Meet the 14-Year-Old Who Can Lift More Than 300 Pounds

A short film from The Atlantic explores how a teen in Maryland became a powerlifting sensation.

Jake Schellenschlager, a 14-year-old living in Glen Burnie, Maryland, can deadlift more than 300 pounds. He currently holds five world records from the International Powerlifting Association for his age and weight class, and he’s only two years into his journey. The Atlantic’s video team caught up with Schellenschlager to find out what motivates a 127-pound teenager to try his hand in the world of powerlifting.

recent article about Schellenschlager in the Washington Post triggered an ongoing storm of controversy and media attention around his lifting. While many praise Schellenschlager's accomplishments, critics have noted that the sport can have negative effects on young athletes.

According to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Explosive and rapid lifting of weights during routine strength training is not recommended, because safe technique may be difficult to maintain and body tissues may be stressed too abruptly." However, they do support controlled strength training for adolescents, and note that more research in this area is needed. Schellenschlager’s parents are quick to point out that he only performs the maximum lifts a few times a year, and the majority of his training is spent doing repetitions with lighter weights under the supervision of a trainer. In the two years Schellenschlager has been powerlifting and bodybuilding, he has not been injured.

Sam Price-Waldman is a senior associate video producer at The Atlantic. More

Price-Waldman's documentaries have been featured by Vimeo Staff Picks, on PBS, and at film festivals including AFI SilverDocs and Full Frame.

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