Body Transformation: Samuel Pustea Was Saved From Depression By Bodybuilding

Skinny, depressed and living on sweets, Samuel turned his life over to bodybuilding. He packed on 40 pounds of mass and completely changed his physique before age 20.
Editor's Note: Everyone is different and these results may not be typical for the average person. To achieve these results you need to be willing to put in the work both in the gym and in the kitchen. Use this transformation for motivation for you to make the changes you want!

Before Stats

  • 15
  • 150lbs
  • 5'10"
  • 16%

After Stats

  • 19
  • 190lbs
  • 5'10"
  • 12%
What was your lifestyle like prior to your change?

I was very unhealthy before I started my transformation. I loved to buy and eat candy. Did it bring me lasting satisfaction? No, it didn’t.

I was also very self-conscious about my looks. I used to hate going to the beach because of how skinny I was. Anywhere I went that required taking my shirt off, I hated it.

I also started my transformation because I wanted to impress the ladies. I wanted to turn heads everywhere I went. Eventually I saw greater things than this as I progressed along during my transformation.

Prior to my lifestyle change and transformation, I remember being very depressed. I thought my life was of no worth and I felt fed up. Bodybuilding saved my life. I am not ashamed of saying that at all. Exercise helped shift my focus from the negative to the positive.

Every day after I worked out, I felt more accomplished and positive about my life. My love for bodybuilding grew so much that it completely eliminated all negative thoughts and the depression that had a strong hold over my life. I now live with new hope and new aspirations thanks to bodybuilding and fitness!

What was your “low point” or “turning point”?

My low points were the times when I became hasty and impatient. The times when I looked into the mirror and “thought” that I still looked the same. The times I second guessed myself when I was preparing all of my meals or all of the workouts I started.

I kept saying, “Is it worth it?” or “How come this takes too long?” I believe the low points in a transformation come by the dozen. What I mean by this is you will experience these “low points” millions of times; but every time you do, get up, be patient, and be positive. That’s what helped keep me going.

Were there any unique challenges or circumstances that made your transformation particularly difficult?

I have been blessed not to face any unique circumstances or challenges that could have completely stopped my transformation. I know that may be not the case for many other transformations out there. I respect and admire the stories of people who had to fight against all odds to make it through. They are the heroes!

The only unique challenge I had to face every single day is “me”. You have to fight against your greatest enemy which is yourself.

Training and Cardio

What was your weight training approach and split during your transformation?

I usually love sticking to a system and a routine. I love measuring old stats and numbers with new ones. As soon as I started my transformation, I could see that sticking to a workout routine for more than two months would not become productive at all.

Over the course of my transformation, I did my best to keep my body guessing. I never did stick to one approach or routine but I always stuck with the work ethic and intensity, 100%. Your body will always adapt to any kind of external pressure and healthy stress. That’s what I kept in mind over the course of my weight training and transformation.

I started out with full body workouts. I fully recommend that you do so as a beginner. Do as many squats, deadlifts, full body exercises, etc… as you can right off the bat. This will give your body a healthy shock and spur it to grow the most muscle. Remember, beginners who start training will gain muscle rapidly.

Over the years, I slowly transitioned over to split routines. I started to take each body part and train them on a specific day of the week. I wanted to work certain areas of my body the most, where it was needed. Split routines helped me accomplish that.

Any workout you do, train with 100% intensity; that same exact workout will produce favorable results such as building more muscle or losing more fat.

