It’s long been known that retraining muscle is easier than the first time around, but what’s the real story behind “muscle memory?”

If you’ve spent any amount of time lifting weights, taken a break for a bit, and then started back up again, you probably noticed that you seemed to regain strength and size much quicker than the first time around.

Well, this isn’t your mind playing tricks on you–the acceleration in progress is a scientifically verified phenomenon often referred to as “muscle memory,” but what is actually going on?

Neurological mechanisms can explain the rapid regain of strength, but not muscle size. Do muscle fibers have some sort of “memory” of their previous, more conditioned states? Or is something else responsible for these effects?

Let’s find out.

References

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1827108

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3698983

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12813146

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/34/15111

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040371

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20713720

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18440990

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15355854

http://www.pnas.org/content/107/34/15111.abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7166986

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7493199

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8371654

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