View Full Version : Starting a dedicated workout routine

08-21-12, 05:27 PM
Well, the exercise forum is pretty dead and the searches I made turned up nothing recent, so here it goes! (I hope you bear with me)

Purpose of this Thread
I suppose this thread is as much for myself and helping to organize my thoughts as much as it is for people who also find themselves in a similar place; unsatisfied with what they've achieved on their own or having simply found themselves unable to break into a consistent routine.

For many of us our ADHD is two-sided when it comes to workout and exercise. Exercises and physical activity tends to keep my mind more than stimulated. On the otherhand, organization, routines, learning new things, and other stuff are particularly troubling for me in general. But now I'd like to share how I was able to get past it.

Finally, as much as this will serve to give practical workout advice, this thread goes way beyond that and into our general approaches to life.

About Me:
I'm 21 going into my senior year of college. Diagnosed with ADHD at 18 and prescribed adderall since then.

For the past 4 years I've worked out on and off, sometimes for a few months straight, but honestly, I realized that what had slowed me down personally/academically was also slowing me down in the gym. Hardly a consistent schedule, diet was decent, never recorded/logged what I did that day + a bad memory, complacent with whatever I was doing (and for that reason generally unwilling to work out with other people) and generally operating with no real goal in mind. A combination of laziness and intimidation barred me from seeking out what I really should have been doing at the gym.

Prior to this summer, my routines were a mishmash of safe machine exercises orchestrated around all of the different advice and myths I had heard over the years. This summer, I improved in two areas (consistency and general intensity) but I still failed to keep any logs of what I was doing (stalling progress whenever I forgot what I did the last session) and still relied on the comfort of familiar exercises.

Still, I made some noticeable gains that I was happy with but the reality was that I was still being stubborn, complacent, and a bit scared. Myself, someone who often gets pretty anal about inefficiency and saving time in all that I do realized that it was pretty hypocritical to be content with something that I did in 2 1/2 months that probably could have been done in 1 month of hard work. The saving grace was that 2 people I hadn't seen in months had seen a noticeable change in my upper body, which is what I was going for, but to be honest I think it spoke more about how average I was before rather than what I currently was.

A Turning Point
A little less than 2 weeks ago, I came to terms that I wasn't satisfied with what I had accomplished in the gym this summer.

Here are some of the things that happened next:

1. I had a bit of a reality check: this will be my last year of college, do I really have time to get bogged down by unjustified insecurities and fear?

2. Around the same time, I also stumbled upon this video that I genuinely think is one of the realest, straight-shooting, put-into-perspective videos on working out I had seen. For someone with my attention span, I watched this entire rant. Don't worry if you don't know everything he's talking about technically, I didn't either, just focus on the message, which is really about more than working out if you think about it. If you really want, you can start the video at 1:20

Putting Concept into Practice
If you're like me, reading up on a bunch of great exercises that you have no idea how to perform is very discouraging. Most people rather do something they're comfortable with or that is easier than risk failing something better, especially in public. It takes some courage to get over it, and I'm not saying I'm now 100% fearless, but I'm proud of the steps I've taken.

I learned that there were a handful of highly recommended and effective beginner programs, but I was also realistic about my mental limitations in jumping into something with tons of exercises and a dynamic schedule. So I finally decided to pursue one that was even easy enough for me to follow. A simple M-W-F based on 2-3 primary exercises, and 5 total, called Practical Programming.

3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench press / Press (Alternating)
Chin-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

3x5 Squat
3x5 Press / Bench Press (Alternating)
1x5 Deadlift

3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench Press / Press (Alternating)
Pull-ups: 3 sets to failure or add weight if completing more than 15 reps

"When it says 3x5, it means 3 sets of 5 reps of the working weight. Every time you complete 3 sets of 5 reps at a given weight in a given exercise, you will move up 5lbs the next time you do that exercise. This is called progressive overload and is important in promoting continuous growth"

The catch, however, was that I had never done a real squat in my life, I was (still kind of am) terrified of a bench press, was a bit ashamed at my pullup/chinup ability, and had no idea how to do anything else on the list.

