Myth: If You Stop Training, Your Progress Is Lost
Dr. Harrison said that people often think that if they lose their momentum, take time away from their routines, and back track, they won't be able to return to how they were. They think that it's a "catastrophe and it's going to take forever to get that back," he told POPSUGAR. "It's so not true, and I wish I could shout it from the rooftops." The big part of that myth, he said, is that it takes the same amount of work as before to get back to there they were, and the reason why that's not necessarily true is a bit complex, so listen up.
When you first train, you slowly grow muscles, and it's a process that takes quite a bit of time, Dr. Harrison said. If you spend a couple of years training hard and then stop, you can go to the gym and get those muscles back way more easily than you think. That's because when you built muscles in the first place, "satellite cells donated their nuclei into the muscle cells to allow them to grow further. That donation of nuclei into the muscle cells is permanent. The nuclei never leave again," Dr. Harrison explained. "Even if you lose all your muscle size, you take 10 years off from training, have a family, all of that, those muscle cells still have those nuclei."
He continued, "The nucleus is what produces all of the protein within the muscle to grow the muscle in the first place. It's sort of like the hub of all growth, like an Amazon shipping center. It's the hub that everything goes out from. If you don't have enough of those, you can't grow your muscles any bigger." If you stopped working out, you can lose muscle size quickly in the first month, Dr. Harrison said. "The muscles look less full because you have less glycogen stored in them." But, because of the nuclei still stored in your muscle cells, you'll be able to build muscle much faster than someone who never trained before, he said.