The Scientific Secret of Strength and Muscle Growth

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.

14 Replies to “The Scientific Secret of Strength and Muscle Growth”

  1. Myostatin can increase muscle size but I am not so sure about strength. Strength and hypertrophy do support each other to some degree but they can also be separated. Just check out Logan Chistopher from, Joseph L Greenstein(Mighty Atom) and Mike Gillette. Strength has a neurological component to it, it's not only about muscle. Check out Jarell Lindsey as well for more strength stuff.

  2. To build muscle mass check out Jonathan Migan's(Team3dAlpha) theory and success stories about how he accidentally stumbled across nucleus overload. Also check out Athlean X to build muscle in a healthy way and stay injury free. Jeff Cavaliere(Athlean X) is natty and doesn't have great genetics but still managed to build muscle mass.

  3. This explains the difference between strength and muscle well. It doesn't just apply to calisthenics although the title says so. It applies to all forms of resistance training.

    Building Strength vs Building Muscle With Calisthenics

  4. My dad was a labor worker in Honduras I was much stronger than kids in the states I always wore a jacket kids thought I was weak I wasn’t skinny most my family is crazy strong I’m just lucky but sadly I’m still a 6/10

  5. This video begs the question as to how myostatin is regulated in the first place. Is it possible, though working out, to signal to your brain that less myo is needed? Could that change the regulation of myostatin? Myostatin might be the limiter of how much muscle is possible given a certain context, but given enough time and workout, I wonder if that would push myostatin levels down the same way you can change the regulation of your heart rate by exercising? Just some thoughts to pique further inquiry.

  6. I have a friend who is 16 and an orphan and he only eats the food that the orphanage has but he is super bulky . He is also only like 5 feet tall which definitely helps but still

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