Can Danger Give You Super Strength?


You might’ve heard some version of this
story before: A kid is trapped under a car, and, in a panic, his mom somehow lifts the
car up to get him to safety. This sounds like something straight out of
a movie, but it actually does happen! So what really goes on in these life-threatening
moments? Can anyone summon superhuman strength? Well, kind of. Some biological changes can give you a boost
in extreme situations, but there’s a limit to what your body can do. When you’re stressed or terrified, your
brain signals your adrenal gland to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into
your bloodstream. Cortisol can increase the amount of glucose
in your blood, and adrenaline can pump up your breathing rate and heart rate to shuttle
more oxygen around your body, including to your muscles. And this can give you an energy boost! There’s also some evidence that your brain
releases chemicals called endocannabinoids when you’re under stress, which can reduce
the pain you feel. Now, scientists can’t exactly create high-pressure,
dangerous situations in a lab to study all this. Like, y’know, trapping a volunteer in a
room with an aggressive bear or something. So it’s hard to know how much of an effect
these chemicals have on pushing your body to its limits. And figuring out what those limits are is
even harder. Scientists who research human body movement,
called kinesiologists, have tried to study competitive athletes to get a better idea
of these limits. It’s thought that your body doesn’t
usually generate all the force it’s capable of. Partially because it’s more efficient — after
all, you don’t need every muscle cell in your arm to pick up your phone and send a
text. But it’s also a way your nervous system
makes sure you don’t injure yourself by pushing your muscles too hard and damaging
tissues. In a life-or-death situation, or a high-pressure
situation like the Olympics, your brain seems to throw caution to the wind. And stress responses cause your body to use
more energy. Still, it’s important to remember your body
has its limits: If you can only lift 50 kilograms on a good day, you probably can’t pick up
a 2000-kilogram car no matter what. Plus, those sensational news stories can be
kind of misleading. Sure, maybe someone did pick up a car to save
their kid, but they probably didn’t deadlift the whole thing like Captain America. They probably just lifted one end, which isn’t
nearly as heavy. So while there’s some evidence for bouts
of super strength, we’ve still got to separate science from science fiction. So… probably don’t try to stop a train
like Superman or anything. Thanks for asking, and special thanks to all
of our patrons on Patreon! If you’d like to help us keep making episodes
like this, you can go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow
and subscribe!

99 Replies to “Can Danger Give You Super Strength?”

  1. I remember in elementary we would have to run have a mile everyday at the beginning of p.e. class and on normal days I would finish in the middle of the class. But on one day the test sirens went off in the middle of our run and I decided to imagine it was like the zombie apocalypse and I was running from a hoard, I ended up finishing 2nd in the class that day so I must have gotten some extreme adrenaline.

  2. Don't try to play superman.
    I love how you know that half your audience and more is from the US and deply rooted in the nerd comics/star trek/whatever culture.

  3. Scientists nowadays are such pussies. All it takes is to find someone who will sign appropriate waivers.

  4. Good thing I watched this video till the end, I was actually thinking of putting my super strengt to a test with a train. Thanks for the video man!

  5. U can tell before the vid starts if it is either one of the dudes talking or chicks…The chicks suck and get a shit ton of thumbs down because of it…

  6. The Webbys are pay-for-play, and one has to pay to nominate (usually self-nominating). Even getting involved in that seems like a very silly, old-school 1998 move.

  7. The endocannaboids thing is true I was like pumped and I ran and ripped some skin across a wall it didn't hurt until 2 minutes later

  8. During the 1994 earthquake, I broke out of our bedroom by throwing a filled bookcase out of the way with one hand. My arm hurt for over a week, but I did have super strength that day

  9. A burn survivor friend of mine was trapped under a burning car that weighed over 3 thousand pounds, and a firefighter lifted the FRONT END of the car (yes, where the engine was) while other people pulled him out from under the car.

