Muscle Memory

Muscle Memory (or Muscle Science) is a phenomenon whereby it is much easier to regain lost muscle mass than it is to put on new (initial) muscle mass.

Shrinking muscle or losing gains is a fear that many gym goers and lifters fear.

  1. Back when I was in college I broke my ankle pretty severely.  I spent 12 weeks on crutches and lost most of the muscle in my calf.  In fact, the muscle had diminished so much that I would play with it and watch it fling back and forth like a pendulum.  Once I was “back on my feet again” (literally), I was surprised at how quickly I regained the muscle in my leg.
  2. When guys walk back into my gym after taking months off from their training, I watch as their gains increase quite rapidly and their muscles grow so quickly, it’s like they never even stopped.

The reason:  The arc of building muscle size and strength lies in your nuclei.  Nuclei control protein synthesis.  The more nuclei you have, the more protein you are able to turn into muscle.  The first effect training has on your muscles is not actually growth; it’s to create more nuclei, which eventually facilitate the development of more tissue.

Screen-Shot Muscle

Via

Further, our muscle fibers have satellite cells which donate myonuclei.  The myonuclei allows the cells to grow larger.  Once your muscle fibers get bigger, more myonuclei are required because they can’t regulate that size fiber any longer.  They have reached their maximum limit or myonuclei domain.  Resistance training induces permanent physiological changes to your muscle fibers.  The first time you begin strength training, your muscles adapt and become bigger and stronger, which is facilitated by increasing the muscle nuclei (aka myonuclei).

Muscle

Via

Myonuclei are permanent.  Although it was widely believed that once muscles started to atrophy, the cell death, or apoptosis, occurred and the myonuclei were removed. However, current studies have shown that the myonuclei still exist even after period of not training or inactivity.  Previously untrained muscles acquire newly formed nuclei by fusion of satellite cells preceding the hypertrophy.  Detraining or inactivity leads to atrophy, but not loss of myonuclei,  The elevated number of nuclei in muscle fibers in a hypertrophic episode would provide for muscle memory and long-lasting effects of training.  Because they are still present, these cells skip the process of creating new myonuclei, allowing atrophy and gains to occur at a faster rate than the initial gains.  By skipping the first step of satellite fusion and nuclear donation, new nuclei increases new muscle protein synthesis.

Just like riding a bike…

When muscles shrink due to inactivity (i.e. when training is stopped for a significant amount of time), it is much easier to rebuild that lost or shrunken muscle.  And it takes less  time to rebuild that mass, than it took to build it initially.

New myonuclei in muscle fibers are added before any major increase in size during overload.  Old and new nuclei are retrained during severe atrophy.  The myonuclei are protected from the high apoptotic activity in inactive muscle tissue.  So, even as muscle shrinks, the nuclei remain present.

If you are someone who has never trained before, then you do not have the accumulation of myonuclei, but it is easy to get, since basically everything we do is a stress.  Unlike someone who is already training, who will find that it becomes harder and harder to stress the muscle out.

And although you may lose the muscle, you don’t lose the myonuclei.  Any myonuclei accrued from previous training remains in the muscle fiber.  So, even though your muscles have gotten smaller because you haven’t used them, you still have the results of your previous hard work – this being the myonuclei – so you can bounce back fairly easily.

When training is resumed, muscles are able to grow rapidly because the initial stage of adding nuclei is skipped and, once the nuclei are roused, they can set about synthesizing protein pretty quickly.

Muscle memory is also why physiologists recommend filling your muscles with as many nuclei as you can while you’re young.  Building muscle gets harder as you age, whereas maintenance is easy.  The type 1 fibers dominate when you get older, and the type 2 fibers (the fast-twitch fibers) tend to wane, but they’re still there.

So, get to the gym and take advantage of building myonuclei while you can.  And just as importantly, if you’ve been pumping away for a while, afraid to take a break because of fear of loss of gains, go ahead and rest.  It takes a very long time to lose the gains you’ve worked so hard to accrue.  And, as per my recent post, Rest Days are just as important in attaining your goals.

