Muscle Memory

Nancy Heijnis
10 October 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes

You may have heard of it: Muscle Memory. But what exactly is this and how does it work? We explain it to you in this blog!

In Dutch, Muscle Memory is also called muscle memory. This is a process in the nervous system that allows you to remember motor skills. It's kind of like learning new skills. You can compare it with learning to play a musical instrument, but also with more everyday activities such as cycling, typing or tying your shoelaces. All activities that you first have to learn, but which you then carry out unconsciously without any problems. Even if you don't do the activity for a long period of time, you can easily pick it up again afterwards. This works similarly with muscle memory. The process of muscle memory can even take a lifetime.

How Does Muscle Memory Work?

When an activity is performed with repetition, neurons in certain parts of the brain are activated. This creates a new neural pathway between the central nervous system and the muscles that move. This allows you to perform tasks without consciously thinking about it. Even after a long break or interruption, you still know how to do something. In this way you remain able to perform motor skills and you remain physically strong. This ensures that muscle memory also has benefits for athletes.

Muscle Memory and Its Benefits for Athletes

Muscle memory offers athletes several benefits. By memorizing some movements and functions, athletes are able to perform these functions more quickly and accurately. For example, because of the muscle memory, a boxer can quickly avoid an opponent without even having to consciously think about it. Dancers and gymnasts also benefit from muscle memory. They are able to perform various exercises without losing their balance.

How does muscle memory contribute to muscle strength?

In addition to the benefits in terms of speed and accuracy, muscle memory also has benefits when you train your muscles with strength training or weight lifting. When you train your muscles for muscle building, you damage muscle fibers which then recover more strongly. At this point, muscle growth, also known as hypertrophy, takes place. The number of nuclei in your muscle cells is one of the most important factors that determine your muscle size. However, if you temporarily stop training, muscle loss will occur, also known as muscle atrophy. Although your muscles become thinner and less powerful during muscle loss, the muscle fiber nuclei remain behind in your muscle tissue. If you then start training again, these muscle fiber cores will switch to protein synthesis. This ensures that your muscles grow again and you get your strength back. In short, muscle memory ensures that you build muscle faster than when you perform a training with untrained muscles for the first time.

How long does your muscle memory last?

Do you take a short break between training sessions and competitions or a longer break because of an injury, for example? You keep the benefit of muscle memory! The muscle memory ensures that you do not have to start from scratch. You don't have to worry that all the hard work in the gym has been for nothing when you take a long vacation or break. Muscle memory ensures that this is not the case. Therefore, start exercising early, then you will benefit from it for the rest of your life!

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