Muscle memory – fact or fiction?

Muscle memory – fact or fiction?

On this edition of the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast we take an in-depth look at muscle memory and our cycling coach Devlin Eyden goes through all the ins and outs of how muscle memory works. He explains technical skills, gross motor skills as well as learning and retention of motor skills.

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David Katz:          You’re listening to the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast, I’m Mr Active, David Katz, thank you for tuning in once again, we’ve got another great question today for our cycling expert Devlin Eyden and it comes, we’re looking back at road, it’s a road based question and it has to do with muscle memory.

Is there a beginning amount of time to take, to get your legs to a point where they have continual memory Devlin, some extra stuff people added to make it a little bit easier to answer was if you developed a good base over two years of riding, having ridden on and off for let’s say five years, then you took all of a sudden six months off, would there be muscle memory benefit from all that time you had spent previously on the bike?

Does muscle memory remain with you?

Devlin Eyden:      I think firstly we need to, the ‘muscle memory’ word is kind of thrown around a little bit loosely in the sense of, I think muscle memory we need to keep in mind is more focused on the learning and the retention of motor skills itself. Not necessarily just your fitness side of things. From a muscle memory point of view, if you’ve taken some time off, it’s like the old adage goes where it’s like riding a bicycle.

Ultimately, yes, you will be able to have a certain amount of muscle memory, depending on the time off, that will help you from a pedal efficiency point of view, and also your technical skill on the bike, but that will also depend largely on your technical skills points, it will depend largely on your confidence in itself.

Yes, there’s an aspect of the muscle memory that will help with the gross motor skills and in terms of your pedal efficiency and pedal style on the bike. I think from more a fitness point of view, I’m using fitness in a broad term, so your cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory fitness, that comes more into play with referring to your training and more so in this particular instance is how much training, what type of training, firstly was done, in your so-called base period, in the period that you were riding on and off, that is quite important. Then also, were you active during the time off.

You might not have been riding in the six months that you were off, but were you active, were you walking around or were you completely, literally, get in the car, go to work, come home and that kind of thing. That is going to play more of a role in how quickly you are going to get back up to a certain level in terms of your fitness when you’re starting out again.

Fitness levels determine muscle memory

I think there’s a couple of things there that we need to take into account from a fitness point of view, is to what level were you at when you say you were also training on and off, was it consistent, the kind of training that you were doing, so whether it was just based out of training or was there really high intensity work being done as well and then what was done in the six month period completely and how are you structuring your training now will determine how quickly you’re going to get back up. That’s a couple of things, just to keep in mind and actually ask those questions first.

DK:         Devlin, I think it’s a case of whether you’re a runner or a cyclist, take a bit of time off, one or the other, you say maybe you’re doing some other stuff, still active with the kids, walking, but you get on a flat and you feel great, nothing’s gone, nothing’s changed and as soon as you hit a climb, it all comes back to you, that you have lost all that fitness and stamina. There’s just something about hitting a climb that reminds you, I shouldn’t have taken so much time off.

DE:         100% it completely just is demoralising actually.

DK:         Devlin, thanks for another fantastic answer, if you want to stand a chance as well to win a lifetime membership to our online community, all you need to do is head over to iTunes and rate the podcast. Get over there now, but from Devlin Eyden and myself, Mr Active, David Katz, we’ll join up with you again in a couple of days’ time, right here on the Ask Coach Parry Cycling podcast.

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