Neural Adaptations and Muscle Memory

Strength training develops neuron pathways that enhance your brain-body coordination during functional movements. This refers to the brain’s ability to recruit muscles to contract and produce a particular movement. Training or practicing a particular movement or exercise teaches your brain to fire the correct muscles and achieve the desired motion. Over time, this technique becomes ingrained in your brain and the movements become automatic. In the beginning, our bodies are just learning to adapt and recruit muscles which is why we see such great improvements as a beginner. We aren’t necessarily always getting “stronger”, rather we are learning how to “fire” or use the right muscles to produce the movement. The more muscle that our body is able to recruit, the stronger we become or the more weight we will be able to lift.

This, also, relates to “muscle memory”. Have you ever stopped exercising or playing a sport and realized that it is easier to pick up again the 2nd time around? Think about riding a bike or skiing, even if you’ve taken a few months/years off, your body has already learned the correct movement patterns, balance and coordination that after a few minutes (or hours), everything comes right back. This is why getting back into fitness is usually much more enjoyable (or less daunting) the 2nd, 3rd or maybe even 4th time around. You’ll be able to pick up where you left off without having to re-learn how to get your body into a new position or how to fire the correct muscles.

This is why we stress the importance of proper form and body mechanics. If you learn a new skill or movement with improper form/technique, you will be training your body for improper movement... because practice/training solidifies your muscle memory. This is one of the many reasons why we stress learning the basics before adding weight or jumping to complex movements. Once you develop movement patterns, it is really hard to break them. So when you are learning a new movement, take the time to learn the basics and really focus on doing it correctly. And remember, you can always ask a coach for help!!

Ariel Jauss

GM / Head Coach