Little Kids With Superhuman Strength

Ever watch "American Ninja Warrior" or the Olympics and, in between fistfuls of potato chips, think "I could do that"? Probably! Did you ever seriously try? Well, probably not, because gyms aren't fun, and they involve movement. Well, prepare to be ashamed of your sloth, for here are a bunch of people who live in the gym, have sculpted their bodies to perfection, and are overall better at fitness than you will ever be. And yes, they're children, in case you need one more reason to hang your head.

Giuliano and Claudio Stroe

Some brothers play video games together. These two pump iron like it's their job. As a 10 year old, Giuliano and his then-8-year-old brother, Claudio, worked out for at least two hours every day, and are basically wee little terminators as a result. And it's not just muscles for show — these kids are legitimately strong. As of 2014, Giuliano was a world-record holder for the most 90-degree vertical push-ups, which is like a regular push-up, only you lift your legs high in the air, down for a push-up, and then back up again, all without your feet ever touching the ground. Don't bother trying it. Even Googling videos of it will make your body hurt. 

Oh, and he also holds a record for being a human flag, which is exactly what it sounds like. Claudio isn't quite at his older brother's level yet, but the simple fact that he can do any of these stunts eclipses anything any of us can manage.

April Atkins

1950's hotspot Muscle Beach, California, was a place in Venice that got its name from all of the mussels that — no, it actually got its name from awesomely muscular people doing awesomely muscular things there. One person who came there a lot in the 1950s was a 12-year-old girl who didn't even look that large. Somehow, though, she could pull off amazing feats that even her much older peers couldn't even approach.

Despite Atkins being possibly the coolest person to ever live, there's barely any information on her anywhere. When LIFE magazine went to do research on her, they learned virtually nothing, but they did manage to turn up a video which ... well, it speaks for itself. (That is, unless the sight of a 12 year old holding up the weight of an entire grown man means nothing to you.) The strangest thing, along with the lack of information about where she is now, is the lack of knowledge about how she did so many utterly amazing feats of strength. Unless ... we're going to go out on a limb here and say that she wasn't actually a seventh grader, but a time-traveler from a future where everyone is a billion times stronger than they are now. That makes a lot more sense than this seventh grader being able to beat up everyone they've ever met.

Naomi Kutin

Unless you're The Mountain from "Game Of Thrones," power-lifter Naomi Kutin could likely lift more than you, even when she was just 14. Her specialty is the raw squat (squatting with no fancy-schmancy protective equipment), but she can also deadlift and bench press with the best. As a child, "Supergirl" started lifting simply to stand out among her peers. "When I was younger, my friends would be doing a lot of things that I couldn't do," she explained to KIII-TV in Texas, "and I wanted to do something extraordinary." 

That she did, breaking the world squatting record for 97-pounders in 2012. That's every 97-pounder, worldwide. Also, this was her second reign as champion, proving that she can not only climb a mountain, but she'll work hard to re-scale it if she slips and careens back to the bottom. She proved that again in 2013, squatting 225 pounds and becoming champion for a third time. And as a 105-pounder, she hadn't lost a step. In 2014, she raw-squatted 226 pounds to set the record for that class as well. Basically, when she can lift the Earth, she'll be satisfied. Maybe.

Varya Akulova

Nothing about Varya Akulova makes sense. She's tiny, has no crazy-huge muscles to speak of, and subsisted on nothing but noodles and water as a child because her family was that poor. And yet, she is basically the strongest girl in the world, capable of lifting objects — and people — several times heavier than her. By the age of 1, she was already lifting things no 1-year-old kid should lift (i.e., anything heavier than a teething ring). By age 10, she could outwrestle and overpower her father (a circus strongman himself, pictured here with his daughter), and by 14, she could lift the equivalent of four fully-grown men. This, despite eating virtually nothing her entire life. 

Her father theorizes his side of the family is just naturally freaky-strong, such as Varya's great-grandfather, who celebrated the calendar striking 1910 by carrying 2,600 pounds on his back. They're apparently a naturally smart family too, as Varya could read by the age of 3 and has been a top student since. So no, you're neither smarter nor stronger than her. Sorry.

Maryana Naumova

Maryana Naumova looks like a normal 16-year-old girl, except she's also a world bench pressing champion. Since the tender age of 10, she's been lifting barbells and proving to be a prodigy at it. She holds two dozen world records for under-18 lifters, and is recognized as a Master of Sport of Russia (one of the country's highest sporting honors, aside from whatever Vladimir Putin decides to award himself). And in March 2015, she became the first woman under 18 to compete in professional benching championships. And of course, she crushed those too, lifting over 330 pounds during the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic to set a new women's record. 

