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Muscle memory after not working out

Posted by: Shawn

If you've ever spent time lifting weights on a regular basis and increased your lean body mass, taken a break, then started again, you will probably have noticed that you regained your strength and your size a lot quicker than when you started building muscle and strength the first time.

This muscle memory is now a phenomenon that is scientifically verified called "muscle memory", which is a neurological mechanism that is part of your muscle cells ability to survive. All your muscle cells are specifically designed to be able to grow.

Every muscle cell in your body is a little larger than normal cells because they are they are multinuclear cells. That means they got more than one nucleus, often a bodybuilder will have muscle cells with many nuclei. When a muscle is overloaded on a regular basis new nuclei will be added in your muscle cells.

It is these extra nuclei that enable your muscles to grow larger. The body is built to add more nuclei to muscle-fibers, growing it larger. The question is what happens when we stop training for long periods of time? We all know that we can see our muscles slowly shrivel up, to eventually look like we've never lifted a weight in our lives.

Scientifically speaking this is called "detraining", and it used to be believed by sports science that any new muscle nuclei you created with your training will be lost to apoptosis. After extensive research sports science discovered that this "detraining" effect only happens in your smaller, weaker muscles.

Sports science has now discovered that any new nuclei added from training will last a minimum of 3 months of complete inactivity. New research now suggest that any new nuclei created are never lost. This is powerful because it means that any regular resistance training will induce permanent physiological changes to the muscle fibers.

When you train regularly new muscle nuclei are created, if you're eating correctly these new muscle nuclei then synthesize into new muscle proteins, which then allow your muscle fibers to grow larger. When you're detraining, your muscle fibers are actually resistant to atrophy because of the many different muscle nuclei.

If your detraining continues for a long time, your protein degradation rate will eventually exceed your protein synthesis rate making your muscles start to shrink in size, but your nuclei aren't lost. When you decide to go back to weight training again after a long and extended break, your muscle memory kicks in because the step where new muscle nuclei are built is skipped.

This step is skipped because your nuclei are already there, ready to immediately start synthesizing muscle proteins again, which rapidly increases muscle size. This is why when you're retraining it will be easier to get results compared to the first time training was performed, this is "muscle memory".

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