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The Benefits of Muscle Confusion

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

benefits of muscle confusion

Story at-a-glance -

  • A study sought to ascertain whether randomizing exercises and repetitions produces better results than a traditional weight training program composed of a fixed set of exercises and repetitions
  • Many believe “confusing” your muscles by varying your exercises from one session to the next forces adaptation to constantly changing demands, thus improving growth and strength and allowing you to avoid training plateaus
  • There was virtually no difference in strength and muscle size between the two groups. The only difference between the two groups was their motivation to work out. Those whose workouts varied from one session to the next reported greater levels of motivation, which can improve adherence
  • There are instances in which you might want to limit the variety of your exercises. To maximize muscle building, a conventional, fixed training program may actually be a better bet, as too-frequent rotation of exercises can compromise muscle growth and strength
  • To improve motivation when doing a fixed strength training program, consider varying your weekly cardio session and/or adding or changing some of your isolated muscle exercises. Other suggestions for improving your motivation are also reviewed

I've often stated that, for optimal health and fitness, you need diversity in your fitness routine — something that challenges your body in different ways. A study in the December 2019 issue of PLOS ONE sought to ascertain whether randomizing exercises and repetitions produces better results than a traditional weight training program comprised of a fixed set of exercises and repetitions.

The idea is that by "confusing" your muscles by varying your exercises from one session to the next, they're forced to adapt to constantly changing demands, thus improving growth and strength, and allowing you to avoid training plateaus. As noted by the authors:


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