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Uninhibited Muscle Power
The brain usually inhibits the body's strength to protect it, but not this time.
Better Name

(permanent link) added: 2014-06-02 12:03:20 sponsor: KyleJacobs (last reply: 2014-06-09 20:33:59)

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Some characters are strong. In many works, this can easily be justified - either superpowers are known to exist, or Charles Atlas Superpower is a fact of life.

But in some settings, the author needs a more down-to-earth explanation for why one guy can throw cars around like they're made of tissue paper. When someone is called upon for said explanation, the following lecture will usually occur:

"You ever hear about moms lifting cars off their kids? The human body is actually capable of incredible strength, but the brain inhibits it most of the time in order to keep our muscles from tearing themselves apart under the strain. His body is doing the same thing, but he's in that state of strength all the time."

Essentially, this is Explosive Overclocking applied to human beings who lack the Required Secondary Powers to handle it. This can be used as a Hand Wave or Played for Drama; in the latter case, expect the danger of a Heroic RROD resulting from overuse of this strength to be heavily played up.

The principle behind this is Truth in Television, but the idea of these inhibitors being permanently turned off or granting anything that could be considered true Super Strength is most emphatically not.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara!! seems to have been born without the ability to control his own strength. As a kid, his bones would routinely break under the strain. However, he recovers stronger every time, so as an adult, he doesn't usually get that particular side effect.
  • Ayumu, the titular zombie from Is This a Zombie?, can remove his inhibitors on his muscles in combat.

Film

Literature
  • The Dresden Files. During Skin Game, Butters speculates that this is all that Harry actually gains from the mantle of the Winter Knight and points out that it's going to take an immense toll on his body over the long term.
  • In The Zombie Survival Guide, the narrator points out that zombies don't have the mental limits preventing them from using 100% of their muscular power. This makes them very powerful, but prone to injuring themselves.
  • In Of Mice and Men, Lenny has super strength presumably as a compensatory byproduct of his mental deficiency.

Live-Action TV
  • Seinfeld. George plays with this in one episode: he had been faking a handicap for his employer, who provided him with an electronic scooter; later, George accidentally upsets a group of geriatrics, who chase him on their scooters, but since the battery dies, George picks up his scooter and runs with it... right into his employer. Afterwards, George tries to explain what happened by claiming that in desperate times, people have been known to perform feats of superhuman strength, and even uses The Incredible Hulk as an example.
  • This is the origin of the Hulk in The Incredible Hulk TV show. Dr. David Banner, physician, scientist, searches for a way to tap into the hidden strengths all humans have because he wasn't able to save his wife in a car accident despite the scientific fact that some people can flip a car when given the proper incentive. It turns out that on those occasions there were solar flares going on, sending gamma radiation into Earth's atmosphere. Banner overexposes himself with gamma radiation but it doesn't seem to have any effect - until later.

Tabletop Games
  • Paranoia: The mutant power Adrenaline Control allowed the user to boost their Strength to superhuman levels for a short period of time, at the cost of serious muscle damage afterwards.

Real Life
  • Humans are capable of using only one-third of their muscles' potential strength (even when hyped up on steroids) due to a biological block. Only a few people have gone past this with even fewer reaching full potential. Every one of those situations was a life or death situation, when special hormones such as adrenaline are able to allow us to override the block, hence how people refer to this reaction as "fight-or-flight". The reason why this Defence Mechanism Superpower can only remain as a defence mechanism is because the stress reaction deprives other systems of energy, like for example digestion (hence Bring My Brown Pants) and the immune system (hence why chronically stressed people are more likely to get sick), and also because any amount of exertion above the one-third limit causes our muscles (and even tendons) to tear themselves from the bone, rip themselves apart, or even start to liquefy. Of course, the severity of the damage depends on the intensity of the stressor, how far beyond the limits one goes, and for how long.
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