Muscle Maturity – a term that has been used to explain to me why certain athletes when on stage beat me, have better muscle definition than myself. In turn this is linked to describing them as having better muscle memory as well.
So what do these terms mean, and at my age, 22 and having lifted weights now since I was about 19, dieted correctly since I was 20, is this actually a relevant consideration?
Muscle maturity refers to the concept that someone that is older, has been lifting longer has more muscle, definition, separation just to name a few. It is why we have seen an increased number of winners being in their thirties, forties and alike, except those few genetic freak teenagers. We do tend to be seeing this more in the natural judged divisions, of which I am involved, and this may vastly be due to the more emphasised requirement that the athletes need to be more ‘ripped’ ‘lean’ and ‘hard.’
The muscle maturity term is one I have heard too often and when I consider those that place above me, they are generally older, while it does not have to be significant age difference this is how the difference from my trainers and judges is described. They have had longer to develop, they have more muscle memory and their muscles take on an overall more fuller and hard appeal. While frustrating in itself, there is nothing that can be done except to continue to train and condition my physique in a hope that it will develop this memory and maturity for my future competitions. I can however comment that over the course of my training since I started, while of course putting on size is inevitable, between each competition I have done I have altered in my body shape and conditioning every time in a positive way.
However muscle maturity is not relevant if you do not train. Two people of equal age one that has trained for years and one that has not will not have the same firmness, hardness, size, density, thickness or quality of muscle as each other. So these competitors that tend to oversee us younger ones in a line up, have been training for a number of years, potentially just as long as us but develop those results easier through their prolonged training and muscle memory if they have always had a history of physical activity.
Muscle memory relates to the muscles ability to remember the movement, or action in which it performs. This memory is actually of course stored by the brain but it is the increased muscles ability to replicate and build itself back up after time off that can prove the benefit to older competitors. When initially you started training it took so long to build strength, for some reason you take 3-6 months off and feel like you will start at square one again, until you are now lifting those weights again. So this works based on the principle that the muscles, unlike other cells have more than one nuclei. More nuclei are needed to perform a job as muscles are bigger and complex than other cells in the body. As muscles develop, and increase in size, more nuclei are added to the muscle. This doesn’t mean that when muscle mass is lost that nuclei are as well. Meaning that when you pick up your weights again, the growth may occur at a quicker rate to get you back to that point. Studies have also shown that those that gain muscle fast, or on steroids have more muscle nuclei so these also place more benefit. So in relation to this topic, and older competitor that has been training for more time is more likely to have more nuclei, and decreased ability to loose what they have worked hard for.
While at present there is no method of training that can increase your muscle fibres, firmness, thickness etc. specifically, this is simply developed with consistency and quality training sessions and of course the right fuel. So it’s back to training for me.