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Are you stronger than a 5th grader?
April 11, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

9-year-old Naomi Kutin squats 187 at a bodyweight of 88 lbs. This breaks the 100% Raw record for the 97 lb class, held for a number of years by a woman in her late 20's.

Interview with Naomi and her parents: "I kept practicing and practicing, and I got better and better, and then I won a national title." More squatting and deadlifting from Naomi.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko (60 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something tells me little Naomi doesn't get picked on much at school.
posted by orange swan at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't this likely to be one of those things that become progressively easier the lighter you are? If so, I'm wondering whether my 1.5-year-old should get into training now. He's a beefy little man.

Also, isn't weightlifting not-particularly-good for children?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:48 AM on April 11, 2011


Also, isn't weightlifting not-particularly-good for children?

Yeah... I'm thinking this isn't a great idea.
posted by odinsdream at 7:50 AM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Misconceptions About Training Youth by Lon Kilgore.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, isn't weightlifting not-particularly-good for children?

My understanding was that this belief was based on the assumption that weightlifing would put too much stress on the growth plates in a way that soccer, long distance running, ski racing, etc. wouldn't. I don't think this view has held up to scrutiny, though I could be wrong.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something tells me little Naomi doesn't get picked on much at school.
She's an 88-pound nine-year-old with an unusual and not-particularly-conventional-for-her-gender extracurricular activity. She may not be picked on now, but give it a year or two.
Also, isn't weightlifting not-particularly-good for children?
That used to be the conventional wisdom, but I think it may have changed.
posted by craichead at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


She's an 88-pound nine-year-old with an unusual and not-particularly-conventional-for-her-gender extracurricular activity. She may not be picked on now, but give it a year or two.

She'll need a different kind of strength in the years to come. More power to her.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note to kids: don't mess with Putin Kutin.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Great. A 9 year old who could take me in a fight. Just what I needed.
posted by schmod at 8:01 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can totally take her as long as you don't let her get under you.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:03 AM on April 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is 88lbs a normal weight for a 9 year old girl? It sounds reasonable to me but they seem to be making a big deal about it.
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 AM on April 11, 2011


Is 88lbs a normal weight for a 9 year old girl? It sounds reasonable to me but they seem to be making a big deal about it.

I have a third grade daughter and spend a lot of time around nine year olds. It's a little on the high side of normal but it's not extraordinary--a lot of little girls get an early growth spurt around that age, so you see a few taller/sturdier nine year olds while you're still seeing a few really tiny ones, and then the rest are in between somewhere.

I think this is pretty awesome myself, I always like to see kids doing unusual and interesting sports and when it's something that isn't traditionally gendered, all the better.
posted by padraigin at 8:10 AM on April 11, 2011


Misconceptions About Training Youth by Lon Kilgore.

Rather than taking the word of a "doctor" whose PhD. comes from a school of veterinary medicine, we should probably look at what actual people-doctors have to say on the matter. They do largely line up with "Dr." Kilgore, but it's always helpful to rely on more reliable sources.

Regarding children lifting weights, the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that strength training (which can include resistance training or lifting free weights), when properly supervised, is probably fine for kids, even pre-adolescents. However, they advise against this particular kind of one-rep-max competitive powerlifting for children, at least until more research has been completed, because of the unknown effects such extreme stresses could have on developing musculoskeletal structures.
posted by dersins at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


That's awesome, and more than I can lift so far. I also do not have a nifty unitard thing to wear. Would that help?
posted by asperity at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2011


OK, I was skimming the page and thought that this was video of Naomi Klein lifting weights in third grade. Lesson learned.
posted by nevercalm at 8:17 AM on April 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Rather than taking the word of a "doctor" whose PhD. comes from a school of veterinary medicine, we should probably look at what actual people-doctors have to say on the matter. They do largely line up with "Dr." Kilgore, but it's always helpful to rely on more reliable sources.

You're right dersins, I guess the 30 studies cited by Dr. Kilgore in his article, as well as all of his conclusions and his 30+ years of experience as a weightlifter, are invalid because of where he got his degree from. Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


Impressive. And probably easier on the body than rigorous ballet or soccer. She'll be a monster in her 20s, no doubt.
I'm pretty sure most doctors are afraid of 1RM lifts for people of all ages, which doesn't really mean much except 1RMs look scarier than they are.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:26 AM on April 11, 2011


When it comes to the health of human children, Anatoly Pisarenko, the collective weight of the knowledge, education, training and experience of the American Association of Pediatrics does in fact outweigh that of a one man with a Phd from a school of veterinary medicine, no matter how many years he has spent lifting weights.
posted by dersins at 8:33 AM on April 11, 2011 [22 favorites]


Yeesh, that'll light a fire under my ass for my workout today.

