Muscle Confusion – What is it and does it work?
Muscle confusion is the idea that by constantly changing your workouts you “confuse” your muscles and thereby increase the stimulation and resulting adaptation.
Does it work? Well, yes and no. Here is the dilemma – It takes the body about six weeks to fully adapt to a new exercise (we can also say movement). By adapt we mean the ability to perform the action as efficiently as possible. So if you constantly change the exercises and have no prior experience to these movements then you are compromising the absorption of the training stimuli. BUT, if you take the same exercises and work them for a period 8-12 weeks the body now has become efficient in the movement and will “remember” the exercise/movement with a high degree of efficiency.
So, this is how I would utilize muscle confusion in training. Take new exercises and work them for 8-12 weeks, but within that 8-12 weeks change up the sets, reps and loads. You see, by changing those parameters you are in effect creating the muscle confusion for greater stimulation. Then once these exercises/movements become ingrained in the body you can start to change your workouts with greater frequency without compromising adaptation.
New exercises – muscle confusion through changes in sets, reps and loads.
Old (known) exercises – muscle confusion through greater variety in programming.