The Youngest Kid Bodybuilders Who Became Famous

This feature discusses disordered eating habits and domestic abuse.

From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sommer Ray, a long list of bodybuilders have gone on to become famous, both as fitfluencers and as celebrities outside the fitness world. But not all bodybuilding stars are adults like you might expect. From Little Hercules to Mini Mr. Olympia, kids as young as five have gone viral due to their passion for bodybuilding and their incredible gains.

It may seem strange that kids who haven't finished growing would work out and compete on a professional level and many of the viral sensations on this list have sparked health concerns. However, while Mayo Clinic notes that weightlifting, bodybuilding, and powerlifting could be dangerous at a young age because young bodies haven't finished developing, other professionals disagree. As Dr. Teri Metcalf McCambridge, a specialist in pediatric sports, told Fatherly, age shouldn't actually be a dissuading factor for children interested in weightlifting. "It depends on the kid," she mused. "You could have a seven-year-old who's ready and a seven-year-old who's not."

Indeed, the bodybuilders on this list prove that it really is about listening to your body and your own capabilities because age is just a number. Here are the youngest kid bodybuilders who have become famous (to date).

Richard Sandrak was dubbed Little Hercules

While you may not recognize the name Richard Sandrak, you'll surely know his nickname, Little Hercules. The young star became interested in weightlifting when he was a toddler. By the time he was just eight years old, Sandrak was dubbed the strongest boy in the world, as he could bench press more than twice his weight. He reportedly had less than 1% body fat (far below the 12% that would make a child underweight) and became a media sensation, earning thousands a month from various endorsements. He was a staple at bodybuilding conventions and even starred in his own documentary, "The World's Strongest Boy," in 2004. "My parents used to train all the time and I wanted to join in," he told The Guardian. Furthermore, he assured readers, "I've never been forced to train or do anything against my will."

However, life wasn't perfect behind the scenes. When he was 11, his father went to prison for physically abusing his mother and Sandrak cut all ties with him. In 2015, a 23-year-old Sandrak told Inside Edition that he also cut ties with his former passion. "I don't lift weights anymore," he revealed. "If anything it just got boring to me." Instead, he got a job working as a stuntman at Universal Studios Hollywood and set his sights on a surprising dream career — working for NASA as an engineer or being a quantum scientist.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Prisais Townsend became the world's youngest female bodybuilder

Bodybuilding isn't just for boys! In 2020, a seven-year-old Prisais Townsend was crowned the world's youngest female bodybuilder at the Global Child Prodigy Awards. The daughter of former NFL player James Townsend (who now owns The Brave One Gym in Iowa), Prisais first fell in love with CrossFit when she innocently started copying her dad's moves at just 10 months old. "She had such a natural gift for everything she tried in the gym," James told Fatherly in 2018. She soon fell in love with working out and began training with her dad. As the proud papa told Yahoo! Life in 2017, it was a natural progression. "Prisais was crawling at three months, walking at seven months, and at 14 months, she picked up a two-and-a-half pound weight and started doing dumbbell snatches on her own, without me showing her," he recalled.

Her strength is truly impressive. At four, a video of Prisais doing 10 perfect pull-ups went viral, and at five, she could do 60 push-ups and deadlift 65 lbs, per Daily Mirror Sri Lanka. As of May 2023, her Instagram had 21.3K followers and the nine-year-old was wowing followers with her weightlifting, as well as her Level 7 Gymnastics achievements. "I like gymnastics because I get to do crazy tricks that no one else can do," she told Fatherly. However, James is adamant that he doesn't push his daughter. "I never want Prisais to feel pressure in the gym," he told Yahoo! "We'll stop the second this is no longer fun for her."

Vince Poppleton was crowned Mini Mr. Olympia

Vince Poppleton gave Little Hercules a run for his money when he was crowned Mini Mr. Olympia in 2014 at the age of 12. Speaking with KETV News Watch 7 after his win, he gushed, "I like the feeling of being on stage, like that adrenaline rush and how I look." While critics raised concerns about his young age, a physical therapist confirmed that working out early could be healthy, if done safely and correctly. What's more, according to Poppleton, it came with great mental health benefits. "It gives me a ton of confidence," he enthused. "I feel great about myself." At the time, the preteen was seriously committed to competing, working out constantly, and following a strict diet. As he told KETV 7, he'd do anything to win — including going to the extremes of eating only chicken and asparagus before showtime, proclaiming, "I really wanted to suck the water out of me to look as muscular as possible."