~FB

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August Challenges

It’s been a little while since I have posted any challenges, and with the start of a new month just around the corner, I figured…..why not!

So here you go.  I’m posting two separate challenges.  You can do one or both.

The Awesome August Abs Challenge

August Challenge

The 30 Days of Abs and Squats Challenge

30 day challenge

These challenges can be mini workouts or a compliment to your regular exercise routine.

What I love about challenges is that they are a simple, yet effective way to keep you moving almost daily (remember to take your rest days!).  If you are a newbie to exercise, it’s also a great way to begin a workout regime.  AND, you can do the workouts right from your home – if you don’t want to leave the house.

Give one or both of these challenges a-go and see how you make out for the month of August.

~FB

Confessions

Inadequate
I’ve recently had to confess to someone why I’m such a nag.  I’ve owned up to my feelings of inadequacy and why, to this day, I still don’t feel like I measure up.  I can freely admit I have never felt beautiful.
I grew up the little fat girl.  It’s embarrassing to say this still, but I need to speak my truth. I was fat, chubby, chunky.  And I heard about it all the time.  I was teased and called names and shamed – from a tiny child until adulthood.  Being fat was never out of my reach.  And I still feel it.  I still feel like it.
Once I was old enough to figure out I could do something about my weight, I tried.  I did my best.  But, I was a teenager and I didn’t think things through and I took the “easy” route – resorting to eating disorders.  Starving, purging, non-binge purging, excessive exercise.  I damn near killed myself and ended up hurting the people around me.  I screwed up my body, my health, and my mental well-being.  I spent a lot of time getting better.  A lot of wasted time that could have been better spent for a 16, 17, 18 year old girl.
And then I was fat again.
Fast forward to years later and finally really figuring it out – for real – the fitness and nutrition part – and losing that weight and feeling better about myself.  BUT, I’m still the fat girl.  I still feel like the fat girl.  I can’t shake it.  Dammit!  I am still often focused on what’s wrong with me rather than what’s right with me.
And so, I often feel inadequate.  I feel like I don’t measure up to the standards some people have, and I nag them.  I NAG them.  I pester.  And it’s shitty.  Because, I’m not a jerk.  I’m not an asshole.  I just wear my heart on my sleep and I think the worst and I worry.  I still feel like a little (fat) girl.
And it’s even shittier because I’m an adult.  I have a good job, and I’m funny, and I have a wonderful social circle of friends and family; but I feel bad.  I feel like I’m hurting my relationships with people because of my pestering nature and I’m screwing up friendships before they even happen.  Because I still feel like the fat girl and I feel like I have to earn my way.
When my clients tell me they are struggling with their fitness or their nutrition or their self-esteem, I can tell them I can relate – because I’ve been in their shoes (and often still feel like I am).  And what’s really important is that I remind them of their self worth.  I have to remind myself sometimes of mine.
Being overweight or lackadaisical with our exercise habits or nutrition doesn’t make us worth less or worthless.  Yet, we continue to put so much emphasis on what we look like, rather than how we feel and on our physical and mental health.  This may seem hypocritical coming from a fitness and nutritional professional, but being healthy is as much mental as it is physical, and the aesthetic side of it should just be a bonus (rather than the main focal point).
Finding out the root of personal issues (like my feeling inadequate) can often help us let go of whatever is holding us back so that we can move forward with a better, healthier life.  Letting go of what hurts us and hinders us so that we can become fit – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
MiniMe
~FB

Day 27 – Combine My Workouts

Day 27 – Combine My Workouts

Today you’re challenge is to combine all the little exercises I’ve given you over the last 27 days:

1. Plank (30 – 60 seconds) x 3
2. Get some steps. It’s a gorgeous day so get out for a walk/run/hike
3. Do the Body Weight Workout from Day 14 (do it twice)
4. Do 50 Push-ups (x1 or x2)
5. Squat. Find the perfect song and squat til you drop. (Well, not really drop.)

