When you speak of muscle memory, the first thing pops into your mind is the motor learning patterns that we acquired while performing a specific task over and over again. In the world fitness, is there really muscle memory? And that would be referring to the actual muscle that you pack on your body.
Fitness lovers always believe that you won’t lose muscle when you stop training, in fact, you will be able to gain the muscle back not only at a faster rate, but also getting much bigger as well. This is no longer a myth, muscle memory is real, and more importantly, it does so at the DNA level.
A study that was in an article published on ScienceDaily, led by the researchers from Keele University, using the latest genome wide techniques, they found that genes were specially marked or unmarked with tags when muscle grows following exercise, then returns to normal and then grows again following training in later life.
These tags are called epigenetic modifications, which controls the activity of the genes. So how does this contribute to muscle memory and the possibility the growth of bigger muscles?
According to the Dr Adam Sharples, the senior and corresponding author of the study and Senior Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Muscle Physiology at Keele University, the genes will become more untagged when we start building muscle while exercising previously. More importantly, the genes will remain untagged even when we stop exercising and begin to lose muscle.
The untagging is better for you, as it will allow the gene respond to more significant muscle growth in the future when you decide to start exercising again, due to the muscle memory it had acquired previously when you were exercising.
With this discovery, it could be a huge breakthrough on how you can train, especially those who are looking to get back into fitness or those who are injured.
“If an athlete’s muscle grows, and then they get injured and lose some muscle, it may help their later recovery if we know the genes responsible for muscle ‘memory’,” said Dr Sharples.
If you are those who have exercised previously and happen to stop due to an injury, don’t worry all hope is not lost, in fact, you will be able to get even stronger and bigger after coming back to train. And for those who haven’t exercised for some time, don’t give up, you could probably look much better than before if you start your training routine again.
One downside of this muscle memory though, it can be an advantage to competitive athletes who used banned substance in competitions, as they might probably retain the muscle they grow while using those substances, though more research on that is still needed.
For the rest of the ordinary folks out there, you can still get those “newbie” gains even if you stop working out for a while and start again. Though consistency is always the key, and you have to be exercising on a regular basis at least and have some muscle to allow the genes to continue being untagged.
Well, for those gym rats out there, yes you are safe, thanks to muscle memory, you can take rest days. Your gains won’t magically disappear even if you take a day off at the gym.