Please add a workout that worked best for you:
  • Monday - "Row" day, Lats and Traps
  • Tuesday - Shoulders and Biceps
  • Wednesday - Triceps and Forearms
  • Thursday - "Fly" day, Pecs
  • Friday - "Pull" day, Lats and Traps
  • Saturday - Legs
  • Sunday - "Push" day, Pecs and Abs
Monday
"Row" day, Lats and Traps
Exercise Sets Reps
Overhand & Underhand Cable Rows “Alternate” 5 8
Duo Iso-Lat Machine Rows 4 8
V-bar Cable Rows 4 8
V-bar Straight-Arm Rows 4 15
Tuesday
Shoulders and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Standing Dumbbell Curls 4 15
Shoulder Flys 4 15
Alternating Standing Dumbbell Curls 3 18
Cable Shoulder Flys 3 18
Wednesday
Triceps & Forearms
Exercise Sets Reps
V-bar Pushdowns 4 15
Dumbbell Tricep Extensions 4 15
Sitting Dumbbell Wrist Curls 6 20
Thursday
Pecs “Fly” Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Butterfly Machine 3 18
Decline Cable Flys 3 18
Dumbbell Flys 3 20
Friday
Lat & Traps “Pull” Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Medium Grip Pulldowns 4 8
Pull Ups 3 10
Close-Grip Underhand Pulldowns 3 8
Barbell Shrugs 4 20
Saturday
Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 5 8
Leg Extensions “Machine” 3 15
Hack Squat 3 15
Machine Calf Raises 4 25
Sunday
Pecs & Abs “Push” Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Flat Barbell Press 5 8
Flat Dumbbell Press 4 8
Decline Barbell Press 4 8
Decline Dumbbell Press 4 12
Crunches 6 20

Samuel Pustea

My low points were the times when I became hasty and impatient. The times when I looked into the mirror and “thought” that I still looked the same.

Please detail your cardio approach during your transformation

I’ve experimented with all kinds of cardio. I first started out with high intensity training also known as HIIT cardio. I used to run as fast as possible for one minute straight and then walk for a minute in order to catch my breath. I would perform ten rounds of this.

I did that for a very long time and then started to incorporate more low-intensity or low heart-rate cardio. I did a mixture of low-intensity cardio and HIIT cardio towards the middle of my transformation and continued to do that towards the end of it.

I now currently do low-intensity cardio with an occasional HIIT cardio session. My favorite kind of cardio is done right off the bat in the morning on an empty stomach. This is called fasted cardio.

Prior to the cardio workout I would take a serving of amino acids or whey protein for muscle preservation. After completing the cardio workout I would take another serving. I find this to burn the most fat off of your body and muscles. Always keep your heart rate elevated and you will find that to be cardio.

Please list 3 things you learned about exercise, weight training and/or cardio during your transformation that helped you succeed:
  1. The single most important thing that I learned from training is that it’s not about how much weight you lift, but how you lift it. Learn to use the proper form of an exercise and the appropriate amount of weight in order to keep the right form throughout the duration of the exercise. If your form starts to fail or crumble, it’s about time to call it a set. Tweaks and changes here and there are the difference in actually working a specific muscle very hard or just working it.
  2. More doesn’t necessarily mean better. I was one of those guys who was attracted to the idea that more is always better. That could be no further from the truth. Your muscles can only take a certain beating, depending on each person. Some muscles need to be worked more than the others while some not so much. Find a balance and actually cut down the things that might not necessarily need help. Doing less is sometimes doing more.
  3. Not all muscles are created equal. What I mean by that is we’re all unique and house a certain set of genes. Some of us may have a more developed chest while others may not. Some might manifest a specific body type such as an ectomorph while others might have a different body type. Nothing wrong with any of them! What I’m trying to say that there is that muscle group you love to train. Every time you get in the gym and start working that muscle group, they will make you feel like a beast! Flip the coin and you will find that other muscle group that might look lagging and the body part you don’t feel great about. That’s where you need to zero in and work hard at it. Balance is the key to everything and you need to give your lagging body part or muscle group a chance to come up and become equal with the others. Work smarter not harder.
How are you currently training, and has your training changed since the completion of your transformation?

My training has certainly evolved over the years. I believe in progression. Your training knowledge will increase according to the results you see and the amount of work you put in. I’m currently utilizing a split routine specifically focused around my chest and back. Those are the two biggest muscle groups that I feel need the most training (strictly my own opinion). I work those two muscle groups twice a week, each workout serving a unique purpose. The days left from the week are used for the other muscle groups.

I try to change up my routine every four weeks. That keeps my body guessing. Every four weeks, change the exercises, number sets, and the reps. My workout and training routine is centered on my lagging body parts and I work very hard in bringing them up.

I try not to keep my workouts too long, somewhere between 50 to 60 minutes. Working out too long will become counterproductive to your gains (cortisol levels rise) and doing more is sometimes doing less.

Samuel Pustea

Bodybuilding saved my life. I am not ashamed of saying that at all. Exercise helped shift my focus from the negative to the positive.

