Why Muscle Confusion is Crucial for Muscle Gains
When it comes to continuously building muscle without encountering the damaging effects of plateauing, muscle confusion is absolutely crucial. It’s especially crucial during two phases of our muscle building programs:
First, we experience negative effects early on during the initial training sessions. Our bodies are designed to see a strength training regime as an attack. Thus, the body is geared to resist the attack and fend it off. However, what it’s actually doing is fending off our gains.
Secondly, if our bodies adjust to these continuous workouts over time, they are able to prepare and brace for them. Again, this diminishes our results.
Muscle confusion is the only way to combat both of these issues and maintain consistent gains without our bodies impeding our progress.
What is Muscle Confusion?
The concept of muscle confusion is very simple. It’s a muscle building method that revolves around changing our work outs regularly. These changes can be achieved by adjusting the intensity, amount of weight, number of reps, or sequence in which we workout.
By maintaining these slight but continual changes to our work outs, our bodies are not able to adjust or prepare for the upcoming exercise. They will constantly be forced to adjust, strain, and undergo the full stress of our workouts. This eventually results in steady and continuous gains.
Who Uses Muscle Confusion?
Muscle confusion isn’t only useful when it comes to working out and adding muscle mass. It’s also extremely useful when it comes to losing weight. The body is very intelligent and designed to handle stress in different ways. Both weight lifting and weight loss are counted by the body when it prepares for upcoming exercises or the lack of nutrition it knows is coming.
The body always wants to operate at an optimal level. And by not having to undergo the stress you put on it, it is able to continue cruising along. So, any workout that is designed to produce an end result from the body, must be constantly changed and adapted to produce the desired result and to keep the body guessing.
Muscle Confusion is Catching On
High intensity interval training and the companies behind at-home workout videos have enabled the idea of muscle confusion to catch on. These types of exercises have brought muscle confusion to the mainstream where it’s here to stay. When looking at these types of exercises, they focus on a lot of light dumbbell exercises and bodyweight exercises. Which are not the heavy lifting exercises that are normally associated with muscle building.
However, the results aren’t debatable. There’s no denying that these workouts don’t produce results. And their results are a direct response of rapidly creating muscle confusion in short bursts.
However, the way these workouts create muscle confusion is slightly different. These programs aim to create muscle confusion by slightly alternating how a certain muscle is being targeted. These changes are then completed rapidly in a short burst workout and called “10 minute abs”, or something to that effect.
So, why are these workouts so affected and how do they confuse the muscles so well?
Let’s take your abs for example. Let’s say we’re going to target the abs in just 10 minutes with no breaks. In 10 minutes, we must get the maximum results. So, to do this, we must target the entire core. In those 10 minutes, we’ll incorporate side planks, planks, scissor kicks, bicycle crunches, leg raises, and windshield wipers. We’ll constantly change exercises every 30 to 60 seconds so that the core cannot adjust to the exercise. Thus, we produce rapid results.
How Else Can You Create Muscle Confusion?
There are a few other tactics to create muscle confusion that can be modified to fit any workout be it legs, chest, arms, or back. Let’s take a look at the four best ways to create muscle confusion:
1. Keep the Muscles Stressed
By keeping the muscles continuously stressed, they are forced to respond with growth. To achieve continuous stress, simply do not extend and “lock out” the rep. For instance, when doing inclined dumbbell presses. Do not lock out the dumbbell when raised above the head, or keep the dumbbells in a rested position on the chest. Actively move the weight in and out to keep the muscle stress at a maximum.
2. Super Sets and Compound Sets
Super sets and compound sets are great at creating muscle confusion. To start, pick a few exercises. Let’s say bench press, dumbbell incline bench press, and overhead shoulder presses. Then maintain this cycle of working out, one after the other, with no break in-between exercises. Aim for 3 or 4 sets of each exercise in a given amount of time. This is not only great for building muscle, but great for working out while short on time.
3. Alter Your Pauses
When we lift weights, we typically fall into a routine of how we do it. For example, we probably do dumbbell bench presses the exact same way each time we do them. Altering our pauses involves either speeding up our slowing down our normal workout slightly so that it puts a different strain on the muscles. This accomplishes muscle confusion and promotes muscle growth.
4. Change Your Range
Instead of doing those full range dumbbell presses, alternate your form and do a partial dumbbell press. This will target the muscles in a different way than they’re used to being targeted. Extending all the way through the exercise is the common way to lift. But, adding partial reps into your workout is a way to help blast through any potential plateaus.
A Final Word
At the end of the day, muscle confusion is just a fancy way to say “keep the muscles guessing.” Changing the way you perform an exercise, the amount of weight you use, the number of reps and how your muscles are fueled are just some of the ways to create muscle confusion. There’s no one right way to create muscle confusion, but doing it one way or another will keep your muscles guessing and your gains progressing.