Contrary to what some of the big name fitness programs like P90X would like you to believe, constantly changing up your workouts to “confuse” your muscles does not allow enough time to build upon the progress you’ve made on each exercise week after week. Although having lots of variety may appeal to those who get bored easily, it is extremely ineffective as a way of building muscle and gaining strength.
In fact, there is no such thing as “muscle confusion”, not as a scientific principle anyway.
It is true that your muscles will adapt to the stress you put them under, but this happens over time, not overnight. You can’t trick or confuse your body into great shape. You need a structured plan and a system to execute the plan.
In order to build muscle, there needs to be a consistent stimulus over a specific amount of time so that your muscles know what it is they even need to adapt to.
Exactly how long you need to stick with the same routine will vary based on the program, your goals, fitness level, and how many days per week you train. Somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks is a standard timeframe for a typical “meso cycle” in strength training.
Over that period of time, you should challenge yourself each workout to squeeze out that extra rep or make small consistent increases in weight while still maintaining good form and full range of motion on each exercise. This is called “linear progression”, and it allows you and your body the time it needs to build muscle and gain strength.
It may not be as sexy as “muscle confusion” sounds, but if your goal is results over variety, fundamentals and repetition win every time.
Committed To Your Health,
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.
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