Impressively, he was also training other people, but his passion for bodybuilding seems to have waned with time. According to Poppleton's LinkedIn, he enrolled at Arizona's Grand Canyon University to study mechanical engineering with a plan to graduate in May 2024. During his time off, he did golf course maintenance at Nebraska's Omaha Country Club for a couple of summers, then landed an internship as an operations engineer at Amazon in 2023. As for his Instagram, it's full of typical college pics, documenting his travels and antics with friends.

Tristyn Lee got real about the downsides of bodybuilding

Tristyn Lee first went viral back in 2017 as a 15-year-old bodybuilder, garnering millions of views on YouTube. However, it wasn't just a fleeting passion, and, as of May 2023, Lee was making a full-time living from his love of getting ripped. With 2.2 million followers on Instagram and 1.84 million subscribers on YouTube, he was captivating followers with his bodybuilding videos but was also not afraid to get real about the downsides of it all. 

In 2022, he uploaded a candid tell-all to YouTube which he began by saying, "Let's talk about how getting shredded ruined my life." Lee, who at one point hit 3.98% body fat, admitted to developing an unhealthy relationship with eating and working out around 2019. "I started obsessing over every little detail of my food, my diet, just to get to this sub-5% body fat level," he said. Over the next two years, he maintained 4.4% body fat by training seven days a week (often twice a day), walking upwards of 15,000 and 20,000 steps a day, and eating under 1,800 calories. His performance actually dropped and he was barely functioning. "By then I was only sleeping four to five hours a night," he shared.

He's since turned things around, getting back up to 2,800 calories a day and working to maintain a healthier relationship with bodybuilding. He's also started his own business, a supplement company called Chimera which he and his brothers created together with the goal to create clean, focused products. 

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Gage Gregurich caught TLC's attention as a baby bodybuilder

Gage Gregurich began entering weightlifting competitions at a mere 9 years old and he was always sure of his abilities. At 11, Gregurich appeared on a 2016 TLC special called "Baby Bodybuilders" and boasted, per Daily Mail, "I can lift any more than any other kid who is 12 and under and weighs 66 lbs in this universe or any other universe." Opening up about how he first discovered powerlifting, he recalled, "My dad was going to the gym and I wanted to go too." And so he did. His gains came quickly and at nine, he recalled, "I was deadlifting three times my bodyweight, which would have been 171 pounds." His achievements grew from there and he even competed at the junior Olympic games for powerlifting.

At the same time, he discovered another passion: bodybuilding. "I actually got into bodybuilding through powerlifting," the 17-year-old Nebraska native told The Sun in 2022. That love of fitness stuck and by 2022 he could deadlift 395 lbs, squat 355 lbs, and bench 265 lbs. And while his social media presence is pretty quiet, his performance continues to be impressive. Indeed, Nebraska's Midland University promised him a wrestling scholarship and he was set on pursuing his first love full-time. "Powerlifting started everything," he told The Sun. "I have 18 world records and 60 American records in it and I'm now committed to going to college for it."

Jeff Seid became the youngest to get an IFBB Pro Card

Jeff Seid isn't your average bodybuilder. By 13, he had "two solid years of lifting" under his belt and he hasn't stopped working out since. However, he's not a fan of traditional training and, as he told Iron Man in 2015, he isn't looking to bulk up like most bodybuilders, saying, "You have to dedicate your life to [bodybuilding] — eating 10,000 calories a day and training four hours a day." Rather, he's all about aesthetics because it's more realistic. "Achieving a physique like mine allows you to go out, have fun, and still have a social life," he mused. He's also happy with his slow and steady progression. In 2016, Seid posted a before and after photo to Facebook, comparing himself at 15 and 22, where he shared, "I didn't get big overnight like some of these dudes with crazy two-to-three-year transformations."

