Is Muscle Memory Real?
Have you ever taken a long break from working out and noticed you can quickly gain your strength back when you get back into the gym?
Most of us call this muscle memory and yes its real.
The nerdy explanation is when you build muscle, you create more nuclei and those nuclei are almost never lost.
This study summarized it as "The old and newly acquired nuclei are retained during severe atrophy caused by subsequent denervation lasting for a considerable period of the animal's lifespan."
The older you get, the harder it is to build these nuclei. So the more fit you are when you are younger the more it carries over into later life.
Another study with mice doing CrossFit (kidding) studied the skeletal muscles of mice, which were trained on a progressively weighted wheel over a period of 8 weeks to build muscles, then taken off the wheel for 12 weeks, or "detrained."
This was followed by a four-week period of retraining. These mice were then compared against a control group that was only trained for four weeks. Findings indicated that the previously trained cohort saw accelerated gains in muscle growth after retraining when compared to the control group, and that specific epigenetic changes to DNA methylation persisted after the original training.
So next time you have a break from the gym, don't sweat it, the gains are not all lost.