But yeah, good on her. Having to face a gym full of gigantic dudebros as a 27-year-old noob weightlifter is intimidating enough - I can't imagine what that's like at 9.

I hope she sticks with it. Lifting is a frustratingly gendered physical activity, and it's something that I really wish more women would try. Knowing I have the strength to, say, move furniture by myself has done wonders for my confidence.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 8:39 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed. If your only reason to be on Mefi at this point is to post about weightlifting stuff and then get in arguments with anybody who doesn't agree with you about said weightlifting stuff, it may be time to reconsider what you're doing here.]
posted by cortex at 9:07 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


awesome form! It looks like she's in a well-supervised environment too. Seconding ch1x0r's comment; weight-lifting is, by default, an incremental activity with recognized good practices as to how much one should lift, how one should lift and how progression should occur. Ballet is, in comparison, a far more dangerous and unregulated activity.

There are risks involved in any kind of physical activity, but supervised weightlifting is perhaps one of the safest sports a nine-year old kid can engage in. I'm thinking of you smug nine-year old skier that makes everyone else look bad. *waves fist*
posted by lemuring at 9:09 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look after your knees.. you'll need them when you're older.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:39 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't this likely to be one of those things that become progressively easier the lighter you are?

Yeah, I think she's getting the benefit of the whole square-cube thing here. She's probably closer to the mass-strength ratio sweet-spot versus a 20 year-old.

Up next: ants!
posted by GuyZero at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow! This is really amazing. I'ts a shame that people are getting bogged down in this old myth that weightlifting is not good for kids and are not just looking at how incredible this girl is. But I suppose it's typical for metafilter.
posted by useyourmachinegunarm at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


She can squat more than I weigh, but I doubt I could squat more than she weighs.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:59 AM on April 11, 2011


I'ts a shame that people are getting bogged down in this old myth that weightlifting is not good for kids and are not just looking at how incredible this girl

I'm sure we can forgive Metafilter for its (apparently) misplaced concern for a child's health.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2011


I've got 50% bodyweight and 15 years on this girl, and she still out squats me.

But I've got a bigger deadlift! Nah nah! Neener neener!

seriously though i love this girl
posted by telegraph at 10:32 AM on April 11, 2011


you know what they say about pulling more than your weight ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:42 AM on April 11, 2011


I love this line in the pdf that Anatoly posted:

Many sports select directly or indirectly for very specific physical attributes (Duquet, 1978; Keogh, 1999) or involve competition against other youth regardless of body mass. Powerlifting and weightlifting, with their multitude of weight classes and age groups, allow for athletes who traditionally have few competitive outlets the opportunity for competition in a controlled, equitable environment. Even in a non-competitive weight room, any student or athlete can experience success since any participant can improve his performance. As such the activity may be more suitable for child participation than sports where success is measured simply by victory or defeat.

My daughter is totally reluctant to try most sports because "she's not good" which is stupid 11-year old logic of course, but it's reason for not trying.

I've been reading New Rules of Lifting for Women and am thinking about joining the gym. I may have to show this video to my 11 year old and bring her to the gym as well.
posted by vespabelle at 11:06 AM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


She's got great form! She's well-spotted, too. The YouTube comments are painful to read.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:22 AM on April 11, 2011


I am just a teeny bit weirded out at how much this little girl looks like my niece. It's uncanny.
posted by FritoKAL at 11:36 AM on April 11, 2011


So... "Miley Cyrus of Croton", then.

Maybe she should get a part in the Kick-Ass sequel. I hope there is a Kick-Ass sequel...
posted by hincandenza at 11:50 AM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Things I Learned from YouTube, #261: Nobody under the age of 18 ever does anything because they want to, only because they have been coerced (through physical and emotional abuse and life-long trauma) by careless, self-absorbed parents.
posted by jake at 12:43 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Um, why?
posted by Philosopher's Beard at 12:54 PM on April 11, 2011


That's awesome, and more than I can lift so far. I also do not have a nifty unitard thing to wear. Would that help?

