Some of you may know my mutant thread, and guess what? It's back.

I'm wondering if there is any biological means to improve muscular power without greatly increasing the volume of said muscle.

My conundrum is that I have some mutants easily able to lift 6 tons (and more - as in lift above their head and carry around), but that look like normals, albeit athletics, humans. On the other hand, the human world record for bench-pressing is around 320kg1 and the holder is already humongous.2

Is there any way (apart from handwavium) to increase muscle power and retain a normal human shape?

What I'm looking for/How I'll rank answers:

  • Only biological, science-based explanations please. No mechanical augmentation, something that can reasonnably happen inside a "human-ish" body (so please, no nuclear fusion to power your super muscles).
  • The energy expenditure is overlooked, but other factors such as resistance (to avoid this person tearing itself up) would be nice.
  • If it's not possible, explaining why would also help.

1: From the top of my head, feel free to correct me if there is any mistakes.
2:And yes, Batman bench-pressing 1-ton is clearly inhuman, stop pretending this guy is not a mutant in some way.

Addendum: Of course, lifting capacity does not equal strength. But it is hard to exactly describe the physical raw power of someone. Lifting is used here as a common denominator for everyone to just show the order of magnitude involved.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In the SF novel "The Legacy of Heorot" by Niven, Pournelle, and Barnes, there are critters that have a special chemical they can squirt into their blood. It has a huge concentration of oxygen and to-be-oxidized-chemical (ATP?). This allows their muscles to operate extremely efficiently for a while. It means the critters can briefly be drastically stronger and faster. The payback is they generate a lot of heat, so need water to cool off after. Not sure of the science so a comment rather than an answer. $\endgroup$
    – puppetsock
    Jul 17, 2019 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ @puppetsock Helpful anyway ;) $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ Specific movements could be more powerful via power magnification, though it can't do too much. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Good to know, unfortunately a bit situationnal for my cases. But I'll keep that noted, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ Lift 6 tons. Assuming a weight of 150 pounds for a human (actually a bit over what I weigh at 5'10"), that's 80 times the human's weight. $\endgroup$
    – user39548
    Jul 18, 2019 at 1:29

10 Answers 10


Yes, there is likely a way, though I will admit I'm not sure how much of the desired about 20x difference it will get you. By the time you get into those mass ranges, the strength of the bones, tendons and attachments will likely be as important as, if not more so than, the muscles themselves. Also, as Spoki0 pointed out, technique matters.

That said...

Give them more fast-twitch muscle fibers, and less slow-twitch ones.

See for example How chimps outmuscle humans.

Slow-twitch muscle fiber (myosin heavy chain I) are better for endurance tasks, while fast-twitch muscle fiber (myosin heavy chain II; in the case of chimpanzees, specifically type IIa and IId) come at a higher energy cost and are better for speed and short-term force. As stated in the linked article,

The researchers found that whereas human muscle contains, on average, about 70% slow-twitch fibers and 30% fast-twitch fibers, chimpanzee muscle is about 33% slow-twitch fibers and 66% fast-twitch fibers.

By running simulations, it was found that this difference of slow-twitch vs fast-twitch fibers resulted in an overall muscle which was 1.34 to 1.35 times as powerful, depending on the exact metric. The researchers performing the study concluded that

These results suggest that the larger fraction of MHC II fibers and the longer muscle fiber lengths characteristic of chimpanzee skeletal muscle will increase their dynamic force and power-producing capabilities overall.

and that

Although our simulations do not reproduce the earlier experimental designs in detail, the close approximation of our results to the 1.5 times average suggests that muscle mechanics—MHC isoform content, in particular—accounts for much, but not necessarily all, of the measured chimpanzee–human performance differential. Muscle “static strength,” defined as maximum isometric force-producing capabilities (Po), is not significantly different between these two species and therefore does not contribute to their performance differential[.]

Therefore, it stands to reason that by tweaking the muscle fiber composition to favor type II, and by increasing the length of individual muscle fibers, you can increase muscle power without a corresponding increase of muscle volume, but at the cost of muscle endurance.

As pointed out in a comment by Yakk, you can also take this even further by giving them even faster and longer muscle fibers than humans' long type II muscle fibers. You will hit a limit at some point, but as pointed out, it's definitely possible to give your creatures even more strength per unit muscle mass than humans' type II fibers allow, and you can probably maintain suspension of disbelief taking it at least one step further, though again, you're making a tradeoff against endurance.

