How human strength can increase without increased muscle size?

In summary: This is something that I am not sure about, but I think that it is possible.In summary, increasing the oxygen supply to the muscles may be one way to make them stronger without making them larger. Other potential ways to make muscles stronger without making them larger may include genetic engineering, changing the points of attachment of the tendons, and increasing the efficiency of ATP production.
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I know this is a hypothetical question, but we can still have a general idea for how we could do it in the future. I wonder how theoretically with good enough technology a human can achieve a super-human strength(or close to it) without large muscles or non-biological components attached to his/her body and without significant health issues. I am assuming a technology advanced enough to completely change our DNA and how our cells and organs work.

From what I understood one way to do it is to increase the oxygen supply to the muscles. I heard that athletes increase the number of red blood cells in their blood with drugs. But increasing the number of red blood cells also increase blood viscosity and increase your chances of heart attack or stroke and you can overdose on those drugs without being much stronger. Is there another possible way to increase oxygen supply to the muscles more effectively and safely?.

What other potential ways can be used to make muscles stronger without making them larger?.
 
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  • #2
If genetic engineering is fair play, I suppose you could change the points of attachment of the tendons to increase the lever arm without adding any more muscle mass. There's got to be some trade-offs, though. Limited motion range, maybe? Reduced robustness of the joints? I'm just guessing here, but there must be a reason evolution disfavoured such arrangements.
 
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maryy said:
... a human can achieve a super-human strength
How can something possibly be said to be "super human" when it's a human that's doing it?
 
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maryy said:
I know this is a hypothetical question, but we can still have a general idea for how we could do it in the future. I wonder how theoretically with good enough technology a human can achieve a super-human strength(or close to it) without large muscles or non-biological components attached to his/her body and without significant health issues. I am assuming a technology advanced enough to completely change our DNA and how our cells and organs work.

From what I understood one way to do it is to increase the oxygen supply to the muscles. I heard that athletes increase the number of red blood cells in their blood with drugs. But increasing the number of red blood cells also increase blood viscosity and increase your chances of heart attack or stroke and you can overdose on those drugs without being much stronger. Is there another possible way to increase oxygen supply to the muscles more effectively and safely?.

What other potential ways can be used to make muscles stronger without making them larger?.
I read this and thought "Chimp"
A woman was attacked by a chimp and suffered horrific injuries a while ago and a few "facts" were thrown around including, this one "chimps are 11 time stronger than humans."

That seemed like a lot, pound for pound?

Anyway a quick search gave this article:

https://www.newscientist.com/articl...-superhumanly-strong-as-we-thought-they-were/

This is the study,

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/28/7343

More like 1.35x stronger and this is due to more fast than slow twitch muscles
Not quite 11 x stronger reported or 5-8x on other searches but I would take it if I was an athlete.
Power lifting, sprinting, wrestling, superhuman...
If some re-jigging of my DNA could be engineered.
 
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Moved to General Discussion due to speculative nature of question.
 
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As @pinball1970 covered chimpanzee--human DNA mixing, essentially creating a chimera, my suggestion from science fiction to improve athletic performance would be total body transplant. The recipient head would be attached to a strong healthy athletic donor body. Though obviously impractical and likely immoral, this trope remains popular in speculative fiction.

Antagonist world leader Wu Wei extends his life by transplanting his head onto a willing donor athlete, giving him great strength and dexterity.
 
  • #7
pinball1970 said:
I read this and thought "Chimp"
A woman was attacked by a chimp and suffered horrific injuries a while ago and a few "facts" were thrown around including, this one "chimps are 11 time stronger than humans."

That seemed like a lot, pound for pound?

Anyway a quick search gave this article:

https://www.newscientist.com/articl...-superhumanly-strong-as-we-thought-they-were/

This is the study,

https://www.pnas.org/content/114/28/7343

More like 1.35x stronger and this is due to more fast than slow twitch muscles
Not quite 11 x stronger reported or 5-8x on other searches but I would take it if I was an athlete.
Power lifting, sprinting, wrestling, superhuman...
If some re-jigging of my DNA could be engineered.
I see that chimpanzees have simillar levels of muscle types iia and iid(is this also called iix or iib? accodring to other articles there are 3 muscle fibers: type i, type iia and type iib which is also called iix) and from articles I read type iix produce more force than type iia and in chimpanzees less than 40% of their muscle is iix. So what if we turn 80% of a person's muscle fibers into an iix ones? will he/she be around twice as strong as a chimp?.

There is a way to increase ATP production in the body and/or increase the efficiency of this process?. Is there other types of mitochondria that are more efficient than the mitochondria that exist in humans?.
 
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maryy said:
From what I understood one way to do it is to increase the oxygen supply to the muscles.
Regarding this part: oxygen supply does not really matters regarding 'strength'.
EPO (and other practices related to oxygen supply) is mainly used in sports requiring long term excessive power output, not directly 'strength'.
 
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what exactly is the difference between slow twitch and fast twitch muscles in terms of stracture?. From what I read fast twitch muscle fibers are larger, so their greater force production is because they are larger?. If we make muscle fibers larger their force production will increase?.
 
