The bar is loaded with heavy weight, you psych yourself up by rocking out to your favorite music, do the Layne Norton mad stomp across the gym floor, un-rack the bar, and start your lift with perfect form, but then you hear a pop, feel a pull, or even worse a tear.   At this point you freak out because you know this means time away from heavy training and that means you are going to lose gains.

We have all had situations where we have been forced to take a significant amount of time out of the gym whether due to injury, a busy work schedule, extended travel, or loss of motivation.  During these times, it doesn’t take long to start noticing muscle loss.

However, once you get back into the gym training heavy again, your lost muscle mass is rapidly re-gained and before you know it your strength and size are right back to where you were pre-layoff.  This rapid growth is commonly said to be due to “muscle memory.”


What causes muscle memory?

To answer this question we need to first discuss skeletal muscle anatomy and the response of skeletal muscle to weight training.

Skeletal muscle cells are unique in the fact they are multi-nucleated (they have more than 1 nucleus) whereas most cells in our bodies have a single nucleus.  Multiple nuclei are likely present in muscle cells because each nucleus can only support muscle repair and growth for a certain amount of area (known as a nuclear domain).  Therefore, a larger muscle will require more nuclei to support growth and repair than a smaller muscle.

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