Muscle Confusion Training For The Back

Muscle Confusion Training

The Weider Muscle Confusion Principle was made popular decades ago by bodybuilders including Bill Pearl and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Essentially, they dictated that the bodybuilder was to make every workout different so that the bodybuilder’s muscles would never become accustomed to one particular workout or set of exercises. After all, our muscles only grow when they are subjected to a set of stimulus below their current capacity. If you can bench press 225 x 12 times consistently, your muscles will never grow any bigger. It’s only when you include new chest movements, and/or add more weight to the bar during your benching, that the muscles of the chest will be forced to grow in order to adapt to this new workload.

The muscles of the back adapt very quickly to workloads places upon it. The back is a muscle group that is used in many of the everyday functions we perform. It takes a lot to surprise the back, or instill some new growth to it. Here are some tips for surprising your back each time you enter the gym.

Vary Your Rep Ranges

For some movements, train with a 6 to 8 repetition range. On others, go as high as 15-20 repetitions. This will ensure both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers are being stimulated.

Healthy Mix

You’ll want to use a wide variety of plate-loaded machines, cables, and free weights in order to ensure you’re hitting the muscles from as wide a variety of angles and approaches as possible. One day, start with deadlifts. Another day, let 8 sets of cable pulldowns start your day. Mix it up and your muscles will never become accustomed to any one training method.


Train with different people. You’ll learn how they do things. You’ll see what they do better, and worse, than you. And you’ll learn ways to mix things up for your own workouts.


Watch how the pros train. You may have a laugh at their taste in clothes, or the boring nature of their “eat, train, repeat” lifestyles. But you will observe small variances, angles, and pauses in their training protocols which you can emply in your own. They’re professionals for a reason. They have spent years in the gym. They know what works, and what does not. Their little idiosyncrasies might be automatic to them – but they will be very foreign and new to you. Learn from the masters!

Look For The Biggest Guy

There are probably a couple of guys in your gym who have backs that dwarf yours. Talk to them. Ask them what movements they use, and any secrets or tips they can share. Then integrate them into your own workout!

Train In New Places

Every machine is different. The lat pulldown machine at your gym is going to be a tad different from the machine in another gym across town. The environment will be different. The benches may be different heights. The handles or angles or some other minute detail may vary. And this will keep your muscles guessing!

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