Army veteran and amputee strongman Mark Smith embodies the true meaning of strength. Follow his lead
Britain’s strongest disabled man teaches you how to lift with military precision. Load it on
Being wounded on active duty is unlucky. Surviving tours in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, then losing a leg on a Canadian firing range is unluckier still. Not that Mark Smith, a 10-year veteran of the Grenadier Guards, is bitter. “I’ve always wanted to tell the lad who shot me there are no hard feelings,” he says.
It was in the military hospital ward that Smith refocused his ambitions. “I was around blokes who didn’t mope,” he says. “They just wanted to walk and run again.” Smith spent every free moment in the gym, and this led to a brief career in bodybuilding. “When you’re training, you don’t feel disabled,” he says. After a year, Smith became more interested in the practical applications of strongman training. He only really faces difficulties on legs day: a Smith machine is essential for squats, while conventional deadlifts are a no-go. “I’m an above-knee amputee, and my prosthetic leg can’t take heavy weights,” he says. Especially not the kind of weights he’s lifting.
Smith was crowned Britain’s Strongest Disabled Man in 2016 and 2017 and won disabled strongman events at the Arnold Classic in 2017 and 2018. Working out was the foundation for both his physical and his mental rehabilitation. Though your adversities may not be so severe, Smith’s lessons for reaching your goals are universal: surround yourself with positive people, don’t sit still, keep moving forward – and pick up some heavy things, then put them down again. That’s an order.
THE MOTIVATOR Mark Smith, former lance sergeant, Grenadier Guards, and two times Britain’s Strongest Disabled ManINSTAGRAM@marksmith_ disabledstrongman 175kg BENCH