Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Super Human Strength

The man behind Marvel comics, Jack Kirby, said he got inspired to create the Hulk after he saw a woman lift a car off her baby. Which sounds like bull, but similar feats of Herculean strength get reported quite often.

On a warm evening in 2006 Tucson, Tom Boyle sat in the passenger seat of his truck and  waited for his wife to pull into traffic from the shopping mall where they just had dinner. As Boyle watched the traffic go by, he saw a shower of sparks shoot up from beneath a Camaro.

Moments later he saw a crumpled up bike stick out from the Camaro’s chassis. Someone had hit a cyclist. And the rider was pinned underneath the still moving car.

Boyle threw himself out of his truck and made a dash for the Camaro while signaling the driver to stop.

As the Camaro screeched to a halt, Boyle could hear the cyclist screaming in misery. The cyclist was trapped between the chassis of the car and the frame of his bike: one leg was pinned to the underside of the Camero and the other was being dragged along the asphalt.

Still mid sprint, Boyle hurled himself toward the cyclist, shot his hands underneath the car and lifted. With a sound of creaking springs, the 1300-kilo chassis slowly moved up. And the cyclist was pulled free by the Camaro’s driver.

Although Boyle is a large and burly man who weighs over 130 kilos, lifting over 1300 kilos  should be impossible. The world record dead-lift is only 500 kilos.

Plus, after the cyclist was taken away by an ambulance, Boyle had another go at lifting the Camaro. 

It didn’t budge. Probably because he was no longer spurred on by a life threatening danger.

Which is why the medical community doesn’t acknowledge feats of ‘hysterical strength.’ It can’t be (ethically) replicated in a lab.

That said, scientists did take a stab at whether humans could gain herculean strength under certain circumstances. And the answer involved the fight-or-flight system.

A defence mechanism that rushes blood to our muscles, releases adrenaline, increases our heart rate, and shortens our muscles so we can be more explosive.

Although this biological response does undeniably make us stronger and faster, it’s likely not enough to empower us to shatter world records by more than 250%.

While lifting cars may be nothing but a fantasy, our untapped physical strength is a fact

The body only gives us access to our total muscle potential in case of emergencies. Even elite athletes can’t harness all the power of their muscles in everyday situations.


Because that type of strength would kill us.

If we could recruit all our muscles at the same time, our tendons would be torn from our bones. The stress muscles can put on our ligaments and joints is simply too much.

So our body’s equipped us with a limiter. And that limiter only comes off in situations of life or death.

We all have super human strength. And there’s nothing superhuman about it.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach