How The Muscle Memory Effect Helps Us Get Back In Shape

A forced break in training does not mean you have to start all over again – muscle memory allows you to quickly regain your strength.

An unfortunate sports injury, a closed gym or a lack of motivation – there are plenty of reasons to temporarily stop working out. Were you once in great shape but now you’ve lost all trace of it? Don’t despair! Even if your reflection hints to the contrary, your muscles deep down remember your lost optimum shape. And even if it’s been years since your last workout, you owe it to yourself to try again, right now.

What is muscle memory?

It’s a great thing. Anyone who has already built muscle mass will find it easier to return to that level of training after a long break than a beginner to achieve form from scratch. This is the muscle memory effect.

Conventionally speaking, this particular memory is stored in two different parts of the body. So-called movement learning is anchored in the brain, and muscles are the repository for structural muscle memory. After all, we don’t forget skills such as cycling, skiing or swimming; they are stored in our grey matter. All you have to do is get on your bike and hit the road – regardless of how long before that you let the bike gather dust in the garage.

But just because you swung the barbell once, you won’t be able to lift 100kg straight after skipping training for 6 months. Although you can get back to that state in a shorter period of time than you needed to the first time. This is partly because you have already developed the necessary technique.

How does the muscle memory effect (MME) work?

Skeletal muscle cells are the largest cells in the human body. If they grow, the existing cell nuclei reach their performance limits. To ensure that the muscle can continue to grow, the body creates additional cell nuclei.

And here’s the thing. Even if we stop training, the cell nuclei are preserved and can be reactivated when we resume exercising the muscle. Even if the muscle has been “deflated” for a long time.

How long does muscle memory last?

As long as you are alive. The ability to use cell nuclei decreases with age because the cell environment deteriorates. However, your lifestyle is very important here. Someone who leads a busy daily life will benefit more than a couch potato. Of course, it’s also important to activate your memory. Anyone who trained hard many years ago but now bypasses the gym is no different from someone who has never been to the gym in their life.

Can I build muscle mass faster after taking a break from training?

You probably can. Provided you train well. The harder you focus on building muscle mass again, the faster you will regain your old form. In addition to parameters such as the right weight and intensity, proper rest periods and nutrition are important here. Without a caloric increase and an adequate amount of protein, the muscle deficit isn’t going anywhere. Try to avoid the mistakes that athletes often make when weight lifting.

Focus on the optimum amount of protein and quality protein sources. You can find out your protein requirement here. The speed at which your re-transformation will take place is different for each individual. There have been cases where 80 percent of the original muscle mass was achieved after 6 weeks.

Does everyone have muscle memory?

Yes, everyone does. At least everyone who does not suffer from any muscle diseases. The prerequisite is hypertrophy in previous workouts. In absolute beginners it starts developing after 4-6 weeks. First, neural adaptations occur during strength training: coordination improves, and you get better and better at mastering the sequence of movements. Only under such conditions your muscles are built and cell nuclei begin to multiply.

Of course, the number of cell nuclei is affected by how long and intensively you have trained then. The more of them you have, the more of them you can use. How fast you get back to your old form depends also on how close you were to your genetic maximum at the time. And reaching it is really no easy task.

Just to give you a better insight: if your subjective best form allowed you, for example, to squat 150kg, but you could genetically achieve 200kg, you will regain your old (subjective) best form quicker than if you had squatted 200kg at that time. If, for whatever reason, you are absolutely certain that you want to reach your genetic maximum, then there is probably only one thing that will help you: quit your real job and concentrate entirely on training.

How To Wake Up When The Weather Is Overcast?

Your whole day depends on waking up, so it’s important to know in what frame of mind you wake up. In this case, you can make a pleasant morning, even if it’s cloudy and cold outside, and how, told psychologist Dmitry Sinarev in a conversation with Prime agency. 

How to wake up 

  • Our body does not like sudden changes, especially after waking up, so as soon as you open your eyes, give yourself another minute to just lie down with your eyes closed, the expert advises. And then: 
  • take a few deep breaths (this will ventilate your lungs) 
  • wiggle your fingers and toes
  • stretch well.

Furthermore, the psychologist reminded us that to cheer yourself up, you should always wish yourself a good morning. 

It may also help to wake up, awaken inner strength and inspire confidence with a good memory. For example, “you can visualize an image of a loved one, a natural landscape or listen to your favorite song,” Sinarev recommended. He added that you just have to find your work resource, because everyone has them individually.