  • $\begingroup$ Even without numbers (to get to the x20), this lead beats "It just works". Having a basis on which to build is better than straight handwave. I'll look into it, thanks for your answer. It will greatly help. $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You might be able to solve for the bone structure problem by using the same kind of nanoscale structures that Mantis Shrimp use. Not sure what you'd have to do to solve for the attachment points though... phys.org/news/2016-05-mantis-shrimp-ultra-strong-materials.html $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 19:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This certainly increases muscle power, but it won't allow a mutant in human form to bench 6 tons. $\endgroup$
    – forest
    Jul 18, 2019 at 1:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @forest Right, hence the first paragraph. I don't think we can get to 6,000 kg for a human-like creature, so the question becomes a bit of, how close can we scientifically plausibly get? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 18, 2019 at 10:09
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ So, this is missing an important detail. Humans have mostly slow, some fast, and some extra fast. Cats have mostly fast, some extra fast, and a whole bunch of super-extra fast muscle fiber. Type II is just the fastest twitch normal humans have; cats pull off something like 2x the strength of humans per unit muscle weight (with less efficient (worse endurance) muscles). $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Jul 18, 2019 at 18:08

Strength and muscles

Strength does not inherently correlate with muscle size.

Increasing your neural activation, that is, simply utilizing more of the muscle fibers, can greatly increase your strength without the fibers being significantly larger. Certain people train specifically for this, ex. sprinters, as the increased mass would slow them down again.

That's not gonna get you to lifting 6 tons by itself, but could be a starting point. Very efficient neural activation.

Not all muscle fibers are equal.

Different fibers are specialized at different things. Think heart vs. pecs. While it is very specialized, the estimated bite force for a human is around 135kg. The related muscle is much smaller than other muscles typically associated with those numbers.

While I don't know of any existing muscle fibers in nature that would scale up to 6 tons of lifting in a human, that could be something to explore.

Bones and tendons

As mentioned in another answer, there is more to lifting than simply your muscle. Bones and tendons might not be able to cope with the forces. You wouldn't want your guy grip something hard, and have the tendons to his fingers snap from the force, leaving him unable to grip for the future.

Therefore your chap would need some solid upgrades to his bones and tendons, to prevent the muscles from destroying them with the forces exerted.

Lifting and muscle strength

Lifting strength does not inherently correlate with muscle strength.

Many who do weightlifting notice that if they get proper form, they can lift more. Typically this would be because they are better balanced or activate supporting muscles that help during the lift. It is also safer and better for your body.

That's more of a heads up that even if your guy is super strong, he wouldn't inherently be able to lift super heavy. He might be limited by form, or even hurt himself due to the lack of it.

He'd still beat everyone at bench press though...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regarding your part on Bones and Tendons, it's the age old reasonning about "secondary powers" to just survive the more obvious ones. Don't worry, the character I'm asking for is already pretty resilient. (Also, thanks for the options to explore, will take a look. One of the main difficulty I had during researching was that I was at lost as to what I should look for) $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ actually, a very large anaconda might be able to exert 6 tons of pressure, a full size anaconda exerts about 4 tons of squeeze pressure against a large prey animal such as a human $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 23:57
  • $\begingroup$ On the neural activity part, here's a reference: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269707 $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2019 at 3:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The bite force comes from the mechanical advantage given by the joints in the jaw. In fact your entire answer revolves around mechanical advantages in some way. Sadly, I'm pretty sure evolution has already resulted in muscles being attached to the most advantageous spots on the bones for this mechanical advantage; so other than "technique" I don't see any parts of this answer offering a solution to mutants being stronger without more mass. $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Jul 18, 2019 at 16:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Spoki0 a very large anaconda weighs about 600lbs, due mostly to muscle tissue, which is very dense. Not only does it have a lot of muscle, but they are strong AND high endurance, and there is a lot of connective tissue to make sure it can exert such forces without ripping off the skeleton. Being cold blooded it is easier to keep the muscle cool, which extends endurance $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2019 at 21:15

There have been good answers about fast twitch fibers and better neural activation. Both of those are good but the reason we have slower muscles and why our bodies only activate as few muscle fibers at a time as we do is that both of those are very energy intensive.

