MUSCLE MEMORY, RE-TRAINING & SARCOPENIA

Amandeep Pandey
Amandeep Pandey

 | 1 minute to read
Exercise Science

Muscle memory is not actually that our muscles remembers anything but it’s a theory revolving around the fact that it is easier to build muscles the second time after detraining (not having trained your muscles for a while), compared to the efforts and time it took while building it for the first time.

How do we build muscles for the first time? Muscle cells are large and multinuclear, that is, it can accommodate more than one nuclei. As we train our muscles, and stimulate them to grow by damaging them, primarily by the process of progressive overload, satellite cells are infused to the muscle as a part of the process of repairing it. Some of these satellite cells act as a new nuclei in the muscle fiber. With these additional nuclei, the muscle fiber can now synthesize more protein to supplement the growing muscle fiber. And that is what leads to gain in size of the muscles. What happens when we stop training? When we stop training, rate of protein degradation exceeds the rate of protein synthesis as there is no more stimulus generated that would trigger the muscles to grow hence muscles starts to shrink slowly. However, the nuclei gained previously, are not lost. And this is a good news because the formation of new nuclei in the muscle cells take a lot of efforts and time when we try to build muscles for the first time. So, if we have a fair amount of experience in resistance training under our belt and for some reason or the other, we got into a phase of detraining for a while, and when we start training again, it becomes comparatively easier to build the size this time. Reason being, the hardest part of building the size by adding more nuclei to the muscle cells has already been done. Therefore, because of the availability of more nuclei, the rate of protein synthesis is much higher resulting in quick growth in the size of muscle fibers. This is another reason why resistance training is good for everyone. As evidence says, adding resistance training the routine does some permanent physiological changes in the human body. It implies, that most of the muscle mass built during young age, with proper nutrition and resistance training, is retained even when we turn old. Sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age, is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. The few causes of sarcopenia, like loss of neuromuscular junctions (contact between a motor neuron and a muscle fiber responsible for transmitting signals to muscle fiber for contraction, and hence growth), reduced satellite cell numbers (responsible for providing new nuclei to the muscle cells helping it synthesize more protein and hence helping muscles to grow), and hormonal changes can all be balanced out with the introduction of proper resistance training in one’s lifestyle depending on their age and experience in resistance training. That will help the elderly maintain a fair amount of muscle mass which in turn is going to help maintain properly functioning body for a longer period of time. References: https://www.pnas.org/content/107/34/15111.abstract https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040371 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3381813/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25568649 Image courtesy : Exercise Medicine

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