What wouldn't a nifty unitard help?
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:35 PM on April 11, 2011


Glad to see how carefully she was being spotted.
posted by Peach at 3:02 PM on April 11, 2011


Look after your knees.. you'll need them when you're older.
Her form is pretty spot on so she isn't stressing her knees at all. Squatting being bad for the knees is a myth propagated by lazy people with poor form.
--
And wow, it look like she broke those records pretty easily. I think she could have probably squatted the 187 for 3. I imagine lifting at that age is learning a lot while breaking mental barriers compared to what's actually physically possible.

I was interested in lifting when I was around 12 but my mom wouldn't let me because she believed in that crap about stunting growth. Would love to be years ahead of where I am now.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2011


Um, why?

Well, why do kids play the piano or take martial arts or play team sports? They're having fun while developing useful skills and habits that might stay with them for a lifetime -- isn't that reason enough?

I know it's fashionable to pretend as if life begins precisely at one's 18th birthday, but biologically speaking, nine year olds are right on the cusp of one of the greatest periods of mental and physical potential they're ever going to experience. If you ask me, the real question is "um, why not?"
posted by vorfeed at 3:22 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the Pediatrics review, researchers with the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany, analyzed 60 years’ worth of studies of children and weightlifting. The studies covered boys and girls from age 6 to 18. The researchers found that, almost without exception, children and adolescents benefited from weight training.

New York Times article covering the review here.

Lifting weights actually helps kids reduce their risk of injury from other sports.

There are a ton of misconceptions about lifting weights out there, and Metafilter seems to be a dumping ground for all of them. My theory is there are enough people here traumatized during gym class and shoved into lockers by jocks that the bias tends to be against any post or topic that they perceive to be connected to their former tormenters.


-------

The weight of this little girl is emphasized because lifters compete against other lifters based on weight class, as one would in wrestling. This is because it is quite unfair to pit a 130lbs guy against a 230lbs guy--the latter is almost always going to win based on absolute strength.

Her squat is monstrous for her weight and age (most grown-ass men will never hit a double-bodyweight squat without dedicated attention to weight training) but it's worth remembering that breaking records is probably not that difficult simply because there are so few young girls to compete against.
posted by schroedinger at 4:24 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh Lord, I take back what I said about her breaking the record--I didn't realize she broke the women's record, not a record for her age group! Sweet Christmas!
posted by schroedinger at 4:26 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My theory is there are enough people here traumatized during gym class and shoved into lockers by jocks that the bias tends to be against any post or topic that they perceive to be connected to their former tormenters.

a.k.a. "Geek Nationalism"
posted by jason's_planet at 5:40 PM on April 11, 2011


metatalk
posted by fieldtrip at 6:11 PM on April 11, 2011


I was curious so I went looking for the various records in each weight class, male and female. I should note that finding anything approaching a simple, authoritative list of records was very, very hard; there are so many variations of world records, and so many videos and articles about "person ___ weighing ___ lifting ___", including the 97lb Women's record squat being something like 380 pounds (but I guess that's not raw), that the only true conclusion I came to was "Man, weightlifting fans really suck at webdesign".

The "with equipment" numbers are staggeringly higher when I'd come across those; people are pulling off, apparently, 3x or higher lifts with equipment. I guess the balance isn't a factor since the machine guides the up-down motion, but it still surprised me how much higher it was.

Anyway, I did find this link defining general ranges for normal squats at different weight classes for each gender, and the "Elite" wasn't far off this apparent world record, so it's a good enough guide for charting purposes.

Looking at it/graphing it, it does look like both genders show a very steady decline in "efficiency" (lift weight/body weight), starting at 2.8x for a 114lb man down to 1.8 when you get to the super heavy weights, and 1.68 down to 1.45 for the women. This suggests a 'decay' of 35% for the men, but only 18% for the women. I guess that fits with the square/cube rule; men will be much heavier, and thus the weight they'd be lifting much higher, but they flesh out in 3d while the muscles/forces applied are strictly vertical.