So, aside from better bones and tendons, the mutant needs to get oxygen and more (or better) nutrients to the muscles. This can be as simple as better blood flow to the muscles to as complex as completely redesigning the chemical energy system used by the muscles.

  • $\begingroup$ This is true, but OP did specifically say that "The energy expenditure is overlooked" in their ranking of answers. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 17, 2019 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @aCVn, They have to be able to use that energy. I'm not so concerned with the overall energy expenditure as I am with how the muscle cells will operate with what they've got in them and how they will replenish their supply, not where the energy comes from in the first place. $\endgroup$
    – ShadoCat
    Jul 23, 2019 at 18:45

I'd look into the phenomena known as "Hysterical Strength" which occurs in humans in the real word. Basically, while the exact source of the adrenaline is not fully understood and the very nature is nearly impossible to test, during periods of hyperarousal (aka Fight-or-Flight Response) the surge of Adrenaline in the human body can allow an average person the strength to lift in excess of one ton (there is a case of two teenage girls lifting a farm tractor off their father who had been pinned under it.).

This occurs because under normal conditions, the human body only twitches (muscle contractions) about 1/3rd of the muscle fibers for any sustained muscle contraction. Adrenaline causes more muscle fibers to twitch (when a muscle fiber contracts it will eventually release. If a contraction occurs a second time before the release the output of power of both contractions are added together). This occurs without any increase to muscle mass or amount of movement of a normal human.

You could explain your character(s) mutation as having the ability to willfully release enough adrenaline to trigger a state similar to Hysterical Strength and while 6 tons+ seems excessive, again, given the situations are usually life or death triggered, it's not known just how much a human can lift under such conditions. This would also prevent your character from a situation of no knowing their own strenth as they'd have to be in this state to be superhuman. There is an actual reason why Humans don't permanently use all their muscle fibers as the mechanical forces of such a state have resulted some people suffering muscle tears from the increase. Humans are actually one of the most densely muscled apex predator mammals in the world, with only Lions, Tigers, and Three Species of Bear having a higher average body weight than a human (Including the Polar Bear, which in another documented Hysterical Strength case was held off by a Canadian Woman buying time for a group of people to escape to safety and a park ranger to retrieve a rifle and kill the animal.). Using the remaining 2/3rd of the muscle fibers in our body would be the equivalent of having an oxygen mask on a commercial jet: You don't need it when things go right, but you'll want it when things go very wrong.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aha, love your answer. You unknowingly hit the point, as half of the time, this mutant is only at ~3t power, and double under stress (because of reasons that would be too long to explain in a comment). Though I just put the figure of 6t to get generic answers, I will indeed use the adrenaline option. Thanks for the extra documentation and the cases I wasn't aware of :) $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 18, 2019 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia has a brief article on the incident under Hysterical Strength with several cases. One has the documented weight of a college football player and the car he lifted (295 lbs lifting 3500 lbs). Part of the unknown factor in the science is that we don't know the source of the adrenaline as the adrenal glands injection in the blood stream (which is what happens in a hyperarousal state) might be too slow for the suddenness of the burst and it's unconfirmed if it's a release from sympathetic nerves in the bone/muscle connecting tissue. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Jul 18, 2019 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ What stops the bones from breaking? $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2019 at 15:08

I don't think it is possible, unless "nuclear hyper ancient magic, something".

A ten-to-twenty-fold increase may seem counter-intuitive to start with, but that's actually within the realm of "possible". You can get that on normal people with electro-stimulation, so why not naturally on some presumed mutant, if you are willing to handwave a tiny little bit. But the problems are of different nature.

First, while increasing strength (muscular "power") is possible without increasing mass, and while increasing strength endurance alone is possible without increasing mass, increasing both at the same time is impossible (without increasing mass). Your mutants are to lift 20 times as much, and carry that around, so they need both.
Increasing actual muscular power (just to be nit-picky on wording) would require a combination of things, including a fundamental change to your cardiovascular system. Power is energy-per-time, and 90% of your energy comes from the electron transport chain in your mitochondria. Which requires, well... oxygen, and not precisely small amounts. So you need huge quantities of blood flowing through your muscles to supply that oxygen, which is already a practical problem on a contracted muscle of "normal" strength. Now, multiply strength by 20, and you multiply the supply problem by 20, too... Unless you are happy with 5-10 second feats (question explicitly says different), you're kinda lost.