The upside? No longer had to worry about remembering what I had done the last time, and more importantly, the burden of trying to create some balanced program using my non-existent expertise was lifted from me. Furthermore, the program had a clear-cut progression scheme.

Best Advice I can give about breaking into these things:
1. Research, watch youtube videos.
2. Give yourself a day to just experiment and test the waters before formally beginning. Practice the motions without any weight.
3. Best advice of all: Reach out, ask for help or feedback. If you are lucky and you have access to a gym with trainers, just ask them if you're doing something right or if they can show you. If you don't have that luxury, don't be afraid to do what so many people do, get out a camera, record yourself, request feedback and advice.

Step 3 is not only the easiest and most effective, but probably the avenue I was naturally (and I'm sure others are as well) most resistant to. But once you get past that hump, say get over it and get your eye on the long term prize, it's smooth sailing.

Keeping a Routine
I don't mean to come off as some holier-than-thou expert who has crushed all fears and conquered all. The truth is, I'm only a week into my new program; and I'm loving every minute of it, and constantly learning more along the way.

However an old problem has crept up on me. I had forgotten how much weight I had used the last time I did a certain exercise. Now you could write on a piece of paper to help remind you, but even better than that, I don't think there's an easier and more effective practice than simply keeping a log. A log tells you what you did on what day and how much of it, and if applicable, where and when you struggled. Not only is it a fantastic way to track progress, the benefits are even greater when you don't keep these things to yourself. Post them online to a messageboard community just like this one. Nothing gives more inspiration than watching how much a person progressed in 4 months, or having others post advice and cheer you on.

So I decided that come Monday I am formally starting one myself. Seeing how the Exercise sub-forum is currently quite inactive, I think it could be a great thing if users started to post [LOGS]. As long as it isn't against that forum's rules I'll gladly be the first person to get the ball rolling. I plan to write a log here and at one other message board community, except my log here will discuss in greater detail certain kinds of subjects; including but not limited to adderall's coexistence with this new program. Eventually, I will also have to get strict about my diet, and I'm curious how adderall is going to play into it.

Closing Remarks and Such
If you've noticed ANY parallels between your mentality approaching a workout and any other aspect of your life then I believe this thread has accomplished something.

Complacency, inefficiency, sticking to a comfort zone, measuring progress, sticking to something, asking for help, taking initiative, letting results justify difficult work, ETC ETC. These are all relatively generic buzzwords that I have shown affect me with concrete workout examples. But I would be in denial if I said it didn't parallel any of the other struggles I had faced with my ADHD and school, or otherwise.
blah blah blah, What's my point, you ask??

These aren't just concepts to think about, these are things you can put into action right now. The year I made an excel spreadsheet for all of my classes and grades, frequently updated (as well as shared with my parents) was the year I rose my GPA to a 3.4 from the previous year's 2.4 where I kept track of nothing.

Closing Remarks: The Sequel

Create GOALS. Find ways to TRACK PROGRESS. When you track progress, you know what has been working and what has not been. When it's right in front of you, you spend less time thinking about it and more time developing healthy habits and routines. Your medication will not do this for you.

ASK FOR HELP. DO RESEARCH, find the right people and ask the right questions. Get your friends, family, or even the internet involved. Its easier to give up when no one else knows that you're trying.

Lessons from the video: Be real about what you are. It's useless and counter-productive to tell yourself and other's that you're an intermediate when you're truly a beginner. Face the facts, acknowledge what you could be doing to improve, actually do it, watch your progress and watch other's take notice.

Don't wait until you're up against a wall like I was before making these kind of changes. You can't get these years back but its also never too late to start. Blah. I think I'm done with this post for now. If any of you read it, let me know what you think, good or bad. It's just something I wanted to get off my chest.

Lastly, because I am a manic researcher, if you have any questions related to the workout aspect of this thread (feel free to go beyond what I've discussed) I'm prepared to share a lot of other informative resources, videos, guides that are great even for the shortest attention spans like my own.

Or even if you want to know anything more about me or my life/habits or something go ahead.

Yes, I was on adderall when I wrote this.

08-21-12, 05:29 PM
This Post is a Potential Placeholder for any additional information/resources/otherwise that I may post in the future.

08-21-12, 06:17 PM
I take karate and a structured class keeps me from going off on a tangent