Imagine being born with rock-hard muscles and a lean physique. You won’t have to make any effort in staying fit, because you #WokeUpLikeThis. That’s exactly the type of life that Vietnamese 10-year-old Nguyen Hoang Nam is living right now.
The Herculean youth was found flexing his muscles and playing with friends in Trang Bom, a small township on the outskirts of Bien Hoa, Vietnam. The boy went viral after photos of his muscular build surfaced on social media, with many peope likening him to Superman. His superhero-like body isn’t the result of an intense workout routine. In fact, he didn’t have to put in any effort at all.
Nguyen Hoang Nam, 10, has captured the attention of netizens after pictures of his well-toned and muscular body emerged online. His unusually developed muscles did not come from workouts and a lot of people would mistaken him as an adult who suffers from dwarfism.
Nguyen Hoang Nam has myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy. It is a rare condition characterized by reduced body fat and increased muscle size. He was dubbed with a ‘superman syndrome’ by Vietnamese media. His condition is caused by mutation in the MSTN gene.
The MSTN gene tells the body how much myostatin to create, which is active in skeletal muscles for movement, and also restrains muscle growth so they do not grow too large. However, mutations in this gene that reduce the production of functional myostatin leads to an overgrowth in muscle tissues, as seen in Nguyen Hoang Nam’s case.
When Nguyen Hoang Nam was born, doctors had already noticed something different with his body, particularly with his muscles. When he turned six, his parents took him to a hospital when his muscles became more defined. It has been reported that his muscles are stiff and lack flexibility while he remained in good health. People who have this condition have up to twice the usual amount of muscle mass in their bodies and increased muscle strength. Affected individuals are intellectually normal and is not known to cause any medical problems.
“Since he was born, he’s always been really gentle. He gets on well with his friends,” said Nguyen Hoang Nam’s father.
“When he saw me training, he often imitated me. When he was younger, most kids borrowed phones to play games, but he borrowed mine to watch body builders,” he added.
Nguyen Hoang Nam’s parents encourage him to do martial arts and yoga in order to relax his muscles so they do not get too stiff. Growing up and gaining local and international attention, influencers have reached out to Nguyen Hoang Nam’s family to appear in their vlogs. His parents refused the offers as they believe the extra attention would be more harmful to him than beneficial.
A professional bodybuilder in Dong Nai took interest in Nguyen Hoang Nam and offered his parents free training. Truth be told, it was the boy’s dream to be one. In an interview with Ruptly, he said, “My dream is to become a bodybuilder in the future because I saw the bodybuilders on YouTube, and they looked really nice and professional. I admire them a lot.” He had truly expressed interest in bodybuilding at a young age. But after training for three months, he returned home because he misses his family.
It is not known how many people are diagnosed with myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy. Unfortunately for the rare diseases, there’s often not a calculated incidence or prevalence. There is no official method for tracking these conditions.