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scrappyblue's avatar

What is muscle memory and at what point does it fade?

Asked by scrappyblue (44points) July 28th, 2008
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10 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Playing the piano requires a lot of muscle memory. If one stops practising for a while, the fingers get rusty. I would imagine that stringed instruments work the same way with holding down the frets or stops.I know nothing about the brasses or tympani.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

its like how you know how to walk now. at some point you didnt know how, then you learned, and you’ve been doing it ever since, right? It seems easy as pie, but walking takes a lot of coordination between muscles as well as your balance. I’m not sure how long it takes to fade, but I think it depends on how much you did the activity to begin with. Like if someone is a wheelchair for a very long time, sometimes they need to learn to walk again.

gailcalled's avatar

Muscle memory works with non-damaged muscles, like those in the fingers. I can move my fingers normally but would need to start practicing the piano again regularly in order to regain the memory. (Viz; not looking at the keys while I play.)

scrappyblue's avatar

What about in reference to working out and building lean muscle? Does that muscle remember how to perform well even if you haven’t worked out in a while? Can the muscle snap back quicker due to muscle memory?

gailcalled's avatar

Not a clue.There are iron men here. Rephrase your question and they will chime in.

syz's avatar

In martial arts, muscle memory is what allows you to respond automatically, without conscious thought. If you have to stop and think about what is happening and what the proper response is, you’ll never survive a full speed fight. It takes a tremendous amount of repetition and is easily lost without constant reinforcement. That’s what katas are for – they are stylized forms that repeat certain motions.

marinelife's avatar

@scrappyblue It does not work like that. You start to lose tone within a week. Muscle memory will not help you. You have to work yourself back into shape. Source

“If only the benefits of exercise were like money earning interest in the bank. It’s a sad but true fact that to maintain your hard-earned workout results, you have to stay fit by continuing to exercise regularly.

In fitness parlance, this is called the reversibility principle. In layman’s terms – use it or lose it. Without a doubt, you will eventually lose whatever fitness benefits you gained by working out when you stop exercising.

This reality can actually discourage a lot of people from even starting to exercise. I have heard many physically inactive people defend their lifestyle by saying, ‘’What’s the use of exercising? When I stop, I’ll just get fatter.’’

Detraining or the technical term for cessation of exercise is also a problem for athletes who get injured.

However, research has shown that it’s not quite as extreme as ‘’use it or lose it’’. It seems to be more like ‘’use it or lose some of it, or maybe all of it’’ depending on how physically fit you were before detraining, what aspect of fitness (endurance, strength, flexibility) is involved, and what preventive measures you take.”

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Muscle memory is a common term for neuromuscular facilitation, which is the process of the neuromuscular system memorizing motor skills.


When an active person trains movement, often of the same activity, in an effort to stimulate the mind’s adaptation process, the end result is to induce a physiological change such as increased levels of accuracy through repetition. Even though the process is really brain-muscle memory or what some call motor memory, the nickname muscle memory is commonly used.

Read on….

shrubbery's avatar

I used to play piano, oh years ago now, at least 7, but the place where I got lessons closed down and I lost my sheet music and we sold our piano. My aunty gave us their piano to look after because their house was too small. I found that after a few tries and a brief squiz at the sheet music I had finally found, my fingers remembered where to go and I could play a few of my old songs that I used to love playing, without need of the sheet music again. However, this is only when I let my fingers go of their own accord, and only for the songs I used to play over and over. If I’m playing (without the sheet music) and something distracts me or I lose my momentum I am completely stuck and have to go right back to the start to get back into the swing. As for all the other songs I played, they took a bit longer and a bit more scrutiny of sheet music to get the hang of again, though after that my fingers eventually remembered and I can play most without the music, though I may need a quick glance to be prompted. I don’t know if this is helpful to you but this is what I consider muscle memory. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to pick those songs back up after so long. I have been playing them again with the sheet music deliberately so that if I get stuck I can keep going instead of stopping dead.

stmilie's avatar

i lifted every day for an hour or so from 7th grade until my junior year of high school, about 6 years. when i quit i was 165 pounds and could bench around 325 lbs. i havent lifted now in about 5 years, ive put on 35 pounds and i just got back into benching. in two weeks i went on a high protein diet, lifted every other day for 30 minutes and went from struggling with 150 max to doing sets of 6 at 170. im sure that it will continue to go higher. Im pretty convinced that the body “remembers” how to train considering the leaps and bounds my strenth is going at

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