Physical exercises: Yes, muscle has memory, it’s not a white lie from your trainer | Health and well-being

It’s hard to get back into the gym after the season. It doesn’t matter if you train every day for five years; on that first day after a holiday or long day bridges You will suffer as if it were the first time. Then you will hear the magic sentence: “Cheer up! Muscle has memory”. The trainer will surely say this to convince you that next time it will be better because you have “fund”, the muscles will reward you for your dedication and discipline in the gym, the effort that now seems to have disappeared.

Aaron Santos is an independent personal trainer and has often said the comforting phrase. “I mean the brain’s ability to remember movement patterns and send the correct order to the muscle. The longer you have trained, the more these movements will be internalized in the brain. If you stop training for a month, it is possible that the first exercises will cost you a little, but after ten minutes you will get your rhythm back”.

But is there muscle memory or is it a white lie from the trainer? Apparently, we can talk about something similar to the memory of certain patterns of movement, the mechanism by which riding a bicycle is a skill that cannot be forgotten. However, recent research supports the literal meaning of the term and suggests that there may indeed be a memory capacity in muscle fibers.

These studies show that the core of the muscle cells seems to have its own memory, outside of the memory of the motor neurons, which would rather be the brain’s credit. In 2010, a study in mice already showed that muscle cell nuclei that proliferated in response to training overload did not disappear during periods of inactivity, but remained retained in muscle fibers, waiting to be reactivated by training. .

Experts believe that this mechanism is replicated in humans, and that even if exercise is stopped, muscle cell nuclei will be preserved and muscle growth will continue when training is resumed. This conceptual change served to retrain some atrophied muscles, due to injury or disuse, which until recently were considered lost.

This is how Diego Jerez, coach of Metropolitan Club, explains it. “Muscle fibers are cylindrical and elongated and their nuclei multiply with training. With bodybuilding work, the fibers thicken and create new cores that are not lost even if you stop training and the muscle returns to its previous dimensions. When you go back to the gym, and that’s why it’s said that muscles have memory, you achieve a three times faster increase in muscle mass because those cores have already been built from previous workouts.”

Another theory suggests that the origin of muscle memory is in the way genes adapt to the environment. Physical activity appears to produce certain proteins in muscle cells that facilitate their growth. In the long term, these changes could improve muscle memory.

In both interpretations, it is the amount of physical exercise that determines the strength of muscle memory. Without physical activity there will obviously be very little to remember.

A recent study investigating the impact of resistance training on men between the ages of 50 and 70 even suggests that muscle memory can last a long time. The research examined the effects of an endurance routine followed by rest and then retraining. Each phase lasted twelve weeks. The results showed that the training increased strength between 10% and 36%. When he stopped, there was a loss of strength and power that the researchers quantified at between 5% and 15%. But, and this was the great discovery of the study, the maximal physical levels of the first routine were recovered in less than eight weeks of retraining.

That is, it took less than two months to regain its initial strength after a three-month break. The authors conclude that the speed of getting back in shape depends on the previous condition, duration of rest, age and time of retraining. The better the physical form and the longer the retraining time, the better the muscle memory.

Muscle memory would be like having a good savings account, with the odd fact that you’ll never know exactly how much you have until you start training again.

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