Adding “confusion” to your strength traning is nonsense. Here’s why.

Muscle confusion isn’t an effective long term strategy for athletic development and improved fitness and health.

After all, strength training is brain training.

The brain controls how the muscles move.

And if the brain doesn’t practice a pattern, more neural connections can’t be made with the muscle.

Less neural connections means less ability to fire the muscle with more intensity.

Result?  You can’t lift as much or move as efficiently.

Think of movement as a symphony.

The brain is the conductor and the muscles are all the various instruments in the orchestra.

No coordination in rhythm, timing, intensity and what do you get?

A jumbled mess of noise.

It’s the same thing with movement.

So, if muscle confusion isn’t the answer, what is?

Consistent exposure to repeated movement demands equals skill acquisition and as a result improved strength.

By improving each muscle’s intramuscular coordination and rhythm between a variety of muscle groups (intermuscular coordination), strength improves.  

When the brain creates improved motor pathways to the various muscles, the muscles can fire with more efficiency and power.

This basic tenet of adaption is employed in the Steelworks Cycle 4A Training Organization.

My clients learn new movements and develop strength over the course of 4 week training cycles.

Will they (and you) be masters of those movements in 4 weeks?

Absolutely not.  Training proficiency takes months, even years in some athletic endeavors.

However, four weeks of consistent exposure sets the foundation oflong term progress quicker than random workout selection.

Here’s how I organize the training blocks of all of my clients:

Week 1:  ACQUAINT 

You’ve picked the movements you want to experiment with in the training block.  Keep the SAME movements over the course of four weeks to give your brain time to wrap its head around technique.  Keep the weights lighter or the load constant across sets. Performing the movements with the intent of excellence is the overall goal of this week.  

Week 2:  ANALYZE

After having a week to practice the movements, now you get to put your skills to the test  Week 2 loads can increase throughout each movement’s working sets.  Failure is expected and encouraged, but not beyond technical proficiency.  Push the weights this week so you get an idea of what your current technical and power ceilings are.

Week 3:  ACCLIMATE

After two weeks of training lots of good lifts and some bad ones, your brain has started to work out the many puzzles that the new movements might present.  After last week’s loading patterns, you return to lighter weights or constant weight loading patterns to dial in the technique again.  However, you want to choose weights that were heavier than in Week 1.

Week 4:  ACQUIRE

Now, you’ve had a nice chunk of exposure to the movements.  You’ve tested out how good are at them, given your brain a period of time to make sense of the successful and failed movement patterns and are now ready to really get after it.  This is the true test week of the training cycle.  By now your brain has developed deeper neural pathways to tell the muscles how and when to contract and so can put forth more power with each stage of the movement.  You’ve integrated the movement pattern into your brain and you perform exercises cleaner and more efficiently.  Take risks, push the weight, and see what you can really do this week!

In conclusion, you’ll get more out of a structured loading and practice approach then a constantly varied and randomly designed program.  The brain looks out for patterns and doesn’t like chaos.  Long term fitness and athletic development require repeated exposure to similar movement puzzles.  Only time and consistency will allow the brain to solve those riddles and make strides towards improvements in fitness.

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