Now that summer is just around the corner, there’s a frenzy of people looking to get themselves into better shape so they can show off their physique. Most people are going to hit the treadmills and ellipticals, while others will go for the dumbbells and barbells. If pumping iron is your thing then there’s a decent chance you’ve heard of California’s famous Muscle Beach, considered by many people to be the birthplace of the modern fitness boom.
Today, Muscle Beach attracts some of the biggest, baddest, strongest guys out there from all over the world. Multiple Mr. Universe winners have trained there, including the one-and-only Arnold Schwarzenegger. Back in the mid-1950s though, Muscle Beach had one very remarkable regular.
Dubbed "the world's strongest 7th grader," April Atkins was a bright, perpetually smiling 12-year-old girl who would routinely blow away some of California's biggest, burliest strongmen with her incredible feats of strength. Loomis Dean took these photos of the tiny powerhouse for the “LIFE” archives in 1954.
Here, April sustains the combined weight of three adults, totaling over 400 pounds. That's pretty light for a girl who was known to hold up to 700 pounds.
Check out this footage of the incredible April in action: