Confusion Principle - Changing Workout Routines
For Muscle Confusion & Growth
of the most basic, and most important of the training principles,
is the muscle confusion training principle. This principle is all
about ensuring you have a variety in your workouts. This will be
a variety of sets, reps, exercises, rest periods, etc. It is also
important to train the muscle from the most efficient position,
in which it has the greatest mechanical advantage and stress.
It remains critically important to supplement those
exercises with others utilizing various angles for certain exercises.
Muscles should never be allowed to accommodate to an exercise to
the point where the exercise is ineffective and doesn't result in
hypertrophy or the goal you were looking for. This variety will
improve your motivation, keep you mentally fresh, and keep your
A training principle that states that muscles accommodate
to a specific type of stress (habituate or plateau, also called
homeostasis) when the same stress is continually applied to the
muscles over time, there one must constantly vary exercises, sets,
reps and weight to avoid accommodation.
The body should never be allowed to accommodate to
an exercise to the point where the exercise is ineffective and results
are no longer seen. Integrating variety also improves motivation,
keeps one mentally fresh, and allows muscles to continually adapt.
Muscle confusion works best for general physical preparedness programs
or for breaking out of a plateau during conventional periodization-based
With traditional programs that are planned around
specific cycles, overloads, etc., it is possible to change a workout
too frequently to experience optimal performance. In cases where
the goal is hypertrophy or absolute strength, it is recommended
to only use muscle confusion when the body habituates.
reduce body fat, inevitably you need to take in fewer calories than
you expend. The timeless energy expenditure factor dictates that
the less you eat, the more you lose. No one is saying this is the
only factor, but the fact is, it is a factor. This is one essential
obvious rule of thumb to burning away that layer of subcutaneous
fat. It is a simple fact that if you were to consume too many calories,
then your body has no need to dip into its emergency reserves of
fat for energy.
Dropping your calorie intake below what your body
needs on a daily basis will result in fat loss, as there is too
little energy coming in, so your body needs to take energy from
somewhere to function, and that is all your fat really is, i.e.,
Your body will adapt over time, and the only way to
get a further reduction in body fat will be to reduce calories again.
Eventually, you reduce calories so much that energy levels suffer,
training quality decreases and muscle loss increases. And this is,
of course, disastrous. You end up wasting away and become primed
to achieve the exact opposite of what you set out to achieve. This
means that as soon as calories increase you increase in all the
ways you don't want to by becoming fatter and fatter and fatter
than before. All of the diets you read about on this web site are
aimed to counteract this effect. The method described below is one
very successful method to trick the body out of this adaptive response.
Adaptation to Environmental Stimulus
What follows is the adaptation process your body follows to protect
its fat reserves in an attempt to maintain the status quo. However,
this program is designed to limit the body's ability to adapt to
a new regular, and typically low on a standard fat loss diet, by
confusing it. Rather than reducing calories constantly, it's based
on a rotating level of calories, so that your body is never felt
in a constant state of calorie reduction.
It is only when you expose your body to a lack of
calories for an extended time period that it rebels against your
efforts to shed fat, and adapts. Why does it do this and how?
Of course, your body wants to retain as much fat as
possible, since this is the essential emergency energy that it has
for survival. If you were ever placed into a state or environment
of famine, this would make sense. But, don't forget people used
to live in a world, where food was scarcer and it had to be hunted
and foraged. Man was never able to be gluttonous of greedy on hamburgers
and apple pie in the wild, and man was far more active than watching
TV, surfing the net or standing on the sidelines of life.
So this is actually what your body is primed and programmed
for; periods of feeding and periods of famine. During famine periods
your body is primed to excel at the function of retaining fat, and
getting fatter as soon as more food arrived, to survive the next
famine period. You, as a body builder or athlete, want to get as
far from this scenario as possible, except the 'being active' part.
Now we know your body adapts. It can only trigger
an adaptive response like this, specifically when it is exposed
to the necessary stimulus over a certain period of time. We also
know that under eating burns off excess body fat. Now the cyclic
principle of this diet can be incorporated into any of the other
fat loss programs to further enhance its effect.
Putting It Together
specifically, this program takes three different calorie levels
that average out a little below maintenance level. By using a different
calorie level each day your body never gets into a position where
it adapts to being under fed, consequently you can make consistent
body fat loss over a longer period of time.
What Can I Expect To See?
From this particular type of diet you will notice sustained and
long term fat loss, without any energy dips or mood swings. Your
body should be primed for regular weight loss on the scales of around
1 - 2 pounds per week.
Doing the same routine week after week results in
familiarity, which equates to physiologic boredom. You then reach
a training plateau. You know you've plateaued when you're no longer
excited about going to the gym; you're no longer excited about doing
a certain set of exercises, and you may even feel slow and sluggish
in general. For all intents and purposes, you've plateaued.
In the worst case scenario you will experience minor injuries,
including strains and sprains that may result from continuing to
do the same exercise routine once you've reached a plateau.
The best case scenario is that you notice you're starting to get
bored and you introduce a new set of routines. You're using the
Muscle Confusion Principle. The immediate result is renewed interest
and excitement; your whole body wakes up and you start enjoying
the process once again as you start to make new strength gains.
A powerful approach is to design a weekly strength training routine
that includes three or four radically different days. With such
an approach, you're entire week is one giant set of Muscle Confusion
activities. You could easily maintain such a schedule for your entire
12-week strength training cycle.
After 12 weeks you move onto a completely different 12-week cycle,
focusing on an entirely different form of training. This is true
Muscle Confusion. Of course, the principle applies to all fitness
activities, including aerobic exercise and core exercises.
By cycling or changing your training program every four weeks,
your muscles cannot become used to the exercises. This forces your
muscles to grow quicker than with any other training method. That
is why the confusion principle is such an exciting training concept.
One way to use the confusion principle is to vary the exercises.
For example, if you were doing a barbell incline chest press, you
could use a hammer strength incline machine one week and then the
following week you could do a dumbbell incline press. While you're
still working the upper chest muscles, you're hitting them from
a different angle and this will stimulate new muscle growth.
By actively implementing the confusion principle you're guaranteeing
yourself consistent results in your fitness and resistance training
Here are three tips to help you in using the muscle confusion
your exercises every four weeks.
- Use free weights, cables or resistance
- Vary the repetitions and the number of sets you use.
By following these three tips you will get the Maximum Results
from your strength training workouts. Use the muscle confusion principle
in your training program and remember the three most important components
of gaining muscle size:
- Proper rest
- Proper nutrition
- Hard training
Make sure you include these three components in your muscle building
goals. In doing so you will guarantee fast muscle growth and the
body that you are really attempting to achieve.
Regardless of whether you want to gain maximum muscle size or lose
body fat or both, the correct exercise equipment, training routine
and nutritional program are essential.
Richard A. DiCenso