Tendons, ligaments, and the gangr.

Recently I received the following question in the comments section, and thought it deserved wider attention:

“when someone enters the gangr and try to lift a very heavy weight that would normaly is to much for his tendons en joints to handle, will the enforced healing capability fix this problem? I mean when his tendons begin to slowly rip apart will this be healed so that he still can lift the weight?”

The answer is, unfortunately, no. Berserkers heal fast, but not that fast. One of the hard upper limits on enhanced strength is the tendons and ligaments. A berserker enhances his or her strength in a few ways. The primary source of it is adrenaline, combined with burning whatever fuel reserves the body is holding by for an emergency. Lowering the activity in the antagonist muscles is another, permitting more of the body’s inherent strength to be exercised. A reduction of the brain’s natural inhibitions, a lack of ability to feel fear, and an insensitivity to pain can also allow you to exert more of your strength than you normally would, because you aren’t thinking about the consequences. Finally, one of the odder effects of the berserker unitary state is the ability to very rapidly un-knot cramped muscles, which also ups the amount of strength you can effectively use by a bit.

None of that has any effect on the tendons. Let me relate an amusing story that should serve you all as a cautionary tale. I am a big man. 6’2”, large frame, decently muscled. Most fights I have been in, both in and out of the ring, have been against fighters who were, at most, as large as me, and often smaller. Several years ago, I was in my amped-up training phase to prepare for that year’s Shieldbiter’s Cup berserker tournament when I learned about another amateur MMA tournament in my area, not specifically a berserker thing. So I thought I would enter it as a warmup.

It was a decent warmup. I went through my first few bouts undefeated. Then I was confronted by an opponent who was significantly bigger than me, and who had far superior training in classic martial arts to me. This pushed me to my limits when fighting him. I was deeply berserk. In that state, well, you revert to instinctive behavior, not a lot of human level thinking going on. One of my fight-ending techniques, that had often served me well, was to bull-rush my opponent, drop low, and use my berserker strength to lift him over my head and throw him. I did that with this guy, though he was over 300 pounds. My wolfish self assessed that I had the strength, when berserk, to do it. I did, in fact, manage to lift him completely overhead.

Then my MCL tore. That’s one of the tendons in the knee. My muscle output was amplified. Tendon strength was the same as ever. I fell. My larger opponent fell on top of me, of course. I spent a year on crutches and walking with a cane. I am only recently getting something like my old shape back.

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Pavel Tsatsouline

Today, I wish to take a moment to offer you all some good advice: if you are into physical fitness, and especially if you are a martial artist, you need to check out the works of Pavel Tsatsouline. The Evil Russian, as he is known, is hands down the most knowledgeable and effective trainer for fighting fitness and general fitness I have ever run across. As a former fitness trainer for the Spetsnaz, he should be! Following his advice, I went from being a guy who had serious back and neck problems and got winded after a minute of intense activity to being a guy who is the winner of numerous amateur mixed martial arts tournaments and has defeated SEALs and marines in them as often as they have defeated me. Everything the Evil Russian has ever written is well worth buying.

And just in case Mr. Tsatsouline ever chances to read this: thank you, Comrade!