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Practical Limits to Superhuman Strength


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I am not sure if this is more Biology or Physics. However, my question is—assuming that there was some means to drastically increases strength—and assume that bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and skin also become proportionately more durable...

Sure, take a 6-foot, 250-pound truck driver with a bit of a paunch—make him 3x as strong and maybe he could do feats heretofore only seen performed by 95-pound prepubescent girls who are Olympic level Gymnasts.

5X might be even better,. At some point though, one would rarely have sufficient inertia, traction and leverage to bring one's full strength to bear. At that point, further increases in strength would largely be superfluous.

Can we determine, hypothetically, at what multiplier we reach the point of diminished returns?



Saxon Violence

Edited by SaxonViolence
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Thanks for an interesting topic. I think this subject is a combination of both biology and physics.

However, I don’t believe there is a mathematical formula for working out maximum strength relative to body weight, of living creatures using physics.

Maybe the best we can do is go the empirical route, and see what exists in Nature? In other words, use biology.

The strongest animals in the world relative to size & body weight:

Dung beetles are the world’s strongest insect, and when looking at strength relative to bodyweight they are the pound for pound strongest animal in the world. A male dung beetle is able to lift objects a whopping 1,100 times its own weight – the equivalent of a human carrying 80 tons (or six double-decker buses loaded with people!).



If you are only interested in the strongest biological substance in Nature, it was spider silk up until fairly recently. Now, scientists have discovered that a limpet tooth takes top honors. The amazing thing about Limpet teeth is their strength is the same no matter what the size. But there are no mathematical equations for finding these things out; it is all done by experiment.

If we were discussing material strength of mechanical structures, instead of living creatures, the strongest metals are magnesium alloys which scientists claim, pound-for-pound, there is nothing stronger. This can be demonstrated with physics and mathematics, using advanced software employing the finite element method.

It would be interesting to see what a dung beetle, made out of a magnesium alloy, could do!

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  • 2 weeks later...


I write SF and Phantasy—and I've played with a couple of stories where the characters have superhuman powers.

Yeah, of course you're already positing impossible or at least highly unlikely things...

But the maximum high jump is a bit over 7-foot. High jumpers wear spikes and loose-fitting clothing and they jump on flat ground at a well-lit track.

It seems to me, that even if you double or triple leg strength—without increasing bodyweight—that it would be hard to jump much more than 7-feet in street clothing and shoes without spikes—especially in a dark alley with all sorts of broken bottles and piles of dog excrement underfoot.

I think that a fight between too super-strong humans—especially if they are also noticeably tougher than normal humans—would look like two men fighting on ice, in street shoes, under lunar gravity...

A bit hard to describe in detail.

Thanks for responding!

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