The Importance Of Muscle Confusion When Training
If you train, you may have heard some people talk about “muscle confusion”, which can be pretty confusing in itself. What is muscle confusion, why is it important for building muscle mass, and how can you do it? This is the answer to all these questions.
What is Muscle Confusion?
Essentially, muscle confusion is about changing up your exercise regimen, using different muscles in different ways so that your body doesn’t become used to one set of exercises. You may have heard of muscle memory: once you’ve learnt how to ride a bike, you’re body never forgets how to steer, balance and peddle at the same time. It’s easy to fall into a pattern and do your exercises without thinking about it, but this can impact muscle development.
Muscle confusion works because your body has evolved to adapt to its environment. Survival of the fittest is about adaptive fitness, rather than any specific trait. An animal that can adapt to new challenges or different environments is more likely to thrive and carry on the next generation. This is good for the human species because it means humans have been able to survive this long. But it can be annoying at the gym because your muscles can quickly adapt to exercise, meaning that exercise reaches a plateau where increased exercise fails to yield significant gains. Muscle confusion allows you to break through this plateau and achieve your full fitness potential.
How to Confuse Your Muscles
You can vary your exercise plan in a number of different ways. Using different exercises uses different sets of muscles and means your body has to learn a wide variety of movements. You could do squats one day and lunges the next. You can also vary your set and rep schemes, the number of times you repeat an exercise and the cycles of reps you do. So you could do ten sets of six pushups one day, six sets of ten the next. You can also vary the kinds of equipment you use, such as the bars or grips that you use for weight lifting. Make sure you take regular rest periods, which you can also vary to break up your exercise periods differently. Here are some techniques for muscle confusion that you can try for yourself.
The idea here is simple. Do a few reps, then rest for a few seconds and continue with a few more reps. When you rest, the way you breath and carry oxygen to your muscles changes. The rest-pause technique will give your muscles an aerobic and anaerobic workout.
Avoid the lockout portion of an exercise. This means not fully extending your legs at the top of a squat, or fully extending your arms at the top of a pushup. This will prevent you from putting pressure on your joints and give your muscles an extra workout.
Do a short version of the exercise, instead of the full motion. So do a half crunch rather than a full one. This will ensure that your exercises don’t become automatic.
This is for the hardcore training enthusiast. Try doing a number of exercises without break. You can perform exercises that use opposing muscle groups for an overall workout, or a set of exercises that focus on one specific muscle group.