  10. Okay I don't know if this will ever get looked at but I've always wondered what causes bumps when you hit your head or shins. So this is just an idea for a video 🙂

  11. I did this once. I and one other guy picked up a minivan that had rolled onto a person, by the luggage rack. We flipped it over. Leverage was on our side as the luggage rack was on an uphill side and the geometry made it less work to flip over. But still, I doubt we could have done it in a non-emergency.

  12. Ah, this is one I actually got into a lot of discussions with my biology and kinesiology professors about.

    Their general consensus was that a professional weightlifter, and many other pro athletes, are capable of using about 98-99% of their total muscular force, at least in certain actions (e.g., deadlift). That extra 1% doesn't do anything special, it would literally be a 1% increase, and is mostly left out to account for how rare it is to do 100% of anything.

    Basically this means that your limit is equal to or (far more likely) less than pro athletes. The cross-sectional area of your muscles and their myofibril composition (Type I, Type IIa, Type IIx fibers, fiber length, bunch of stuff) determines your maximum possible strength. Pro athletes probably have bigger muscles than you, at least those in the strength-oriented competitions. Nobody is becoming the Hulk because of a bumped toenail.

  13. When I was 3 years old, I was trying to put a new movie into the VHS on top of our TV and the TV actually fell on me. I was able to hold it up with my hands and feet until my mom came from the next room to save me. And this was the 90s so TVs were like gigantic and chunky. Crazy stuff.

  14. You forgot about ATP. Muscle cells can burn adenosine triphosphate instead of glucose under extremem psychological stress, which is a much more energy rich fuel.

  15. I remember when I almost got hit by a car once. Never have I ever reacted to a warning shout so fast and jumped so far just to dodge something. That's what instincts are for. Plus I was quite heavy and overall clumsy back then.

  16. I just watched the one video with the cop outrunning the fire and I was like “ our body’s are amazing woow! “ then I watched this and y’all really made lose faith plus you guys are boring

  17. I remember once when i was a kid i was like 10 or 12 (don’t remember) my mother told me too go to the supermarket to get some stuff. My leg was hurting me and i was limping when I walk. So at the way to the supermarket i saw a dog was doing something with the trash. He looked friendly and saw me walking across. Then suddenly he came to me and i got scared (cause I didn’t had a dog and I couldn’t Interact to any) and i ran away as fast as I could and I didn’t felt the pain. But the dog was following me and was still behind me when i ran. (The neighbor saw me and he thought I was playing with the dog) so i got home and entered the door. I looked through the window to see if the dog was still outside. But he was gone. (After remembering that i laughed cause the dog didn’t meant to hurt me or anything lol)

  18. Also, besides this crazy hormone called adrenaline, your brain activates other emergency responses in life or death situations. When you're moving around just going about day to day, you only use about 12%-30% of your muscle fibers. In situations that call for adrenline and the body to operate at its highest efficiency, your brain will activate much more than 30% of the muscle fibers in your body. To the point that muscle will tear from bone from the sheer amount of weight a human COULD lift.

  19. What I want to know…would a trained strength athlete condition his body/CNS to utilize this phenomenon more or less at will?

  20. Hey there, I am a big fan of the show. But I had a question. See I watched an anime called naruto and came to ponder one thing. Is chakra real? If you could please give an explentation into this subject.

  21. It's also possible that when faced with an emergency, some people will show better judgement in figuring out how to lift or move efficiently.

  22. Rage actually has a similar affect, of releasing more potential strength from your muscles as well as dampening pain.

  23. What about that one time I was at the gym doing my last rep and a hot lady was checking me out…HOW DID I SUDDENLY DO 20 more REPS?

  24. I seen a guy crash on a Busy highway his guy was in a Ditch so I ran across the busy highway and It was a four line to see if he was ok and I didn't get hit once because I ran like the Flash

  25. At 7 y.o. I managed to escape a pitbull which was running and trying to catch me I don't really think I'm fast so probably it was thanks to the adrenaline… gg body you did a great job
    By the way I have a pitbull now and I love dogs lol

  26. Yes well I came here to understand how said mother can deadlift well over her normal max, not the basic explanation of fight or flight responses.