You can activate more muscle fibers at the same time, that's what people who do strength training learn to do at will. It's what most animals (including e.g. apes) do, too. Animals are not magical in any way, they're just not as much of a wuss as the average human because in the real world in which they live, being a wuss means being dead and eaten.
It's more neurological than actually "muscle". Also note that the guy holding the world record in bench press is not necessarily the strongest guy, either. Or the biggest, for that matter. Some stunningly strong people are surprisingly small and slim. Think e.g. Chinese acrobats. The thing is, the more fibers you activate at one time (for more strength), the more fibers get tired (pretty obvious). Which means unless you have more of them, you necessarily have to drastically reduce time.

Second, assuming you can actually increase muscular strength to that level, it would almost certainly mean that your tendons would rupture. Tendons, vaginae, and hypomochlia have to endure surprising amounts of force even for trivial tasks. In hand surgery, one is often surprised why they make such a darn fuzz about holding fingers in some particular position with rubber bands for ages after suturing. Well, the reason is that merely moving a finger will put the equivalent of around 20 kilograms on that little tendon, which is non-trivial for a healthy tendon already, but definitively is more than the suture will support. So imagine what forces are at work when you actually grab something firmly. The force that acts on the various fibrous rings that keep tendons in place and allow them to force the attached bone in some particular predetermined direction can be 10-20 times as much. The forces on your knees or elbows when the joint is in a widely-flexed position? The knee at least has the patella, which somewhat redirects force in a sensible direction. The elbow doesn't. Don't even want to think about how much force acts on that tendon.
Although we're looking at some of the strongest tissues nature is able to build, in reality it often comes close to what the tissue is able to physically support. That's why repetitive strain wears stuff down so surprisingly fast, and it's why there's not rarely... BANG... catastrophic failure.´. So, well, OK, they're mutants, let's assume they have some magical carbon-nanotube tendons, whatever, which magically support 3-5 times as much. But we talk about multiplying with 20, and not just for a second or two, but supporting that for a lengthy time, I cannot imagine it could work.

Third, there's levers at work. For example, your spine is one huge lever (about a meter long) connected to some small levers (about a centimeter or two). Plus, spinal discs, which are surrounded by a fibrous ring. The disc itself is pretty much indestructible as long as it's held together, but the ring isn't...
The actual force depends on where you look at, but let's just assume there's a ten-fold increase (which is very optimistic). Lift 50 kilograms, so you effectively have 500 kilograms acting on your little piece of bone or your fibrous ring, there. Now you want to lift 6,000 kilograms... good luck. A small piece of innocent bone less than a centimeter thick just cannot support 60 tons sheer. I am not sure if a piece of solid steel would, even. Similar is true for virtually every bone, to a different, individual extent.
Note how e.g. when people die from tetanus or are exposed to electricity, muscles often do break bones. This is not just an idea, it actually happens.


6 tons -- Not possible without completely different substance

As other answers have mentioned, there is a host of problems with moving around 6 tons with a normal human frame. Several biological, but also fundamental chemical/physical problems. The amount of pressure and forces which will need to be generated need a lot of chemical energy, need to be sustained and need to be transferred by tendons and bones.

The only possible way I see is a completely different, to us unknown chemical composition of mutant bones, tendons and muscle fiber. The bones need to have a composition with at least 20-times structural stability (something with carbon nano-tubes?). The tendons need to have at least 20-times tensile strength (steel wire could barely provide this with about 200 N/mm2) and then you would need muscle-fibers with a different and 20 times stronger power of contraction than out ATP-powered muscle fibers, but with similar regenerative properties. As far as I know this would need to be complete handwavium, because I don't know of any fibers/reaction with properties even in this ballpark. And finally the whole digestive-tract and cardio-vascular-system would need to provide these fibers with enough resources so they can actually keep this up, this could mean a completely different type of lungs and diet for you mutants.

TL;DR: Still calling these mutants "human" is probably a stretch, because they would be more like synthetically designed beings with a human shape.


Today I read about a carbon fiber which can lift 12'600 times of its weight.

