Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A

Keep Your MInd Clear, Body Confused

Posted on: April 27, 2010

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA


Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and AIexandra:

Q; I keep hearing that I should change up my routine to avoid muscle memory? How often should I change my workout, and to what extremes? Reps/weights? or completely different exercises?

Tina, Texas


K: Dear Tina: As you are doin’ the Tighten Up in Texas, keep in mind this pithy and wise quote I made up myself: “Keep the mind clear and the body confused.” Always know what, why and how you are performing your resistance exercises.  That’s keeping the mind clear. And change up those resistance training exercises every so often. That’s where the body confusion comes in. Be careful not to mix up the two and wonder what the heck you are doing and why, but gosh, you sure have done it for a long time. That’s akin to saying “gee the food was bad, but at least they had big portions!”

Anyway, we are really talking adaptation and progression here, not muscle memory. You want muscle memory, which allows you to achieve good form and coordination. And you want to constantly push yourself to progress. Once you adapt to a move,  it’s time to vary the exercise in one of many ways.

A: I want some muscle memory. I want to remember what, why and where my muscles are! I had them just a minute ago. I think they got lost behind my Buns of Cinna! Geez, at this point I have a Samwise and pithy quote that I made up, and it’s better than Kymberly’s. It is this “Frodo, Frodo, it’s me – Sam. You have Muscle Alzheimer’s.” I too want to adapt and progress, but I call it something different. I call it “letting my children make it through their teen years by reminding myself it will soon be over, and I can find harmony and joy in their company.” Adapt? Yup. Progress? They’re alive aren’t they? So some days I lift my car keys and purse 15 times as I contemplate running away for 3 years. Other days I lift my car just once, and contemplate hurling it, and myself, over a cliff. Light weights one day, heavy the next.

K: Ummm, so where were we? Basically, adaptation occurs between 1 and 12 weeks– for each new move. Unless you are Alexandra, then it’s a lifelong process. For you, Tinaroo, I would change up about 20-30 percent  of my workout every few weeks. Don’t completely throw out one routine for another all at once. Morph your routine with one, two, or three new approaches each week without getting caught up in exact formulas. If you feel stale with a move, throw out the old Cinnabuns. Couldn’t resist. As for what element to change, that is the fabulosity (made up that word too and proud of it!) of resistance training. You can select to change reps, resistance, modality ( a fancy term that I did not make up that generally means “type”) such as free weights or tubing  instead of a machine for any given exercise.  Change the exercise perhaps: chest press instead of push-ups. Add a balance or instability factor: stand on discs or a BOSU instead of the ground. Change the stabilizing muscles: sit on a ball for tricep extensions instead of standing. Change the pace of each exercise: instead of four counts up and four counts down on a lunge for instance, do two counts down and six counts up. So many ways to vary – the exercise itself, the equipment, the speed, the balance factor, the resistance factor, the range of motion, the order of your routine. Get happy and choose what appeals to you.

A: Forget your troubles, come on get happy, gonna chase all your weight away. Said Hallelujah, come on get happy, get ready for the push-ups day! What appeals to me has nothing to do with working out. It involves curly dark hair and manly t-shirt smell. Really, I just go to the gym and work out so I can sniff the hotties. Oh, and I’m paid.

K: And whoever said to change your routine to avoid muscle memory, needs to read our blog in a big way. You change your routine to avoid lack of progress. Force the body to adapt upwards. Just as I have had to adapt to having a lookalike who lifts car keys for a workout. As you can tell by the fine quality of my advice, I do all the heavy lifting for her.
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3 Responses to "Keep Your MInd Clear, Body Confused"

Hey K & A thanks for the great advice. I will not name names when it comes to who said to change my routine to avoid muscle memory…but it might have been a trainer at my gym.?!

Dear raiderlaw: Must we say it ourselves? Ask us first. Do pass go. Do not collect iffy advice. However, your trainer was right to suggest change up. S/he just worded it funny. Unlike us, where our words are funny. Fun and Fit forever! Thank you for the comment, btw.

Great advice, Changing up your routine is neccessary for your mind and body. It will add variety avoiding falling into a boring routine which will eventually plateau. It also encoureges using different stabilising muscles to further increase gains. For example changing from bicep curls with a band to dumbells recquires you to use more of the smaller stabilising muscles around the shoulder and scapula to complete the exercise correctly. The more muscles you use the more gains you get! Great article!

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