once my hiking buddy is healed and ready, we'll add that to our routine. - 1/13/2014   9:07:06 AM
  • 58
    I'm going to have to create a plan now. :) Thanks. - 9/19/2013   6:25:04 PM
  • DELLMEL
    57
    Thanks for the info. - 9/16/2013   8:34:59 PM
  • 56
    My daily activity is dictated by which gym I go to (or don't), how many kids I have with me, if I remembered my equipment, if I'm on time...I have LIFE ADD!!! - 9/16/2013   1:48:04 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    55
    Thanks for sharing. - 9/16/2013   1:27:25 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    54
    Thanks for sharing. - 9/16/2013   1:27:25 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    53
    Thanks for sharing. - 9/16/2013   1:27:22 PM
  • 52
    I've never really had a routine so I'm not likely to get into a rut. Exercise is not, repeat not, fun. It's something I know I have to do, but I do not enjoy it. Wish there were more 10-min. exercise programs that I could do. - 9/16/2013   10:26:10 AM
  • 51
    I'm glad that I found this article! A month ago, I got tired of doing the same workouts (and it was about that time to change it up anyways), so I started doing different videos every day..Kick boxing one day, dancing for the next, then a high intensity workout vid the next day..and so on..Too many different things to get adjusted to, too quickly! So I've been toning it down a bit and I'm starting to feel better with a couple of new videos per week along with my usual workout moves. :o) - 9/15/2013   11:19:03 PM
  • 50
    This is why the classes work so well for me. The instructors change the routines each month and it takes me that long to learn them. lol Werq and Zumba are the only cardio I do. Yoga is the worst, bores me to death , I start looking around and get the giggles. :) I can do pilates because of the movement. I did a power yoga once that was pretty good due to the constant movement. - 9/15/2013   1:37:32 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    49
    I get bored easily with exercise, so I like to keep my options open. Fortunately, my community has a gym, pool, and lots of exercise classes. I've tried some classes, and found that I liked some, hated others. I was so stuck on going to the gym and using the elliptical and weight machines, that I started dreading going there, and stopped for a while. A friend asked me to go swimming with her and I got hooked again, after a long hiatus from the pool. The first time I went swimming, I could not complete a lap without stopping to catch my breath. But I kept at it, and now, a couple of months later, I'm swimming for an hour at a time, taking no breaks at all. I haven't lost any weight, but I'm not sore after the workout, I'm getting faster, and most important of all, I really enjoy it.

    I haven't given up my other exercise options. I still go to the gym & use the elliptical and weight machines, and I have dozens of exercise videos. I like to switch them up so I don't get bored and I work different muscles.

    The best exercise for anyone is one that they really enjoy. - 9/15/2013   11:34:48 AM
  • 48
    This is a perfect description of my exercise interruptus disorder!! I never knew there was a name for it (just assumed it was "laziness"). I enjoyed Curves for the first year or two before I finally "burned out" after 2-3 years. Now I realize that it wasn't the exercise I was burned out on, as much as the inter-employee drama that was going on, where owners and managers and employees were not in harmony (and for which I should have simply just moved to a different Curves, even though all of them were much farther away.).

