Hey guys, just wanted some answers to a question I've had for a while now, concerning the whole idea of "muscle confusion."
Basically some trainers say that your muscles and body as a whole will get used to any given exercise after you've been doing it for long enough, and at that point will no longer benefit from that exercise. The solution, they say, is to be constantly switching up your workouts in order to "confuse" your muscles, i.e. insuring that they never have the time to get accustomed to the lifts.
I'm not quite sure what to think personally; the idea sounds somewhat plausible, but I've also heard from many people that the whole thing is a myth.
The reason I'm asking is because I've noticed that the gains I've been making over the past couple months have been much less than what I had seen in the months before, and it's been quite a while since I've switched up my workout at all - a situation that the "muscle confusion" proponents would point to as a prime example of their theory at work.
So no more baloney, what's the deal with "muscle confusion?"
Last edited by parkker007; 04-18-2009 at 09:30 PM.
While there is truth to the muscle confusion idea, I believe the whole thing is greatly exaggerated. The changes can be small. Such as more weight added, different workout order, different grip, different rep scheme, etc., etc.
You also don't necessarily need to change it every 4 weeks like some will say. Run a program for as long as you achieve gains on your main lifts, not some arbitrary number. I never run a program for less than 3 months.
The more advanced you are in your training, the more complicated all this becomes. This is when muscle confusion is more of a challenge and your programming should reflect this.
It is currently a fad, at this writing, for boys to think they need a "six pack", although most of them don't have an ice chest to put it in.
Eventually you will plateau, but a complete makeover is not necessary. Either change your diet so you feed your muscles more, or change the set/rep/weight scheme slightly.
The rest is in the quote. ^
"Same, but different" is a pretty good strategy for most and following it generally keeps people from throwing out the baby with the bath water.
A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
Lifting Clips: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnnymnemonic2
A silly concept that may in some sense work, but it would be infinitely more valuable to simply understand why progression eventually stalls, and what you can do about it. I suggest reading Practical Programming by Coach Rip.
There is no such thing as muscle confusion. Muscles adapt over time to a certain stress that is placed upon them. In order to keep progressing, a different stress must be applied. The easiest way to do so is to add weight. One can also add exercises, sets, reps, or even a different cadence.
Constantly switching up one's workouts is generally not a good idea, as it is difficult to measure progression, if one does not keep the same exercises within the program. A far better method is to find a routine that works and stick with it until gains slow or stall, and then and only then find another one.
Muscle confusion is not a myth. It has to do with Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome. The body will eventually adapt to an exercise. When it does your progress will stop.
Jason/dumbbell provided you with some good information. "The changes can be small. Such as more weight added, different workout order, different grip, different rep scheme, etc.,"
How often you need to change your program has to do with your training age. Training age is how long you have been training.
Thus, a novice can run a program much longer than someone who has been training for a while. Most novices need to change their program up about every 6 weeks. I change mine up ever three weeks.
However, Jason/dumbbell makes a great point, "Run a program for as long as you achieve gains on your main lifts, not some arbitrary number."
Once you stop making progress it's definitely time to change thing up.
Why wouldn't you want to change exercises periodically. It keeps things fresh and provides a balance that is needed for a fuller more well rounded physique.
I can see why you set the goals you did. Rock on dude.
All great posts on this subject. I think that if you're making gains, why (unless sheer boredom) would you want to change it up? The point that many trainers (Ballys, etc.) take it to, by changing every workout, is way too far. Changing it up here and there prevents boredom and challenges the muscles differently.
Last edited by rbtrout; 04-20-2009 at 10:50 AM.
Give chalk a chance.
49 years old
"Muscle confusion" is a great way for trainers to convince you to keep paying for "new" workouts every week/month. It's also a great marketing device b/c teaching people how to properly and effectively train over time is not NEARLY as sexy as selling them "the secrets to muscle confusion!"
And I respectfully disagree with Kenny b/c the way the phrase "muscle confusion" is used today, is NOT simply as an intelligent application of the General Adaptation Principle. It's a hyperbolic, erratic, "black box" application of the GAP at best. And "muscle confusion" is generally radically misapplied to the target audience: beginners. As already stated, the body adapts, but a smart training program doesn't chase "new" just for the sake of "new." It chases new when new is necessary, and it does so in modest amounts, applied intelligently to stimulate targeted growth toward specific goals.
Just because you splash paint on the ceiling doesn't make you Michaelangelo.