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Thread: Muscle Confusion

  1. #1
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    Muscle Confusion

    Wanted to see what people who have been lifting for a while and getting good success thought.

    (I have been reading the stickies as I have had time but still wanted to ask this question)

    How much do you have to change things up to confuse a muscle group (the body in general) so that with the proper intensity of workout and diet a person can continue to make good gains.

    I will give an example to illustrate what I am curious about, and it will kind of show me to not be all the creative when it comes to working out.

    Chest exercises for the first 3 weeks of high intensity lifting. Work out was done in this exact order each time.

    • 4 Sets of Decline Presses, (1 warm up 10 -12 reps) (3 Full failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 sets Incline Presses, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 sets flat bench, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 sets Flies, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)


    Changing this up too the following for the next 3 weeks.

    • 4 sets Flies, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 sets flat bench, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 sets Incline Presses, (1 warm up 10-12 reps) (3 Full Failure between 4 and 7 reps)

    • 4 Sets of Decline Presses, (1 warm up 10 -12 reps) (3 Full failure between 4 and 7 reps)


    Planning on changing things up like this for other muscle groups starting with Mondays workout.

    I have to say at the current intensity level I have made some strength gains over the past 3 weeks, and I am feeling and seeing some differences, especially in my chest and shoulders (shoulders have always been small and under whelming)

    So anyway, give me your thoughts and ideas please. I want to optimize my time at the gym.

    Thank you, Jim

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    "Muscle confusion" isn't going to make you bigger or stronger, progressive overload will. It's much easier to monitor your progress(ive overload) if you stick with the same exercises for more than three weeks at a time (but it's certainly not necessary: see the Westside method.)

    If you've been working out for less than a year or two, I suggest you stick to a proven routine and try to make consistent gains rather than trying to come up with novel ways to "trick" your muscles into growing. As much as marketers in the fitness industry would like you to think otherwise, there is no magic bullet to getting bigger and stronger. Hard work and consistency are the key.
    Last edited by Jorge Sanchez; 08-07-2009 at 08:14 AM.
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  3. #3
    Must...work...out... nockits's Avatar
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    I don't do anything to confuse the muscle group except to eat more and push harder! I used the same routine for almost 6 months straight before I had to change it up. Muscle confusion is an exaggerated idea fabricated by magazine companies so they have something to sell. You don't need to change it every 3 weeks.

    Just by curiosity, what does the rest of your routine look like? 16 sets for your chest only? That's a bit much...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalami View Post
    I just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes I'll tell them we're going to the park and then go to the gym, or visa versa. They start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.
    *While on the topic of muscle confusion, and how often a routine needs to be changed.*

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    WBB's Juggernaut/Liason BigCorey75's Avatar
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    Depends on your level of experience.

    Newer lifters can stick to the same routine for 8 months and still get gains, more experienced lifters need to change more often because their bodies will adapt more quickly. some 6 weeks some 3, personally i never do the exact same exercises in workouts, i do the same movements but not the same exercise.

    Thats also another factor is what type of change are you talking about? Exercise change? rep scheme change? or entire routine change?

    My rep range hasn't changed much in nearly three years, but im constantly cycling exercises and different other parameters, still overloading the muscles but keeping up with different exercises to keep things pushing.

    so there are several factors that determine how much one needs to change a routine, but a good rule of thumb is to use a program until your no longer responding to it. Almost every routine/program/scheme, or what ever you wanna call it, will work for about 6-8 weeks before you need to change it. i just say keep it changing and keep it fresh but keep overloading the muscles and the body.
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  5. #5
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    I am by no means an expert and am currently on a very basic OLD SCHOOL (fb 3x a week) program. From what I've learned through personal experience and countless hours of researching what works for natural lifters (relying on information repeatedly proven to be true since Sandow), my body will get bigger and stronger if I keep forcing it to lift heavier and heavier poundages. The more weight I lift, the stronger and bigger my muscles will get. It's that simple. Nothing confusing about it.

    When I run out of olympic bar space on which to slide 45s, I'll start looking to "confuse" my muscles with exercises other than the Bench, Squat, Deadlift, barbell row and military press.

  6. #6
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    Muscle confusion doesn't exist--it's a stupid concept--and randomly changing exercises for no reason other than change is borderline counterproductive. Obviously change can be a good thing when applied correctly, but there are other factors at work here that have nothing to do with 'confusion.'

  7. #7
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    OK,

    back exercises,

    4 sets of wide grip pull ups 1st with assistence 12reps, next 3 with no assistence this week was 5 reps then 4 reps then 2 reps.
    4 sets of behind head lat pull downs 1 warm up, 3 failure like chest
    4 sets of seated rows 1 warm up, 3 failure like chest
    4 sets of standing rows 1 warm up, 3 failure like chest

    other muscle groups, get hit similarly hard, been doing this for 3 weeks now, and for example did chest and tri's monday and can still very moderatly feel chest (it is friday today) and can still feel tri's more so, but then again I did shoulders yesterday, with no concentration on tri's though they cannot help but get hit some.

