CHESHIRE – Luca Raccio is not your average 13-year-old. In addition to playing football and baseball, Raccio is a standout powerlifter.
An eighth-grader at Dodd Middle School, Raccio broke four world records last month at the International Powerlifting Association’s Connecticut state meet at New Haven’s Powerhouse Gym.
Raccio competed in the 13-year-old division and the 148-pound weight class. These were his winning and record-breaking lifts:
■Dead lift: 350 pounds;■Squat: 290 pounds;■Bench press: 170 pounds.
The combined weight of 810 pounds was also a record. The records were certified by national judges at the event.
Luca began training with his father Gerry, a former competitive powerlifter, at age 8 after a fitness test in school in which students were asked to do as many pushups as they could.
“He said he did three,” Gerry Raccio said. “I was shocked and said to him that will never happen again, especially since I owned a fitness center and also competed nationally for years. It is a very slow methodical process to train a kid and keep them committed and motivated. Luca stayed committed and has accomplished something few 13-year olds have done.”
Gerry Raccio formerly owned Elite Fitness in Hamden. He now he works out with his son at Ulitimate Sports in Yalesville several times a week. Luca Raccio took the fall off from football and baseball to focus on lifting.
“It’s a great time to start pushing him a little more,” the elder Raccio said.
Gerry Raccio said he had no reservations about training his son at an early age.
“Most people shy away from it,” Raccio said. “Everybody is told they can’t work out before they are 15, but you can do it. It’s a slow process and it’s hard to have the kids and parents motivated to keep doing it. i started with body weight exercises.
“It’s all form and technique,” Raccio added. “But there are more kids involved in training now. It was a little bit of a challenge early. At 8-years old, what kids wants to do a set of 10 with a broomstick on his back? I started with my fourth grader one day a week and it makes a huge difference and definitely helps and carries over into the sports end of it.”
Raccio said he’s seen the benefits for his son, especially on the baseball diamond. Lusa pitches and plays first base for the Connecticut Cobras travel club.
Luca said weightlifting has made a difference in how he hits. “I’ve seen a lot of changes,” Luca said. “In the beginning for baseball, I wasn’t that good. I wouldn’t hit the ball as far. Now that I’m powerlifting, I’ve done a little bit of baseball [and] I’ve been hitting the ball harder than than I was in the spring.”
Said Gerry: “He can hit the ball because he’s strong and can throw the ball across the diamond. He’s stronger than other kids his age and makes him a better athletes all around. We’ll continue to strength train. He does like it. He’s a quiet kid. You would never know he is as strong as he is just looking at him.”
In his next competition, Luca will attempt to extend his world records. He’s going for a 325-pound squat, 200-pound bench press and 400-pound deadlift.