Photo: diane39 (Getty)
Let’s face it: when you hit a certain age, it’s all downhill. Fat replaces muscle, bones get weaker, willpower dissolves. But when you’re getting physically dominated by somebody too young to vote, it can be humiliating. All around the world, there are kids who are tougher and stronger than full-grown adults, making us feel bad about that second Hot Pocket we had for a mid-afternoon snack. Come with us as we introduce you to 10 very young fitness marvels that can crush you in the gym.
As the most populous country on Earth, China has a vast range of human body types. And they’re not shy about pushing kids to meet their physical potential early on. Meet Yang Jinlong, who made headlines in 2012 when he was photographed towing the family car with his bare hands. The massive Jinlong weighed over 110 pounds at just seven years old and could perform astounding feats of strength like giving his own father a piggyback ride, and hauling around huge sacks of wheat. As he ages, he’s just getting bigger and stronger. You don’t want to know how much he eats.
How many pull-ups do you think you could crack off before you had to let go of the bar? We’re confident that we could probably get into the low triple digits with extreme pain and spend the next week or so on ice. But Virginia high school junior Andrew Shapiro smashed through a trio of Guinness World Records by doing a flabbergasting 7,306 in the course of 18 hours. Inspired by the TV show “American Ninja Warrior,” Shapiro began pursuing fitness in hopes of securing a spot on the show. He trained for the record by doing six pull-ups every minute for six hours straight while watching TV.
Physical fitness runs in the family — it’s a proven fact that kids exposed to parents who regularly exercise grow up to be adults who work out more. So when Jake Schellenschlager saw his dad lifting weights, it inspired him to get into the sport himself at the age of 11. The results were nothing less than incredible. Schellenschlager was deadlifting 400 pounds at the tender age of 15, and he’s set a life goal of deadlifting four times his body weight. He’s built all that muscle with an individualized gym plan that focuses on a single muscle group a day, coupled with a high-protein diet low in refined sugars and carbohydrates. If he keeps improving at the level he has, this kid could be one of the all-time greats.
Naomi Kutin isn’t your typical powerlifter. For one, she’s a 14-year-old Jewish girl. But the pint-sized Hercules is one of the sport’s most promising athletes, setting her first world record at the age of nine. She continued to push her limits year after year, and the next year she shocked observers by squatting 215 pounds, breaking the last record which was set by a 44-year-old European woman. Kutin got into powerlifting when she wanted to find something that her other friends couldn’t do, and the very competitive young lady intends to keep getting swole for the forseeable future.
The idea of a fourth-grader making his own workout DVD is absurd, but when you look at the insane muscle definition that Georgia’s own C.J. Senter has managed to get, things start to make a little more sense. When his pee-wee football coach told C.J. and his teammates to start working out at home, he took to it like a duck to water. C.J. was a physical prodigy even as a baby, crawling out of his crib when he was just seven months old, and he’s building his muscles in a smart way. It’s not recommended that youngsters start weight training until 15, so C.J. uses only his own body weight in his workout routines.
With kids getting bit by the fitness bug at a younger and younger age, it’s not surprising that many of them are shattering existing world records. In 2015, 10-year-old Jack Butler became the fastest person in his age group to ever complete a half marathon, notching up a sweet 1:31:08. That works out to just under seven minutes a mile for 13.1 miles. The fifth grader started running with his mom a few years earlier, at first keeping pace with her on his bike. Now he covers distance way faster than she does, despite his legs being much shorter. Butler’s smart about his training, replacing shoes when they hit 350 miles and making sure not to overdo it.
Widely regarded as the greatest British female powerlifter of all time, Rebekah Tiler started competing at the age of 15 and smashed over 100 different records in her age group. Now that she’s on the cusp of adulthood, she is already the youngest weightlifter to win a senior women’s British title, and people are already predicting that she’s one to watch at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her father Chris was a bodybuilder as well, and Rebekah was a gym rat at a very young age. When funding was cut for sports programs in her area, a local butcher offered to “sponsor her in meat” providing all of the protein she needed to build her magnificent muscle.
Sit-ups are torture. Everybody can do a few without much hassle, but as you crunch away those abdominal muscles start to burn until eventually the pain is intolerable. Nobody told 10-year-old Kyleigh Bass that, and she just set the national record for the most sit-ups performed in 90 minutes with a terrifying 2,110. Bass trained for six months to beat the record, working with a gymnastics coach to push her core strength to insane levels for a pre-teen. With her mother holding her feet, Bass took to the mat and powered through to the record, knowing that if she stopped for even a second to rest she probably wouldn’t be able to start again.
There’s something about Romania that breeds insanely muscular pre-teens. At nine years old, Giuliano Stroe was training for two hours every day to get his body as ripped as any grown-up we’ve ever seen. In 2009, he earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for performing the fastest ever 10 meter hand-walk with a weighted ball between his legs. He also holds the record for most 90 degree push-ups. If you’re like us, you have no idea what a 90 degree push-up is, so get this: it’s a push-up where you keep your feet off the ground the whole time, never touching with anything but your hands. Giuliano can do 40 of them. Oh, and he has a little brother named Claudiu who’s also insanely cut.
Currently regarded as the single strongest teenage girl in the world, Russian Maryana Naumova seems pretty ordinary from her Instagram — lots of selfies, lots of pink. But when you watch her bench 375 pounds, you realize that this is no ordinary teen. Naumova is the first female under 18 ever given special permission to participate in professional powerlifting tournaments, and at the Arnold Classic she set a board bench record at 331 pounds. In her spare time she goes on humanitarian missions to war-torn regions like Syria, North Korea and the Ukraine, so not only is she stronger than you but she’s also nicer. Damn, girl.