The True Meaning Behind "Muscle Confusion"

Is "muscle confusion" real? Learn the truth about this popular workout claim from STACK expert Rob Thompson.

Muscle Confusion

"Muscle confusion" is a popular workout topic on the gym floor and in the media. But the idea that muscles can get "confused" is bogus. It's scientifically impossible. What's implied by the term is that to cause muscles to continually grow and get stronger, athletes require different workouts and exercise variations.

A plethora of workouts are based on "muscle confusion." Although supplemental workouts are necessary for the major muscles to gain size and strength, the small stabilizer muscles are often overlooked. If any of your muscles are underdeveloped, you won't be able to meet your strength, weight and aesthetic goals.

So here's my proposal: perform a number of supplemental exercises that work the same muscles but hit them from different angles. These exercises might "confuse" your muscles into developing more strength.

Performing the same exercises constantly can cause your muscles to become overworked and exhausted. The following are legitimate strategies that athletes use to prevent this from happening:

  • Change the amount of rest time you give your muscles
  • Use dumbbells on the Bench Press instead of an Olympic bar every other week
  • Work your back to ensure proper muscle balance and develop your pectoral muscles

I recommend maintaining a two-week cycle of exercises, then changing your workout. Changing your workout on a regular basis allows you to focus on those underused muscles—the ones that support the major muscle groups and that are necessary not just for muscle gains, but for overall health.

Read about other common training myths debunked.

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