Exercise A.D.D.

The other day my one year old daughter and I were at Border’s bookstore. We were in the children’s section, and I was, like a lot of parents with toddlers, looking for something to entertain my precocious baby girl.
She crawled around the store floor for a bit and then crawled right up to a young woman sitting on one of the tiny kids’ chairs. My daughter propped herself up beside this young woman and then babbled something to get her attention.

“Oh hello!” she said. The woman had a pile of books by her side, and she was skimming through a book titled something to the effect of “the big book of exercises for women.”

I asked her, “You looking to work a particular muscle group?”

She related that she was simply looking for something different, something new to learn. She told me she was a fitness competitor with a classic case of exercise A.D.D. She said that she gets bored easily and is always looking for new exercises or training routines, but that it’s been harder to find new things because she’s seen them all. Every book or magazine has the same information.

I was a lot like her in my younger days. I had classic exercise A.D.D. I was always looking for the next best thing, always looking for something new. After awhile, though, I realized that there wasn’t anything new under the sun. A lot of the ideas that are presented as new are simply old ideas repackaged and presented as such.

I remember going to a small neighborhood gym with a pile of Muscle and Fitness mags in the lobby. 10 years of mags that the owner had subscribed to. So every day before my workout I would read an issue.

Having all of those mags there accelerated my learning of bodybuilding training and diet. Instead of waiting for an issue to arrive in a month, I was learning something new everyday. I was expanding my training and dietary knowledge at an exponential rate.

But after awhile I noticed a couple of things:

1) I was learning fewer and fewer new bits of knowledge.
2) The same training “wisdom” was being rehashed over and over through the years. The exercises in a chest article in 1984 were the exact same exercises in a chest article the following year and the subsequent years after.

Over the years, I have noticed a few changes in the fitness industry. Whereas recreational bodybuilding (using bodybuilding methods to improve one’s looks) was pretty strong in the 80’s and early 90’s, its influence has receded. During that time I’ve seen the introduction of Bosu balls and the reintroduction of kettlebells. The Internet spurred a number of exercise cults as well.

But ultimately there is very little new under the sun. And the key to obtaining a better physique or greater strength is not always adopting the latest fitness craze (P90X comes to mind), but consistency and commitment. Committing to doing something as opposed to nothing, to applying what you have learned.
Boredom is natural. But if you want the muscles, then you have to focus and do the hard boring work in the gym.

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