Muscle Confusion Workouts: The Ultimate Routine To Confuse Your Muscles

If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably heard all about the scientifically proven* benefits of an advanced workout method known as muscle confusion.

You’ve probably heard about how workouts built around this exercise concept are the newest and most effective way of losing fat, building muscle or doing both as fast as possible.

And knowing all of this, you’re probably ready to create your own MCR (muscle confusion routine) and start getting those amazing results yourself.

Well, in that case… you’ve definitely come to the right place. Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Muscle Confusion Workout Routine

The problem with most muscle confusion workouts is that while they are all based on the same scientifically proven* principles, the majority barely scratch the surface of what it truly means to confuse your muscles.

I mean sure, they are much more confusing than a typical weight training routine, but in terms of MAXIMUM muscle confusion… they aren’t even close. That’s why I’ve spent the last 5 years experimenting firsthand with various confusing techniques and training methods to put together what is BY FAR the most effective and optimally confusing workout you will EVER see.

So, if you’re ready to build muscle, lose fat or do both, it’s time to get to the details.

Muscle Confusion Frequency & Split

The key to a typical workout routine is selecting a weight training frequency and weekly schedule that is ideal for your goal and experience level. You basically want it to be as high as it can be WITHOUT exceeding your capacity to recover. For beginners, that’s often 3 times per week per muscle group (using a full body split). For intermediate and advanced trainees, that’s often 2 times per week per muscle group using any number of highly proven splits (upper/lower, push/pull/legs, etc.)

But with muscle confusion workouts, this all changes completely.

You see, the first rule of an effective “non-confusing” weight training routine is that you must have a consistent plan and overall structure that is always strictly followed. However, the first rule of an effective muscle confusion routine is that there is NO plan or structure.

For this reason, there is NO typical workout split or weekly schedule used at all.

Instead, your split will be determined via the use of a scientifically proven* method known simply as CAL-DART. What is cal-dart, you ask? Cal-dart is an advanced technique that involves a wall calendar and a dart from a normal dartboard (hence the name… cal-dart). You then…

The Split

  1. Hang the calendar on a wall.
  2. Stand 5-10 feet away.
  3. Throw a dart at the calendar.
  4. Whatever day of the week it lands on… that will be chest day.
  5. Throw the second dart. Whatever day it lands on will be biceps and triceps day.
  6. Repeat this process until every major muscle group has a day. Use the following order: chest, biceps and triceps, back, shoulders, legs, abs.

Confused? Good… that means it’s working! Now let’s put together the exercises that will be preformed in each of your workouts.

Muscle Confusion Workouts & Exercises

With a typical weight training routine, you will have each workout fully planned out in advance from top to bottom. The exact exercises you’ll do, the exact order you’ll do them in, and the exact amount of sets and reps you’ll do for each. But as you can already see, there is nothing confusing about this at all. Your muscles will know exactly what’s going on and expect it all to happen!

For this reason, everything you know about weight training is going right out the window.

Instead, each of our muscle confusion workouts will be spontaneously designed on the day of each workout. How? By using the most effective and highly confusing scientifically proven* training method I’ve ever used. Here’s how it works…

The Workout

  1. Go to an area in your gym where there are the most machines. (If you work out at home, lay out all of your equipment in the biggest room in your house.)
  2. Put on a blindfold. This step is crucial, so be sure it’s a regulation, Olympic sized blindfold.
  3. Have your training partner or spotter spin you around over and over for 45-60 seconds.
  4. As soon as they finish spinning you, start sprinting!!!!!
  5. Whatever machine or piece of exercise equipment you run into and/or trip over first, immediately start using it for 3 sets of 1-20 reps (be sure to ask a random person to pick a number between 1 and 20 before you begin).
  6. When finished, repeat these steps over again until you’ve done 4 exercises total for that day’s major muscle group.

By the end of this workout, your muscles won’t have a clue what the F is going on! And that right there is the key to a successful muscle confusion workout. In my experience, this is BY FAR the best way to use this scientifically proven* method to make it happen.

Muscle Confusion Nutrition

And while this type of training works well with most diets, there is one simple highly effective tip that I’ve personally used to nutritionally confuse the crap out of my muscles. And that tip is:

  • Before your workout… have your post workout meal. Yup, your POST workout meal.
  • Immediately after your workout, have your PRE workout meal.

I’ve found that doing this takes confusion to a whole new level and really makes your muscles wonder what the hell is going on. Try it and see. It works amazingly well.