    These days I try doing an exercise video and then get ovewhelmed because its' not captioned and I don't know what the speaker is saying. - 8/23/2013   4:07:23 PM
  • JANETEMILY
    47
    I have always liked to walk and my dog and I walk every day, But I felt like that was just not enough to keep losing weight, and needed something else, especially for strength training. DVD's can get expensive (and I'm picky!). So now I work out with "Bodies in Motion" and "Total Body Sculpt" with Gilad every morning on Discovery Fit. They are great circuit training, involving aerobics, weight-training , flexibility, and are both high and low impact. There are different episodes every morning, focusing on different body parts, and the ones I really enjoy I save on the DVR! - 8/19/2013   9:07:46 PM
  • 46
    Cute article... made me laugh a few times... couldn't agree more.
    Moving... should definitely be about having fun.
    Doesn't hurt too, if ya look good doing it... that comes from being one with the movement and from practicing it... which is always easier to do when you're enjoying your fitness classes instead of suffering thru them.
    : ) - 8/19/2013   7:46:30 PM
  • 45
    I totally have exercise ADD... but I think I've found ways to combat it. I have 4 main go-to activities: walking/rollerblading with my doggy, swimming laps, dance-cardio (Zumba, Just Dance on Wii), & elliptical. As long as I stick to these I see progress. I'm also beginning to add strength training twice a week and if the weather is nice we do family hikes or other outdoor activites. - 8/19/2013   5:11:29 PM
  • STANDFIRMAJ
    44
    I really like the article. It has showed me what I have been doing these past years have not always been the correct way to get good results. - 8/19/2013   3:10:56 PM
  • 43
    OMG i am gulity. I used to love the gym...now i feel like a rat in a cage so i workedout at home...they i felt like there is so much "todo"...so now i just walk the track in the local high school - 8/19/2013   2:25:57 PM
  • 42
    I suffer from this but at the same time I don't. I love trying new exercise routines and types of exercises but having said that I love my routines. I do my pool running, running program or my strength training every morning but sometimes in the evening I'll try a different class such as kick boxing or spin class. It's like having the best of both worlds! - 8/19/2013   2:18:23 PM
  • 41
    I have suffered Exercise ADD bad in the past! I will fall in love with a workout and after a week, I am completely bored with it and want to find something else. I will only do the program 3-4 times in that week too! I recently fell in love with yoga and to my surprise, I am entering my 4th week of it. I can tell a difference in my body, but I have not lost any weight at all. However, my pants are loose and fitting better. I am hoping to add more cardio, but I just haven't gotten there yet. - 8/19/2013   11:12:32 AM
  • 40
    I have periods of exercise A.D.D.. I get excited and pumped up about losing weight and getting fit. Pretty soon, I find myself not working out for a longer period than I actually spent working out! Now things are better since I've added variety. Most of the workouts that I do are pretty much some form of dancing to music, e.g. Zumba and Step. - 8/19/2013   10:07:18 AM
  • 39
    I have the opposite problem... not enough variety in my workouts. For instance, in learning how to run, I put all my time and effort into running, then had to deal with flexibility issues and some injuries from overworking some areas.
    I'm having the opposite problem to this article... just trying to find some variety that I enjoy and can stick with! - 8/19/2013   10:02:07 AM
  • 38
    I would consider a plan that only works for about 4-6 weeks to be largely ineffective. Everything works for about that long. HIIT + compound loaded movements = lifetime of progression. - 8/19/2013   9:50:55 AM
  • 37
    @Dawn, I also have Comcast and I get a ton of fitness workouts on On Demand. Go under Sports & Fitness, then Fitness Workouts. They're all there - cardio, kickboxing, dance, yoga, pilates, sculpting, etc. - 8/19/2013   7:51:06 AM
  • 36
    I definitely would say I don't have Exercise ADD. I have a set of dvd's that I have been doing for weeks now, but eventually I move onto other stuff. That is why I miss the exercise program they had on Demand with Comcast. There were all kinds of different exercise workouts and it kept you motivated, but they took it off the air. I was so sad. I do agree that you need to give your body time to adjust to a workout. Especially if you get one that is at a difficult level where you have to get a "little uncomfortable". I wish everyone the best with their exercise! - 8/19/2013   7:37:55 AM
  • 35
    I found that after 7 weeks of doing a basic weekly workout schedule, I got a bit bored too. So all I did was add one day where I could do whatever strength training I felt like at the time and I decided to work towards a 5km fun run.

