MUSCLE MEMORY, SPORT HISTORY & ABS
They say not to look back on the past, but to fix your eyes on the present & future; however reflections from time to time on the past allow us to appreciate todays and tomorrows.
NOW you may be thinking....How can my past positively affect my abs in the present/future?
Let's unpack muscle memory & your sport history.
For those of you who once had a tight tummy or nice abs in your "prime", you are actually NOT that far way from achieving those goals once again....!
If you’ve spent any amount of time working out and then taken a break, you probably noticed that in the first 2 weeks off you lost quite a bit of muscle strength and size. They say in about 14 days time you can lose 10-12% of your muscle strength and within 6 months or more of inactivity, most lose the visible traces (muscle mass and definition) of being and feeling fit. This is actually one of the largest factors that leave many who struggle to stick with it, feeling unmotivated to get back in a gym. They feel they need to "start all over". Losing the gains and benefits of your prior discipline can be frustrating, BUT do not lose hope!
Muscle memory works for us to regain strength; however NOT muscle size or definition.
Muscle memory is a neurological component. Take for example back in the day when your parents may have forced you to play piano. The songs were a challenge to play seamlessly at first, but once your body memorized the movements, you could probably talk, sing or close your eyes and play the song.
The same goes for riding a bike. If you don't ride a bike for 10 years, you haven't forgotten how, you just need to get back on and practice a little to get back to the comfort and skill level you once held. This is in a sense how muscle memory works. When you begin to workout again your brain remembers the movements and adapts quickly allowing your body to accelerate quickly in strength to where you once had been.
So, if muscle memory helps with muscle strength, what about muscle size and definition? Do we just have to start from 0 all over again? No.
When you tore muscle and let it heal in the past (built mass) you added new nuclei to your muscle fiber that do not go away.
Regain Muscle Mass:
- When we workout our muscles get overloaded and new nuclei are acquired for the first time. With consistent training and proper diet (getting enough protein), these nuclei synthesize new muscle proteins aka the muscle fibers grow larger (muscles get bigger).
- With a lack of working out (detraining), these new muscle fibers are resistant to atrophy due to the increased amount of nuclei; however if detraining continues long enough, protein degradation rates exceed protein synthesis and our muscles shrink in size.
- When we resume training, our muscles grow rapidly in size (to where they once had been) because our prior nuclei is already there, ready to synthesize muscle proteins again.
“Many years ago we used to think that once your muscles atrophy, whether from disuse or injury, then you’ll never get them back. We thought muscles just died and that’s the end of it, but now we realize we were wrong all along.” -Dr Michael Callaghan, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist at Manchester University.
"Training is easier for the guy toting a dadbod (who once worked out) vs. the skinny-fat guy who’s never touched a dumbbell" - Mens Health
Your Sport history?
ALONG with muscle memory, the sports you once played actually helped SHAPE and FORM your physique. It is from the repetitive movements and growth of muscle to do these movements that shaped our figure. We often keep this body structure, if it was a sport we played for several years i.e. -a swimmer typically will have a larger back and once they begin to train again, it will get back to its prior size and strength. Now, if a swimmer dislikes having a large back, they will have to modify their training to modify their build.
Ever walked into a store and you just KNEW someone had been a dancer or gymnast? We have a friend in his 50's who had been a gymnast in his youth. He doesn't workout and actually despises working out. BUT he still has the build of a gymnast. If he were to begin working out, he would put on muscle mass and strength RAPIDLY. His body structure adapted as a young boy to cope with his muscles being activated, torn and built for the movements of gymnastics.
How does this play into our ABS? Below is a list of the top sports that most easily develop a 6 pack and/or keep a tight tummy. Perhaps in High School or College you played one of these sports and had washboard abs? Or maybe you had an extremely strong core back then, but weren't eating right to reveal the 6 pack you DID have. The good news is, by weight lifting, doing ab routines again and eating well, your sport history can and will easily help you reveal your abs once again!
SPORT HISTORY: Top sports that develop abs
- Boxing and Martial Arts
- Pole Vaulting
- Long distance running
- Cross country skiing
Muscle memory and our sport history are good news for us! Not only do they aide to help us recoup abs, but they help those getting back into the gym again, not lose all hope! Muscle mass and strength can be regained substantial faster for those who had once been consistently active.
PERHAPS you DIDN'T play sports in the past?
Don't get discouraged! The beauty of the human body is that it adapts and can be morphed. In High School I was extremely petite. I was a competitive distance runner with low body fat and weight. It felt like no matter how much I ate, I could not gain. As I grew and learned, I realized I wasn't training right to GAIN and I wasn't EATING right. I was eating essentially an ALL carb diet with bits of protein here and there.
Over the course of time (2 years of crazy discipline and sacrifice) I was able to build the physique you see below, a strong and muscular build. Now today I don't prefer to be as THICK as I once was, so I changed up my eating and training, but the beauty is YOU can mold your body.
SO if you weren't an athlete before NOR an active person in the weight room, just get started and as you persevere over time, you will build the strength and mass you are looking for and MUSCLE MEMORY will also become your friend. :)