Beginners Don't Need Muscle Confusion

When it comes to the body, myths tend to spread due to a simplistic view of how the body works. One of these myths is muscle confusion. In a nutshell, muscle confusion is a program that switches your workout routine on a week to week or a daily basis. The thought is that by changing your workout constantly, i.e., "confusing your muscles," you will cause muscle growth. The idea is based on progressive overload. Put simply; if you wish to become stronger, then you must stress the muscle with more stress than it can handle. After proper recovery, the stressed tissue will grow stronger and adapt to the previous stressor. For the muscle to become stronger, it will need a greater stressor, i.e., a more laborious workout routine. Muscle confusion sounds excellent on paper, but there is no need to change our method as quickly as people think, especially for beginners. 

The training age of an individual will impact how quickly you need to change to a new program. Training age refers to the cumulative amount of time you have spent training for a specific skill.Take a look at the list below to see where you fall:

  • Beginners: 1 to 3 years of resistance training
  • Intermediate: 3 to 10 years of resistance training
  • Advanced: 10+ years of resistance training

Beginners can perform the same workout routine for three to six months straight and still experience muscle growth. It sounds crazy, right? But trust me, if you are a beginner, you will not hit a plateau and do not need to switch your routine every four to eight weeks. And yes, there will be beginners who make progress in the first two to four weeks of a program, but that is mostly due to neurological factors, i.e., greater motor unit recruitment (1). So, there is no need to change up the routine once you get stronger. Stay patient and repeat the same workouts over and over again until you hit a plateau. 

As training age increases, the workout program cycle decreases. But the majority of people, including advanced individuals, should still perform the same workout for four to six weeks. So yes, you should be doing the same weekly workout routine for four to six weeks straight.  To become stronger and healthier, you need to do the same movements over and over again until you are proficient in those movements. In my career as a trainer, I haven't found too many clients who can master a squat or deadlift in a couple weeks or months time. So be patient and take the time to learn the movements correctly.

At some point, you will become bored and want to do the latest exercise you saw on Instagram, but you must resist the urge. To fight off the boredom,  incorporate different training tools.  For example, instead of using a barbell, you could use kettlebells or dumbbells. And if that doesn't do it for you, then switch up the number of reps and sets you are performing. Also, you could switch the order of the exercises and how much rest you take between each one. Remember, there is no need to rush and introduce new exercises every week. As a beginner, you should pick three to five exercises per muscle group and perform those for three to six months straight.