    You don't always have to alter your entire workout to feel a change and challenge. Just change one or two small things and it will also make a difference. I'm totally pumped for my workouts again and I think the 5km challenge has definitely done it for me. - 8/19/2013   7:32:53 AM
  • SHER_BEAR123
    34
    Thanks for the article! - 4/16/2013   5:01:16 PM
  • PRINCESSBAJ
    33
    I stumbled across a Zumba class by mistake..it was suppose to be cardio hi/lo but it got changed..the instructor ask me to keep an open mind and give it a try...well I love it...I stuck with the 10 weeks and just started my 2nd 10 week session- this is once a week, plus I take a muscle conditioning class (strength training)one night a week and I do my own cardio (treadmill) at home at least 4 times a week.
    What I've discovered after so many years of exercising off and on is that I really enjoy group fitness-
    It's fun and gives me a social network which I look forward to. - 4/5/2013   8:30:44 PM
  • DENISE02124
    32
    I go to Planet fitness. I have to go right from work.. if I go home I will end up not going.
    I go for one hour. I started up again 4 weeks ago and I added dumbbell session now.
    I add a few minutes for each week.. ie 10 minutes the first week, 12 minutes the second and etc.. this week I am up to 18 minutes. so I start with the dumbbells , then the machines, then the bike then the trendmill and then the stairmaster thingee. (not called that but cant think of the name at the moment..) the next day I do go I start with the dumbbells and then reverse the order... On the machines (trend and stair thingee) they have different programs.. (fat burning, Hills, carido, etc) my goals is to get up to 30 minutes for each and then start over again with a new program... I find that Im enjoying it a little better now and I feel it has made a difference.... I havent weighted myself yet this week... but I did put a pair of jeans on that were tight a few weeks ago and now they seem to fit good... - 4/2/2013   1:30:08 PM
  • 31
    A friend and I were just talking about this last week. Great advice! - 3/29/2013   3:09:13 PM
  • 30
    I get bored so easily with my workout dvds. I have a ton of them and unfortunately keep buying more. I always say that I will stick with this new one and never do. But I do mix and match between the ones I have frequently. - 3/29/2013   9:29:24 AM
  • WOWFIT54
    29
    I is true exercise videos can be boring so I have collected various videos and bookmarks various videos online too. And so far working. - 3/26/2013   11:37:20 AM
  • JADZIAOZ
    28
    My ADD is so bad I can barely commit to one activity for 20 minutes, let alone one activity for 6 weeks! - 3/12/2013   12:15:51 AM
  • CHARMIAN2
    27
    This ADD can be a good thing. If mixing it up keeps you moving..go for it - 3/10/2013   6:03:45 AM
  • QUEEN3510VA
    26
    This article has helped me a lot. I had been mixing up my activities on a regular basis and was becoming discouraged with the results. - 3/8/2013   7:25:46 PM
  • 25
    I love the advice to focus on fun first, fitness second. I don't have nearly enough fun in my life. - 2/21/2013   1:18:19 PM
  • 24
    Need motivation or ADD cure? 1) Remember that First Lady Michelle Obama stated she hates to exercise but forces herself on the treadmill every morning. If she hates exercising as much as you do, just keep thinking if she has to do it, so can you. 2) Delegate some tasks to others which leaves you time to exercise 3) Try watching TV or use some other distraction while exercising. Distraction helps keep your mind off exercising. 4) Park your car at end of parking lots which leaves you to walk a distance to front door of stores, doctors offices, etc. Even park at neighboring lots = more walking distance. - 2/20/2013   12:05:44 PM
  • MARTY32M
    23
    Exercise ADD? I used to change routines every few weeks whenever I read something that told me the routine I was using wouldn't do what I wanted. A few weeks ago I settled into the routine I'm in now: weights and Tabata on alternate days, except Sunday. I know what you're thinking: I'm into this routine a few weeks so I must be due for another change. No, because I stopped looking at new routines! Besides, I feel I'm actually making progress on this one! Uh, I almost forgot about "fun." It is not fun. But it's a challenge and I go for challenges. I will defy age. - 2/19/2013   4:07:16 PM
  • 22
    It's OK to have exercise ADD--IF that ADD is born out of disgust. Like, if you don't get to go for a walk anymore (but you do lots of slow-flow vinyasa yoga at home); and then you find a little shortness of breath climbing stairs returning (in the course of a workday). So then, I signed up for a 5 Rhythms workshop, started learning Bollywood dance, belly dance, ballroom dance-aerobics, and mat pilates. In that order.

