Muscle Confusion


Welcome back! Today we are going to talk about how to ensure that our workouts produce results. The main concept this post is based on is that our body is very efficient in optimizing its ability to handle repetitive tasks.

If you look around in the gym, you may surely find some guys who are not very muscular but are benching heavier weights. Likewise, it is a fact that even people who build muscles in the gym cannot match the construction workers who heft heavy and unwieldy objects over many flights of stairs.

The difference between them is muscle memory, solidification of motor units and neural circuits optimized to do the same task again and again. Another difference is that the gym guy has volume but the construction worker not only has the volume but also strength.

Now let us apply this to our workout routine. We start with Cardio exercises. Most people have a favorite and they gravitate to that equipment to complete their Cardio component. The body in that case is anticipating the activity and can effortlessly complete the routine. Every gym session is aimed at overwhelming the system if you are aiming for building muscle and strength. Therefore, three months of Treadmill cardio is not going to produce any incremental gains. You need to do a different cardio every session. One day could be the rowing machine, the other could be the elliptical and so on but never the same on two consecutive days. Mix and match and surprise the system daily.

Now when it comes to your exercise routines, initially when you start with 12 reps what happens is that your body enables the brain to develop nerve circuits to recruit more muscle fibers. This is the initial benefit of low weight, high rep sets. The gains will stop as soon as the body gets used to the routine. That is why for the first three months, every work out session uses a different exercise to target the same muscle group in order to confuse the muscle and prod it to improve to handle the task thrown at it.

Low weight, high rep sets are also known to give you a pump – a term used to describe the temporary puffing up of muscles. These sets also initiate a condition called hypertrophy that enables the muscles to grow in volume. This volume of muscle will support incremental tasks.

High weight, low rep sets performed with weights that you can not complete more than 3 reps are called strength building reps. The muscle hypertrophy gives volume that is trained for strength with the low rep sets.

Keeping the muscles guessing by changing between exercises, reps and intensity ensures that the body is always receptive for growth. Even while mixing up the exercises, it is still possible to introduce further muscle confusion by changing the reps and the tempo. For example, you could periodically switch to a pyramid method where you start with 12 reps and reduce 2 reps until you reach 6 reps. Then you can go the other way round by starting with a lighter weight from 6 reps, increasing by 2 reps until you reach 12 reps.

Bottom line, try to mix up your exercises, reps , tempo etc and introduce variety in your workouts in order to maximize you gains and keep improving.


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