Nov 04

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Muscle Confusion

Many times, while we are first learning about weight training, our trainers will teach us about the usual workout methods of linear periodization.
·         Start light, and with each set increase the weight 5-10% or find a weight that challenges you to push out the last couple of reps, with good form.
·         For strength, keep reps at 3-6, for hypertrophy (muscle growth), 8-10, endurance 12-15.
·         Work your program for 4-6 weeks.
This is sound advice for beginners and I still follow it in certain programs, but sometimes I have body-parts that aren’t responding the way I would like and I have to find another method to mix things up. When I need to work on lagging areas, I like to use what is called “Undulating Periodization” or “muscle confusion”.
This type of workout involves mixing up reps and weights within the same week, rather than every week. “Research has shown that using undulating periodization is just as effective on muscle growth and strength as the standard linear methods; likely due to sporadic nature of the program”. Although I am glad that there is science to back up the results, I’m just interested in the results I’ll see in the mirror! Another good reason for trying this program is it will keep you from getting bored!
Below is a sample of a 4 week Undulating Periodization for arms. You can use the same method for any body part.
Weeks 1 Workout 1
EXERCISE                                          SETS/REPS            REST
Barbell curls                                        3 /4-6                 3 min.
Preacher curls                                      3 /4-6                3 min.
Incline dumbbell curls                           3 /4-6                 3 min.
Triceps Pressdowns                              3 /4-6                 3 min.
Lying Triceps extensions                       3 /4-6                 3 min.
Dumbbell overhead extensions              3 /4-6                 3 min.
Week 1 Workout 2
Barbell curls                                       3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Preacher curls                                     3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Incline dumbbell curls                          3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Triceps Pressdowns                             3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Lying Triceps extensions                      3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Dumbbell overhead extensions             3 /16-20                1-2 min.
Leave 2-3 days between workouts.
Week 2 
Workout 1 will be                               3 /7-10                 2 min.
Workout 2 will be                               3 /11-15               1-2 min.
Week 3                         
Workout 1                                          3 /16-20               1 min.
Workout 2                                          3 /7-10                 2 min.
Week 4                                            
Workout 1                                          3 /11-15               1-2 min.
Workout 2                                          3 /4-6                   2-3 min.
Source and workout from Muscle & Fitness Hers Nov. 2011

Permanent link to this article: http://www.get-fit-naturally.org/2011/11/muscle-confusion/


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  1. hiker mom

    Great info! Just became your newest follower. I am looking into becoming a personal trainer. What certification is the best way to go?

  2. Kathy

    great information! I know that I see the most results when I change things up every once in a while!

  3. fitknitchick

    Totally agree with you!
    I tend to follow a four week program (with body part split), going 12 reps for weeks 1 and 3 and 8 reps weeks 2 and 4 (with increasing weights along the way, of course!).
    Then I switch up the exercises and do it all over again!
    It’s amazing how hard it is to go from week 2 to 3; my body gets used to 8 reps and doesn’t want to do the extra 4!
    Happy Fitness Friday!

  4. jillconyers

    Being a big Tony Horton and P90X fan I’m a big believer in muscle confusion. It works!

  5. XLMIC

    How awesome to have it laid out so clearly!

  6. Marissa

    what great information to share with your readers…

    there’s nothing better than sharing our love for fitness and nutrition with our readers 🙂


  7. Kat

    Great reminder to switch things up!

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