Muscle confusion is the theory that regularly switching up workout routines will prevent diminishing returns, and increase your potential for gains. However, many prominent fitness outlets have spoken out against muscle confusion based routines. In fact, a study by the American College of Sports Medicine officially supports “progressive overload” as the ideal training method for healthy adults over other methods. Despite this, programs based on the theory continue to occupy space in the fitness world.
Origins of Muscle Confusion
The idea of muscle confusion has been present in gyms for many years as an answer to the dreaded plateau. The principle seemed sound; change your routine every six weeks or sooner, and your body will constantly have to adjust to keep up. In theory, this pushes your muscles to work harder. But in practice, it’s no more effective than an eight to twelve-week program. In some cases, it may even be worse.
The Detriments of Muscle Confusion
If you always adapt your routine, your body never develops the efficiency needed to get the most out of each exercise. This prevents you from making greater, more efficient gains. Most programs are awful for beginners; bad habits and unrealistic expectations are set throughout the routine. The average person will come away extremely unsatisfied with their experience, and traditional programs will become difficult to adapt to as a result of their previously sub-standard routine.
Alternatives to Muscle Confusion
Instead of a muscle confusion workout, consider progressive overload and HIIT. Progressive overload is a training concept based on “increasing the demand of your body.” Progressively increasing your lifting weight on a set-by-set basis, and attempting to increase your rep weight by at least five pounds per week is exemplary of this concept. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is training at a high intensity with short breaks in between reps to improve fitness and increase metabolic rate. Both of these methods pursue different fitness goals, but they are proven effective.
Avoid muscle confusion, and get the most out of your workouts without it.