But lest you think she's just a girl Popeye, she's also a budding activist and peacemaker. Lately, she's been touring war-torn Ukraine and Russia, promoting friendly lifting competitions and charity concerts in order to help people forget about the political struggles around them. In short, she's both nicer than you and can lift you clean over her head.

Yang Jinlong

Some super-strong children lift and lift and lift to get that way. Others are simply born that way, such as Yang Jinlong, a Chuzhou, China, boy who might actually qualify to be a member of the X-Men. He was apparently just born big and strong — he could lift an 11-pound oil drum at just nine months old, and by age 7, he weighed over a hundred pounds. While he doesn't look ripped or anything, Jinlong is literally made of strength, and can lift basically everything. When not giving his father a piggyback ride, or lifting bags of cement twice his size, Jinlong has entertained onlookers by pulling a near-two-ton van with nothing but a rope. Plus, he apparently has quite the sense of humor — his explanation for why he's basically Popeye without the performance-enhancing spinach: "because I'm fat!"

Unfortunately, since 2012, we've heard nothing from the now 11-year-old Jinlong. Is he still lifting everything in sight? Does he still dream of being an Olympic weightlifter? For the sake of broken-down cars and trucks worldwide, let's hope so.

Sergey & Andrey Moroz

Andrey Moroz has probably the least press of all the mini-Hercules's we're discussing today, but that's not due to a lack of strength. See, Moroz, a bodybuilder from Russia, is the younger brother of Sergey Moroz, a teenage bodybuilder. Sergey Moroz is doing pretty well on his own, but actually isn't quite as impressive as his younger brother, mainly because he's a teenager, not a tiny child-Hulk like Andrey is. Perhaps inspired by his brother's lead, or filled with jealousy and bile, Andrey Moroz became a bodybuilder in his own right, not to mention a one-time MMA fighter (he lost, though he'd still beat you into submission).

As of the time he was 13, he appears to have retired from active iron-pumping (as much as any teenager can "retire" from anything), but that doesn't mean he's any less likely to hurt you if you cross him.

Cosmo Taylor

Ever see pictures of really ripped bodybuilders and go, "Nah, that's gotta be fake?" Prepare to say that again, but probably with a lot more cursing. Because here's a competitive bodybuilder in Britain ... who's been going at it since he was only 14 years old. His name is Cosmo Taylor, and he could probably beat up your dad. On top of that, his dad wouldn't even need to get involved, since his dad is probably scared of him. Despite looking basically like The Rock, but smaller (The Pebble?), he only started training at age 11. He calls the gym "his life" and the rest of us call him a terrifying muscle-monster sent from outer space.

Though his father is also a bodybuilder, so far no one has made any claims that Cosmo Taylor is actually his clone ... until right now. He's his clone. Called it. Done.

Liam Hoekstra

How old would you guess Liam Hoekstra was by the time he could do the iron cross — an expert gymnast move where you hold yourself up on the rings with just your hands, a move you routinely see in the Olympics? Just take a guess at how many years old? See, no matter what you just guessed, you're wrong. Because he wasn't any years old. He was freakin' five months old. His family, perhaps not recalling finding Liam in a spaceship that crashed on their farm, were understandably concerned, and decided to get him checked out. His doctor and parents later discovered he has a condition called myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, which sure sounds like the longest way anyone has ever spelled "super-strength."

Despite being the parents of perhaps the first real-life superhero, Liam's parents are hoping to keep him out of the limelight for awhile. At the time he was 9, from all accounts, he seems to be living a normal kid life. Or at least, as normal a life as any kid who could probably benchpress the slide at recess could possibly live.

Richard Sandrak

Not every child musclehead keeps pumping past puberty. Richard Sandrak, for example, gained fame in the early 2000's as "Little Hercules." He trained starting as an infant, and he could lift 180 pounds by age 6. Except the whole thing was a setup by his father, who wanted fame and fortune bad enough to deny his son a childhood. His dad forced Sandrak into hours of intense daily training, not allowing him to hang with friends or eat anything but the healthiest (and blandest) foods, like lima beans all the damn time.

