Cell proliferation and differentiation are regulated in a highly coordinated and inverse manner during development and tissue homeostasis. Terminal differentiation usually coincides with cell cycle exit and is thought to engage stable transcriptional repression of cell cycle genes. Here, we examine the robustness of the post-mitotic state, using Caenorhabditis elegans muscle cells as a model. We found that expression of a G1 Cyclin and CDK initiates cell cycle re-entry in muscle cells without interfering with the differentiated state. Cyclin D/CDK4 (CYD-1/CDK-4) expression was sufficient to induce DNA synthesis in muscle cells, in contrast to Cyclin E/CDK2 (CYE-1/CDK-2), which triggered mitotic events. Tissue-specific gene-expression profiling and single molecule FISH experiments revealed that Cyclin D and E kinases activate an extensive and overlapping set of cell cycle genes in muscle, yet failed to induce some key activators of G1/S progression. Surprisingly, CYD-1/CDK-4 also induced an additional set of genes primarily associated with growth and metabolism, which were not activated by CYE-1/CDK-2. Moreover, CYD-1/CDK-4 expression also down-regulated a large number of genes enriched for catabolic functions. These results highlight distinct functions for the two G1 Cyclin/CDK complexes and reveal a previously unknown activity of Cyclin D/CDK-4 in regulating metabolic gene expression. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that many cell cycle genes can still be transcriptionally induced in post-mitotic muscle cells, while maintenance of the post-mitotic state might depend on stable repression of a limited number of critical cell cycle regulators.