Opinion: “When Muscle Confusion” is a Good Thing

One of the biggest scams in the fitness industry is the idea of selling programs to deliberately “confuse” your muscles, which will magically incinerate fat and spur muscle growth. The reality of these programs on late night infomercials is that the people making and marketing them have no idea what the hell they’re doing in terms of programming and progressing an exercise routine. Instead, they just throw a bunch of random exercises together and change them on a daily basis.

The sad thing is that this works because it leaves people sore, tired, and beaten up, which many take to mean a good workout. Working out like this is a whole different issue, but I digress. The reason I want to bring this up is because I want to discuss the lone exception when “muscle confusion” is a GOOD thing.

Recently, I’ve been having a tough time finding the motivation to workout with the frequency and intensity that I had in the past. There are a few reasons for this like the time of the year (no more summer bod required), lack of training goals (competition or sport), and unfortunately, a general lack of fun during training. As a result of this I’ve just been going through the motions and doing the bare minimum so that I don’t feel like a pile of crap.

So I decided to change up my training from what I have become comfortable with and do things that I haven’t done in a while. I started to incorporate more plyometric and explosive movements into my workouts, and lo’ and behold, I found myself having fun again and feeling energized at the end of my new workouts.

This is when the whole “muscle confusion” thing is great. I lacked the motivation to continually push myself, so I changed something to get it back.

The reality is that the most effective means to progress in fitness isn’t sexy. The majority of the time, consistency with the basics will yield the greatest results. It’ll inevitably get old, even for those who love the process. My “confusing” my muscles was simply altering my program and doing things I haven’t for a while. It wasn’t a secret way to burn more fat or build some muscle overnight, and it sure as hell wasn’t about doing dangerous movements that may lead to injury.

In the end, “muscle confusion” should be seen as a way to spur some motivation and excitement in your fitness routine, but not at the expense of what works best.

by Dan Cerone