In a fitness culture which is always looking for the next ‘best’ fix, terms like ‘muscle confusion’ and ‘turbulence training’ can be great hooks.  Particularly when they are surrounded by glitz and pumping music, oiled air-brushed bodies and those awful before and after photos.

triceps on a functional pulley system

triceps on a functional pulley system

The training protocols used in turbulence training, muscle confusion, the new rules for lifting, amongst other current market products are not new.  Any properly certified personal trainer or self-educated lifter knows the research and the application of this information.  Spin and hype, however, will let you slim down in the wallet area and will bulk up the profits of a smart marketer.

When engaged in resistance training it is important to introduce regular change into your exercise regime.  Essentially, your muscles adapt to the stress you place upon them.  This applies equally well to training of physiological systems, such as your cardiorespiratory functioning. Without introducing change, a plateau is reached whereby no additional gains will be made.  So, you can change the specific exercises you perform, the order in which you perform them, the number of sets and repetitions you perform, and/or the rest periods in between sets.

That being said, don’t let all this talk about confusion, turbulence, and change mislead you.  Before there is change in exercise, there must be consistency in exercise.

Do you

  • have trouble sticking to a specified exercise routine?
  • walk into the weight room without a plan and use whatever machines aren’t busy?
  • hop from class to class because spin looks fun today but next week something else catches your eye?
  • get into a treadmill groove for a week or so but then bore and move to group fitness class?
  • start on a weight training program but abandon it when it looks like what that more fit woman/man is doing might be better?
  • wonder why the wide variety of exercise methods you participate in don’t get you to your goals?

In order to gain greatest benefit from your exercise routine, you first have to follow through in your training.  Here’s why:

  • Our bodies respond best to consistency.  In order for  your muscles to grow and adapt in training, the principles of Specificity and Progressive Overload need to be applied.  Both principles require repetition over time.  This means introducing a gradual increase in demand on a specific muscle, muscle group or system (like cardiorespiratory system).  Jumping from one thing to another produces haphazard results.
  • Consistency allows you to develop skill at the activity.  Skill development is a benefit in and of itself and you usually get greater enjoyment and benefit once you have developed some degree of proficiency.  When you can accurately and repeatedly perform a proper movement you can begin to take pleasure in that movement.
  • With consistency comes the opportunity for exploration.  As you develop proficiency, you can experience greater depth.  Getting beyond the surface or basic benefits comes with a degree of familiarity and practice.
  • The mental discipline of holding your focus and following through requires consistency.  With this comes a greater sense of confidence and personal control.
  • Consistency allows for feedback on relative strengths and weaknesses.  It is difficult to assess change against a baseline or to accurately self-assess when your activities are constantly changing.
kettlebells for a full body workout

kettlebells for a full body workout

Making a commitment to follow through on a program lets you gather depth of experience and you can better understand how that training works for you.  Once you have established a period of consistency, it is vital you introduce change. This combination — consistency followed by change followed by consistency followed by change — is what will produce results and help you achieve your fitness and healthy living goals.

All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.  ~Ellen Glasgow