Now Put It Into Action!

And that’s the full details of The Ultimate Muscle Confusion Workout Routine. Good luck, and enjoy the results you’re guaranteed to get when using this scientifically proven* training method!

* Not actually scientifically proven.

Oh wait, my bad. There’s one final tip I almost forgot to mention…

Muscle Confusion Is BULLSHIT!

Everything you just read was a joke, and I can only hope and pray that everyone caught on to that long before reaching this point. The truth is, this entire “training method” is pure bullshit.

Like most of the stupid crap that exists in the world of diet and exercise, muscle confusion workouts are just another silly gimmick used to sell a product (yay for P90x!) and get your money. It has no legit basis of any kind under any circumstance, and it serves no beneficial purpose whatsoever.

As if that wasn’t bad enough… it turns out that it’s also a gimmick that is actually counterproductive to your goal of building muscle, and completely and utterly useless to your goal of losing fat and getting lean.

So yeah, I’m saying the entire concept of “confusing your muscles” is garbage. Let me show you why…

Why Muscle Confusion Workouts SUCK For Building Muscle

In case you didn’t know, the primary training requirement for building muscle is progressive overload. Now, there are plenty of ways to progress and plenty of ways of implementing them. But for the sake of showing an example, I’m going to only discuss the most common.

And that is, you need to gradually lift heavier and heavier weight over time and/or lift the same weight for more and more reps. So if you bench press 100lbs for 3 sets of 8 reps today, you need to strive to bench press 100lbs for 3 sets of 9 reps next time. Or, bench press 105lbs for that same 3 sets of 8.

And when you can do this, your goal next time is to keep adding reps and/or weight and keep striving to increase the demands being placed on your body. Whether you get 1 additional rep or lift 5 additional pounds… this is progressive overload, and this is the key to building muscle.

With me so far? Good.

Now do you know what the key to making progressive overload happen is? Besides a proper overall workout routine, a proper diet, and hard work? Consistency. You must create a consistent environment that will allow your body to actually progress.

What I mean is, you can’t progress at something if you are constantly changing what it is you are trying to progress at. How can you expect to get stronger at the bench press if you stop bench pressing every other workout or constantly alter the format in which it is being done in?

It’s like trying to learn to play the piano but then stopping after a week to learn to play the guitar instead (music confusion, baby!). You’ll end up never getting very good at either, especially not in anything close to an ideal time frame.

But this is exactly what muscle confusion workouts are designed to make you do. Confuse your muscles by pointlessly changing things all the time that had no reason to be changed and will only HURT your progress as a result of being changed.

The only thing your muscles will be confused about is why in the hell you’re training like such an idiot and not providing the consistency they need to progress and actually stimulate muscle growth.

Why Muscle Confusion Workouts Are USELESS For Losing Fat

Fat loss happens as a result of one thing and one thing only… a caloric deficit. You need to eat less calories, burn more calories, or do a combination of both. It’s the basic calories in vs calories out equation, and it’s literally the only thing that causes fat loss.

Meaning, if you maintain your current weight eating 3000 calories per day, you’ll lose weight (in the form of body fat) by consuming 2500 calories per day instead. Similarly, rather than eating less calories, this same deficit can be created by simply burning more calories through exercise (such as cardio or weight training). Or, a combination of both.

That’s it. That’s how to lose fat.

Muscle confusion doesn’t even begin to play a role in anything that is even remotely related to the process of fat loss. Sure, it involves exercising and exercise burns calories… but that’s just proof that exercise works. Muscle confusion has nothing to do with it (other than possibly being the stupid gimmick that gets you exercising in the first place).

Whether the workouts you’re doing are “confusing your muscles” DOES NOT MATTER AT ALL in terms of losing fat. They could be the most clear and understandable workouts of all time (that’s the opposite of confusing, right?), and they can be repeated over and over again. The degree of “confusion” is completely irreverent.

I know what you’re thinking now…

But Doesn’t Your Body Adapt To Your Workouts And Stop Improving?

Yes, there is some truth to the thinking behind this dumb gimmick. It is true that, at some point, your body will adapt to the training stimulus being provided and stop improving. This actually IS a proven fact.

At some point, bench pressing 100lbs for 3×8 might stimulate muscle growth. But at some point soon after, it won’t. Your body will adapt to bench pressing 100lbs for 3 sets of 8 and therefore stop improving.

But here’s the thing. As I’ve previously explained in my article about changing your workout too often, you don’t need to CHANGE the training stimulus to start building muscle again. You just need to INCREASE the stimulus. That’s how progressive overload works.

