3 Tips to Deal with Exercise ADD

By , Jessica Smith, Certified Personal Trainer
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?
About the Author

As someone who struggled to lose weight for years, Jessica found that the key to her own 40-pound weight loss was making small, healthy lifestyle changes that led to big, lasting results. Now, as a certified wellcoach, fitness instructor and personal trainer, she has spent the last 15 years helping students and clients reach their goals in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and now reaches millions online through her YouTube Channel and home exercise DVD series. Please visit jessicasmithtv.com/shop to learn more about her fun, results driven programs for all levels of exercisers.

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Good advice, thank you. Report
KHALIA2 5/29/2019
Thanks for sharing! Report
I love the same workout and vary the amount of time I do it or the intensity, it works for me. Report
SXB990 3/15/2019
Great article Report
KHALIA2 3/3/2019
Thanks for sharing. Report
KHALIA2 1/3/2019
Thanks for sharing! Report
KHALIA2 11/16/2018
Great info! Report
RO2BENT 10/30/2018
Balance and mindfulness Report
It's easy to be pulled in many different directions. Report
Thanks for the great ideas! :) Report
Good info, now I know wha it is Report
Thank You for this helpful information. Report
Thank you for sharing Report
Sounds like a plan Report
Good advise. Report
Great article, Jessica! I was reading and thinking it sounded like what I've learned from you and got to the bottom and saw your picture. Thanks! Report
Love Jessica. Her YouTube videos are awesome too! Report
I like this Report
Thank you Jessica for these great ideas. I love doing your videos! Report
Great ideas. Report
Love these, all good Report
These are great tips Report

So THAT'S what I have !!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, I got into a walking rut and fell by the wayside.
THANKS for the heads up.
Now to get back on track !

Peace, Love and Blessings Report
ADHD is an actual mental illness that is diagnosed by a medical professional. (ADD doesn't exist anymore.) I really don't seeing illnesses thrown around casually like this. Especially on a website that is supposed to be about health. ADHD isn't something that can be cured by following the advice of this article. Can we please stop using mental illnesses to describe things that aren't actually illnesses?? Report
I don't know how much "changing it up" leads to ADD, but as long as I am moving, I am not too concerned about it. Even when I use the treadmill or elliptical, I use different programs. Variety works for me. Any workout is better than no workout. Report
I do the same exercises but in different orders when I go in. It keeps me from getting bored, it does the muscle confusion thing, but does it fit into your "ADD" definition? Report
Perfect timing, working on exercise plan for month of October. Report
This explains a lot. Starting this week, I am going to concentrate on a routine. 4 days walking, one day spinning. I want to add some body weight exercises two mornings per week. Maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays? Thanks for the info. Report
routine, sticking to it like you say in your article the key is consistency to see results need a month,I like the information it has come at the right time, thank you. Report
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! Report
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. Report
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. Report
I'm going to have to create a plan now. :) Thanks. Report
Thanks for the info. Report
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!!! Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
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. Report
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) Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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! Report
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.
: ) Report
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. Report
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. Report
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 Report
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! Report