"Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

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bpc
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"Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby bpc » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:05 pm

I hear many people say that variety in lifting is needed in order to prevent overuse injuries and also to prevent adaptation/law of diminishing returns. P90X's main thing (not a follower or promoting it at all but not bashing it either although the marketing is hilarious to me) is "muscle confusion." My ART (active release technique) practitioner also talks about "switching up my exercises, routine" etc.

However, I think I've read some of MacCharles's posts where he says that variety is kinda overated if I interpreted him correctly.

Can you elaborate on this topic? I'm just trying to learn that's all. I mean should one be doing the same exercises each workout or changing them up often, etc?

Honestly, I've been trying to be more consistent lately and sticking to a general plan and it's been working pretty good overall. The only adjustments I've been making have been adding weight, volume, frequency when needed/desired, etc to "force my body to get stronger, faster, etc"




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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby Diak » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:13 pm

They way I understand it, is that you don't have to change your whole routine every few weeks. You just have to change certain variables, like increasing the reps, increasing the weight, doing more sets, lifting the weight faster, complete the routine in less time etc etc.
That's also why I think that keeping a training log is so important.

Many people make constant gains with just the basic exercises, and personally, I think it's stupid to completely change your routine, that is: changing all your current exercises with new ones. Of course you always have to train according to your goals.

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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby alexjones234 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:17 pm

since your adding weight i think its ok since your making the exercise more challenging and a new stimilus is present. i dont think you need to change things up too often either. i like to make minor adjustments after about 2-3 months.

- i either change one or two exercises.
- change the grip (wide grip pull-up becomes close grip)
- or, if i like what im doing il keep the same exercises and just change the order of them.

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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby Metherlance » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:31 pm

Something as seemingly insignificant as changing your lifting tempo would also change your entire workout and force your body to adapt. There are so many things you can change, like adding 2 reps per set, adding an extra set, changing the tempo, changing your grip, increasing the weight, switching a BB for a DB - so many things and the best part is; you only need to change one thing at a time, and only really when you start to plateau.
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bpc
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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby bpc » Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:44 pm

Yeah sounds good guys. That's pretty much what I'm doing. Keeping the same basic program going (strength and conditioning) but adding either reps, or weight or frequency, etc. Also trying to build up/progress a little more gradually (i.e. squat 185 instead of 165 rather than going from 165 to 225) etc.

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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby albinofreak620 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:19 pm

My opinion is that "muscle confusion" basically is appealing to people who don't understand the basic concept of progressive overload, which honestly is incredibly common. A lot of people go to the gym and run the same distance on the treadmill at the same pace and lift the same weight, and so on and so forth day after day for a month or so and then wonder why they aren't getting anywhere. Saying that you only get so far and then you plateau and the way around this is by muscle confusion is a nice way to avoid having to lift heavier, get more reps, run harder, or otherwise push yourself harder.
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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby chezza » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:24 pm

I think its mental more than anything. Its good to do something completely different every now and then, mostly because its fun and gets us out of the rigmarole. This is true in the weights room as it is in life.

I think small tweeks to your program should be somewhat regular. I.e. change of grip on a particular exercise - every couple of months, as needed.
changes to sets/ reps/ weight should be changin all the time to accomodate getting stronger!
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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby Salto » Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:45 pm

I think for me the distinction I draw in my mind is between "muscle confusion" on the one hand, and good old-fashioned plateau-fighting techniques on the other. "Muscle confusion" is a term made common (and coined?) by P90X. Now P90X is a fine general fitness approach that has helped very many people get into fine shape -- but it's also geared towards a broader audience that is as much in pursuit of "a little bit of everything" gains as anything else. Muscle confusion ala P90X feels different to me than what (say) Westside barbell does to ensure forward progression in advanced athletes, or what Ross does.

I have goals, I try to relentlessly progress until I hit them and then set new goals, I don't do muscle confusion but I do use a variety of techniques to speed my forward progress.

None of which is a slam on P90X, people who do it are in much better shape than the average westerner. But my goals are my own, not an averaged-out set that applies to everyone, so I pursue them using better-suited techniques. If I found my goals and abilities perfectly coinciding with P90X's, I might give their methods a try.

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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby JWright » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:25 pm

Salto wrote:I think for me the distinction I draw in my mind is between "muscle confusion" on the one hand, and good old-fashioned plateau-fighting techniques on the other. "Muscle confusion" is a term made common (and coined?) by P90X. Now P90X is a fine general fitness approach that has helped very many people get into fine shape -- but it's also geared towards a broader audience that is as much in pursuit of "a little bit of everything" gains as anything else. Muscle confusion ala P90X feels different to me than what (say) Westside barbell does to ensure forward progression in advanced athletes, or what Ross does.

I have goals, I try to relentlessly progress until I hit them and then set new goals, I don't do muscle confusion but I do use a variety of techniques to speed my forward progress.

None of which is a slam on P90X, people who do it are in much better shape than the average westerner. But my goals are my own, not an averaged-out set that applies to everyone, so I pursue them using better-suited techniques. If I found my goals and abilities perfectly coinciding with P90X's, I might give their methods a try.


Good post.

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Re: "Muscle confusion, variety, etc" is it necessary?

Postby Dovienya » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:26 pm

Variety is necessary, but it's a fairly vague term. There are movement patterns you'll always want to stick to and not venture far away from, but there's plenty of room for variety there.

IMO you want to squeeze the most out of a given exercise that you can before switching it. So lift until you stall, maybe deload a bit, and keep on doing this until progress slows greatly or stops. At that point maybe switch the rep range (usually drop it a bit lower) and keep on trucking. Once that stalls you can try going back to the original rep range or some other such variable change that isn't the exercise being done. After that, maybe switch to something similar e.x. Squat -> Box Squat. This is a bit of a change, but nothing huge. Do something similar, bounce between the two or whatever. If you feel that you're really stalling, make a more dramatic change: try Front Squats or something. Also, changing assistance exercises can work just as well without having to change the main one. If you're absolutely getting nowhere with any of this, do something crazy to shock your system for a few weeks.

So, in my opinion:
0) Give it some time, make sure you're eating and sleeping well and see if you just need a few weeks
1) Adjust assistance work if you have any
2) Deload and keep going
3) Manipulate sets/reps/tempo
4) Switch to very similar exercise (e.x. barbell bench press -> close-grip bench press)
5) Switch to different exercise with a very similar movement pattern (e.x. dumbbell bench press)
6) Switch to a quite different exercise (weighted dips, ring pushups, etc.)
7) Shock your system some how (high frequency, volume, or both [think the 4-week Smolov beginning cycle], do something you've never done before [heavy eccentrics, isometrics, etc.], or something like that)

EDIT: essentially you want to come back to your main exercise in the long run and always strive to improve it. I think what MacCharles is getting at is that there's no reason to change things willy-nilly and that some people get so caught up in switching exercises that they never come back to their original one and thus don't really make any progress with any exercise that they do.


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