This is one of the most inspirational stories that a fan shares. Mark Smith not only survived the war, but overcame a heavy blow dealt by the destiny. He has made great efforts to return to his old way of life despite his disability. He became stronger, more motivated and most importantly ready to conquer all peaks of bodybuilding. Another goal for him is to help others in his situation to overcome their fears and lead a normal, even greater life than ever before. Read his story:
“I am a British Armed Forces Veteran and served 10 years with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, on Operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan and overseas in Jamaica, the Falklands, Kenya and Canada.
In 2011, whilst on Pre-deployment training in Canada, to return to Afghanistan, I was involved in a live-firing incident that resulted in me receiving several gun shot wounds to both my right leg and right shoulder. I was resuscitated on six occasions over the following few days and was on life support.
My injuries resulted in my right leg being amputated above the knee and spending 10 weeks in Hospital, having over 20 operations and losing almost 30kg in body weight.”
“Following two years rehabilitation, learning to walk and run on a prosthetic leg and becoming a qualified football coach, boxing coach and personal trainer, I was medically discharged from the Armed Forces in late 2013.
Somewhat lost and not finding personal training as fulfilling as I’d hoped, I began to look for a new path and in May 2014, read a story on Bodybuilding for lads like myself, people with disabilities who could walk/stand on stage. It appealed to me straight away and I went ahead and entered my first show for the November, giving me a few months to diet and train properly and learn to pose!
It has been an overwhelming first year competing and I was fortunate enough to win my first competition, what followed was amazing: A further 4 wins, 2 second placed finishes, a guest pose at an IFBB Pro Show and competing in Texas and posing on stage with 5 times Mr Olympia, Phil Heath!
That opened so many doors for me and led to me featuring in Flex, Muscular Development, Train and Muscle & Fitness magazine!”
“Off stage, I am keen to help our category expand in both numbers and competitions and it has been a great success so far-With an increase from 3 male Bodybuilders in 2014 to potentially 15+ in 2016. We have also gone from 2 shows including the category in 2014, to over 20 this year, including qualifications for two British Finals and a World Finals.
Through bodybuilding, we are being given the opportunity to show what we can do and changing people’s perceptions of disabilities and also of bodybuilding. Showing the huge positive impact it can have on an individual, myself definitely included in that.
We want to continue to progress though and I think through a site like this, we can reach out to so many more people, perhaps those living with disabilities, who may still be unaware this category exists.”
WHAT MOTIVATED HIM TO START?
“Whilst in Hospital, following my amputation, I underwent over 20 operations in just 10 weeks, which caused me to lose a great deal of weight and muscle in a pretty short time, to the point where friends and family no longer recognised me. In total, I lost almost 30kgs in body weight. Dropping to 61kg at my lightest.
Seeing myself that ill, upset me more than losing my leg and I promised myself that I’d never look that ill again and as soon as I was given the okay to go back in the gym, I started training again, determined to be looked at for my physique rather than being an amputee.”
HOW DOES HE TRAIN?
“I have tried each and every exercise/movement that anyone else would do, some I am fine with, others I have struggled with. All that meant, was I had to find a way to adapt them so I could do them.
So, for leg days, I have to use a Smith machine to squat and during lower back sessions, I deadlift using the Smith machine. I also tend to take my prosthetic leg off for both these movements, as my leg can dig in quite uncomfortably if I keep it on to squat or dead lift.”
WHAT IS HIS DIET PLAN?
“I can’t go too high with carbs, as I seem to bloat pretty quick, so the highest I’ll go will be about 240g carbs, so 30g carbs per meal, spread over 8 meals. My meals will tend to consist of 100g turkey, 100g rice, 1 cup of spinach.
Closer to a competition and during a cutting phase, my carbs will gradually lower to 30g a day.”
WHAT PROBLEMS HAS HE FACED?
“Although I have now been an amputee for four years, my operations on my leg are still on going and each time I have an operation, it means I’m unable to wear my prosthetic leg for around 6-8 weeks, which limits what I can do in the gym, especially standing exercises! I’ll still train, but I’ll have to get about on crutches, which makes plate loading interesting!”