Have you ever had a case of the “muscle confusion?” You know, where you “change up your routine to shock your body.” And then all of the sudden you actually wind up getting some nice results. The good news is that muscles don’t get confused. Through marketing, “muscle confusion” confusion came to mean something more than what it is.

So, what exactly is it? According to the law of accommodation, the body adapts to a given stimulus over time. So if you deadlift 300lbs, a few times a week, for months on end, you’ll get exceptionally good at deadlifting that weight. But you won’t get stronger. You’ve just adapted to a given stimulus, and your body wants to be efficient, so the adaptation occurs.

Common parlance calls this occurrence of adaptation a plateau. I like to think of it as your body’s way of saying “congratulations, you’re more efficient.” So the idea behind muscle confusion is that you’re continually providing new stimuli to increase your results. So while the phrase is on the right track, it misses a lot.

So this is where controlled variety comes into play. You don’t want to be that guy shadow boxing between sets because it increases your work capacity. Not only is it irrelevant to your goals, it takes up a lot of space.

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