Muscle Memory Bodybuilding Gains
If you have ever taken a long break from training (up to 3 months) then you will know that in only a few weeks you are somehow able to get your strength and muscle size back to where you were before the break. This muscle memory phenomenon was studied and it was agreed that it was from neural adaptation.
The problem is that when explaining muscle memory using the nervous mechanisms as an explanation it explains the re-gaining of strength but it does not explain the return of muscle size. Recent studies on the subject of muscle memory have taught us something else.
Muscle cells are complex and constantly changing to adapt which means they need more than the average stimulus to keep track of these changes. Science has recently discovered that a large muscle has more nuclei than a small muscle, sometimes a well-developed muscle can have thousands more nuclei than a normal undeveloped muscle cell.
It was always assumed by the sports science specialists that when we stop training these muscle cell nuclei start to disappear just like your neural adaptations that simply fade away when not being used. When a typical movement is not done on a regular basis and stopped it needs to be re-learned.
Recent research done on this subject showed that after taking a break from training/exercise for up to 3 months there is little or no reduction in the amount of nuclei present. The muscle cell now has the same amount of nuclei as we had when we last trained, the nucleus does not disappear as predicted, it stays there for up to 3 months.
These extra nuclei that were developed to enlarge the size of the muscle become like "memory cells" and can hold the potential size of a muscle hidden away for 90 days. Sports science has now proven that the muscle nuclei knows exactly how much muscle it was holding before you stopped training.
The nuclei that start to fall away after three months do not all disappear at the same time. It is a slow process and muscle memory can sometimes last for years depending on how long training was done before stopping. The abundant muscle nuclei in a well-developed muscle can sometimes enable muscle memory years after stopping.