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The Muscle Confusion Myth

I am sure that most of you have heard of the muscle confusion theories. The idea is to change exercises and set and rep schemes on a regular basis. P90X is a prime example of this. Here are the top 3 quotes I usually hear about muscle confusion:

“You’ve got to change your routine a lot or your muscles will get used to the same one and stop growing.”

“You’ve got to ‘trick’ your muscles and keep them guessing.”

“If muscle growth hits a plateau, you have to ‘shock’ the tissue in order to resume progress.”

These can be written off as ridiculous statements except for one thing: Like all myths and misconceptions, this myth evolved out of a truism that became distorted over time. Muscles CAN become “adaptive” to whatever you throw at them. However, what they become adaptive to is the volume load, NOT the exercise selection or workout sequencing.  So, if the muscles are not adequately “volume overloaded”  and adequately rested between sessions, the will simply stop making progress.

The key point is this: if the muscles are hit with enough intensity during workouts yet recuperation between workouts is inadequate, muscle growth will come to a screeching halt. Conversely, if muscles aren’t hit with sufficient intensity to stimulate ‘volume overload’, progress will likewise cease to exist. 

Muscles are incapable of being “confused”. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but muscles cannot be confused, perplexed, bewildered or even a little befuddled. Despite claims by the advertising industry to convince you otherwise, you cannot “confuse” your way to a better shape. Muscle is merely comprised of contractile tissue made of two proteins-actin and myosin. This makes it pretty simple stuff that will respond nicely to basic principles of “precision overload” and “adequate recuperation“.

Muscles require systematic overloading and recuperation to grow and develop, and just this by itself is one of the strongest arguments to debunk the muscle confusion myth. You can’t just overload your muscles for a week and then shift base to other muscles for the next week. It is a continuous process which needs enough time to overload and then more importantly, recuperate.

Muscle confusion myth is a misconception based on the concept of ‘pump’ in body development. The pump is a temporary phenomenon wherein the person gets a feeling that the muscles have expanded right after the workout. The feeling of a pump is basically a misunderstanding of the sensation which is triggered due to the accumulation of lactic acid and myofibril contraction, which leads to the constriction of blood flow. This in turn triggers a rush of blood into the capillaries of the working muscles making them appear as if they have expanded.
“But hey, wait a minute, my friend knows a guy who said…..” yes, and chances are that guy was probably a novice. It is no great feat to take a sedentary individual and put a little muscle on them, or shed a little fat. You tell me what is easier, putting on that first 5lbs of muscle/ losing the first 5lbs of fat, or gaining the last 5lbs of muscle/losing that last 5lbs of fat?

Changing your routine up continuously can lead to deterioration of the body mass instead of enhancing it. The simplest way to get bigger muscles is a successful lifting regimen for a long period, followed by an adequate recuperation. This will facilitate growth in muscle size and strength.

It’s not bad to change your workout regimes once in a while to get rid of boredom caused by routine. But one has to make sure that these changes are not frequent and won’t hamper your health in any way. Like Rip has stated over and over, You don’t get bigger from lifting weights, you get bigger from recovering from lifting weights.  Believing in muscle confusion won’t do you any favors on your path to success, and is just a shortcut that will lead you to a dead end.



  ( Rippetoe)

-My own common sense


6 thoughts on “The Muscle Confusion Myth

  1. Dude wtf kinda muscle confusion are you talking about.

  2. Read charles poliquin theroy before you start writing garbage.

  3. That’s if you want to get big… if you want to get lean…. another story. Muscle growth happens with any kind of muscular strain, if you are using muscle ‘confusion’ techniques or any other kind of exercise… even if you do enough yoga your muscles will grow, not huge, but there is growth. And ‘confusion’ is just a euphemism to describe the technique in a nutshell, not an exact scientific or biological term.
    Why are people so literal? the whole idea was to get lean while building a bit, and quickly,in the short term, not to achieve massive muscle growth over a long period. There is no problem chucking in a ‘confusion program’ to get a bit leaner whilst maintaining some muscle mass. Just don’t keep doing it forever.

  4. Good luck trying to find muscle confusion on the net, about where the mind and body get confused and your arm doesn’t do what you thought it was going to do…. almost as bad as trying to look up about bad dates the fruit and their best before date or use by date… so much info, that its not possible to find what I really want, “easily”.

    I agree with the article… confusion is one of those things used to promote a new exercise system, which means all those die hard fitness guys, might have an open mind to something different, and hook line and sinker they go for it… if your system is working properly as mentioned in the article… then it works… for you… and you for it… the only confused muscles I have seen turn the tap the wrong way with one of those one handle thingies… 😉

  5. There is so much information available on muscle building and diet nutrition it is becoming confusing. The fact is that most everyone is making things up or talking about what has or is working for them at the moment. The majority of individuals have a hard time relating to or implementing what they learn. The truth is that many of the supplements available do not work and many so called experts including Doctors are lying to us just to keep us paying them. The ultimate fact is that unless you have the same genetic make up as that “hunk” or “brick house” you will never see the same results. On my website is a FREE video that will reveal the TRUE SECRET to solve your issues. Check it out for yourself at:

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