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Gym Fitness

How Often Do I Need to Switch Workouts? Is Muscle Confusion Real?

Published: 10/6/14

Where there is change, there is growth. Just like everything else in our lives, the more you do something, the easier and more comfortable, whatever it is you’re doing, becomes. The same goes with exercise and working out; the more you do a specific exercise, the more your body adapts to it, and more importantly, the easier it becomes to do. That said, when you continuously do the same workout over and over again, the less challenging it becomes for your muscles, and the less it does for your overall fitness goals. When your workout stops being challenging, that’s when you need to step it up a notch and take it to the next level.

When designing a fitness program for yourself, you should keep the idea of variation in mind. And what exactly does that mean? It means that you shouldn’t do the same exact thing every time you hit the gym. Rather, you should switch up your workouts even in the smallest ways: small increases in the amount of weights you use, the time spent doing a particular activity, and the amount of reps you do. All that considered, make your changes gradually. It is not beneficial to the body to change your workout too much and too often.

You may have heard of the concept that ‘shocking your muscles’ is the ultimate way to challenge your body. This is in fact, a huge myth. While it is good to challenge and test your body and its overall strength by trying out new workouts, if you change your workout routine too much, you can actually cause more harm to your body than good.

The idea of shocking your body with new workouts, or muscle confusion, is actually a popular workout term you may have heard circulating the gym recently. And what does muscle confusion mean? Exactly what it sounds like: confusing your muscles with a whole new workout that is unfamiliar. You may have heard praise for this approach, and how great and wonderful it is for your body, and how “muscle confusion” workouts are the most effective ways of losing fat and building muscle. While there are certainly firm believers in muscle confusion, it is important to note that such workouts can also be counterproductive to your muscle building and fat burning goals. The reason is based on one of the main principles of building muscle, called progressive overload. This means that you need to gradually increase your workout regimen with small adjustments to your weights, reps, or overall intensity to make, see, and feel progress.

While we can’t fully support the extreme nature of “muscle confusion workouts,” we do recommend making small and gradual adjustments to your workout plan. It is important to pay attention to your body and look for signs that indicate the time to change your workout. You’ll know it’s time to switch your workout routine when:

1. You notice that you’re no longer seeing results from your workout
2. Your workout is boring and no longer challenging – you hardly even break a sweat anymore
3. Your fitness goals change – you want to focus more on specific areas, lose more weight, or build bigger muscles
4. External forces prevent you from following your workout plan – an injury, a schedule change, and life change, etc.

Aside from these reasons, you really don’t need to change your workout routine too often or drastically, and you can instead make small, simple adjustments from time to time. For example, switching from standing barbell curls to seated dumbbell curls or switching from squats to lunges, and so on. Again, pay attention to your body and remember that you can always come talk to one of our Chuze Fitness certified personal trainers for advice about your workout regimen!