What is Muscle Memory? Athletic Development and Learning Skills
Ever wondered why that person in the gym learns things faster than you, their body shape changes quicker than yours or how can that person can not go to the gym for months and go back to the gym like they have had no time off at all? There are a few factors which this can be but in this blog will help you understand muscle memory and how this plays a important role in both learning skills and athletic development.
You always here people say both in the gym and out “your muscle memory is better than mine” or “you used to train when you were younger so it comes back to you much quicker” but do they actual know the true meaning of muscle memory.
2. Muscle Memory and Athletic Development
Now the second part of the theory on muscle memory is that you can initially regain size and strength more quickly and easily than you initially acquired it. This is all down to the amount of Nuclei you have in your body. Nuclei control protein synthesis and the more you have, the more your body physical structure is going to change. When you first start training your muscles are not interested in growing and what they are actually interested in is creating more nuclei which over time will facilitate the growth and development of more muscle tissue. Muscles are big and one or two nuclei aren’t enough, which is why you need to wait to see your development as your nuclei are playing catch up.
Now to put that simple and provide an example. Think of a time when you had been training, doing well, making progress on something like your running time or weightlifting PB’s and then disaster strikes, and you’re injured.
When you’ve felt good enough to return you try and go back to the same level as before and you simply can’t – but then slowly after a couple more attempts in the coming days you seem to make an improvement more quickly than you would have anticipated. This is when muscle memory becomes a factor:
- When you weight train, you damage muscle fibres.
- This causes nearby satellite cells to rush to damaged muscle cells and donate nuclei for the repair and recovery process.
- These additional myonuclei increase the muscle cells’ ability to grow bigger and stronger.
- Myonuclei stick around for a very long time, possibly forever inside of a muscle cell
- If you’ve gained a considerable amount of muscle and then lose a considerable amount for whatever reason, your body is ready for rapid muscle regrowth when you recommence training because you already have the increased stored myonuclie in the muscle cells.
- For someone who has not trained before, they have to go threw this myonuclei growth stage before their body will change in any shape or form. This is why when people who have trained previously will change faster because they already have this increased myonuclei in their muscles from training previously as research suggests that myonuclei does not die.
1. Muscle Memory and Learning Skills
The famous saying practice makes perfect applies here.
You might have heard people mention the term muscle memory when you’ve been training and exercising. Muscle memory can also be referred to as motor memory and it refers to your body’s memory to perform certain actions.
The 2 parts of the brain which are responsible for controlling the muscle memory are the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. They help to learn sequences of actions and help to adjust errors in learning in order to improve our ability to perform the movements correctly.
In order to learn movements and make them habits which can be performed efficiently you must go through a process of attempting the movements and then refining these movements until you are happy with how you perform them and the movement or behaviour becomes learned and ‘hard wired’. A good example of this could be the first time you play a new sport or try a different technique in the gym. It feels weird, you maybe fail a few times but slowly but surely you are able to improve your technique During this process you go from thinking really hard about how to improve it to performing it effortlessly without thinking!
The best example of motor memory would be learning to drive or to ride a bicycle – combinations of movements which at first are extremely difficult but once mastered are performed mostly without extensive thinking.
These 2 main points help us to summarise:
- The rate at which you gain muscle and the amount you gain are largely decided by the number of new nuclei that are added to muscle cells.
- Intense and frequent resistance training appears to permanently increase the number of nuclei available in muscle cells.
When you weight or resistance train – or any repetitive loading of tissues – you are working to make yourself bigger and stronger but also to improve the capacity of the muscle for its long-term potential to build muscle.
Stopping your training or exercising will cause you to lose strength and conditioning but not the ability for your body to remember and its ability to build muscle.
This means that your recovery back to your former condition should take less time than it initially took to achieve.
Its important to remember that this process does not help you build new muscle you’ve never had before – this comes down to commitment to exercise, good diet and a focus on progressive overload with your training to place stress on the muscles. Good sleep and recovery techniques are also key to progression in your training and injury avoidance.
At MSK sports injury clinic in Newcastle Upon Tyne – we offer a range of therapies which aid your performance in sport and exercise and enhance your ability to recover with treatments such as deep tissue and sports massage, shockwave therapy, dry cupping and medical acupuncture. We also offer rehabilitation services if you are suffering from an injury then we can guide you through the recovery process. If you are recovering from an injury – or want to be more proactive with your injury prevention, we have a therapy that is right for you and can keep your body on track.
Book online today or get in touch with the clinic to see how we can help you.