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Muscle Confusion: Myth or Fact?
Should you change your workout routine to challenge your muscles? The science isn’t definitive. Learn the truth about muscle confusion from your trusted friends at Jack City Fitness.
Feeling confused about muscle confusion? You are certainly not the only one! Our partners ask us about this fitness trend all the time; while it’s gained a lot of traction within the fitness community, many athletes are left feeling confused. With little scientific research to back up the claims about muscle confusion, it’s easy to wonder whether it is a true athletic breakthrough or just a fad.
Many people claim that a muscle confusion workout routine can help athletes beat dreaded plateaus and allow even the most practiced lifters a true challenge, leading to bigger gains and increased strength. But while the muscle confusion principle has been in discussion for a decade, it has yet to gain any real proof to back it up.
In recent years, more light has been shed on the topic of muscle confusion—and your friends at Jack City Fitness wanted to learn the truth. If, like us, you are curious (and maybe a little baffled) about muscle confusion, we are here to share what we discovered!
What Is Muscle Confusion?
The muscle confusion principle makes a lot of sense. The concept is as such: when an athlete performs the same workout routines over and over again, their muscles will adapt and plateau—no fun! Working hard and seeing no change or results is both frustrating and demotivating, and sometimes leads to burnout.
It makes sense that athletes who struggle to gain size and strength after a certain point, even if they lift heavier weights, would seek a helpful solution—and on paper, muscle confusion seems perfect. Enthusiasts say that by introducing an ever-changing series of exercises to workout routines, the body will be forced to continuously adapt to new movements. This means no plateaus and bigger gains.
It’s an enticing claim. Who wouldn’t want to find a hack to better results? Many athletes have changed their entire workout style because of it, and trust us, we wanted to believe it, too. However, the truth is less exciting: The muscle confusion principle does not actually seem to be scientifically true.
How Does Muscle Confusion Work to Break a Fitness Plateau?
The short answer? Engaging in a muscle confusion workout routine will not break your fitness plateau, at least not physically. The longer answer? Although you cannot confuse your muscles into better gains, the concept still has value and can contribute to conquering a plateau.
In a 2019 study, the popular theory was put to the test by a group of international researchers. In this study, 19 men, all in good health and with basic lifting experience, were divided into two groups. The first group spent eight weeks performing the same workout routine (upper and lower-body exercises) with increasing weight loads. The second group also spent eight weeks working out, but they used an app that provided them with a different combination of fitness routines for every gym session.
After comparing the results of the two groups, the researchers found a disappointing but clear conclusion: an incredibly varied workout routine will not confuse muscles into better gains. After eight weeks, the two groups both achieved very similar results in terms of new strength and muscle growth.
Despite this result, the researchers also found proof that a highly varied workout routine benefitted athletes, even if it did not actually confuse their muscles into gaining more. Instead, the study showed that the athletes who engaged in the muscle confusion-style workout maintained significantly higher motivation levels than the athletes who stuck to the same routine for two months.
Working Out Different Muscles Every Day: Is It Still a Good Idea?
Yes! Although there has not been much scientific proof that a muscle confusion workout routine works, there are still benefits to a varied workout. In the previously mentioned 2019 study, researchers found that participants who used the muscle confusion app to vary their routine were better motivated to hit the gym than their heavily-routined counterparts.
It seems that, although muscles can’t get bored of a workout, the mind can. You might find that it is easier to maintain healthy habits if your regular workouts are varied and change regularly. The folks who ran and authored the study agree; according to co-author Brad Schoenfield, “The differences in motivation scores at the end were substantial … variety matters.”
Our takeaway from this? The muscle confusion myth is just that—a false claim. When it comes to utilizing this method to increase your muscle size and power, we can’t recommend it.
However, we definitely can recommend developing a varied workout routine to keep your motivation levels high. By persevering with your workout, even when you have hit a plateau, you will have a much better chance of seeing the results you crave.
This does not mean you need to perform an entirely different selection of workouts every time you hit the gym, either. We believe that balance and some consistency are important. So, introduce variety into your workouts, but give your muscles time to adapt to exercises. It might be handy to work with a fitness coach to develop a varied routine that works for your goals. Personal coaching is a great way to learn about your individual fitness style!
Find Your Best Workout Style
Ready to introduce some variety to your workout and bring your motivation to the next level? With the help of one of our elite fitness coaches, you can get to know your own body, find your fitness style, and create a custom workout routine that takes your goals and turns them into results.
At Jack City Fitness, our partners get VIP treatment. With 24/7 gym access, a host of exciting workout classes, beautiful equipment, and the best coaches in Boise, we have everything an athlete needs to succeed. If you are ready to join the fun, get in touch with our team by calling (208) 999-1111. We’ll invite you to visit our gym for a FREE fitness consultation, tour, and a chance to meet our amazing team. Once you have signed up, you will have instant gym access, and the possibilities are endless.
We can’t wait to meet you!