In July of 2019, bodybuilder Eddie Hall, the winner of the 2017 World’s Strongest Man Competition, announced that he has what’s commonly referred to as the “Hercule’s Gene.” This gene allows him to build more muscle mass than the average human being.
It’s unclear exactly how much of an advantage having this gene gives Hall, who currently holds the world record for heaviest deadlift at 500 kgs. Still, Brian Sutterer, MD, resident doctor specialising in physical medicine and rehabilitation, broke down exactly how having this gene works in a recent YouTube video.
The myostatin protein is what puts the breaks on producing muscle fibres. “It prevents the production of additional muscle fibres, and it also prevents those muscle fibres from getting too big,” Sutterer explains.
The MSTN gene gives instructions for how much myostatin to produce. Those with the “Hercule’s Gene” have an abnormal or mutated MSTN gene that causes the body to produce lower level of myostatin. With less myostatin to block muscle growth, one can produce more muscle.
The first documented case of the Hercules Gene was in 2004, and since then, the fitness and bodybuilding industry have attempted to in some way market a similar acting supplement. While anti-doping agencies have banned any myostatin inhibiting products, that hasn’t stopped production.
One particular product that’s marketed is called Folistatin, which is a compound that can block the myostatin that’s currently in your body. Sutterer warns, however, that these supplements are “sketchy” and not something he’d ever recommend using.
Still, this gene could potentially be used to help people with muscular dystrophy, which is a muscle wasting condition. “So there’s hope that the discovery of this gene and protein can lead to some novel therapeutic and treatment strategies for people who have these muscle wasting conditions,” Sutterer says.
As for whether or not Sutterer thinks having this gene gives Hall a biological edge while competing?
“There’s no doubt about it, that this gives someone an advantage when it comes to building muscle.”
Watch the video below.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health US