  27. Here this guy lifts a 2000lb helicopter to save his friend. TBF he lifted it from the side.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szvk-USnhYc

  28. Hero

    Imagine being a super hero with fantastical powers

    To be able to communicate with the trees and the flowers

    To be able to connect with animals of all kinds

    To be able to speak to them and enter their minds

    Imagine, to be able to see in the dark like a cat

    Or visualize by means of sonar, like a whale, dolphin, or
    a bat

    Crawl up a vertical surface like an ant or a spider

    Fly like a bird, soaring, rising, and silent like a
    glider

    Teleportation, now that is alpha, the best

    To be able to get somewhere, quicker than the rest

    Regeneration, reincarnation, Godlike, untested

    Defeating criminals, and arch rivals bested

    A power, digesting data, absorbing knowledge by a simple
    touch

    Like a super computer, it is never too much

    Telekinesis, to move things with a thought

    Cast a net over a foe, and smiling when they realize
    they're caught

    To enter the ether, and know all things

    Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Neptune, Uranus, Mercury and
    Saturn's rings

    To glance upon The Earth, and see the sorrow

    To see into the future, the unknown morrow

    I am aware, the power I would feel

    Is the greatest power, the power to Heal

    By Leo🐯👍💓

  29. I'm quite familiar with this…I have this effect on demand now. I simply never had a limiter, and after i went through a certain experience in my past…I learned how to control it most the time, and yeah it damages you if used. So i have to use it sparingly, but when i do…People take a short flight across the room.

  30. I got chased by 2 big dogs when I was 6 then I thought that I was Usain Bolt for like a good 6 sec but I'm not it ran out.
    (It's a long run.It's like the length of like 5, 1st story houses.But now I'm 12 I can't even outrun my pug.)

  31. Well the science to it is that your life is threatened and it's to the point where you don't even feel it's weight that's like anger when you getad you feel hot and stronger for example if it's cold in a room sometimes when your angry you anger can actually keep you warm and that's like adrenaline when your fighting you don't really feel the punches you get hit by until the adrenaline wears off

  32. I was young and stupid once that I wrestle with my brother and he almost make me passed out from a chokehold but out of nowhere I gain the grip strength to almost completely break his arms he got a few bruises.

  33. I'm elite even when someone is not in danger🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️🏋️‍♂️

  34. My best friend almost died while he almost fell in a 10 meter pit. He was hanging with only one hand. I’ve got him out. I shall mention that i was never able to lift him like I did that day.

  35. I once got real mad cuz a bully was bullying my crush I took that bully and threw him…He like went across 10 meters away.

  36. It can happen during an accident especially if that is a life or death situation such like fire, natural disasters or more important robbery or someone wants to attack you.. your Adrenaline suddenly kicks in without you noticing it cause you are in a state of awareness.. it happens to me when a fire came thru my cousin's house one of my cousin's said I suddenly lifted an entire Closet with clothes in it and is three times my weight my cousins said to me "how did you do that?" but I said to them I don't know.

  37. Hey let's make a device to make us be able to lift and throw heavy objects at people and btw if the max lifting wieght that we cant tap into is 25 tons

  38. I think its called hysterical strength, when your body removes the 80% limiter on how much strength you can use and you have a ton of adrenaline coursing through your veins then and something bad is happening like a child stuck under a car you can lift up that car

  39. I remember when i was 8 i was trying to get up a tree with my friends but i was struggling and my sister decided to scare me and yell “Tanner theres a dog coming!”
    I got my ass up that tree so fast

  40. Wow is that even a question? My mom as a kid jumped over a fence when they were chased by a mad man.
    I too once broke some wooden gates. Running falling very scared wounds all over.

  41. When i was 4 my mom said and i rembember that the going to get a blood exam and i no was letting my self then two doctors have to holde my and i trough theme two to the wall then two more doctores came and the cant no get to hold me in to i calm down

  42. Well I did it when i was younger and i pulled 12 kids to escape my class and go to my mother's class because i didn't want to be there… well, now I now the power of rage

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