Why muscle memory is your best friend after a break from exercising


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If you feel bad because you can’t remember the last time you exercised, or you’re dreading the thought of starting your fitness regimen all over, don't. Your muscles got your back. If you had put in the work before you stopped working out (due to an injury or otherwise) your muscles will repay you by making it easier for you to return to your old, badass, self — thanks to muscle memory.

When you’re performing an activity, your brain is in constant communication with your muscles, tendons and joints. “Your brain creates pathways through your central nervous system, and movements become automatic," Wayne Westcott, fitness research director at Quincy College in Massachusetts, told Women’s Health. Those “pathways” become accustomed to the movements needed to perform an exercise or sport, and become your muscle memory.

"Muscles actually have a memory of their former strength — and that memory may last indefinitely," University of Oslo physiologist Kristian Gundersen told NPR.

Building muscle generates new muscle nuclei, which Gundersen calls the "small factories that will produce new muscle" in her interview with NPR.  

Perform strength training and cardio workouts when you are young and you’ll be better off when you’re older. Besides the fact that it’s good for your bones, your body’s ability to create muscle decreases as you age, so the more you work out now, the better off you’ll be later in life.


Steroids and muscle memory

A new study by researchers at the University of Oslo revealed that anabolic steroids may have long-lasting, or even permanent, performance-enhancing effects among athletes who briefly used the drug. That means the muscle nuclei they developed with dope stays with them, long after they stopped using the stuff. These new findings may effect the World Anti-Doping Agency’s maximum exclusion time for offenders, which is currently two years.