As long as you keep progressing, your body will keep improving. It’s when that progression STOPS that it’s time to change your workouts around in some manner so you can start progressing again. Muscle confusion workouts have you doing this long before you ever reach that point, and that’s just as dumb and counterproductive as can be.

So if you want your body to keep improving and continue adapting, you just need to keep progressing and giving it an increased training stimulus to adapt to. As long as progression is taking place at an acceptable rate over time, positive results will come.

Only when that progression stops is it time to actually change something, and it could be months before that time legitimately comes. (More about that here: How, When & Why To Change Your Workout Routine)

Your Muscles Need To Be Challenged, Not Confused

So the next time you’re thinking about pointlessly and unnecessarily changing your workouts around for the purpose of adhering to a training concept that is based on nothing and exists for the sole purpose of sounding cool and appealing to you in an effort to get you to waste your money on whatever garbage is attached to it, I have a WAY better suggestion…


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About Jay
Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers, and diet professionals at every level.

44 thoughts on “Muscle Confusion Workouts: The Ultimate Routine To Confuse Your Muscles”


  1. When i read the title in my email about muscle confusion,i thought straight away that you must be kidding,but you did have me worried for you for a second.
    Anyway,thanks for putting that bull***t to rest,its amazing how many people still believe in it.

  2. Anyone who can make an important point about exercise while making me spit coffee all over my keyboard is doing an excellent job. :p Great post as usual Jay!

  3. hah! Dude you seriously had me going for a second there too. I think ‘cal dart’ was what finally made me realize what was going on.

    I do have a question though. If you remove the stupidity of muscle confusion, what is your opinion on p90x?

    I’ve had some friends ask me about it and I just tell them they’d be better off lifting at a gym and following a normal program like your muscle building routine. Would you agree?

    • Yeah, I figured cal-dart would give it away if you were still on board at that point. I gotta try harder next time.

      Regarding P90x, I’m no expert on it, but from what I’ve seen, it appears to be one of those better-than-nothing sort of things. Like if the choices are do nothing or do p90x, I vote for p90x. But if the choices are do p90x or do something else (like my muscle building routine in a normal gym setting, for example), then I’d easily vote for that.

      Because honestly, even if you remove the entire horseshit concept p90x is based on (muscle confusion), you’re still left with just an inferior home based workout.

      And it does depend on goals too, of course. If your goal is to just get moving and burn some extra calories at home, p90x can serve a purpose (as can any other form of activity… nothing magical about p90x in comparison).

      But if you’re looking to build muscle, get strong, or improve performance, it’s mostly crap. Better than nothing, but still crap compared to anything else.

  4. After the first part, I wanted to email you and tell you you’re full of crap…but you beat me to it. I do think it it’s important to do a variety of exercises with a variety of weight and reps, though, which could be considered “muscle confusion”.

  5. Not gonna lie your site was the FIRST site I hit while trying to find out if muscle confusion was the way to go. My first jaunt back in a gym after some 10 years and i wanted to see what new things science had brought to the table. I was skeptical at Cal-Dart but figured…that “sounds” confusing and if that’s the objective then it’s dead on. Once i got to the workout I was like…ok that sounds a little dangerous to say the least (i then started to wonder if this might not be the best method for me…but who am i to argue lol). It wasn’t until the end of the workout that i was like “f this guy” and i scrolled down to see BULLSHYT, i then started laughing my ass off. Glad to see my search on how to confuse my muscles both started and end here:)

  6. I found that advice to be great, I was investigating the p90x and muscle confusion and was mentally confused as well.Simple really, burn calories, build muscle.Not confused anymore.Good laugh too. No more searching for a shortcut. Thanks a lot Jay

  7. lmao dude you had me going all the way until you mentioned it was bullshit but it confused me and made me lazy.. I wasn’t going to try it either way xD I was just going to keep on with a normal routine good work I enjoyed the laughs.

  8. Great Post! I just came from speaking with a trainer at LA Fitness, and he was going on and on about muscle confusion. I’m not going to even meet with him tomorrow. Progressive overload makes much more sense and is the approach I intend to take. Thanks again!

  9. u had me going until i read the cal chart and then i was like this is such bullshit then i saw the blind fold part and i laughed my ass off then i saw the word bullshit then i was like ohhhhhhhh i also think that u are right about progressive overload funniest part is i was watching p90x show while i was reading this

  10. Incredible article man! As a journalism major, there’s a special place in my heart for people who can sarcastically make a meaningful point and do it in a fashion to where even a 4th grader could understand the concept.

