Washing my hair in the shower after today’s killer arm workout, I could barely reach the top of my head. What was different about today’s arm workout? Every exercise we did was fresh, exercises we'd not done in several weeks. I’d become complacent, allowing my routine to get stale, forgetting about one of the most important resistance training principles. Muscle confusion.
Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job is not only a proven fat loss and conditioning guide. My program also breaks resistance training down into its fundamental components; muscle isolation, training to failure, muscle confusion, and recovery. Training alone the last month, I became guilty of one of the most common workout routine fails. Pressed for time every morning to get my workout in, shower, catch the ferry, and get to work, I had been conveniently following the same routine. Doing the same exercises each week for each muscle group became part of that routine.
Today however, was different. After traveling the last month, my training partner made it in today and wanted to hit arms hard. His enthusiasm inspired me to do entirely different exercise than I’d done in several weeks. Let’s be clear, I train hard every day, every week. I walk out of the gym every morning feeling like I’ve gotten a good workout in. But I’d forgotten what it feels like to activate dormant muscle fibers.
Biologically speaking, muscle development is simply an adaptive response to stress. We semi advanced apes are able to adapt to our environment. Weight training triggers an adaptive growth response. We develop and maintain muscle. Conversely, we adapt to sitting at a desk all day by losing muscle mass and getting weaker. When we do the same routine using the same exercises week in and week out there is no new stress for our muscles to adapt to thus no growth response. We may be able to maintain what you’ve got but you’re not going to make a lot of gains. By changing up our routine and doing different exercise every week we are engaging, activating, recruiting, and ultimately stressing different muscle fibers. Changing up your routine by doing different exercise each time you hit the same muscle group is the optimum method of triggering our inherent adaptive growth response.
Muscle confusion is an important principle. Learn it, live it, follow it, and you will get results.
Yours in Fitness,
J. D. Griffin
Author, Get Fit, Lean and Keep Your Day Job
Certified Sports Nutrition Coach