You can always find a workout somewhere. #everydayistrainingday

~FB

Day 24 – Drop It Like a Squat

Day 24 – Drop it like a Squat

Pick a song and squat to the whole thing. (I like Take on Me by Aha, or Footloose – both great squatting songs.) Have fun.

squat

Remember to keep the weight in your heels, butt sicks back, keep knees in line with your toes, keep your shoulders lifted (you may tilt slightly). Just think of it as sitting down – without the chair.

squat-infographic.png

~FB

Day 22 – Do My Abs Workout

Day 22 – Do My Abs Workout

We all have abdominal muscles.  Sometimes, we just need a little help “finding” them.  To help you get started with defining your abs, do my workout below:

30 Seconds High Knees / 30 Seconds Scissor Runs / 30 Seconds Crunches / 30 Seconds Bicycles / 30 Seconds High Plank / 30 Plank Jacks / 30 Seconds Leg Lifts (on your back) / 30 Seconds Leg Flutters / 30 Seconds Dead Bug >> Do this short workout (at least) twice. :0)

ab-workout-meme

Tip:

Don’t forget to train the rest of your body. The more muscle mass you have the higher your metabolic rate, even while you’re at rest. Do two to three full-body strength training sessions each week, making sure to take a rest day in between.

You don’t need to rest your abs, however. Because they don’t fatigue as easily, it’s OK to train your abs every day; so aiming for three to five ab-training sessions weekly is just fine.

Cheers.

Day 16 – Make a commitment to Exercise (and stick with it).

Day 16 – Make a commitment to Exercise (and stick with it).

working out

I find that when I actually “commit” to something, my success rate is 100%. If I just say I’m going to do something, sometimes I allow myself to fail. When making a commitment, I follow through…I plan, I figure it out ahead of time so that I have success. So, I challenge you to make the commitment to exercise (start off with a commitment to exercise for even to work out and at what times. Will you go to the gym? Will you do a video or take a class or go running? Commit to it and follow through.

Day 14 – Do My Body Weight Workout

Day 14 – Do my Body Weight Workout

campers

30 seconds Jumping Jacks
30 seconds High Knees
30 seconds Squat Jumps
30 seconds Plank
30 seconds Crunch
30 seconds Burpees
30 seconds Leg Lifts
30 seconds Wall Sit

Do it once, or twice. Or as many times as you like.

I love body weight workouts (also known as calisthenics training).  In fact, most of my boot camps are body weight-based.  here’s why I love them:

1.It allows people to take the guess work out of using fancy equipment;

2. And saves money because you don’t need a gym membership;

3. You can do body weight training anywhere; in your living room, at the park, it doesn’t matter, as long as you have enough room to move;

4. It combines cardio and strength training;

5. It’s extremely efficient and it burns fat fast;

6. It’s great for any fitness level and at any fitness level it can be challenging;

7. It’s great for building balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength – both physically and mentally; and

8. There’s never any reason not to work out.

So go ahead…give it a try.

~FB

 

 

 

Day 5 – Love Thyself

Day 5 – Love Thyself

5-self-love
I know all too well how easy it is to beat myself up for things I dislike about myself. We are our own worst critics, picking apart any and everything about our bodies, our looks, our abilities. So take this time to focus on what you love about yourself! Take a long hard look at yourself (literally and figuratively) and embrace it. Love it. Flaunt it! When you are confident in yourself, others will follow suit and be drawn to you like moths to a flame. Push that negativity aside and show yourself the love.
 
(Here’s a photo of me post-boot camp – sweat, freckles, and all. I could sit here and go on about my big nose and my barely there eyebrows (which have been partly sweated off – Haha!), but instead I’m sharing with you and embracing it.)
freckles
Go ahead and give yourself a hug!
~Fb

Day 3 – Plank

Day 3 – Plank

plank

Get down and give me a 30 – 60 second plank. (Do it several times today, even.) Maintain a long and neutral position, don’t let your hips or pelvis sink. Neutralize the back and spine and keep your head in line with your back. Keep elbows under shoulders, squeeze quads and glutes, toes should be into the floor while pressing your heels back. Remember to breathe.

~FB

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