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I'm working on a plot where nanites are used to increase muscle size and/or density directly and was wondering what scientific processes would be involved for nanites to do this.

From what I understand on the science of working out, when we work out we induce microtears which grow muscles. How would nanites do this directly where they make targeted microtears in order to increase muscles?

Obviously there are alternatives like having nanites deliver steroids to targeted areas (even now there are trials where nanites deliver drugs) but I was wondering about nanites doing microtearing specifically.

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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Jan 25 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ "could they do it?" - yes, why wouldn't they? $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ You could even completely rebuild and/or replace a person's muscles if you had the requisite knowledge, which could make them vastly stronger than any human with the same muscle mass. Why stop with natural muscles? $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Jan 25 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ "even now there are trials where nanites deliver drugs" I think perhaps you either need to re-read those trials, or explain to us what you think a "nanite" is. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ Closely related to this and this. Please note that you appear to have already answered your question: the nanites induce microtears in the muscles. You might be asking how they do this? Please explain the design of your nanites, their capabilities and limitations. Note that muscles aren't enough. If you don't improve ligaments, cartilage, bone, etc., the increased strength of the muscles will tear the body apart. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 14:25

4 Answers 4

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How would nanites do this directly where they make targeted microtears in order to increase muscles?

They would produce and deliver an enzyme directly into the muscles that would chemically break the muscle fiber.

If you simply do this blindly you are just turning living tissue into dead tissue, but the nanites are smart enough to do it in a controlled way. They will tear the muscle just enough to simulate a good workout. Then they will help the healing process by building new aminoacids and testosterone out of bodily waste.

The nanite user will be quite buff.

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    $\begingroup$ We could also have the nanites simply form a protective layer of nanites over the muscle fibres and bones to make you stronger. The advantage of instead stimulating the growing process is it keeps working when the nanites run out of juice. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 25 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Daron I feel like the word "simply" is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence ;-) $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Hmmm. . . you might be right. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jan 25 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ This is a good idea to have the nanites tear the muscle fibres and then repair them, the subject would need to consume enough protein at regular intervals for the nanites to aid in delivering it to repairers. The subject would not even need to work out just sit and let the bots constantly rip and repair. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Here is an interesting article on the natural process which the nanites could beef up livescience.com/muscle-repair-by-roaming-nuclei $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 12:18
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/nanites are used to increase muscle size and/or density directly /

Nanites accumulate in the muscle.

Nanites are more dense than muscle tissue. As more and more nanites accumulate in the muscle, muscle density will increase. The bulk of the nanites will also increase muscle size.

Magnetic fields could be used to reposition nanites that might have shifted with time, or to alter the look of the nanite-enhanced muscles.

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  • $\begingroup$ This could work well if the nanites were the additional muscle fibres (which could make a fully robotic body a better option) but if they are just shaping bulk they could add too much mass with no strength gain making it difficult to move with the additional mass. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @AlanDavies - I think we have a free hand with how dense the nanites are and how much mass per volume you want. If you just want massive muscles you could have very dense nanites. If you want more bulk you could have very low density nanites with helium filled aerogel inside. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 25 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ After I wrote that I realised it could be like Utility fog, so it would be very light. This sounds like the future of Synthol type methods, hopefully they will use it with the correct muscle shape and body ratio unlike the current oil boys, google Synthol users for a laugh lol. $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 17:19
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Muscle growth is signaled through a chemical called "Follistatin" and muscle breakdown is signaled through a chemical called "Myostatin". You don't need to make tears as much as you just need your nanites to hoover up any Myostatin they can find so that there's much more Follistatin around. Or just make their own analogue, something like this one for example. I'm not sure that just tearing the muscle, without the associated spike in energy usage would do the job.

You could also consider that there's other options for increasing muscle strength of regular humans using nanotechnology without adding any artificial reinforcements. For example using the nanites to prune defective mitochondria may give a benefit of strength and endurance (and crucially make it easier to gain further muscle mass).

Otherwise, as the other answer above stated, you might need to go into much more detail about what limitations you want your nanites to have.

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The nanites could modify the DNA inside the muscle cells so yes they could enhance muscle mass and density. However myofibrillar hypertrophy would be the king of hypertrophy prefferred rather than sarcoplasmic hypertrophy since the myofibrils are what makes muscles contract and produce form. The sarcoplasm is just the cytoplasm of the muscle cells and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy just make the muscle bigger and more bloated.

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