  8. #8
    WBB's Juggernaut/Liason BigCorey75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kastro View Post
    Muscle confusion doesn't exist--it's a stupid concept--and randomly changing exercises for no reason other than change is borderline counterproductive. Obviously change can be a good thing when applied correctly, but there are other factors at work here that have nothing to do with 'confusion.'

    "Confusion" exist, but thats a bad name for it made up for marketing purposes, a muscle cant technically "learn" there fore it cant be confused.

    Confusion is really just a name that is meant for stimulating the muscle in different ways to get the desired result.

    And this "confusion" is really finding new ways to also activate the nervous system to incite new stimulus and new growth and its practice has been in use for years.

    Old school power lifters like Paul Anderson used to train for the deadlift by digging holes in the sand and lifting a weight heavier than they can normally pull from the floor, and in subsequent weeks they would add sand to the hole until eventually they could pull the weight from the floor. So they used a different stimulus to train the muscle to get desired result.

    Also a lot of russian powerlifters would do deadlifts off a 2-3 inch box, lengthening the range of motion, which will create a new stimulus and get stronger there, then when they go to normal deadlifting they will be stronger since the ROM will be shorter than they have been practicing

    With the invention of the power rack similar things were done with the squat, then louie simmons popularized the Box squat. Again creating a new stimulus for the muscle to have to over come. Training the muscle to lift from a dead stop and removing the loading reflex, which in turn leads to large squat numbers when the loading reflex is added in normal squatting for competition

    Same can be said with the bench press, through board work, and lock outs and heavy supports and such, also with changing grips and angle of the press

    Also the dynamic effort in powerlifting popularized again by louie and westside, stimulates the muscle in a fashion different than normal lifting, teaching the muscle to explode through lifts again creating different stimulus to train the muscle to get the desired result.

    All that being said the principle of overload still is the major factor, but finding new ways and better ways to overload the muscle to create new stimulus. Thats what the term "confusion" really means giving your body something new to learn to keep it progressing.

    So to me its a dumb name for it, but i agree with the concept, because if it were not true, many of the best and greatest lifters would not have needed to use them in order to get there desired results
    Why live if one can not Deadlift?- John Paul Sigmasson

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  9. #9
    Senior Member RichMcGuire's Avatar
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    I like to think of "Muscle confusion" as merely a term used to utilize periodization of some type. Nothing works forever.

    But on that note, when you give your body a new challenge, you activate more stress hormones and your sympathetic nervous system.
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    i just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes i'll tell them were going to the park and then go to the gym or vice versa they start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.

  11. #11
    Must...work...out... nockits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalami View Post
    i just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes i'll tell them were going to the park and then go to the gym or vice versa they start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.
    hahahahah, probably the funniest thing i've ever heard! this is going into my sig!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalami View Post
    I just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes I'll tell them we're going to the park and then go to the gym, or visa versa. They start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.
    *While on the topic of muscle confusion, and how often a routine needs to be changed.*

  12. #12
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    My muscles never get confused...they contract when I tell them to and they extend when I tell them too.

    Do you really think you can confuse them???
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  13. #13
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    some peoples muscles are borderline ******ed, those people have it easy... its not hard at all to confuse them.

  14. #14
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    My muscles are apparently always confused about whether they should grow or shrink.

    So they compromise by staying the same size.


    It's really annoying.

  15. #15
    The Flyfisher rbtrout's Avatar
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    To the OP - all the BS aside here, stop reading the muscle mags. Pick a good routine, stick with it until you stop making gains. Eat big, rest big and lift progressively heavier weights and you'll get big.
    Give chalk a chance.


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  16. #16
    squat rack curler platypus's Avatar
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    i really hate when people say you need to confuse your muscles after just a few weeks of a routine. my friends who i lift with tell me i shouldn't be doing the same exercises every week. but i'm doing SS and still seeing great gains after two months. i try to tell them that muscle confusion is for when you stall, but they don't listen, so i've just given up trying to argue with them.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Future's Avatar
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    Some good discussion.

    The muscle knows stimuli obviously and does not get confused. What it can do is be forced to adapt with a new stimulus applied be it rest time, increased reps or weights. Diet and general recovery are key players not to ignore during all of this.

    ...and I think P90X is lame along with Crossfit.

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    **** P90X and **** Crossfit!!!
    Why live if one can not Deadlift?- John Paul Sigmasson

    Accept that which is useful and reject what is not- Bruce Lee

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  19. #19
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    This is why I like DC's routine. Continue on an exercise until you no longer have progression - change the exercise. You could be on the same exercise for a month or two years - progressive overload is all that matters. Given that it is set-up in a format that allows two weeks between the same exercise, you have time to progress - rather than trying to progress on squats every workout when you do them twice a week, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skalami View Post
    i just give the worked on muscle group tough riddles before my workouts... or sometimes i'll tell them were going to the park and then go to the gym or vice versa they start to catch on so you have to tell the truth every so often.
    LOL is an overused term, but I most certainly did laugh out loud.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Future's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigCorey75 View Post
    **** P90X and **** Crossfit!!!
    LOL no kidding

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