Muscle Confusion vs. Adaptation - Part 1

by Brett Jones |   Date Released : 17 Jan 2004
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Brett Jones

About the author: Brett Jones

Brett Jones is a NSCA CSCS certified, strength and conditioning professional based in the Pittsburgh area. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Medicine from High Point University, located in High Point, North Carolina. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Sciences - Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. This degree provides great insight into effective behavior modification. Brett received a certification in Russian Kettlebell training from Pavel Tsatsouline, the addition of which has lead to dynamic routines and results.

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Comments (4)

DeSanto, Eric | 26 Sep 2012, 16:58 PM

I will preface this comment by stating that I am new to this business, so this may not be a terribly valid statement. But, I have some issues with the statements in this article.

When I read the article, I felt a split between training for muscle physiology versus neurological skill development. I agree that the standard programs described in this article are ideal for developing a neurological pattern and a specific skill. My understanding is that the goal of muscle confusion is to constantly change physiological demands so the muscles never to get too efficient with any one physiological system and therefore are always working every system at maximum levels.

Also, I believe there is a double goal in training an athlete for a specific skill. On one hand, you want the client to be well trained, both neurologically and physiologically, for the skill. On the other hand, you want them to be a healthy human. I believe the confusion concept is ideal for training people to be healthy humans, since the physical challenges of everyday life are hugely variable and unpredictable.

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Herrera-Urizar, Juan | 05 Apr 2011, 21:15 PM

I really enjoyed the article and it was very insightful. I did have some questions as far as rest periods and recovery time. Since you are speaking about being consistent with the lifts, what about rest times and recovery period for the muscles that you are working? If you do lift and use those same muscle groups during the week, how do they get proper recover time?

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Sikorski, Mark | 23 Aug 2010, 14:31 PM

Thank you for putting an end to all the confusion. I've heard the muscle confusion phrase uttered over and over from experienced lifters to beginners.
As a trainer, one thing I will say with respect to altering a program is that constantly changing the program up makes it a little more interesting and a little less boring and repetitive for the client.
For myself, it's less about confusing the muscles and more about keeping the client engaged with different exercises.

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Samuell, Rexx | 21 Aug 2009, 08:04 AM

Mr. Jones, you offer some excellent points of the importance of consistency and repetition in an exercise routine. As a yoga teacher, I see many students struggle to make progress in any given routine or posture because they place little to no emphasis on mastering the basic skills required. The moment the student slows down and focuses intently on, say, the mechanics of one postures, and returns to it daily for a couple of weeks, the student begins to work out more optimal, more skillful ways of doing the posture.

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