Monday, December 12, 2011
Before I get into my real animal comparison, let's first look at our nearest cousin, the chimp. A full grown male chimp is said to be nearly three times stronger than an adult man. And even the adolescents can have their way with just about any zookeeper. I remember watching shows of "wildlife specialists" playing with the little toddler chimps (which could already walk, climb, swing, and do other things no human toddler, or adult for that matter, could ever dream of doing). The little guys were practically ripping the arms off of these animal loving humans. And they're just tiny little babies! Seriously, that's pretty amazing.
And to get to my main point, let's examine the gorilla, probably my favorite creature of all time. These guys are massive, the largest males weighing over 400lbs! Yet they can still swing from one arm at a time, and have extreme intelligence and dexterity. And just wait until you hear how strong these guys are. It's been rumored that an adult male gorilla can be anywhere from 6-16 times as strong as the strongest human male to ever have walked this earth. 16 TIMES STRONGER! WOW! That's probably the most amazing thing I've heard in a while, and one of the hardest to fathom. Can you imagine snapping 2 inch steel rebar, or thick bamboo stalks, with your bare hands? Both have been done by gorillas, the latter on a regular basis. That's just phenomenal.
And what's more, look at a gorilla's diet! They're herbivores! We spend so much time worrying about protein intake, and getting massive amounts of lean meat in our diet just to put on a little bit of measly muscle. The gorilla is basically eating raw salads all day, and consuming nothing but plant protein, which doesn't quite add up as fast. And yet they still could toss a washing machine around like a beach ball. So what's the deal, how are gorillas able to complete such incredible feats of strength? Well, there are a few key reasons that may help to explain why gorillas are the beasts that they are.
First, let me put a disclaimer down that all my research has led to possible theories, and shouldn't be taken for absolute fact.
Type II fiber: Remember when I went over this subject? It's mostly in my "Strength v. Size" article here: . Read up! Gorillas are supposedly composed of much more type II "fast twitch" EXTREMELY DENSE muscle fiber, which is drastically more efficient at creating vast amounts of immediate force. This extreme density results in having a LOT more fiber per unit area than a human could ever dream of possessing.
Muscle Recruitment: It's quite possible that gorillas, through their own specific evolutionary processes, have transformed themselves into much more efficient muscular beings as a whole. That means that they can use more of their total muscle fiber whenever they put their mind to it. An average male who does NOT work-out is said to only be able to recruit around 20% of their muscle fiber to use at any one time. That's so inefficient it upsets me to be of the human race. When working out, you eventually increase the connections between your muscles and your brain, and after years of training you can increase this figure significantly, however you'll never reach 100%. I doubt you'll even come close. I'm not sure of a gorilla's exact muscle recruitment percentage, but I'm willing to bet it would be much more than even the most experienced weightlifters.
Brain vs. Brawn: Believe it or not, a lot of our daily caloric intake goes toward thinking! Approximately 10-20%. That's a pretty decent amount, and can explain why you're physically tired after a long test. Gorillas, while very intelligent, don't have our kind of mental capacity, and therefore a lot more of that food energy goes right to those giant muscles. This is the same for chimps and other monkeys as well, and helps to explain why they're so much stronger for their size.
Diet Volume: Sure, gorillas are MOSTLY vegetarian. But don't forget that a full grown male gorilla can consume nearly 40lbs of vegetation a day. No-matter what the heck is in all that, there's got to be plenty of every nutrient you could ever need for muscle growth.
Body shape: If you didn't know anything about a gorilla's strength or physiology in general, it'd still be easy to guess at their massive muscular abilities just by their body shape. I mean just look at them! They have massive chests, short legs, giant shoulders, and a fantastic set of core muscles. All their muscle fiber is in relatively efficient positions compared to that of a human. We're lanky, and not built for brute strength. Our legs and arms are too long, and our core is relatively pathetic. We can't compare with the pure physical nature of the beast.
So there's some food for thought this Monday morning. Remember your place among the wild creatures, and remember that no matter how much you lift, or how clean you eat, the gorilla eats cleaner and lifts more weight than you could ever imagine, and usually does it on a daily basis. Pretty funny how evolution works, isn't it?
Stay strong, be the beast, and good luck!