A mutant could grow a few such fibers or similar inside their muscles. Note that they also would need stronger bones, this means perhaps a different type of carbon fiber inside the hydroxylapatite structure of the bones.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That "12,600" is only talking about the fiber itself. It doesn't include things like the support equipment required to generate the electric field that makes the fiber contract. I suspect that once you add that in, you'll get something that's comparable to or even less efficient than normal muscles. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Jul 17, 2019 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ I clarified by adding "or similar". The idea is that mutants could grow non-muscular contracting fibers in their muscles. I know this is not strictly biological but why not think a bit outside the box? $\endgroup$
    – nalply
    Jul 17, 2019 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark I’m not sure that’s so—the link specifies the voltage applied is 0.172 V/cm, which is comparable to the −90 mV to +75 mV swing suggested by Wikipedia for human muscle activation (though I’m not sure how the “per centimeter” applies here or how many centimeters we should be talking about). A bigger question for me is whether there is any plausible route to biologically producing these carbon fiber structures. $\endgroup$
    – KRyan
    Jul 18, 2019 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @KRyan You severely underestimate just how overpowered enzymes are. They can do ANYTHING, often more cost-efficiently than us. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2019 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ @KRyan Hehe: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/141427/… $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2019 at 12:28

First you would need to define what is "lift". Because I would say that Eddie Hall 500kg is current record.
And with that segue - Eddie in talk with Brian Shaw (another strongman) talked about mental blockade of lifting heavy. That humans can lift even more (anecdotal sample of mother lifting car to save baby) but the brain is preventing them to do that to save from destroying their body (which is very easy as mentioned, both Shawn and Hall, have snapped their biceps. They have literally torn their muscles from bone it was attached to).
When lifting heavy, strongman often sniff ammonia to override part of that blockade.
Eddie Hall talked about sessions with psychologist to overcome that issue. Also how he lifted that 500 kilograms by "being somewhere else". So mental work is more important than physical one.
What would be the biggest enemy of "no more volume" is the bone density. Pulling would relay on muscles and tendons but pushing would also require bones (in first, you use rope, in second a piston). That's the reason why strongmen pull trucks and not push them. The bone might not be able to withstand the force that 6 tons would act upon them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I rephrased several times and lost some parts. I clarified the lifting part. Also, the mental aspect may help, but 6 tons seems to be still far out of human possibility. The few stories about "mother lifting car to save baby" are somewhat contradictory among themselves, so not sure how to properly analyze them. $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Nyakouai As you changed to bench pressing. That is exactly what I had in mind with bones density. This is a pressing, so not only 320 kg is pressing with equal force to pushing it up but you also need to fight with gravity. And with world record I would look at Larry Wheels. He said that his personal best (and many people) are better during training than what they do in competitions because of the environment. The time between tries, sounds, surrounding. Which point to mental comfort of doing certain things. $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2019 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ My aunt's BF was hit and killed by a drunk driver after stopping to help someone with a flat tire. His parents were coming down the road a little later and saw it. His dad lifted the car so they could pull him out of the wheel well. $\endgroup$
    – user39548
    Jul 17, 2019 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Hosch250 I do not say they are not real. My problem is: how muscular was the father - truck driver or accountant? How heavy was the car? Was it unbalanced, therefore modifying the strength needed to lift it? By how much did he lift it? I suppose, at least two tires were still touching the ground? Were you there, or is this a story someone told you, possibly from another person's recollection? The lack of precises data make it hard to analyze. There are records, but it's rarely in controlled environment, and therefore hard to put numbers on. Totally believe you, it's just hard to use. $\endgroup$
    – Nyakouai
    Jul 17, 2019 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ It was told to me by my mom. I wasn't there. It was probably a sedan, and I'm sure two wheels were on the road, possibly three, considering the car's suspension. Considering he was lifting the car to get him out of the wheel well, he probably lifted it from the corner near the body, which would make most of the weight just shift to the other wheels. $\endgroup$
    – user39548
    Jul 18, 2019 at 1:26

Material for handwavium:

  1. The fibres don't require energy for holding still. Thus you could do a chin up, stop half way, and hold it indefinately.

  2. The fibres have a ratchet mechanism. This relates to the above, but it means that you can amass the energy for one notch of the ratchet, move that notch, and rebuild.

