November 21st, 2022
Just as your memory can recall certain events from the previous day or year, your body can also remember movement patterns, which is referred to as muscle memory.
Muscle memory is stored in your motor neurons through repetitive movements, which means your body doesn’t have to create new neural connections, rather it ‘retrieves’ and strengthens previous ones. Plus, once a muscle has been pre-stretched, it’s much easier to build back up again.
Research even shows how exercise, including strength training, creates adaptive changes in the nervous system. This means that within a month or two of getting back into a similar routine, you can easily regain muscle strength and size, which is good news for those of us that were fit ‘back in the day’ but have let things slide over time.
Using Muscle Memory to Your Advantage
Of course, muscle memory alone won’t get you to your goals. You need to take action via weight training to reignite that muscle memory. And what you do outside the gym also matters! Here are a few tips for getting back into it:
1. Fuel Muscle Strength
You’ll want to pay attention to your nutritional intake, including eating adequate calories, protein, carbs, fats, and micronutrients. This will help fuel muscle strength and growth, as well as support recovery.
2. Take time to rest
Hitting the gym every day will likely result in injury and burnout. It’s not sustainable. Thus, it’s best to plan for rest days in between your exercise days to allow time for your body to recover fully before adding that stimulus all over again.
3. Be patient
Muscle memory will help you gain muscle mass faster, but it isn’t an overnight process. For many, it can take six to eight weeks (or more) to get back to where you were, depending on your starting point. Consistency counts for a lot here!
It's Never Too Late
At Nielsen Fitness, we specialize in working with older adults. As such, many of our clients have begun training (well) after 40 and have achieved phenomenal results in as little as 90 days. As you may already know, after the age of 40, most individuals lose about 3% of lean muscle tissue per year. But thanks to muscle memory, it’s possible to counteract that and instead regain the strength and muscle you had in your youth (even if you weren’t a jock in your younger years!).