I like to think that one is never too old to learn something new. The prospect of being unable to “teach an old dog new tricks” is something of a myth, as is the concept I’ll be speaking about today. I’ve spent decades believing this was actually a thing, and incorporating it in many, if not most of my workouts. I’m referring to a term known as “muscle confusion.” The term, which is arguably not a scientific one, describes the act of changing up your workout routine frequently in order to “confuse” your muscles in order to prevent hitting a plateau.
But how effective is it? I’ll admit that I’m a really big fan of variety in one’s workouts, if for no other reason than to keep things interesting. But if I’m training in something, I’ll keep at it until I master it. A decent article posted by Men’s Journal explained it best by saying, “One big problem with the muscle confusion principle is that you don’t spend enough time working on an exercise to really master it. It’s like training to ride a bike one day, then a skateboard the next, and then rollerblading after that. Your skills on the bike aren’t really going to get better.”
Traditional karate is really big on repetition in order to master movements, techniques and fitness methods. As Ziad K. Abdelnour once said, “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong…ever.” So there’s heavy importance in doing things properly. But I would be lying if I said that we often have tons of material and new techniques piled on at the same time. But the way to prevent or get past hitting a plateau is simple: increase your weights, increase your time and push yourself harder.
An article I just read by HealthLine.com states that the theory of muscle confusion is just a myth, created to help propagate popular fitness programs. The article goes on to say that muscle confusion is hype when compared to other fitness theories that are grounded in science. I highly recommend reading the article; it has some really good information.
So despite the fact that I’ve been on board the muscle confusion train for years, every reputable source that I’ve found seems to agree that it’s a myth and the better method is to remain consistent. At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with changing up your routine. It’s especially important to experience new fitness routines and programs, if for no other reason than to keep things interesting and have some fun. Your chances of reaching your fitness goals will increase exponentially if you enjoy what you do. ☯