Modern day powerlifters and strongmen are amongst the strongest humans on the planet today. They lift inhuman amounts of weight and do it regularly. It almost seems as though with each competition they get stronger and stronger.
So the question here is where is the limit? Well if it’s to believe the 90’s club banger from “2 Unlimited”, there is no limit.
However, that isn’t entirely true. We are all human beings made out of flesh and bone. We all are subjugated to the strict laws of physics.
Logic says that there HAS to be a point where all strongmen will come and say “that’s it, I’m done-you can’t get past this.” So where is that point? Well, let’s try and find out.
Let’s call this strength what a regular strongman/powerlifter possesses. No jar is unopenable, no amount of groceries requires two trips, and no walnut is uncrackable. They are strong and there is no doubt about it.
But where is the limit to their strength? Well, let’s compare us to our relatives in the wild – the monkeys. No, not the Monkees that has that totally rad 60’s hit song, but the actual animals.
An average adult monkey is up to 4 times stronger than a regular human being, even though we have 99% of DNA in common. Baffled by this, scientist checked under a microscope to see if there is any difference between a monkey’s muscle tissue and human’s muscle tissue… and there is none.
Going from that finding, theoretically, humans could be as strong as monkeys. However, there’s a twist to this story! After some finer inspection, turns out that us humans have a very high ratio of nerves to muscle cell.
Meaning we are all capable of doing superhuman feats of strength, it’s just that our brains are preventing this in order to conserve energy. In fact, an average human can only activate up to 65% of its muscle tissue, while a trained athlete can go up to 80%.
So next time you can’t break your PR on bench or can’t open that jar of peanut butter – don’t blame genetics, blame your brain.
There is also another factor that is blocking your way towards becoming the greatest elephant juggler ever – the Golgi tendon.
It’s a tendon that connects your muscles to your skeleton. This gets activated when you put your muscle under severe stress, like doing a heavy lifting session, so in order to not get torn the tendon sends signals to the brain saying “yo, pull the plug on this-he’s about to snap” .
That’s the reason you hear about people performing superhuman feats in life threatening situations. They tear every muscle and tendon in their body because their brain activates the muscles 100% sending them into Hulk mode. Same thing happened to the strongman legend Bill Kazmaier. He tore his pec muscle off the bone in competition and it never healed properly.
For those with a shorter attention span, the summary: Your brain allows you to use only about 60 to 80 percent of your muscular power. If you exert yourself to the limits of extreme stress, the Golgi tendon sends signals to your brain to stop the exertion.
Even if you unlock the full 100% of your muscular strength, it’s usually under life or death situations. This often results in complete severance of muscle tissue from the bone.