When people usually talk about muscle memory, it’s usually associated with doing something that comes naturally to them, something that’s facile and easy to do.
In reality though, this is derived from the actual meaning of muscle memory; the idea is that an exercise or workout becomes easier on the second attempt. Re-training muscles is easier than training and building them initially which is many exercises become easier the second time. This acceleration in progress is a scientifically proven phenomenon known as muscle memory.
A fact about muscles is that muscle cells are rather large and more importantly contain several nuclei. As you build your muscles through any physical exercise, new nuclei are added to the cells, allowing them to grow larger. The more the number of nuclei, the bigger the muscle size. Some scientists now believe that new nuclei are permanently attached to muscles and cannot be lost during the muscle’s lifetime.
So even after you stop training, the nuclei added during training are retained – the exact duration is hard to pinpoint. Every time you stop and start training, your muscles grow faster because that one step is skipped. The nuclei already present are ready to synthesize muscle protein again and kick into action at a moment’s notice. That’s when you keep the body’s machinery well-oiled. This is the essence of muscle memory.
Regular training – with a systematic approach – and proper recovery periods will keep your muscles activated for much longer, allowing you to make full use of them in that state. And that’s also why a few weeks off from training won’t do us irreversible damage.