I’m sure you’ve heard it before, whether it was on a forum, from a personal trainer (don’t get me started) from your training buddy or even in an article on a popular fitness website.
“You need to change up your routine every week to keep your muscles guessing”
“Shock the body and switch up your exercises often”
“You’ll stop making gains because the body will get used to the exercises you’re doing”
That my friends, for lack of a better word is a load of crap.
I’m not entirely sure how this myth came to fruition although I do suspect it was initially pushed out by fitness magazines, in an attempt to keep their readers coming back month after month to get new workouts so they can keep progressing… supposedly.
Last time I checked our muscles don’t have cognitive abilities…
Your body doesn’t know if you’re doing an incline dumbbell press or an incline barbell press, so why would it refuse to grow?
Because you’re not progressing…
Your muscles are forced to adapt (read: grow, become stronger) as the tension on the muscle increases. In order to increase tension on the muscle we need to apply progressive overload. Progressive overload can be achieved in a variety of ways including increasing the amount of reps you are performing, the weight you are lifting or the volume you are doing per workout.
Here’s an example of progressive overload for you:
Did you hit 315lbs for 3 sets of 4 on your deadlift last week?
If so, the following week you be aiming to either:
- Perform 315lbs for 3 sets of 5
- Perform 315lbs for 4 sets of 4
- Perform 340lbs for 3 sets of 4
As you can see regardless of which option you choose out of the 3 above you will be increasing the tension on your muscles.
Do you see where the problem is with constantly changing your routine now?
If you’re performing different exercises on a weekly basis you won’t be able to track progression, are you applying the same tension to the muscle now that you are performing concentration curls as you were when you were performing preacher curls?
Thus progressive overload cannot be applied.
I hope this post has helped you understand that ‘muscle confusion’ is nothing but a myth. I will outline when you should change your routine in a future post.
How often have you been changing your routine? Do you record your workouts to track progression?
Let me know in the comments below!