In the fitness industry, we’re all looking for ways to get bigger, stronger, faster and leaner, more quickly than ever before. Muscle confusion is a training buzzword that promises these results with just a few simple changes to your workout routine. Muscle confusion is a theory that states by changing your workout routine regularly you ‘confuse’ the muscles and shock them into faster development. Specifically, changing the exercise type is believed to keep your muscles constantly adapting to new training for greater growth and development. However, there are questions as to whether the theory behind muscle confusion stands up and whether this method really helps to improve training results. Here we look at muscle confusion and whether it’s a truly effective method to diversify a workout and boost performance.

What Is Muscle Confusion?

Muscle confusion is the theory that regularly changing a workout helps to keep it ‘fresh’ and ensures your muscles are always working as hard as possible. Popular in training systems like P90X and even CrossFit, workouts may be changed every week or even every day.

There are both good and bad aspects to the theory of muscle confusion. It’s true that our muscles and the body in general constantly need a challenge in order to get consistent improvement. However, it does take muscles 6-8 weeks to truly adapt to an exercise, so rapidly changing exercises week to week, or even month to month may not yield any benefit at all.

Training Variables

What it really comes down to is which changing variables you are altering regularly. It’s better to keep the actual exercise type the same so that you consistently train the same muscle group. This allows you to focus on building the strength, mass, and skills you really want for that muscle system. However, you can manipulate the other training variables within the same exercise type to get greater variety and intensity in your workout. This is, in fact, a more effective way to produce ‘muscle confusion’.

A woman on a leg press machine
The training variables that can be altered include –
  • Exercise type
  • Speed
  • Reps
  • Sets (volume)
  • Rest
  • Frequency
  • Range of motion
  • Exercise order

Adding Variation To Your Workout

If you want to focus on building strength, endurance, or physical changes in one muscle groups or area of your body, it’s better to focus on the same exercise type as set by your program or personal trainer for at least 6-8 weeks. However, during that time, you can vary the speed, sets, reps, rest periods, frequency, the range of motion and order of exercises in order to provide variety and challenge on a day to day basis.

Staying focused on one exercise type for a period of time helps you to focus on and attain your training goal while adding variety in the other training variables helps to keep you engaged and motivated with the training.

To get the most out of your workout and achieve the most outstanding results in less time, talk to one of our personal trainers today for an individualized plan that works with your specific needs to help you achieve your goals.