Your Muscles Aren’t Confused, You Are
- DAN NORTH
- Muscle Build Tips
I was in high school when P90X burst into the scene. It was right before I started going to the gym and lifting weights and was the first (and last) time I ever tried using a workout DVD. If it sounds like I’m shitting on it, I’m not. I actually loved it.
It gave me structure, guidance, and introduced me to a lot of new exercises I’ve never done before, which kept the workouts interesting. One of the selling points of the workouts was the whole “muscle confusion” craze (as if your muscles get mind fucked when you do something different). The general concept was that by doing something different every day, your muscles don’t have the opportunity to adapt and “get bored” of your workouts.
Now, there’s nothing technically bad or wrong with this way of thinking. It’s true, your muscles need to be challenged in new ways in order to continually grow and get stronger. If you do the same stuff over and over again, how can you expect to get any better?
The issues start to creep in when you abuse this training concept and use a completely randomized approach to your workouts.
Doing something different for the sake of doing something different doesn’t equal results. A 4-year-old can put together a random workout every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be effective.
That’s the thing about doing stuff just for the sake of doing stuff. Your workouts end up contradicting each other, rather than complimenting each other. When your workouts are treated like building blocks to obtain the bigger picture, this is where results are manifested. Otherwise, you’re trying to drive to your destination with no road map. Or you maybe you do have a map, but you choose to ignore it.
The issues with trying to “confuse your muscles” by randomly selecting your workouts, without any form of structure or plan, is:
1. There’s no progressive overload
Progressive overload is a fancy trainer term for adding resistance to your workouts as you progress through your program. By overloading your muscles with greater resistance, whether its lifting heavier weights or adding isometric/eccentric loading to your exercises or whatever, you’re effectively making them work harder. By progressively putting greater demands on your muscles, you’re forcing them to adapt to something they haven’t done before. This is how you get stronger.
Trying to “confuse your muscles” by randomly selecting your workouts with little to no thought or consideration put into progressive overload is in my humble opinion, kind of a waste of time. I mean, you want to get results, right? Why else would you be working out?
Yeah, a lot of us blow off steam and manage stress through exercise, and a lot of us (myself included) just love training.
But wouldn’t you want to see the fruits of your labour? Wouldn’t you want all your hard work in the gym to actually mean something outside of the gym? Wouldn’t you want to feel better and not walk around all day wondering why you feel like a complete bag of shit?
2. There’s no consideration to you and your body
That “influencer” you follow and that workout you see on Pinterest both have something in common: they look good on screen but usually don’t provide much substance or value.
They also have no fucking clue who you are or what your goals are, how long you’ve been training, or if you have any current or pre-existing injuries.
It would be lame and pretty arrogant to say that you can’t find any value out of these free workouts you find online, because at the end of the day, something is better than nothing (usually). But if the vast majority of your workouts come from free, random sources you find online or happen to come across while you’re scrolling IG…and you’re wondering why you’re not seeing the results you want…there’s a reason.
It’s like trying to solve a 10,000 piece puzzle. Every day you put 100 pieces together, and at the end of each day you take it apart, starting over from scratch the next day. This is a very time-consuming and stressful way to go about your training.
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3. There’s no concept of recovery
Without recovery, you don’t have results. You know this, but maybe you needed a refresher. Most people push their way through their workouts, with little to no consideration of recovery.
Let’s get one thing straight.
You will not, by any stretch of the imagination, get the results you’re looking for (whether it’s getting stronger, building muscle or riding a fucking unicorn) if you don’t incorporate recovery into your routine.
So, how do you recover? How do you know how much to recover? Does this mean you have to get massages and hop in the sauna after every workout?
Just like anything in life, you don’t need to go to the extremes with recovery. In fact, it’s probably a lot simpler than you might think. People just tend to blow it off because it sounds so simple that it couldn’t possibly be that important or make that big of an impact.
No matter who or what you are, you’ll find immense ongoing benefits by incorporating what I call the 3 pillars of recovery into your routine.
- Sleep. We all need it. Particularly parents.
- Eat. Protein, carbs, fats, veggies…all that good stuff. And occasionally pizza, of course. Thin crust. Well done.
- Mobility. Mobility, stretching, whatever you want to call it. The more mobile you are, the better positions you’ll be bale to get into. The better positioning you have, the stronger you’ll be and the better you’ll feel.