“Muscle Confusion”

September 30, 2013

My take on how to achieve “muscle confusion.”

The Beachbody Corporation has made millions of dollars successfully advertising a very well-known, at-home training system known as the P90X!  Their workouts consisted mainly of basic exercises such as: pull-ups, push-ups, squats, curls, and sit-ups.  However, through genius marketing of the term “muscle confusion” they were able to make consumers believe that “confusing your muscles” and “keeping them guessing” was the way to get results.  In many commercial gyms and training centers across the country many personal trainers will often tell their personal training clients the same thing.  Personal trainers often fear that if their clients are not constantly learning new movements then there really is no need to hire one.

The bottom line is that you do not need to do a million different exercises to confuse your muscles or get results.  If you stick to the same basic exercises and learn to progressively overload you can achieve “muscle confusion” in a simpler way.  For instance, bench press a weight you are able to max on any given day.  Now add 10 more lbs and bench press the heavier weight.  Well now your muscles are “confused.”

Personally, when I train my own clients at Pasadena Strength and Conditioning training center I teach them that increasing intensity is the key to constant results.  You can do a new fancy movement every single day but unless the intensity increases neither will your results.  Thus, the more advanced of an athlete you become the more calories you are able to burn in a shorter amount of time.

If your goal is to increase muscle mass you need to get stronger and consume an adequate amount of calories since muscle size is relative to muscle strength.  Your brain does knows the difference between lifting a 50 pound log and a 50 pound barbell.  However, your muscles do not know the difference and will only change when it is forced to change.  If your goal is weight loss you can choose to reduce your calorie intake until you are eating nearly nothing and your metabolism begins to slow down and enter starvation mode OR you can intelligently lose the weight by proper nutrition and exercising smartly.  Progressive overloading is a great way for your body to increase its ability to burn more fat in a shorter amount of time; you will build muscle while burning body fat.  Most people would probably say the latter is a wiser and more permanent choice against the battle with obesity.  In essence you want to be able to force your body to change through your improved ability to exercise rather than “starve yourself” to death.  My clients, as well as other people I talk to, are often in disbelief when I tell them that a key part to weight loss is actually EATING.

The moral of the story is that you don’t need to jump on a medicine ball and hump it in order to see results.  If you need to burn more body fat and you know that aerobic exercises are great for burning body fat then you just need to increase intensity by running faster or running longer as time goes by to continue to progress.  Increasing intensity is the general rule.

For more information on the science of resistance training and how to properly increase intensity please feel free to contact me for a free orientation at Pasadena Strength and Conditioning in Pasadena, CA or simply any extra information I can provide.

***DISCLAIMER*** Now don’t get me wrong.  P90X is a great system to get people started on losing weight and their fitness journey.  However, after you reach a certain point you would have to learn how to intensify your workout to continue to achieve progress.  Also, it is NOT my point to say that you shouldn’t perform other exercises along with your basic workouts.  It IS my point, however, to state that you don’t need to do the most “intricate” and “advanced” exercises to achieve progress (hence the medicine ball haha).