Superman's Body Makes No Sense

(How) Do you even lift, bro?
Superman's Body Makes No Sense

If the Snyder cut accomplished anything, and lord knows we're still not sure, it at least maybe reminded the world that Henry Cavill is shredded beyond belief.

But if you can peel your eyes away from Cavill's grizzly bear pecs and sculpted rhombs, you might begin to find yourself asking another question: "Does Superman work out?" It might seem silly at first. Superman's body has always just been a given. Super strong dude = super big muscles, right? But, the more you work through the logic of it, the more you realize that Superman's body doesn't make sense. Superman's strength comes from the sun. He doesn't need big muscles to be strong so much as he just needs to go tanning. 

In fact, Superman should be downright scrawny. Muscles grow through a process called hypertrophy, which is basically when a person breaks their muscles down with higher levels of resistance than the muscle can withstand. The body then repairs the fibers within the torn muscle, in turn increasing the mass and size. For a more detailed explanation, you can just ask any dude flexing in front of the squat rack at your local gym, but the point is that to build muscle, you have to continuously tear your muscles down by pushing them to the brink. 

The problem for Superman is that it takes so much resistance to push his muscles to the brink. His strength is theoretically limitless. Here he is pushing, with one arm, 200 Quintillion tons.

The point being, it's not like Superman could have gotten that muscular from his day-to-day life as, for example, a farmer might from lifting bales of hay. Clark Kent should have left Smallville looking like Timothee Chalamet after a 12-day juice cleanse and not looking like this:

140 Smallville 2 ideas | smallville, tom welling, tom welling smallville
I lift a lottttttttt of hay.

Even fighting bad guys from time to time wouldn't do it. As any meathead will tell you, building muscle takes consistency. It could be that yellow sunlight acts as a sort of steroid for Superman's muscles, boosting their reparative and muscle growing effects well beyond what you'd expect, but you still have to break muscles down in order for steroids to be effective. You can't just go hard for a day and expect to see results, just like one tussle with Zod isn't going to leave Superman with a glistening six-pack for the rest of his life. If it did, then it would follow that the next tussle with Zod would leave Superman looking like The Mountain from Game Of Thrones, and on and on it would go until Superman was just one big ball of muscle the size of an asteroid.

No, Superman's physique is very specific. He's big, but not too big. He's, well, Henry Cavill, and for Superman to maintain Henry Cavill's build, he'd have to make a pointed and consistent effort to do so. The question then becomes, "How?"

Well, he could do it the old-fashioned way by just lifting things that are very heavy. The problem, though, is that Superman's strength varies so wildly that it's hard to determine his actual limits. Here we see Superman pulling a ship in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and he seems to be struggling, but not struggling so much that he can't do it. We could call this a decent enough workout.

The heaviest ship in the world is The Pioneering Spirit, at about 403,342 tons, so we can assume that this would be the upper limit of the weight he'd have to pull for this one exercise to be worthwhile. But then we see the paper has reported Superman to have moved a tectonic plate:

These can weigh as much as 44 quintillion tons, meaning jack if we can calculate Superman's actual limits. Maybe the paper's headline is bogus, maybe it isn't, but either way, the range of Superman's strength is so wide from source to source that it's hard to build an exact routine for him. Even then, Superman's strength grows exponentially, so if day 1 truly is the boat pull through the ice, then day 7 might be a planet pull through a black hole.

The easier thing to do would be for Superman to weaken himself with Kryptonite so that he possessed the strength of a regular human. Then he could just do Henry Cavill's actual routine. According to Muscle and Fitness, Cavill maxes a 435lbs deadlift, a back squat of 365 lbs, and 10 front squats of 225 lbs. It's nowhere near pulling a boat, and it won't make him actually any stronger, but hey, at least he looks nice for Lois, and isn't that why we all do it anyway?

Follow Dan on Twitter to learn more about his upcoming projects and find him on his podcast The Bachelor Zone to hear him talk about The Bachelor like it is a sport. (Because it is.)

Top Image:  Warner Bros Pictures


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