Bodybuilder dwarf trains intensively and bulks up for 1st competition

Bodybuilder dwarf trains intensively and bulks up for 1st competition

‘In the gym, people don’t care that I’m little!’ 3ft 11 bodybuilder with rippling muscles who’s teased about his height says he’s proving bullies wrong by training for his first competition

  • Lee Liston, 26,  has achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism that affects his bones 
  • The freelance actor, from Utah, is 3ft 11 tall and trains at the gym six times a week
  • Liston has been taunted by online trolls calling him ‘too small’ but he says won’t give up his training – and will soon compete in his first competition
  • The bodybuilder weighs 87lbs (6st 2oz) and eats 1,800 calories a day, double the amount a man of his height and body mass should consume 

A bodybuilder with dwarfism has revealed how he’s defying cruel online trolls who say he’s too small to work out seriously by entering his first competition.

Lee Liston, 26, from Utah, stands at 3ft 11 and weighs 87lbs (6st 2oz), and first began training in the gym just 12 months ago. 

After realising that people care more about his muscles than his height in the gym, he’s become obsessed with training and now goes six times per week. 

In April, he’s hoping to compete for the first time in a bodybuilding competition.

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Lee Liston, 26, from Utah, first went to the gym just a year ago. The 3ft 11ins bodybuilder, who has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia weighs 87lbs (6st 2oz)

Determination: Lee will compete in his first competition in April, defying online bullies who’ve told him he’s too small to take the sport seriously

The bodybuilder says he gets a ‘sense of belonging’ at the gym (pictured: Lee working out on a rower at the gym)

Lee, a freelance actor, musician and entertainer, said: “I don’t go to the gym for an ego boost, it’s more for motivation and a sense of belonging.

‘Anywhere other than the gym, I’m see an a little person, but when I’m in the gym I’m respected because of my muscles – I’m seen as an equal.

‘I feel more on the level of others around me, when people stare it’s not because I’m different, they stare because I have muscles.

‘I’m feeling pretty good about my up-and-coming competition – it’s pretty exciting. I’m only nervous about making sure I get lean enough while maintaining muscle!”


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Lee has started prep for his new, strict diet regime and claims he doesn’t struggle staying on track.

As part of his training, Lee ‘bulked’ for three months where he ate 1855 worth of calories a day – double the amount that he requires for his height and body mass – as well as 104g of protein.

He added: ‘I don’t really like bulking because I love looking lean, so it can be hard.

‘After a good set of lifting I love to get pumped and flex – it makes me feel so alive. But on the other hand, you don’t want to be too hard on yourself and you don’t want to be arrogant with your gym success.’

Originally, Lee started training heavy to audition for Dwayne Johnson’s show the ‘Titan Games’, but despite being unsuccessful at the audition, continued to train hard.

Lee posing with professional bodybuilder Jay Cutler. The bodybuilder says he’s met lots of his idols since beginning training

Lee posing with a fellow bodybuilder at an event: he says he’s feeling motivated about the prospect of competing on a big stage

He said: ‘I trained for months for the audition and put everything I had in to it but after I didn’t make it, I went to FitCon were I met some well-known fitness celebrities.

‘They told me I should compete, so I listened.’

Lee is now training for his first bodybuilding competition on April 13 and can’t wait to compete.

Despite some critics who claim he’s ‘too small’, Lee feels more motivated than ever about this new challenge he is taking on.

Lee said: ‘I think the biggest change is that I actually count the calories and macro-nutrients that I put into my body, so being more self aware is awesome.

‘I used to overeat a lot and not really think about what I was putting in my body – saying that I still allow myself a treat from time, to time.

‘My life is basically just eat, gym, sleep, repeat!’

Lee lifting weights at the gym during his training. Lee has become addicted to training and goes as often as six times a week

Lee showing off his impressive muscles at the gym. Just six months ago Lee wasn’t paying attention to what he was eating or exercising. Today he’s totally changed

Lee training at the gym. He used to cry about his height as a child, but eventually learnt to love himself and his confidence grew overtime

Lee has achondroplasia – a type of dwarfism that affects his bones – but has refused to let his disability hold him back.

He added: ‘When I was younger I remember running into my dad’s room crying and yelling, “I hate being little, I don’t look like other kids, all they do is stare and call me a midget!”

‘But I’ve come to embrace my size, which has always been a challenge; there have been days that I wake up wishing I wasn’t little but I think my confidence grew over time.

‘Once I found out who I was, what I wanted, and what I could do, the rest became noise.

‘My biggest issue in the gym is my range of motion as I have shorter limbs than others, but some people think that’s a perk as I don’t have to push the bar up very high.

‘Luckily, my family and friends have been super supportive about all this – a friend of mine works in the fitness industry and thinks I’ll go far!’

Lee will be taking part in the Salt Lake City Showdown, Utah, in April and is hoping to win, as well as see how the judges compare his physique to others on stage.

After visiting Steve Cook’s gym – a well-known and respected bodybuilder – Lee was left star struck when he bumped into his idol.

He added: ‘I was chatting to him for nearly an hour and he followed me on Instagram and even tagged me in his story.

Lee looking focused during a training session. Lee has been training intensively for the past six months. His biggest problem at the gym is his range of motion, but others actually think of it as a perk

Lee lifting 25lbs weights during training. Lee said he was excited about the upcoming competition and was impatient to see how judges would compare his body to other contestants

‘This is where the brand Gymshark saw me, and then they got in touch about their ‘Weight of the World’ and the rest is history!’

The campaign was set up to ‘challenge people to change’ and to encourage them that the the gym is for everyone, anywhere, everyday.

Following being part of the campaign, Lee now boasts over 24,000 followers on Instagram and has had some great feedback from his new-found following.

He said: ‘I love how many people have been inspired by my stuff with Gymshark.

‘Parents of kids with dwarfism have asked me advice on how to give their child confidence because they weren’t prepared to have a child with achondroplasia like me.

‘It’s so cool that I can be an advocate and ambassador for it.’

What is achondroplasia? 

Lee lifting at the gym. ‘Once I found out who I was, what I wanted, and what I could do, the rest became noise,’ he says. Lee was born with achondrophasia, a condition that affects bone development

Achondroplasia is the most common type of short limb (or disproportionately short stature)

The condition affects how some of the bones develop, particularly the limb bones and specifically the upper arms and thighs. There are obvious problems with how some of the facial and skull bones grow, too

About one in 25,000 people are born with achondroplasia

Achondroplasia is caused by a genetic mutation – a change within a gene. This mutation can occur when the egg or sperm is being formed. It is a random event, but the gene change can also be inherited.

Anybody can be born with achondroplasia but, once a person has the condition, it will run in the family and one in two of that person’s children will inherit the condition

The average height of a person with achondroplasia is around four feet

This condition might be discovered during an ultrasound scan performed before a baby is born. If it hasn’t been diagnosed before the birth, doctors and parents are likely to notice the relatively short limbs at birth

There is no cure for achondroplasia. Infants with achondroplasia often have a curve in the lower spine that might need a brace for the first year or so of life

 A child with achondroplasia might be more prone to middle-ear infections and breathing problems. Later on, narrowing of the spinal canal can lead to pressure on the spinal cord and problems with walking. Spinal surgery may be required

However, the child can expect to lead a healthy and independent life

 

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