Published on August 23rd, 2014 | by Margaret Pardoe0
Muscle memory is all in the mind!
From your brain’s perspective, exercise is like anything that requires coordination – such as riding a bike. At first it requires conscious effort and you have to pay really close attention to balancing, pedaling, leaning and turning – all in synchronicity. But, once learned, it becomes subconscious. And then you can ride a bike with no thought at all.
So. muscle memory refers to the fact that you are able to exercise better because your experience has made you efficient at the movements. You’ve learned to control your body, how to flex muscles and how to recruit maximum muscle fibres. This is called procedural memory and is simply the “storing” of a specific motor task into memory through repetition. Like riding a bike, your body never forgets it.
You therefore could assume that if you’re better able to flex your muscles and have better coordination, your workouts will also be better and quicker and you’ll see results faster. If you held a bike race between someone who’s never ridden a bike and someone who hadn’t ridden for years, the newcomer would almost certainly lose. just starting out.
Or, if you had surgery and were unable to do something for many months that previously you had been doing regularly, such as weight training, it is likely that within weeks you could be back to lifting nearly the same weights as pre-surgery.
It isn’t about your body growing muscles back faster, wanting to be a certain size or carry a specific amount of muscle. Instead, it’s neurological – firing the synapses off and using available muscle.
And then there’s muscle amnesia!
Muscle amnesia, a completely unofficial term, refers to the fact that muscle memory seems to diminish in capacity after the age of about 50+. As muscle is increasingly lost with age, it also seems that the time to reach your previous level of competence takes correspondingly longer after a break. The secret to staying strong and fit as you enter the second half century, is to try and avoid taking breaks from whatever exercise you do.
And do what you love, so you are less likely to choose to take a break!