Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • We all have a fascination with muscles and strength - whether we want to be stronger,

  • feel better, or look like superman; and there are many proposed strategies and exercise

  • regimens to get this done. But what if I told you that it was out of your control, and that

  • your genetics may be entirely holding you back? Conversely, what if there was a secret

  • out there that could lead you to super human strength?

  • The truth is: your muscle size has a limit. Sure, it may seem obvious when you hear it,

  • but your muscles are under the strict control of a protein called Myostatin, which determines

  • exactly how large a muscle can become. And this limit is different for everyone depending

  • on their myostatin levels. As a muscle reaches this limit, myostatin prevents any further

  • growth. But if the myostatin itself is limited or absent, this muscle limit suddenly goes

  • away. This phenomenon was first noticed in Belgian

  • Blue Cattle. These cows developed 2-3 times more muscle mass than a normal cow, and it

  • was later discovered that they had a deletion of the gene GDF-8, which just so happens to

  • create myostatin. As a result, without any exercise or special diet, these cows have

  • incredible muscle mass. Similar cases have been documented in dogs, mice, and even a

  • few cases of human babies lacking the GDF-8 gene.

  • These findings have helped scientists understand why some people bulk up easily, while others

  • struggle to. Lower levels of myostatin = more muscle mass. In fact, some studies have even

  • shown that many champion body builders have naturally lower levels, or even entire deletions

  • of the myostatin gene. If you look at somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a teen, he

  • just looks naturally muscular. As such, perhaps many champion bodybuilders owe their success

  • more to genetics than their training or drug use.

  • Eventually, it may be possible to develop drugs which deplete or block myostatin. Of

  • course, it's a double edged sword; On the one hand, patients with muscular dystrophy,

  • or muscle loss from aging could regrow and restore muscle. On the other hand, the potential

  • for abuse as performance enhancers seems...inevitable. But, the prospect of seeing a real-life human

  • Hulk...seems kind of cool. Besides, should those who already have low levels of myostatin

  • be considered to have an unfair advantage? It's hard to say. Regardless, be weary of

  • anybody selling or promoting this unproven and unregulated treatment.

  • At the end of the day, whether you have naturally low or high myostatin levels, remember - this

  • is the level that is optimal for your mechanical and metabolic efficiency. With proper exercise

  • and general health, you'll reach your own unique physiological peak. And while you may

  • not be destined to pack a punch like Superman, you can push your own limits through training

  • and hard work. But, what if you could punch as hard as Superman?

  • Our friend Jake over at Vsauce3 has the answer to this smashing superhero question, which

  • you definitely need to check out. And if you want to know how much myostatin

  • you have...there's only one real way to find out. Get working.

  • This episode of AsapSCIENCE is supported by 23 and Me. 23 and Me is a DNA analysis service

  • that allows you to explore your own genes. Whether you are interested in discovering

  • your global origins, or understanding your health and your risk for disease, be sure

  • to check out With the help of their DNA kits, connect to your past, learn

  • about your present health and potentially be part of future genetic research, all at

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

We all have a fascination with muscles and strength - whether we want to be stronger,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it