Muscles Bounce Back to 'Remembered' Strength

They come back quickly even after lazy years

By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 23, 2010 3:07 AM CDT | Updated Aug 23, 2010 7:28 AM CDT

(Newser) – Good news for former jocks who've been lazing around for years: You can regain your former muscle strength in a fraction of the time it would take lifelong non-athletes, thanks to muscles' long-lasting "memory" of their former strength. A new study has found that rather than reverting back to their starting condition when strength training is halted, muscles undergo permanent structural changes through exercise—and can quickly regain former strength.

But the new muscle nuclei exercise generates are easier to create when you're young, so it's better to build strength early in life if you want your muscles to "remember" later, NPR reports. The new discovery could be bad news for steroid users: The fact that muscles permanently preserve the advantage they've gained through doping is an argument for banning those who've been caught doping from competition for life.

Female bodybuilder Skadi Frei performs at the fitness fair FIBO in Essen, western Germany, this year.
Female bodybuilder Skadi Frei performs at the fitness fair FIBO in Essen, western Germany, this year.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
His muscles will be remembering this for a long time: bodybuilder Jose Botet performs at the fitness fair FIBO in Essen, western Germany, earlier this year.
His muscles will be remembering this for a long time: bodybuilder Jose Botet performs at the fitness fair FIBO in Essen, western Germany, earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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