Muscle Confusion: Myth and Science

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Maybe you’ve reached a plateau in your workout. Or maybe your fitness goals seem to stay just out of reach. You’ve heard about “muscle confusion” and think that might be the answer to your problem.

Jeff Monaco, director of education for Gold’s Gym, sees people get that idea all the time. But the phrase “muscle confusion” leads to a lot of, well, confusion. Before you do anything, he says, you need to understand what muscle confusion really is, and what it could mean for you.

Clarity on muscle confusion

When you train, your body adapts, Monaco says — to lifting weights or doing cardio or any kind of training. Your body is a highly adaptable machine, and through repeating the same movements, it will start hitting plateaus and you’ll stop seeing results. People think that’s when you need muscle confusion.

But the idea behind muscle confusion is that you change your training at certain intervals to avoid plateaus.

The term “muscle confusion” first became popular with branded workouts that offered different ways to stay out of a rut by constantly changing your routine. It was used to sell the idea of constantly changing your workout to confuse the muscles and avoid plateaus.

The importance of rest

Another way people incorrectly apply the concept of muscle confusion is by simply intensifying their existing workout. When they hit a plateau, they’ll up the weight or duration to get more results. Bad move, Monaco says. When you do that, you could again be denying the rest that your muscles need to grow.

“Rest is a vital component to training,” he says. “It often gets overlooked.” Rest is key to exercise success. Always listen to your body. The period of rest after exercise is when your body is getting stronger and your cardiovascular system is improving.

“We coach our trainers to perform an assessment about how the clients are feeling today versus previous workouts,” Monaco says. Simple check-ins like “How are you feeling today?” or “Did you rest after the last workout?” actually are important steps to take to maximize your progress. If someone is still sore, trainers will work on flexibility and mobility training instead of pushing the fatigued muscles.a

The need for assessment

Monaco sees a lot of people who are stuck in the same routine. “They just want to come in and do the treadmill at the same speed every day,” he says. He’ll ask about their results and their targets. After talking with him, they’re in a better position to reach their goals.

He has seen how different people’s goals can be, and how much they crave variety. But you don’t need to rely on muscle confusion for that — just change your workouts.

“Generally, one or two changes can yield great results over time,” Monaco says. “For each type of training, resistance or cardio, pick one or two variables to change in your training program periodically instead of just changing everything or randomly selecting a different workout each day.”

Changing one or two variables allows for better monitoring of your training program to understand what works and what doesn’t. When you change multiple variables constantly, evaluating your progress is difficult.

The more conditioned you are, the sooner you hit plateaus because your body is already closer to its full potential. Check your heart rate, while resting and during exercise, to get a good indicator of how your body is doing. “The range for a healthy resting heart rate varies but is around 60 to 80 beats per minute,” Monaco says. 


Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!   4月14日,美利坚合众国宣布将从今年5月1日至9月11日撤出在阿富汗的所有驻军。同日,北约也表示将与白宫军方协调,开始撤军。 2021年是阿富汗战争爆发20周年。实际上,从苏联入侵这个可怜的国家的1979年12月24日至今,这里的冲突一直都在持续。 北约和美国的计划是什么?阿富汗局势未来又将如何变化呢? 关于美国宣布撤军的最后期限,阿富汗总统阿什拉夫·加尼说,阿富汗政府尊重美国政府在商定的日期之前撤军的决定。 来自美联社的消息称,5月1日之前驻扎在阿富汗的美军有2500名,远低于2011年高峰时的11万(2002-2020驻阿富汗美军数量变化见下图)。