Muscle Confusion – The Confusion behind the (muscle) Confusion.
For years now, the idea of muscle confusion has been a hot topic in the world of fitness. There are several approaches on how to achieve muscle confusion for muscle growth, and some are better than others. The idea behind muscle confusion is to “confuse” the muscles by introducing them to new movements, resistance, and/or time frames that they are not used to. Muscle confusion is necessary in order to continue to see results that are gained throughout a phase of a workout plan, and to prevent plateaus. Without achieving muscle confusion, muscles will adapt to the workouts and growth will be slowed because the muscles are accustomed to what they have been doing.
The confusion lies in determining the duration of workout programs before switching them up in order to achieve muscle confusion. Many believe that they should do a different workout every week so that they can keep the muscles “confused”. The problem with this approach is that it does not give the muscles enough time to adapt. Muscles must adapt before they can be confused, and that takes time (about 6 weeks to fully adapt). Once the muscles are damaged from a workout, they will grow stronger after they recover. This process must happen several times over at least three weeks (preferably 6 weeks), so that the muscle can adapt as it grows stronger throughout the weeks. When beginners start a new workout program, they get very sore from the first week, slightly less sore the following week, and the third and fourth week usually consist of minimal soreness. The intense soreness felt in the first couple weeks is due to the muscles being more damaged because they are not yet adapted to the workout. If programs are switched on a weekly basis, individuals will continually feel intense soreness because they are not giving sufficient time for their muscles to acclimate to the stress that they are putting on them. Giving the muscles more time to adapt will decrease soreness felt from the same workout, and allow maximal recovery so that they will grow stronger. The minimal soreness from the third and fourth weeks is due to the fact that the muscles have fully adapted to the plan, and this is the point where muscle confusion is necessary. After the muscles have fully adapted and are accustomed to the workout plan, they will achieve minimal growth because they are now used to the stress that they are encountering. Once this point is reached, it is now time to “confuse” the muscles by switching to a different workout plan. The muscles get “confused” because they are now not used to the new plan. Once muscle confusion is successfully achieved, the muscles will have to re-adapt to a new plan, and this will cause the muscles to grow at a faster rate as compared to when they are already adapted.
In short, give the muscles time to adapt before “confusing” them. Stay on a structured workout program for three to six weeks before switching up the plan. Three to six weeks will give the muscles enough time to grow stronger and adapt to a plan, and once they are fully adapted, switch it up. Repeat this process constantly. Be sure not to switch the workout plan before three weeks, this will only provide minimal growth, and a lot of soreness. Happy goal achieving!
Jerome is a leading success coach and personal trainer at Horizon Personal Training in CT. He has helped 100’s of people become inspired to transform their lives! Jerome is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and is on track to graduate from CCSU majoring in exercise science in only 1 more semester. To learn more about Jerome, please go to www.horizonpersonaltraining.com