Mark finishes top two in Mr Universe

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Eight years after winning the Mr Universe bodybuilding crown, Nelson’s Mark Anderson is still at it – finishing runner-up at the latest competition in the UK.

Competing in the over 40 category, Mark strutted his stuff in front of some impressed judges who handed the personal trainer second place at the prestigious competition.

Not bad for someone who only arrived in the country two days earlier, after 26 hours of travelling and with two torn biceps.

“I tore my right one in 2007 and then about a year later I tore my other one just lifting weight equipment off a trailer, at least they are both torn now, but that sort of thing holds me back a bit with symmetry and that’s probably one of the main reasons why I didn’t win. But my condition this year was probably the best it’s ever been.”

Mark has been competing in international competitions since the mid-90s, the highlight winning the Mr Universe competition in Spain in 2007.

In the lead up to a competition, Mark trains six or seven days a week, and each day involves a cardio workout in the morning before weight training later in the day.

But the worst part of the build-up to a major competition is the diet, says Mark.

“From about 20 weeks out I really drop all sugars out of the diet, really ultra-low fat apart from fish oils, and high protein. I eat about every two and a half hours just to keep my metabolic rate up, plus you’ve still got to hold down your normal job and everything else. The 20 weeks either makes or breaks it for you, there are a lot of people who compete, but unless you’re really dieting it’s just not going to happen.”

He even has special meals on the plane and takes 12 extra packs of pre-prepared chicken and protein sachets to eat between airline meals. All that work leaves Mark with a body fat percentage of between 1 and 2 per cent on the eve of the competition.

He says it’s tough, but worth it.

“Some years you wonder, you get half way through your diet and you think ‘god what am I doing?’ But afterwards it’s all worth it when you stand up on stage. It’s a great feeling.”

After the competition, Mark says he celebrated with a steak and ice-cream before heading to Thailand for a two week holiday.

Now back in Nelson, Mark is preparing for next year’s competition where he hopes to go one better.

“I’m really, really pleased to stand up on the world stage like that, although in the back of your mind you always thinking ‘oh, that elusive first place would be nice, so I’m definitely going again.”

In the meantime, Mark is already preparing to organise the sixth annual Nelson Bodybuilding competition at the Theatre Royal next winter.