    My question stemming off of this article is what is your stance on periodization? I know it’s not exactly like muscle confusion, but it’s a similar premise. Especially for the micro-periodization schemes that seem to be in vogue now.

    The most common I’ve seen is a 3 week cycle where you’re doing the first week of exercises primarily in a lower rep range (3-5 reps/set), then doing the middle week with moderate volume (6-10 reps/set) and then finishing out the third week with a higher rep range (10-15 reps/set). Then repeat.

    Assuming that frequency and total volume are accounted for (training each body part 2x a week, 3-5 days apart, with 60-120 reps for larger muscle groups and 30-60 reps for smaller groups, etc.), is there any merit to this periodization style? I read a lot of Muscle and Fitness stuff (which I now realize is a mistake), and Jim Stoppani is pushing this workout plan like no other. Online, in magazines, wherever, he’s an advocate for it.

    I mean, he’s a PhD., and he claims there’s scientific evidence behind it. Just wanted to hear your take.

    Thanks again and sorry for rambling,


    • Thanks Joe… “sarcastically making meaningful points a 4th grader could understand” is exactly what I’m going for. 😉

      Periodization is definitely different than “muscle confusion” in that it makes sense, has been around forever, and actually works assuming it’s done correctly. And there’s a ton of different ways to do it, some more beneficial than others for certain goals.

      What you described is one common way of doing it, although it’s usually not a single week at each intensity. It’s typically 2-4 week blocks of each. If it’s going to change weekly, it’s usually more like 3×8 in week 1, then 4×6 is week 2, then 5×5 in week 3 or something like that.

      • Thanks for the response. I’ve been considering periodization for a long time and now that I know more about optimal frequency and volume (thanks to you), I’m more confident in writing up a plan to implement it.

        I switched to your ultimate muscle building routine a few days ago and if that works well for me, I’ll write out a sequence of 4 week periods with different rep ranges to provide the change in focus. Like 5×5 -> 4×6 -> 3×8 for compound lifts and something similar for accessory lifts.

        • Sounds good. Just keep in mind that certain exercises (mainly isolation movements like curls, flyes, triceps extensions, lateral raises, etc.) aren’t really suited for very low reps, so you’d probably want to use sets of 5 or 6 or even 8 just for primary and/or secondary compound lifts, and keep isolation exercises within a higher rep range the whole time.

  11. HAHAHAH MY ABS HURT! DO MORE LIKE THESE! I truly do think you have a gift of great writing and humor! Keep it up! This article kind of makes me feel stupid for buying into the whole P90X thing though. 😛

  12. Holy shit dude! I was drinking some soda, hoping to trick my body into thinking it’s whey protein, and I laughed so hard while reading and drinking it came out of my nose.

  13. Thanks for the info.I wasn’t planning to do a “Muscle Confusion”,and now,with this knowledge,I’ll never even think about doing this and stop any of my relatives from doing this.

  14. I found it best to confuse the muscles by doing an exercise for a muscle part that’s actually for another muscle part. For example, I train calves in the pecdeck machine, train triceps in the leg extension machine, train hamstrings in the incline hammer strenght machine. It sure does get very confusing not only to my muscles but to everyone else at the gym, so it’s like helping out everyone else there.

  15. Good God, haven’t laughed this much for a while now. Had to use a tissue to keep the tears from streaming down my face. Bloody brilliant!

  16. Thanks for clearing that up. I’d been doing P90X for a while, and I felt I wasn’t making great gains. Now I know why. What you said makes a WHOLE lot more sense as to why I feel this way.

  17. I think the best quote I ever heard about muscle confusion came from Brandon Morrison, founder of a fitness company and the website Lift Big Eat Big. he said “Muscles cannot be confused, perplexed, bewildered or even a little befuddled.” Couldn’t stop thinking about it while reading this, very funny man

  18. So whatever my trainer told to me from the past 2 months is all bullshit… My valuable time my work outs…. All f*** up I’m going to rip his ass tomorrow morning…!!! Thanks boss… From the past 2 months I lost my valuable size… 🙁

  19. If these Japanese people in this office didn’t think I was the weird foreigner before, they certainly do now. You are a mess!!! you had me bursting out of my literal clothes trying to hold back laughter and legit releasing tears! You are a writing genius! I will now have to resort to reading your articles inside the confines of my home where I can set my laughs free. Genius!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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