The Playbook For The Modern Man

Fitness Coach Reveals How Muscle Memory Can Help You Get Bigger Gains

Rest days are the new gains days.

As soon as we all step foot in a gym, we expect hope to make big gains, quickly. The reality is though; it can take a long time to make any real aesthetic differences to our bodies. Thus, perseverance is key.

It can be easy to take a break from the weight bench if you think you’re not making progress, which in turn has further negative effects. We perceive our bodies lose any gained muscle quickly, putting us back to square one.

However, while that may be the case for those that take a prolonged break from the fitness factory, recent research suggests it’s not as hard to regain any lost poundage as you may think, thanks to muscle memory.

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𝙒𝙃𝘼𝙏 𝙄𝙎 𝙈𝙐𝙎𝘾𝙇𝙀 𝙈𝙀𝙈𝙊𝙍𝙔🧠 👇𝙏𝙖𝙜 𝙖 𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙚𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙣𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙛𝙤!👇 – Follow @P.T.Pete for daily fitness/nutrition tips and knowledge!📚 – Unlike octopuses, we don't have brains in our limbs. So we can't really "remember" anything in our arms and legs. But it's true that once you learn how to do something physical—whether it be riding a bike or deadlifting—it becomes easier and easier to do it without thinking. It sure feels like your body remembers how to do it. – Most people are referring to this phenomenon when they talk about "muscle memory," but when biologists and neuroscientists study it they mean at least two slightly different things, though only one actually happens inside your muscles. – If you've never held a barbell in your life, the first time you try working out with one it'll probably feel heavy and awkward. You'll need to work your way up to lifting impressive poundage. But if you take a break from working out and return months later, you'll find it's much easier to get back up to the weights you were lifting before. And the same is true no matter what your exercise of choice—it's simply easier to put lost muscle back on than it is to bulk up for the first time. – Some biologists have done elaborate experiments in recent years to try to figure out why that is. Their current theory: that even as muscles shrink, muscle cells stick around. – See, when you stress your muscles to the point of hypertrophy, they grow new cells to get stronger. For a long time, the idea was that the same thing happens in reverse if you don't use your muscles—those cells should die off. But that might not be quite right. – Recent research where biologists, like Kristian Gundersen at the University of Oslo, tag specific cells to track their growth or decay have found that myonuclei shrink down without disappearing as muscles atrophy. – 𝐑𝐞𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞: Muscle memory and a new cellular model for muscle atrophy and hypertrophy — Kristian Gundersen — Journal of Experimental Biology 2016 219: 235-242;doi: 10.1242/jeb.124495

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Referencing research from the University of Oslo, personal trainer Peter O’Reilly says re-beefing up after a break from the gym can be as easy as riding a bike. The science says that when you work out your muscles to the point of hypertrophy – the increase in volume, rather than the number of, muscle cells – but then take a break, the muscle cells actually retain the nuclei they receive from satellite cells.

Let’s break away for a quick ‘Muscles: 101’ lesson. Muscle cells contain multiple nuclei, called myonuclei. The nucleus in each muscle cell acts as a brain, increasing or decreasing the production of various cellular chemicals as and when needed. Each nucleus can only work so hard though, but because each muscle cell contains multiple nuclei, they have the potential to grow larger.


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To increase in size, the muscle cells need to take myonuclei from other, neighbouring cells, the most common of which are satellite cells. Scientists now believe that the myonuclei donated from the satellite cells, stay in the muscle cell they were donated to, forever. This means you won’t need to go through the donation process all over again when you begin training again.

The downside to this is while you may regain any lost muscle quicker than it took to put it on, you won’t put on new muscle quicker. For that, you will still need to go through the same process, but because you have larger and stronger muscles, you will be able to lift heavier weights, which in turn calls upon new satellite cells to donate their myonuclei.


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Here are 5 of my GO-TO exercises to hit when training shoulders 👌🏽🔥. Building bigger, more proportionate shoulders has been one of my main goals over the past 18 months and i’m pretty pleased with the progress i’ve made so far. By increasing my shoulder training frequency and volume, being consistent and implementing a solid base of nutrition i’ve seen pretty sick results. If you have certain areas that are lagging, rather than just trying to do loads of new random exercises to “shock your muscles”, focus on increasing the frequency / overall volume per week and be consistent. It might take a little more hard work and dedication but you’ll get there 🙏🏽💫 ———— ⠀⠀⠀ Full workout details below ⚡️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EXERCISE 1: 💥 Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 4 x 10 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EXERCISE 2: 💥 Single Arm Arnold Press – 4 x 10 (each arm) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EXERCISE 3: 💥 Seated Lateral Raise – 4 x 10-12 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EXERCISE 4: 💥 Seated Hammer Front Raise – 4 x 10 (each arm) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ EXERCISE 5: 💥 Behind The Neck Press (Smith Machine) – 4 x 10-12 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Don’t forget to HIT SAVE and tag a friend you want to try it with! 🙌🏽 ———— #thebalancefam #workoutvideo #shoulderworkout #bouldershoulders

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It’s a constant cycle and one that takes commitment, but at least you can now be safe in the knowledge that you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym every day to make ‘dem gains.


So have a break every now and then, you deserve it.

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