That's all just musing, and it suggests that if she's lifting at 2.1x bodyweight in a squat now, then that's pretty friggin' stupendous. We can't project out to her level as an adult, but it sounds like this is more than just "Well yeah, at 9 years old she's so light getting those ratios is easy!"; she's already stronger than the strongest 97pound adult woman.
posted by hincandenza at 6:19 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a vague memory of hearing once that pre-adolescent girls are both stronger than teens or women of equal weight (due to lower estrogen levels) and pre-adolescent boys (since the boys still have relatively low testosterone levels). Can anyone confirm or disprove this?
posted by cali at 7:19 PM on April 11, 2011


hincandenza, I wouldn't take that chart too seriously. It gives beginners some numbers to shoot for, but the "Elite" numbers are pretty easy to hit with a few years of dedicated weight training, less if you have prior athletic experience.

hincandenza, the "equipment" referred to are things called "squat suits", "bench shirts", and "deadlift suits"--these are incredibly stiff items of clothing that provide support and some amount of bounciness at the lowest portion of the movement to aid movement of the weight. There are also "knee wraps", which are essentially really, really tight bandages you wrap around your knees to do the same things. These provide a ton of assistance with the squat and allow for much greater numbers than "raw" squatting as you see the girl do there. People lifting raw do not lift in the same divisions as people lifting equipped, because equipped lifters have a much greater advantage.

Powerlifting is a weird sport in that it has approximately five billion federations, all of which have varying age groups and divisions for raw/equipped/unlimited equipped (i.e. extra-stiff shirts/suits/what have you), and within those age groups with each of its three divisions it has subdivisions. Not to mention some federations also do tested/untested. The end result is that within one federation you have the potential for a ridiculous number of world records--I remember reading an article where the author commented that one federation, when all said and done, had 2,000 slots for records.
posted by schroedinger at 7:20 PM on April 11, 2011


She's an amazing young woman with enviable form and strength. If she never has another athletic accomplishment, then fine. This is still a great achievement.

We should be asking these parents how they managed to overcome the problems childhood obesity and inactivity problem. Raising 5 fit kids is pretty awesome. Based on the fact that both of her parents are lifelong athletes, I'd be willing to bet she also eats a better than average diet too.
posted by 26.2 at 9:03 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


My theory is there are enough people here traumatized during gym class and shoved into lockers by jocks that the bias tends to be against any post or topic that they perceive to be connected to their former tormenters.

I'm not sure what you think that pithy, oh-so-clever aside added to this conversation. It's a pretty shitty thing to say, actually. It belittles people and attempts to invalidate their opinions based on what caste or clique they're part of-- the kind of thing a bully would do. In a way, it's the typing-on-the-internet version of shoving nerds into lockers, and it doesn't do anything other than prove the opposite of your point.
posted by dersins at 9:22 PM on April 11, 2011


My theory is there are enough people here traumatized during gym class and shoved into lockers by jocks that the bias tends to be against any post or topic that they perceive to be connected to their former tormenters.

schroedinger, it's nice that you are knowledgable about weightlifiting. But there's no reason to be a jerk to people that aren't.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:19 PM on April 11, 2011


I apologize. Certainly, it is not stereotyping to assume that there is no reason for any intellectually-minded person to ever lift weights and therefore anyone who does is probably mentally and socially deficient (and possibly on steroids), nor are such assumptions the "typing-on-the-internet version of shoving nerds into lockers."
posted by schroedinger at 6:02 AM on April 12, 2011


Certainly, it is not stereotyping to assume that there is no reason for any intellectually-minded person to ever lift weights and therefore anyone who does is probably mentally and socially deficient (and possibly on steroids), nor are such assumptions the "typing-on-the-internet version of shoving nerds into lockers."

Who did that? And where? I just re-read the entire thread, thinking I'd missed something, and I didn't see a single comment disparaging weight-lifting or weightlifters. the only quasi-negative thing I see is some questions about whether this is a good activity for a child, and there seems to be some evidence on their side.* That's not the same thing as insulting your favorite activity or insulting you for doing it. Going straight to insults and combativeness whenever someone is less than appropriately enthusiastic is a big reason why the weightlifting brigade here have a bad rep.**

*Those of you who are pro-weightlifting for children also have some evidence on your side. No reason why this couldn't be a good faith disagreement, except any deviation from being slaveringly pro-weightlifting is perceived by some people as nerds acting out their high school PTSD.
**I lift weights too! But I don't think it's productive to insult people who don't.
posted by Mavri at 7:10 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mavri, yes, the issue is not really in this thread--it's more a trend I see in the weightlifting threads in general on the Blue and my general pissiness about that came out in this one. I'll admit those particular stereotypes are a sore subject for me, as I grew up one of those super-gifted-gym-class-hating-nerds, took up lifting in my adult life, and have been struck by the difference in how people treat me once they find out my chosen sport. An awful lot of people give the "Oh man, I better not use any words with more than two syllables" or "Man, you must be a vain, muscle-bound freak" treatment, especially the self-labeled "nerds," and I see them reflected in the comments I read here.
posted by schroedinger at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2011


