“You gotta confuse your muscles if you want to get strong, Bro. Muscles are sooo smart. You gotta always keep it fresh. Switch up your workouts and exercise selection every time so your muscles don't catch on to what you are trying to do.” Please get out of here with that nonsense. Muscle confusion variation will not make you stronger. Oftentimes, when someone stops seeing gains after doing the same weight for the same number of reps week-in and week-out, they switch exercises in an attempt to confuse the muscle so it can get stronger again. Well, no, you did not get stronger from going from incline bench to flat bench just because you can use more weight during flat bench. Here's the real trick, the real Mccoy, if you are trying to get stronger. It's called progressive overload and it's a must if you are trying to get your weight up.
Progressive overload is “the gradual increase in stress placed upon the body during exercise training.” This can be achieved in a number of ways. First off, in order to implement progressive overload, you have to record your workouts. I don't mean videotape them, I mean write down what you did on paper, or iPhone, or some ish. One way to implement progressive overload would be to have a cycling rep scheme. For example, one week you do sets of 8 reps, the next week 6 but using heavier weights than you were the week before, then the following week sets of 4 reps. Then when you cycle back through, try to use 5-10 lb heavier weights for each set.
For some, adding weight and doing less reps may not work that well or they might be limited by resources. In this scenario, you can add more sets of the same exercise doing the same number of reps. For example, if you start off doing 3 sets of 8 with 40 lb dumbbells, the next week do 4 sets, and then the following week you can do 5. Adding more volume is another way for your body to get used to doing “more” work, creating more adaptation over time.
Progressive overload is a gradual increase in stress over time. You can get creative with this, but it must be done and it must be consistent. So, whether it’s undulating the rep scheme (waving the reps so some weeks they’re high reps and other weeks low reps), adding more sets, getting the same amount of work done in less time, more time under tension or speed at which the weight is lifted, doing one of them is a must to always keep the wheels churning.
This does not mean you won’t hit plateaus or that your muscle growth or strength will be a perfect incline, but it should decrease the amount of time that you hit a plateau. If you change one of the methods of implementing progressive overload, it should help you break through the plateau sooner. Choosing a method and sticking with it for about 6-12 weeks is what I would recommend if you are looking to get strong, add size, or discover the Power of Strength 😉. So, the next time someone tells you that you need to confuse your muscles to make gains, drop some knowledge on them.