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What is Muscle Confusion?

What is muscle confusion? If that's the question you've been asking, this story should help. Take a look at why there's such a furore over an exercise routine.
Tilottama Chatterjee Jul 22, 2020
In the world of exercise routines and workouts, where there are enough theories regarding wonder routines, each touting muscle gain and fat loss, it's little wonder that every new discovery is treated with equal amounts of fervor and scorn.
There is considerable debate about the benefits of muscle confusion - some fitness gurus claim it's the best thing after protein shakes, while there's another school of thought that trashes it totally.
So, it may cause confusion for the uninitiated, who has little idea what the whole brouhaha is about anyway. To sort out the muddle, let's begin by figuring out the answer to, "What is muscle confusion?"

Muscle Confusion Explained

It is a workout method that incorporates cross training and progressive cycling of exercise routines over specific time frames, through a method of switching between sets of routines to prevent the body from adaptation, resulting in continual improvement without plateaus.
In the simplest way possible, this is explained by the following - in a typical workout routine, initial results are good, and there are rapid changes in your body; after a point, you hit a plateau, wherein your body adapts to the new workout and muscle gain slows.
Muscle confusion workouts focus on not allowing your body to adapt - in a sense 'confusing' muscles, with rapid and continuous changes in routine. It also deals with what is called volume overload with sufficient rest - continuous increase in resistance that you use in each set of exercises, interspersed with periods of rest to allow muscles to recuperate.

Workouts for Men

The workout routines alternate strength training with cardio exercises, thereby not allowing the body to adapt to a given set of exercises. There are a number of advantages that muscle confusion workouts offer - apart from avoiding the dreaded plateau, they also prevent boredom by the same sets of exercises performed day after day.
In addition, by alternating strength and weight training with cardio exercises, it allows muscle groups to recuperate between two sessions of weight training.
The muscle confusion workout has been popularized to a large extent due to the P90X Workout Routine - a 90 day workout program, which is a rigorous strength training program alternating with cardio that is touted to greatly improve physical fitness, when used in conjunction with a set 3-month nutrition plan.

The Myth

The main premise that gives rise to the concept of muscle confusion being a myth is the view that increase in muscle mass arises by a continuous process of increased resistance and overloading, alternating with periods of adequate rest - on the same set of muscles.
While muscle confusion does include volume overload, it also focuses on exercising different sets of muscles - the main bone of contention for those who trash the concept as a myth. Muscle mass increases by a cyclic process - overloading that causes tissues to 'break' while recuperation allows mass to expand.
There is however a good deal of evidence that suggests that workout routines like the P90X workout schedule, that are based on muscle confusion do actually work. Muscle confusion workout routines for women also exist, which allow you to focus on toning and lean muscle mass, in place of bulky muscles.
When understanding the concept of muscle confusion and whether or not it will work for you, there is no doubt that if nothing else, it's unlikely to do you harm, and is in fact a great way to keep your workouts fun.