Why is it easier to get back in shape than it is to get into shape in the first place? Some adaptations to muscle training are temporary and vanish quickly if you don’t keep working out. But others, like the addition of extra muscle nuclei, appear to be more or less permanent.
Nuclei are added as you train so that they can build and manage more proteins in a plumper muscle cell. When you stop training, the cell slowly deflates — atrophies — but the nuclei helpfully remain, dormant, waiting until you are ready to exercise again.
Fantastic! Permanent gainz! Yet another reason strength training gives great bang-for-buck. See the paper by Schwartz, or Hutchinson for a good explanation of it.