Most likely, you haven’t kept count of every workout you’ve completed or every weight you’ve lifted – but your muscles have a very important history. And chances are, they remember it much better than you do.
Our muscles have a past. When it comes to muscular capacity, our past is prologue. Or more accurately, what’s past is present, and prospective. Basically, there’s a reason it’s easier to pick up those weights again after a long hiatus, than it was the first time around.
It’s called muscle memory, and it’s good news for those of us who haven’t hit the gym for a while.
But first, where do muscles come from? Through strength-training repetitions, we place a physiological demand on our muscles to create more nuclei. These nuclei are the power behind the process that ultimately converts protein into muscle tissue (with a few extra scientific steps in between). So when you’re pumping iron, bear this in mind: the more nuclei your body is required (by you!) to generate, the more protein it can transform into rippling muscle mass.
Also, by adding multiple nuclei to individual muscle cells, we’re increasing the mass, and thus the size, of these cells. Bodybuilding begins at the cellular level, one grueling bench press at a time. And as tough as it is to build muscle, we sure don’t want to lose it.
Thankfully, muscles have staying power.When you initially start a weight-lifting or resistance training program, you can expect a slow, steady increase in muscle mass and strength. As long as you stick with your workout regimen, this progress continues. But what if you start slacking off – and finally just give up?
Well, your six-pack and bulging biceps might seem to vanish overnight, but that is not actually what happens. In a way, those muscles don’t go anywhere.
Jogging your muscle memory. Contrary to previous thought, recent research indicates that although, outwardly, muscle tissue may diminish with inactivity, the nuclei we’ve added to our muscles during training remains long afterward, and possibly indefinitely. Which means when we finally do decide to get back off the couch, we can take comfort in knowing that it will be a much quicker process to bulk up the second time around. Muscle memory carries a lot of weight.
Get pumped! So if your fitness program has jumped the track over the holidays (or over the last decade), don’t sweat it! Just make your way back to your local Y branch, and we’ll help you find your strength again in short order.
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VISION: We will lead our community to become the healthiest in America.
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