  3. The fibers have an energy recovery system of X% efficiency. If you think of them as being motorized springs, reversing it may allow them to be motorized generators.

  4. Your bones, ligaments, tendons -- skeletal infrastructure are made from carbon nano-fibre or amorphous diamond (Muscle fibres made of bucky balls on nano-fibre for the ratchet?)

These three items give you great strength but normal power. (Power = energy/time = force * distance / time. Strength = force)

  1. Your body has a way to store some kind of oxidizer in tissue. Probably not as efficient as air plus hemoglobin -- you have to spend energy to do the storage. This gives you a short sprint period. In addition, each cell can store more glycogen than presently store either as glycogen or glycerol or similar compound.

Some numbers: Normal activity by a person sitting around is ~75 watts. Long term endurance events are typically a few hundred watts. How big 'few' is depends on your training and talent. Sprint events can be ~1 kilowatt.

Let's suppose that this chemical allows 10 times normal powers for a while. So your typical 80 kg hero can burn at 10 kW. 80Kg body equates to about 50 Kg water. 10 kW = 2.5 kcal/s = 150 kcal/min. So Our Hero's temp is going to rise about 3 C per minute, if he's going flat out aerobically. Few people think clearly with a temperature of 42 C (104)

Ok. We have to postulate another chemical reaction internally: This is one that absorbs heat. This might be able to double or triple the above time.

Human metabolism isn't a very efficient one. About 75% of the energy you eat is spent as heat. Some is transferred directly to the environment. Most is used to evaporate water. If you can double the efficiency, you get 6 minutes instead of 3 minutes.

You can also stretch it by getting wet ahead of time. Evaporating of water uses some 500 kcals/kg -- about 3 minutes worth of total heat production Picture your Flash doing a shoulder roll through every large puddle as he goes along.

Working at 10 times the power doesn't mean he can run at 10 times the speed. There natural paces depending on leg length, arm length etc. There are also limits to traction. His rapid travel pace may end up looking more like a superball thrown hard.

Of course it's not all running. If he's doing stuff that normally doesn't get him breathing hard, he can do it faster. Now the overheat problem becomes merely local muscles. A well developed circulation system can help distribute that heat.

A flow through lung would help, both to avoid use of his stored oxidizers and to cool. With flow through you should be able to double the O2/CO2 exchange rate.


You could start by being a woman :-)

Seriously, a woman can build strength without developing the buldging muscles of the stereotypical bodybuilder. Those are really down to testosterone: the only (or at least the main) way that women get them is by using steroids.

Then you can try being a chimpanzee or orangutan. They're anywhere from 2-6 times stronger than a human, without buldging muscles.

Still, I doubt that you will get anywhere near to lifting 6 tons, much less carrying it around. The reason is that the materials of the human body - bones, tendons, and the attachments of muscles to them - simply won't take that much strain. Even with what normal/athletic humans can lift, it's perfectly possible to strain muscles & rupture tendons.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "[chimpanzees are] anywhere from 2-6 times stronger than a human" Not according to the articles I linked in my answer. Those say about 1.5 times as strong, for equivalent tasks. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jul 17, 2019 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ The first 3 paragraphs are just wrong. Women build up muscle mass in the same way men do; but they have to work a LOT harder to get it because of the hormones. The fact that you think otherwise means you've just not seen any women body builders; or climbers; or runners... because they all have notably different fat and muscle distributions; which has nothing to do with their hormones but the activities they perform. $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Jul 18, 2019 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @a CVn: There are other articles which disagree with yours, e.g. sciencealert.com/… Also, the numbers in your links are based on simulations, not e.g. a human arm-wrestling a chimp, $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @UKMonkey: On the contrary, I've known many women climbers, runners, and participants in other sports. They simply do not build the bulging muscles of male bodybuilders, or even those of us who do casual weight exercises. (See for instance the participants in the recent Women's World Cup: very fit, but a noted lack of bulging muscle.) WRT steroids &c, see e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Then I'm sure you noticed they absolutely do build up the same muscle mass for the same strength... Infact, they often need (a little) more muscle mass because they lack the same mechanical advantages because of their size. $\endgroup$
    – UKMonkey
    Jul 19, 2019 at 6:58

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