Chimpanzee Strength vs. Human Strength

This article will answer the question of exactly why chimpanzees are so much stronger than modern humans are in detail. Prepare yourself.

Okay first things first. Chimps are animals. Because they are animals and they move around a lot because they must find food to feed themselves. This makes it pretty unsurprising that chimps are vastly stronger than the average human. Most humans are fat and lazy these days. Chimps are also social animals though and there is a lot of feuding to be the alpha. This means epic scraps and beating the shit out of each other on a daily basis. Did I mention they live in trees? So a very active lifestyle plays a huge part in explaining why chimps are vastly stronger than most humans. We are fat and lazy.. mostly.

Chimps are also extremely muscular, check this out.

But even being as muscular as they are, that is not what makes them so much stronger than humans. It has to do with muscle insertions. See, chimps have muscle attachments that are located farther from the joints point of rotation. We all know what crowbars are here, this is similar to the concept of comparing a longer crowbar to a shorter crowbar. The longer handle allows a person to apply more torque at the point of rotation. It is the same with chimpanzees. Just check out this diagram.

If you are insightful you will also realize that this would make chimps move slower because the muscle must shorten a greater distance to produce the same amount of movement that it would if the muscle attachment was closer to the joint. This is the same as having to apply force for a greater distance on a longer crowbar than a shorter crowbar to have the same affect on whatever you are prying. To explain why this just does not happen in chimps is simple but requires a little knowledge of muscle physiology. There are many types of muscle fibers and they all have differing characteristics that suit the organisms lifestyle. These are called slow twitch and fast twitch fibers and from slowest to fastest they are Type 1, type2a, type2b and type2x. Type2x fibers contract the fastest and hardest and use different fuel than slow twitch fibers. Humans have some type2x fibers but mostly slower fibers. Animals, however, have a much greater percentage of type2x fibers than humans. So if you think that a chimps muscle insertions will make it slower, you are mistaken.

The nervous system is the next think that should be touched on. The nervous system plays a much, much larger role in strength than most people realize. An untrained person will not be able to activate all their muscle fibers in unison because they simply aren’t equipped to do so. There are reasons for this. First, We have many more small motor units than animals do. This differs across the body but humans generally have neurons that are “hooked” up to a smaller number of muscle fibers. This is of course for fine motor control, without it, writing would be very difficult. In animals, fine motor control is of very little importance so they contract many more of their muscle fibers with less effort. So why can’t humans just activate all their muscle fibers you ask? Well we can, but only under special circumstances such as times of enormous nervous stimulation in fight or flight situations. Everyone has heard of people who lift cars off of people with a huge adrenaline rush, this is very similar.

That is a pretty full explanation of why chimps are stronger than humans, although more could be said about the nervous system differences and of course the animal instinct. If you take only one thing from this article let it be this..

Don’t fuck with apes.

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