    I'm not a gym-goer and I don't play sports or own a bike. And I don't have time to hit a pool anymore (no decent pool nearby). So at the level I pursue these (remaining) activities--with two bad feet and a bad knee--a little ADD does not hurt.

    If you have a fully able body, go and concentrate on one sport.

    Otherwise, just go for the cardiovascular activities (any of them) the best. - 2/19/2013   1:53:51 PM
  • 21
    Sometimes I have to force myself to do the workout but I always feel great afterwards. So... I ignore myself and do it anyway! - 2/19/2013   1:46:37 PM
  • 20
    I'M HAVE BEEN DOING MY DANCE / CARDIO WORKOUT FOR 3WEEKS ITS BEEN GREAT SO FAR I HAVE LOST WEIGHT FEELING BETTER ABOUT MYSELF, JUST A ALL AROUND GREAT EXPERIENCE SO FAR ,GOING STRONG, GETTING STRONG ,YAYYYY!!! - 2/19/2013   1:31:41 PM
  • 19
    I really HATE to work out but a morning is not complete until it is done.....I feel so much better mentaly for it. - 2/19/2013   1:09:32 PM
  • 18
    I have trouble about the fun part of it... - 2/19/2013   11:03:44 AM
  • 17
    I'm the opposite: i find something I like and never waver. I bought Zumba core for the wii yesterday, hoping to break things up a bit and provide a workout on days the gym won't fit into my schedule. - 2/19/2013   9:55:01 AM
  • 16
    This is so true for me. I get frustrated when I am unable to do the moves at first, but it comes around after some "practice". Why is this so hard for us? I see it in kids and adults - giving up before really practicing at it. We want to be instantly "great" at everything without putting the work into it to become great or in my case awesome. :-) Good things to keep in mind for me... thanks - 2/19/2013   8:16:08 AM
  • JMB369
    15
    I used to have a good routine, but after a 3-month break due to some minor surgery, I am having a tough time getting back. I laughed when I saw the title of this article, and I said, "That's me, for sure." For February, I set myself a very simple schedule that is almost working: Every day a 15-minute walk DVD, and then one other 15-minute activity, which can be weights, swimming, yoga, or a walk outside. I am also taking ballroom dance lessons, and that means 15 to 30 minutes of practice a day. My goal right now is consistency. It's a good week if I meet my goal 4 times. I'm working towards six. I always take one day a week completely off. - 2/19/2013   8:15:12 AM
  • 14
    Guilty as charge. In my defence, I do a lot of DVD workoputs and the minute a routine gets too familiar or starts feeling too easy I tend to get bored and then if I'm bored I don't want to exercise.
    Lately I've been rotating a few kickboxing DVDs so at least I'm sticking in the same family. With strength workouts I tend to go with whatever I feel like from the choice available to me and how hard I feel like working and how much time I've got available. - 2/19/2013   6:14:52 AM
  • 13
    Ok so I do have ADD. but I am still confussed should I or should I not do what I am doing which is 3x a week I get on the treadmill walk./job 30 min. then rowing 15, then elip 15.. then I go to strenth traning the other 2 days a week I do a 40 min spinning session that is my typical work out.. I am seeing results.. I do through something new stuff in there such as swimming or a diffrent machine or two..
    - 2/18/2013   5:48:04 PM
  • DANCINGFLOWER46
    12
    I believe I am searching for just the right come. I have tried many different thing in the last couple of week. I think I need to narrow it down a bit. - 2/18/2013   5:47:34 PM

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