What is muscle confusion?

The term "muscle confusion" was born on the premise that your body will respond to different types of demands placed upon it. Our muscles do not actually become "confused," but should be challenged in order to avoid a decrease in performance and/or strength gains. Your exercise program should be properly progressed to achieve a particular goal which will keep you from "hitting a plateau." This progression is important because your muscles will adapt to the same program and/or weight being used over time, so if the variables (such as load/intensity) do not change, neither will you. You are not confusing your muscles but training them to achieve different results. In other words, you get what you train for so you should change up your exercise routine by increasing the load, volume, reps, sets and/or intersity if you would like to see a change in your appearance, strength gains and/or overall performance.

Muscle confusion is a term that has been made mainstream by the high intensity training program “P90X.” It is designed to provide numerous different demands on the body so that the body/muscles need to continue to adapt without accommodation – or getting used to it. Many resources refer to muscle confusion as an alarm reaction. There are numerous ways to provide so-called muscle confusion beside high intensity training programs. Ideally, you would employ a progressive systematic approach to achieve goals such as weight-loss, strength, or power gains.

Muscle confusion is a training concept that is centered around variety in workouts. The goal of muscle confusion is to avoid hitting a plateau during strength training cycles. If you perform the same workouts for a long enough period of time (this period varies for each person) you are likely to come to a screeching halt in terms of progress in strength and hypertrophy.

The body will always function in 'survival mode', meaning it will adapt to a stimulus just enough to be able to endure it. So basically the body becomes accustom to your workouts and no longer needs to improve as a result of them. Anybody who has worked out for a long enough period of time has likely hit a plateau.... which is frustrating to say the least. Although many new workout programs highly advertise muscle confusion as one of their 'secrets to success', the concept is nothing new. So if you have been doing the same workouts for months or even years it is most definitely time to completely change up the routine!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.