  • #10
Consider that making muscles much stronger, would also require improving other organs that complete the chain, such as tendons, joints and bones (structural elements); as well as the digestive system (more energy to be consumed), the respiratory and circulatory systems (more lactic acid, oxygen and carbon dioxide to be moved around), the cooling system (85% of body heat comes from muscle contraction) and the nervous system (more fine coordination and quicker transmission of impulses may be necessary to compensate for higher speeds and forces).

Please, see:
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/muscle-metabolism/
 
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Lnewqban said:
Consider that making muscles much stronger, would also require improving other organs that complete the chain, such as tendons, joints and bones (structural elements); as well as the digestive system (more energy to be consumed), the respiratory and circulatory systems (more lactic acid, oxygen and carbon dioxide to be moved around), the cooling system (85% of body heat comes from muscle contraction) and the nervous system (more fine coordination and quicker transmission of impulses may be necessary to compensate for higher speeds and forces).

Please, see:
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ap/chapter/muscle-metabolism/
We can increase tendon thickness and muscle density or may be even improve their composition. Can we do the same with the cartilage of joints?.
Can we potentially make a molecule or some kind of nano stracture/machine that carries oxygen more efficiently than hemoglobin?, may be we can do the same with carbon dioxide?.

Why should we improve transmission speed of the electrical impulses in the nerves? or improve fine coordination?, if someone becomes stronger he/she loses some of his/her fine coordination?.

I don't think we need to improve the digestive system, people can always consume more calories and it is already annoyingly easy to do. We might need to improve the way we store energy in the body or the way we make our muscles to burn a chemical with better energy density than glucose like the fat we already have in our bodies.

But I don't think the requirements you mention are necessary unless we reach some extreme levels of strength. Do we really need those improvements you are talking about in order to make an average size girl 25% percent stronger than the strongest man in the world?.
 
  • #12
maryy said:
We can increase tendon thickness and muscle density or may be even improve their composition. Can we do the same with the cartilage of joints?.
Can we potentially make a molecule or some kind of nano stracture/machine that carries oxygen more efficiently than hemoglobin?, may be we can do the same with carbon dioxide?.

Why should we improve transmission speed of the electrical impulses in the nerves? or improve fine coordination?, if someone becomes stronger he/she loses some of his/her fine coordination?.

I don't think we need to improve the digestive system, people can always consume more calories and it is already annoyingly easy to do. We might need to improve the way we store energy in the body or the way we make our muscles to burn a chemical with better energy density than glucose like the fat we already have in our bodies.

But I don't think the requirements you mention are necessary unless we reach some extreme levels of strength. Do we really need those improvements you are talking about in order to make an average size girl 25% percent stronger than the strongest man in the world?.
Exercise does all that of course.

A professional athlete compared to an untrained individual will appear super human.

Usain Bolt reached a speed of over 27miles per hour which is astonishing. Superhuman. no drugs just a combination of blessed genetics and training.

looking at Bolt, a little bit of physics in there.

https://www.britannica.com/story/how-fast-is-the-worlds-fastest-human

Some basics physiology of training, increased mass, coordinated firing

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-exercise-make-yo/

Bone density can be improved demands like weight training/ stress with a balanced diet.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/build-healthy-bones#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

Other connective tissues are a little more complicated, tendons, ligaments, cartilage.
In terms of training, injury and blood supply (much lower than muscle)
I found this that explains some aspects.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/connective-tissue

To be sure, a professional body builder weight lifter will appear as super human and this includes a woman athlete compared to a male office worker.

Speed, strength, co-ordination. Same physiology same cells/cell organelles, DNA nothing sci fi or nanoparticles.
Just training, dedication, natural genetics.
 
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what about bio engineering muscle cells that produce more power per volume by using a type of myosin that produce more power or even a new man-made type of myosin that the new bio engineered cells could produce on their own?. is there any discovery about types of myosin that produce more power than the type of myosin humans have in their muscles?.
 
  • #14
There a wide variety of myosin molecules in animals have been studied.
Some might be more powerful than others in some situations vs. others, but it seem to be unlikely that you would find a myosin that is way more powerful than that found in a skeletal muscle cell, since it has been selected for that purpose for (probably) hundreds of millions of years.

Could someone make a more powerful myosin?
Perhaps, but I'll bet no one is doing that. A more appealing approach would be to find such cases in nature (where it might already have been selected for).

Would this work to make a more powerful human?
Possibly.
However, one extra strong component in the skeletal contractile might end up putting unsustainable stresses on the other body parts it interacts with (bones, tendons, ligaments, etc.).
On the other hand, the body parts could become stronger (like building stronger bones that are exposed to greater stresses.
A mutation in a gene can make stronger humans (or mice or other mammals) by causing an increase in muscle mass.

cattle:
Screen Shot 2021-08-13 at 11.57.58 AM.png


whippet:
Screen Shot 2021-08-13 at 11.58.22 AM.png


human (found, not made):
Screen Shot 2021-08-13 at 11.59.30 AM.png
 
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