Despite his unconventional approach, he became the youngest person to ever win an IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilders) Pro Card at 19. These days, he's still competing worldwide (he's been at Mr. Olympia three times), has various sponsorship deals, offers online training through the Fitplan app, and sells muscle tanks and fitness apparel under his own brand, SeidWear. As for how he went viral, Seid told Iron Man, "I did my first YouTube video a month or two before I graduated high school, and things picked up fairly quickly." Indeed, as of May 2023, he had 3.3 million followers on Facebook and 4.6 million on Instagram.

Giuliano Stroe was the world's strongest boy

Bodybuilding is in Giuliano Stroe's blood. As his dad, Romanian bodybuilder Iulian Stroe, proudly told the Daily Mail in 2009, he instilled his love of working out in his son at an early age. "He has been going to the gym with me ever since he was born," he boasted. "I always took him with me when I went training." As Iulian soon discovered, Giuliano was a natural. He began training seriously at two years of age and in 2009, at age four, he set the Guinness World Record for the fastest 10-meter (about 33-foot) hand walk with a weighted ball held between his shins.

The video went viral –- as did other clips of a young Giulano working out -– and a year later, he broke the record for the most 90-degree push-ups. At just five years old, the fit toddler was labeled the "world's strongest boy" and Iulian received flack for pushing his young son too far. However, he was adamant that he never forced him to do anything he didn't find fun and that the outcomes were all positive. "Critics say that the boys won't grow properly, but there's no proof of that," he told the Daily Mail. "Hard work and exercise are always good." Indeed, the young Stroe enjoyed it enough to keep at it and, as of May 2023, he was still getting ripped and sharing his journey with fans, namely his 595K YouTube subscribers and 3 million Facebook followers who can't get enough of his workout videos.

Cosmo Taylor was the youngest bodybuilder in the U.K.

Scotsman Cosmo Taylor wasn't as young as some other bodybuilders on this list when he first started training, but his journey is nothing to scoff at. At 11, he began hitting the gym seriously and in 2014, aged 14, he became the youngest competitive bodybuilder in the UK. Coming off of his first competition, he told the Daily Mail his regimen included a daily hour-long workout and a strict diet to keep his body fat around 10%. Despite the sacrifices, he was smitten. "The gym is my life," he enthused. "I love lifting and I love the buzz I get when I hit a personal best or see growth in my muscles." Turns out, that passion ran in his family. "My dad's a bodybuilder and he's always been my inspiration," Taylor told the mag. "Ever since I was a little boy, all I've wanted to do is step on stage."

Not surprisingly, his dad became his coach, and soon, his commitment paid off. At 14, he did his first 100kg squat (about 220 lbs), at 16 he attempted to up that to 130kg (about 287 lbs), and he even started his own blog, Cozfit. However, as Taylor told the Daily Mail, he wasn't focused on numbers. "I can bench press more than my own body weight but it's not all about how much you can lift," he explained. "It's an aesthetic sport so you have to train all your muscle groups to complement each other correctly."

Cauzinho Neto wanted to debunk kid bodybuilding myths

12-year-old Brazilian Cauzinho Neto, who's aptly nicknamed Mini Monster, is on a mission to debunk the myth that kids can't approach fitness like adults. His impressive feats in bodybuilding and weightlifting have helped him go viral on Instagram and in January 2023, he shared an important message with his 294K followers and counting. Posting a one-year transformation photo, Cauzinho wrote on Instagram (translated from Portuguese by Google) that concerns about his bodybuilding at such a young age were unfounded. "Many still have the myth that a child cannot train," he mused. "I started at 1.35cm and today I'm at 1.47cm."

These days, his popularity in his native Brazil has exploded and at just 12, he's already snagged sponsorships with several Brazilian companies, including Brave fitness equipment, Pwrd By Coffee clothing, SkyHill fitness accessories, and MVP Fitness shoes. What's more, he's also gaining recognition abroad. The Sun profiled Cauzinho in 2023 and learned that he first started bodybuilding at age 10 after accompanying his dad to the gym. Now, he's blazing his own path and works out twice a day. First, there's a three-mile run and sit-ups at 5.30 am, then, after school, he does CrossFit for two and a half hours. The result? He could deadlift 92 kg (about 203 lbs) while weighing just 37kg (about 82 lbs).