Leg Up: Inspired to Get Ripped

A tragedy could've crippled Louie Von Duhn for life–but it only made him stronger.


It was the summer after Louie Von Duhn’s sophomore year at the University of Dayton, in Ohio, where he was enrolled in the ROTC program. After working a shift at the bar, Von Duhn had only three hours before his next job. Exhausted, he climbed into his car to get gas and soon ran off the road and hit a tree.

“Next thing I knew it was probably about a week later,” he says. “I remember I was in the hospital with a severely broken right leg, a shattered pelvis, a broken collarbone, a broken jaw. My eye socket was broken and my leg was nearly severed. After nine days of trying to save it, my leg got infected. They had to take it off.”

Von Duhn, then 21, recovered quickly, and after three months he was walking with a prosthetic. As the years went on, he became complacent in his factory job, and busy with his wife and kids. Fitness was the last thing on his mind.

He ballooned to an all-time high of 280 pounds and would’ve stayed there had he not met a “drunk guy at a bar.” Their conversation propelled Von Duhn back into the weight room.


Just Do It! 

“He walks up to me and says, ‘You want to do anything, you just need to do it,’ ” Von Duhn recalls. So he decided to start training again.

Over the next few years, Von Duhn would drop almost 100 pounds from his frame. He got so ripped, in fact, that he competed in his first amateur bodybuilding show in March 2009, and hasn’t looked back since. Now, at age 32, he sees his time in the weight room as an essential part of stress relief.

“A lot of weird things were going through my mind [when I was heavier],” he says. “Going into the gym and taking my stress out on the weights was always a huge release for me.”