Ever wondered why a newbie slogging it out in the gym will take months to gain any real definition, yet a seasoned gym junkie, who has been away from the gym for months on end (And perhaps enjoyed more than a few desserts and drinks in that time) is able to get back to their original fit physique in what seems like half the time?
If this is a question that has been keeping you up at night I am here to help ease your mind...
The simple answer is this: Your muscles remember!
Okay, so muscles don’t actually have their own individual brains per say, but the fibres themselves, or muscle cells, do have a very unique quality that sets them apart from other cells in the body.
To explain this I am going to have to get a little technical, so bear with me…
Muscle fibres, or cells, are known as myocytes. These myocytes are long tubular cells that are actually made up of many smaller embryonic, cells called myoblasts, all linked together. Now what makes these cells unique is that normally a cell is comprised of one nuclei (the nuclei being the ‘brain’ part of the cell that contains all the DNA/information), yet each of these mini myoblasts has its own nuclei that it brings to the party.
Unfortunately having more nuclei doesn’t actually mean more brain power. Instead it has a different advantage. When you cease using muscles over a period of time these muscles start to atrophy and wither away (this happens quicker than you might expect!).
On the plus side though, as these muscles shrink and atrophy, the nuclei remain intact. So when it comes to you resuming your exercising, your shrunken muscles still have all the information for how it was to be bigger and stronger. This means that even though you are still going to have to work hard at building them back up again, you might notice that they regain their strength and endurance in less time than it took you initially!
It will still require hard work and dedication, so ideally it's best not to stop in the first place. However if you do have to stop exercising for an extended period of time, it is nice to know that your muscles will remember, and help get you back to fitting fit quicker and more efficiently!