After Father Dearest went to prison for attacking his wife, Sandrak slowly weaned himself off this superhuman training regime, gave in to the Delicious Dark Side that is pizza, and basically let himself go. Yet, he's still healthier and in better shape than many of us. If anything, he's actually healthier now than he was back then, because he actually has body fat (as Little Hercules, he boasted 1% body fat, dangerously low for anyone, especially a child). So now you get to feel doubly bad: one, the little boy could own you in the gym, and two, the grown man still looks and feels better than you on your worst day. Also, since then, he found a new job as a stuntman at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is probably way more fun and exciting than yours. At least you have pizza.

Kyle Kane

When Kyle Kane walked into a 2010 charity fundraiser, the deadlift world record for 12 year olds was 236 lbs, per World Record Academy. When he left, not only did he help raise £600 for a multiple sclerosis charity (per BBC News), he became the new world's strongest 12 year old with a deadlift record of 308 lbs. Kane, who is from Coventry, England, started weightlifting when he was 10. Physically gifted, he was only 4 when he started kickboxing, and he received a black belt in karate when he was 9, per the Coventry Telegraph. But not everyone was on board with Kane's adolescent record-setting; although he received recognition from the World Association of Benchers and DeadLifters, Guinness World Records refused to honor his record, per BBC News. Children and weightlifting has long been considered a dangerous mix, and Guinness didn't want to publicize it.

After becoming the strongest 12 year old, Kane was set on making his country proud. They had experienced a drought of Olympic and world championship medals. (When Darius Jokarzedeh won a bronze championship medal in 2013, he was the first British junior weightlifter to do so in 18 years, per Wales Online.) Kane was aware of this and made it his goal to compete in the 2016 Olympics, per BBC News.

C.J. Cummings

When C.J. Cummings was 14 years old, he carried the weight of the lifting world on his shoulders. As one of the strongest kids his age, he was the focus of university research into his impossible strength while regularly submitting drug tests to prove he wasn't doping, per ESPN. When he was a meager 100-pound 11 year old, he was able to lift 198 lbs through a clean and jerk, per the Washington Post. The university researcher couldn't explain how it was possible — except for maybe advantageous bone structure — but it was only just the beginning for Cummings. He won multiple international championships, and when he was 17, he held the world record for the 69-kg (152.1lbs.) weight class, per ESPN. He could lift 407 lbs in the clean and jerk category. In 2017, that was the youth world record at the time.

Cumming's legendary run exceeded childhood. By the time he was 21, he held four junior world championships and was on his way to Tokyo as part of the USA national weightlifting team, per USA Today. He had a lot of expectations going in: the last time an American won a medal in the category was 1984. Competing among adults was a wholly new experience, and he could only place ninth, telling the Washington Post that he felt "bummed out." But once called the "LeBron James of weightlifting"(via the Wall Street Journal), he's still a hard one to bet against, and that might not be his last Olympic outing.

Andriy Kostash

Ukraine's Andriy Kostash was only 7 years old when he committed to 4,000 push-ups in two hours and 29 minutes, per WTVR News. He performed them in front of judges from the Ukrainian Book of Records in order to leave other 7-year-olds in the dust. But apparently he wasn't showing them his best; his own personal record was 6,000 push-ups.

He then took his talents when he was 10 to "Ukraine's Got Talent." While short of weighing 100 pounds himself, he bench pressed in front of the audience for several minutes (via YouTube). Tension rose amid this performance since he was noticeably struggling toward the end and his chest was becoming red from the weight of the barbell. The judges pressured Kostash and his father to end his performance early. Although he didn't advance to the next level, he received a certificate onstage. The video profile featured on the show, although completely in Ukrainian, clearly showed his close relationship with his father, who acted as his personal trainer.

Bo Jensen

While most people spent the pandemic quarantine period lounging about and binging TV shows, Bo Jensen started a new hobby that would ultimately make him the strongest kid in the world: powerlifting. In 2021, 9-year-old Jensen entered the USA Powerlifting National Championship and broke the previous record by lifting a total of 548 lbs, per KSN News. And that was after setting records for youth championships at the state and local level, per WIBW News. His journey to powerlifting started with casually dominating his older brother's weights, per The Topeka Capital-Journal. Like a true overachiever, Jensen was merely trying to stay fit for baseball season, but once his family witnessed his prodigious talent, his dad made sure to research any risks that came with children's weightlifting, per KSN News.

Although Jensen walked into the National Championship in Florida with the intention of becoming the strongest kid, he wasn't immune to nerves, with his performances regularly attracting impressed adults. But it seems that he's grown accustomed to his rising star power; he's since made an appearance on the Steve Harvey show. While not lifting heavy rocks his family keeps, Jensen can be seen in viral videos pulling 10,000 lbs worth of two pickup trucks, per ABC News Toledo.