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Muscle Memory and Fast Gains

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Week 1 down, and it went fast. My little 4lb weight that was making my arms scream during Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred is too light for me today. I'm doing double the pushups in good form compared to last Sunday. I admit they are the girly on the knees pushups, but I am aiming for a regular military pushup!

My weight is up by 1lb, but I'm not trying to force my mass to a certain number. I'm just doing what needs to be done, and see where it falls.

Trust me. I'm eating stuff like salmon burgers and salads. I'm not gaining fat.

So what did I gain? Water? Muscle? Bone density? Probably a combination of all three. There's no way of knowing.

The only thing I know for sure is that I am stronger. I maxed out my activity for the week, and now I need to step it up.

While I seem to have gained fast, I am not exactly starting from zero.

- I did not grow up fat.
- I played soccer in high school.
- My best friend and I took a semester of weight lifting. We were the only girls in the class!
- I practiced Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido in college.

If you have ever been fit at any time in your life, your body remembers how to build all those pathways. You just need to give it the right stimulus with food and weight bearing exercise.

My legs and core are strong. You think Jillian Michaels is tough? Pfft. Try working with a martial arts master. I had to hold a squat position with good form for almost 30 minutes while we practiced our punches. My instructor almost literally beat any bad form out of me. It wasn't quite Cobra-Kai, but it seemed merciless at the time!

Balancing on one leg in order to throw a kick powerful enough to break 2" boards requires a very stable core. It's actually the core muscles that pushes through and breaks the board.

I've been practicing this week, and I can still do waist height roundhouse and sidekicks, but I no longer have the flexibility to kick anyone in the head. Keep in mind that I am 5'0". Kicking someone in the chest or head required a pretty wide stretch!

All the gains I've achieved this week I'm pretty sure is muscle memory. I'm just rebuilding what I once had.

About four years ago, I got a personal trainer due to a gym special. I weighed 140lbs, which was still about 15lbs overweight. I did not impress with my upper body - I had a really hard time with lateral flies in particular. My lower body, though, was incredibly strong. He put me on the leg press machine and moved the weight up more until he found where I started to strain. I could press 300lbs, but I had best repetition form with 280lbs- twice my body weight. My core was strong and stable - I could hold planks for one minute on day one. Probably because of my martial arts training, maintaining good form was almost second nature. At the end of the three months, he said I was his strongest female client. He said most of his female clients were scared of the weights, didn't eat enough, and barely made any gains.

I had a lot of muscle under my fat. I was fit-fat.

Because I had that muscle once, I can build it again. And it makes me stronger relatively. Leg press of 280lbs at my current weight is a power of approximately 2.25x my bodyweight. It is also relatively easier for me to press that much because I'm not pushing an extra 15lbs of bodyfat.

Low calorie diets depletes muscles. Sorry, but it does. Muscle is very metabolically active, and it requires a lot of calories to maintain. Cardio is also catabolic. Not getting adequate rest between strenuous exercise will continue to break down muscle tissue. A low calorie and high cardio diet was a disaster.

Fortunately, my body remembers.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have a really tough time with pushups myself. I've been toying with doing the hundredpushups.com plan. Though I can't decide if I should do it first with girly pushups. That way, when I'm done, I'll be strong enough to have a good start going through again and doing real pushups. And THEN maybe I could do it again with triangle pushups.

    But that's so typically me... I've got great ideas, but rarely follow through.
    1789 days ago
    My upper body is also much weaker than my lower body.

    I'm guessing you're up a pound because of muscle inflammation - isn't that what you told me? ;)
    1789 days ago
    1789 days ago
  • BILL60
    Way to go!! You're getting to be a real animal!! Stay strong.
    1789 days ago
    That's right! Congratulations on eating right and tapping into the muscle memory you built up. emoticon
    1790 days ago
    First of all....that salmon burger looks freaking awesome!

    Second of all, great job getting into the the "I will not be deterred from working out" mentality!

    It's always good to get our bodies responding to vigorous exercise...and you're right, those old memories will come back to help build back up to the proficiency we once had....just takes time.

    I've been on a tear lately looking for some good pictures describing the relationship between weight and bodyfat....still haven't found the one that speaks to me, but this one is pretty good;


    btw, another good way to build towards pushups is to do them at an angle on a chair, desk, or bench. Remember your high school math to figure out the angles and the percentage of your body weight you're pushing up for various acute angles.

    Stay strong!
    1790 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/31/2013 11:17:39 AM
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