How Simple Muscle Confusion Fuels the Power of P90X

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Tony Horton’s P90X exercise system continues to shatter sales records in the health and fitness category.  By now, it has topped the two million mark, making it one of the best selling fitness programs of all time.

So why the massive success?  Apparently, it’s the philosophy known as “Muscle Confusion,” often attributed to bodybuilding pioneer Joe Weider (“Weider Muscle Confusion Principle”), and popularized by  Tony Horton’s P90X.

Muscle confusion aims to accelerate your physical results by constantly introducing new moves and routines so that your body never plateaus.  It can help people get lean, bulk up, or get really ripped.  P90X muscle confusion puts these goals within reach via a challenging set of modular exercise routines that motivate you for 90 days and beyond.

P90X muscle confusion comes down to continually challenging and forcing the body’s muscles into new growth.  The more you confuse the muscle, the harder you have to work to keep up; the more variety you put into your workout, the better and faster your results will be.

Simple, right?

The folks behind P90X have identified “plateauing” as the major flaw in most fitness products and routines today.  Repeating the same routines for weeks on end makes your body too comfortable, and leads to diminished effectiveness.  It claims to avoid the plateau effect by changing things to keep the body guessing for the entire 90 days.  By breaking old routines and opening new possibilities, secondary and tertiary muscles are constantly being activated and developed.

This means it that never gets easy…

Reducing Muscle Confusion to Basic Workout Variables.

Unless you have stayed with the same workout routine your entire life, you have already practiced muscle confusion to some degree.  To better relate P90X to what you have done in the past or are still doing in the gym, consider the volume and intensity of an ideal workout.  Achieving muscle confusion means regularly changing one or all of the following variables:

  • Number of sets
  • Number of repetitions
  • Exercise choice
  • Exercise order
  • Length of rest periods

By cycling or changing your training program every four weeks, your muscles have no chance to get used to the exercises. This cycling concept forces your muscles to grow quicker than with any other training method. That is why Muscle Confusion is such an exciting training principle and explains its popularity.

Still, the muscle confusion philosophy has its share of critics, notably within dedicated bodybuilding and muscle-building circles.  One trainer, Scott Abbett (“HardBody Success”) claims that continuous muscle growth is a function of systematic overloading and recuperation time, even with the same exercises over an extended period.  Routine changes, if any, should be executed only after adequate muscle feedback.

The credibility of muscle confusion principles ultimately rests in the results generated by its faithful practitioners.  Is P90X’s twist on muscle confusion the only path to better health and a fantastic body?  Exercise science is not a “one size fits all” endeavor, so be aware of your physical make-up and goals before giving it a try.

Successful muscle-building and/or fat-burning results are usually attributed to diet (80%), and then exercise (20%).  Still, thousands, if not millions, of people are giving muscle confusion a chance through the P90X system.

Is it your turn to join the P90X revolution?

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