Muscle confusion occurs when you switch up your exercise routine regularly, and is a good way to tone your muscles, increase functional strength, and burn fat. It may also help you overcome weight loss plateaus, and enhance your overall performance in the gym. If you are exercising regularly, you can get great results by implementing a muscle confusion routine approximately every four to six weeks.
Mark your workouts on the calendar.
This will help you keep everything in order, and help you keep track of what you’ve already done. The following plan is for six weeks. When completing the exercises, you should choose a weight that is challenging, but that will also allow you to complete the desired number of repetitions using good form.
If you want to increase your repetitions, then decrease your weight. If you want to decrease the number of repetitions, then increase your weight. Aim for two to three sets of each exercise you do.
Consider taking your body measurements.
It is best if you can have someone do this for you, as it is difficult to accurately measure yourself. If you do this, you will be able to retake your measurements at the end to see how far you’ve progressed.
You can have someone measure parts of your body (e.g. arms, waist, hips, legs, etc.) to see if you gain or lose any inches after you have completed the cycle.
You can also have your body fat measured by a personal trainer using calipers.
Work out different areas of your body during weeks one and two.
For a total of six weeks, instead of your normal weight lifting routine, you will do something different. For the first two weeks:
Work out four days of each week; you can choose four days that are convenient for you.
On each day you will work a different area of your body.
For example, on one day you will do exercises that target your chest and triceps
On the second day you will target your back and biceps.
On the third day you will target all of the muscles in your legs.
On the fourth day, target abs and shoulders
Repeat this pattern again for the second week.
Change to a new workout routine for weeks three and four.
For the third and fourth week, you will, again, need to work out four days each week. This routine will be similar to the first two weeks, but different in that you will mix up which areas you work together.
For the first day of the week, you will exercise your back and triceps together.
For the second day of the week, you should exercise your chest and biceps together.
For the third day of the week, exercise your legs and shoulders.
On the last day of your workout week, you will exercise your abs.
Repeat this pattern for week four.
Do the last two weeks of your muscle confusion workouts by changing up your workouts again.
For the last two weeks of your routine, you will stick to four days of working out each week, but the exercises will be mixed up yet again.
Day one: back and shoulders.
Day two: biceps and triceps.
Day three: chest and shoulders.
Day four: legs and abs.
Repeat the pattern for the sixth week.
Pat yourself on the back.
You have completed your first cycle of muscle confusion workouts! If you took measurements of your body composition before you began, you should now measure again to see if anything has changed.
Once you have completed this round of muscle confusion, you should either go back to your normal workout routine or switch to a new, but consistent workout routine for the next four to six weeks. Your muscles need time to adjust to particular exercises, so switching it up too often can actually hinder your progress.
Change the number of sets.
If you are already working out regularly, and you know the exercises you want to do, you can simply change the number of sets you are doing.
If you want to shock your muscles, take one of the exercises you normally do and just do one or two sets if you normally do more. If you want to increase muscle endurance, do four or five sets.
Alternatively, you can mix it up even more by doing fewer reps for two weeks, and more reps for the next two weeks, followed by a decrease for two weeks.
Consider the number of reps.
You can also confuse your muscles by increasing or decreasing the number of repetitions you do during any given exercise.
For example, if you normally do 12 repetitions, do 15 or 18 repetitions, but with a lower weight than you would normally use.
You could also decrease the number of repetitions while increasing the amount of weight. For example if you normally do 12 repetitions with a 10 pound weight, try doing eight repetitions with a 15 pound weight.
Consider mixing these up for a few weeks at a time. For example, do 10 reps of heavier weight for two weeks, followed by 15 reps of a lighter weight for two weeks, followed by 12 reps of a middle weight for the third two weeks.
Vary your rest time.
In addition to changing the number of repetitions and the number of sets you do, you can also change up your rest time.
For example, if you are planning to do a really tough exercise, you could try adding an extra 30 seconds to your rest time; this will allow you to really give it your all on your next set.
Keep in mind that you can also vary the amount of rest you take each week. For example, in week one, allow yourself 30 seconds of rest between each set, and then in week two allow yourself one minute of rest, followed by a third week of only 15 seconds rest.
On the other hand, if you want to increase your endurance, you could also cut some of the rest time out. For example, if you normally rest for one minute, you could rest for 30 seconds on your next set. This will shock your body because it requires you to move on with less rest time.
Do your exercises in a different order.
If on your chest and arms day in the gym you usually do curls, then chest press, then tricep dips, try mixing it up. You can still do the same exercises, just do them in a different order, such as in the reverse order that you would typically do them.
This is any easy way to mix up your routine because it doesn’t require you to think about how many repetitions you will do, or how much weight you will lift. You can keep all of that the same, or you can double up, and combine several ways of confusing your muscles. For example, changing your repetitions and doing them in a different order.
You can also keep the exercises in the same order for one or two weeks, and then switch it up to a different order for the next two weeks.
Choose different exercises.
If you already know some different exercises, then mix those in to your workout. If you don’t, ask a personal trainer to help you.
This is perhaps the most important way to keep your muscles guessing because different exercises work muscles differently.
Try to stick with the same exercises for at least one to two weeks so that your muscles begin to adjust before switching to something new, and then mix it up with new exercises for another two weeks.
Try pyramid training.
Pyramid training is a highly effective way to structure the sets and reps of an exercise. Do your first set with a light weight and a high number of reps. Then, for each successive set, increase weight and decrease the number of reps. For instance, you may begin a bench press set with 15 reps at 115 lbs. The next set you might do 12 reps at 165 lbs., and so on.
You can also do descending pyramid training. Instead of beginning with a low weight and high reps, you start with your heaviest weight and low reps and work your way to a lower weight with more reps. This can help prevent muscle fatigue from setting in early on in your workout.
Make sure you are warmed up before beginning descending pyramid training — jumping straight into lifting your heaviest weight can be dangerous. Always start this kind of training with a set using light weights to get the joints lubricated and the blood circulating.