Pfft. Who needs a menstrual cycle anyway?
posted by stormpooper at 12:09 PM on April 12, 2011


Not me!
posted by hincandenza at 1:35 PM on April 12, 2011


I've been doing fine without a menstrual cycle for my whole life, but I'm not sure what that has to do with this little girl. Your thesis is that exercise is bad for you? Maybe she should take up smoking?
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, there's no real reason that lifting weights would interfere with one's menstrual cycle. Some female athletes don't get periods because they don't have enough body fat, but I don't think that would necessarily happen to a weightlifter. And most nine-year-olds don't have menstrual cycles yet anyway, I don't think.
posted by craichead at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2011


Pfft. Who needs a menstrual cycle anyway?

I'm sorry, but is it actually your contention that natural weightlifting/powerlifting prevents menstrual cycles? Because if so, you need to do some research on how hormones work. Hint: baseline testosterone does not go crazy when women lift a lot of heavy things, nor does estrogen somehow vanish.
posted by vorfeed at 2:31 PM on April 12, 2011


Pfft. Who needs a menstrual cycle anyway?

Not ice skaters and gymnasts!

I'm sorry, but is it actually your contention that natural weightlifting/powerlifting prevents menstrual cycles?

Well ... from a brief scan of the literature, long-distance running, cycling, bodybuilding, and ballet are all also associated with secondary amenorrhoea.

IANAE, but it seems to be an energy deficit sort of thing, i.e. if the female athletes are getting enough nutrition they can avoid the amenorrhoea that can come with heavy training. That (intuitively) makes sense when you discover that anorexia and bulimia also correlate with amenorrhoea.

Here's a relevant study: "Low energy availability, not stress of exercise, alters LH pulsatility in exercising women."

If your only reason to be on Mefi at this point is to post about weightlifting stuff and then get in arguments with anybody who doesn't agree with you about said weightlifting stuff, it may be time to reconsider what you're doing here.

Seriously. I am generally interested in the topic (I lift weights), but any posts related to weight-lifting (I lift free weights) or bodybuilding on MeFi I generally skip, because almost always it's a fuck all and the defensive attitude is ridiculous.

Carry on...
posted by mrgrimm at 3:53 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


IANAE, but it seems to be an energy deficit sort of thing, i.e. if the female athletes are getting enough nutrition they can avoid the amenorrhoea that can come with heavy training. That (intuitively) makes sense when you discover that anorexia and bulimia also correlate with amenorrhoea.

Totally true--the lower a woman's bodyfat/energy intake, the more likely she is to suffer amenorrhoea. All of the sports you listed favor low bodyfat--small frames are preferred for endurance training, and energy deficit can be high enough that women do not make up for the calories, and in bodybuilding and ballet low bodyfat is actively sought so women end up purposely aiming for levels that also induce amenorrhoea.

One should distinguish between bodybuilding--a particular form of pageantry in which weights and cardio are used to achieve a certain appearance--and powerlifting, strongman, Olympic weightlifting, or other forms of general weight training. Weights are a tool in the fitness toolbox that can be used to achieve aesthetic or functional purposes depending on how they're used.
posted by schroedinger at 5:14 PM on April 12, 2011


Well ... from a brief scan of the literature, long-distance running, cycling, bodybuilding, and ballet are all also associated with secondary amenorrhoea.

That's why I specified natural weightlifting/powerlifting. Weightlifting (as opposed to bodybuilding) does not involve energy deficits or low body fat percentages... quite the opposite, as I'm sure you're aware!

Judging by the video, this little girl has a perfectly normal body, and is clearly not in danger of starving herself out of menstruation. I don't think it's at all reasonable to bring up loss of menarche as if it were a likely consequence of squatting heavy -- it's not, period (heh!)
posted by vorfeed at 5:32 PM on April 12, 2011


Looking at her form on squats, particularly here where she squats 150 for 7 reps:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCb77iYqBzs&feature=related

it seems as though she will have knee problems in the future.

Sending your knees in circles as she does, particularly when she's tired in the last 2 or 3 reps, looks like bad form to me. The knees are supposed to track over the feet, not go in circles.

Her parents seem knowledgable and tape her a lot so I wonder why she hasn't corrected this problem or if they don't think it is a problem.
posted by GregorWill at 2:39 AM on April 14, 2011


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