Real Super Strength! The Science Behind Super Human Muscle

Real Super Strength!  The Science Behind Super Human Muscle

You may not come from Krypton or have access to the super soldier formula, but could you get enhanced strength (without steroids)? Are there actual people who are born with enhanced strength due to a mutation? Science says yes...

Enhanced strength is a pretty common trait in the comic book world. Many of our favorite heroes and   villains have it and the ability comes from different sources. Some are born with it because of a mutation, or alien DNA. Some have it through magic (which we will not discuss here). Some have it after being subjected to some type ofexperiment or taking a chemical. But what if you wanted enhanced strength? Could you be injected with a chemical to greatly enhance your strength (besides steroids), like Captain America, Luke Cage, or Venom? Are there people who are just born incredibly strong, like Superman, Wonder Woman, or Warpath? In this article we're going look at the ways some comic book heroes and villains obtained super strength and see how close we are to having this occur in the real world.

Mutants with enhanced strength
What if I told you that one of the reasons that most people aren’t ripped, jacked, shredded, etc. is that our bodies prevent us from making lots of muscle.  That’s right, your body is conspiring against you, preventing you from getting that muscular frame!  Our bodies produce a chemical call myostatin which limits muscle growth.

So if someone could stop producing myostatin, or produce less, they could get really strong.  It turns out that there are breeds of animals that produce reduced amounts of myostatin.  These animals are born with more muscle than their normal counterparts.   No exercise, no chemicals, no enhanced diets, just more muscle than everyone else.  The Belgian Blue Bull is an example.  This breed of bull is naturally muscular, the result of careful breeding with other cattle with the same genetic disorder.
The Belgian Blue Bull
Now that's a lot of bull..get it?

These cattle were born with a myostatin deficiency.  Myostatin is a protein that your body produces to limit muscle growth. 

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Screw the animals, what about people?”   If a person produced less myostatin they would be stronger than the average person.  They would have a genetic mutation that gave them increased strength.  Are there real life MUTANTS, SUPERHUMANS, and METAHUMANS walking among us?  Was I standing next to Warpath on the train yesterday?
Warpath

Could the guy writing for my school paper be the real Clark Kent?
Clark Kent/Superman

The answer is technically yes, although this trait is pretty rare.  Now real “mutants” can’t throw cars, cause the earth to crack by pounding on the ground, or do that cool Hulk thunderclap.
Hulk Thunderclap
Make it clap!
 
People with this mutation are stronger than normal and have lots of well-defined muscle without even trying.

Here are some examples of real people with enhanced strength due to this trait:

There was a baby born in Germany in 2004 with the trait.   His name hasn't been released, but pictures show an enhanced muscular physique unusual for someone his age

Liam Hoekstra – Liam was the second baby found to have this myostatin mutation.  He could hang on rings in an iron cross by 5 months and perform pull-ups by 9 months.
Strong Babies

Bodybuilder Flex Wheeler was rumored to also have a myostatin deficiency.
 
Chemical Enhancement
But that’s not the only way to have strength.  Several heroes and villains have taken something or been subjected to tests that gave them super strength.  Bane, Luke Cage, and Captain America (Steve Rogers) have all been exposed to a chemical that gave them enhanced strength.
Bane
Captain America


But is there a way to get strength chemically in the real world?  The obvious first thought is anabolic steroids.  These are synthetic versions of male sex hormones. They are used medically to treat problems such as delayed puberty or muscle loss from disease.  When abused for muscle gain they can cause aggressive behavior, acne, kidney damage, high blood pressure, liver disease, heart problems, cancer, and voice deepening and facial hair in women.

Human growth hormone (HGH) has been tried for this purpose, but there is no conclusive evidence that it enhances strength.

Scientists have been trying to find ways to block the genes related to myostatin production without much luck.  One product claims to lower myostatin production and increase muscle mass.  This product Myos-X is taken orally and has been shown to lower myostatin levels in the blood.  A recent study shows that subjects who took the product and exercised had more muscle than those who exercised without it.

So there you have it, mutants exist and you too can be Luke Cage (a slightly powered down version, without the bulletproof skin).  Some of our favorite superpowers can be real…just scaled down a bit.

Sources:
http://singularityhub.com/2009/06/30/super-babies-reveal-the-key-to-strength-gene/ /> http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/anabolicsteroids.html
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/human-growth-hormone-hgh
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MedicineCuttingEdge/story?id=7231487
http://www.pnas.org/content/94/23/12457.full
http://scribol.com/environment/these-mutated-cows-are-ripped
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/myos-corporation-reports-positive-top-120500789.html />

 

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