T Nation

Muscle Memory: How Much Can You Gain Back?

Hi Guys,

I’m wondering about to what extent muscle memory actually works, you always hear people saying even when they lost a ton of muscle, no worries muscle memory is there, you’ll have it back in no time, but to what extent is this even possible? Like I can imagene that it depends on how long you haven’t trained? I’m familar with the concept of nuclei, but to what extent does this work.

For example I used to be quite buff around 2014/15, that was my peak, after that I had a full stop at bodybuilding, and gear, quit for about 3/4 years, totally no training whatsoever, i quit everything and led a different life for a while, I lost a significant amount.

Now I’ve been back at it and on moderate high TRT.

I was wondering would it even be possible for that muscle from years ago to come back, if i keep training and eating well consistently, would my body still be able to get back to that from years ago or has it been too long ago? Not the full size of that time but at least some of it? Or would it only be possible to with cycles?

How exactly does this work, I have never quit training for years before so this is a first for me.


It’s not really a possible question to answer. If you can gain it in the first place, it’s likely you can regain it… unless something has changed.

In your case, a lot of things have changed: age, hormones, goals, available time. It’s probably easier for you to get to some threshold of strength/ size than someone who has never trained, though. I don’t think there is some magic capability of the body to realize you used to bench 405 so it should probably just do it again, but you have created some neural pathways and muscle fibers that should make it arguably easier than the first time… but now some of those other variables from above are against you too.

I know that was a ramble, but basically I think you’ll find out how far you can go when you get there.


AAS have been proven to have advantages long after discontinuation because of muscle memory, so you can regain some of the muscles you used to have (not all of them, but a pretty decent amount).

Different muscles have different numbers of androgen receptors. Your traps and side deltd have the most, while your legs have the least. This will also impact how much you can gain back.

Anyone who doubts what can be regained should always go back to the famous Colorado Experiment to see what happened to Casey Viator.

Coincidentally, I was reading one of those ‘dad bod to Greek god’ transformation pieces a few days ago, where the chap was in his 40s and looked amazing with his before and after pix. What was interesting in his case was that was his 2nd transformation. He did something similar about 5 years previously and then completely took his eye off the ball, didn’t train, etc. So yes, it can be done.

I think in your case you need to be a bit more positive. Someone in your position should be reaching for simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss. That there is pure motivation. I have no experience with TRT (a lot of folks on here seem to be on it from their 20s upwards) but that should not hinder you either.

There’s a thread over on Meso re: this subj.