Diet and Nutrition

What was your diet/nutrition approach during your transformation?

The nutrition approach to my transformation was one of the most important things. Nutrition is the most important thing when it comes to building muscle and burning fat. I weighed myself every two/three weeks, calculated my macros, and recorded the calories of the food I ate. All the food I ate was clean, healthy food that contained quality calories. Quality calories will build more muscle than empty calories.

Can you provide us with a sample daily eating plan:
  • Pre-Cardio: 1 serving of an amino acid supplement
  • Post-Cardio: 1 serving of whey protein
  • Meal 1: 3 sticks or portions of low-fat cheese, bowl of green salad, 1 tbsp. of olive oil, 2 tbsp. of white wine vinegar, 1 serving of whey protein
  • Pre-workout Meal: 1 serving of whey protein
  • Post-workout Meal: One to two servings of whey protein, 6 tbsp. of dextrose
  • Meal 2: 3 sticks or portions of low-fat cheese, 5 oz. of fish, 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, 1 serving of whey protein
  • Meal 3: 3 sticks or portions of low-fat cheese, 2-3 whole eggs & 2-3 egg whites “scrambled”, 2-3 tbsp. olive oil, 1 serving of whey protein
  • Pre-bedtime: 1 serving of whey protein, 1 serving of casein protein
Were there any diet/nutrition mistakes you made that you learned from?

I wouldn’t say this was a mistake but I learned that your body best responds to demands, stressors and outside pressures. Your nutrition will become most effective when it meets your body’s needs. I was eating a large amount of calories when I wasn’t using much energy and sitting around. During this specific time period, your body isn’t burning many calories. Here I was eating so many calories at the wrong time when my body didn’t really need them.

What I learned over the years was that your body will crave and need the most calories right after the damage you apply to it such as a workout you did. This is the perfect opportunity to provide your muscles with most calories. Make them count!

Please list 3 things you learned about diet & nutrition during your transformation that helped you succeed:
  1. The most important thing that I learned over the course of my transformation was that nutrition is the key to fitness and bodybuilding. If you don’t agree with me then you’re entitled to your opinion. Your nutrition must be closely monitored and the calories need to be met every single day. You need to consume the right amount of calories based on what you’re looking for such as building muscle, strength, or losing fat.
  2. At the beginning you will most likely follow a meal plan created by another individual; that’s fine and that’s how you should start. That’s what I did. I learned a lot from the meal plans I was first using. You will find over time and as you evolve from being a beginner that another’s meal plan will not suit your needs. You will find that your body responds to different amounts of food, different foods, and at different times of the day. What I’m getting to is that your body is unique and so is your nutrition. You will eventually gain enough knowledge to create your own nutrition/meal plan that will give you the best results.
  3. One of the most important things I learned from nutrition is that your body will demand the most nutrition after the damage you did to it. When you workout, you’re basically tearing down muscle and causing damage to it. In order for your body to fix that muscle, it will use the calories from the food your body digested. Instead of storing the calories or wasting them, your body will finally use the calories for the right use and build that muscle to a bigger size. Eat the most calories of your nutrition plan right after an intense workout.
Did you allow yourself cheat meals?

Yes I did. In fact, I have been cheating so much more as of lately. At the beginning I was having a cheat day, more specifically a major cheat meal, once a week.

When people think of cheating in your diet, they automatically think they are a failure and all the hard work went to waste just like that. That is not true at all! You want cheat meals; I can’t believe I’m saying that. Remember just like your weight training approach, your body will adapt to the diet and start procrastinating on losing fat.

Cheat meals help keep the body guessing, and keeps your mental sharpness and motivation in check. Cheat meals have helped me lose even more fat this year, of course counterbalancing the cheat meal the right way.

What supplements did you use during your transformation?

During my transformation, I’ve tried and used many supplements. The single most important supplement that I used and still use extensively was whey protein. Protein is the king of all supplements and I made sure I always had enough whey protein in my house. Optimum Nutrition, BSN, and EAS are some of the best brands you can buy for whey protein.

I am a huge fan of pre-workouts (pre-workout junkie). I’ve tried many of them. Pre-workout supplements are not an absolute must-have but I feel like they’ll give you the edge in a workout. I have used and still use pre-workout brands such as BSN, 1MR, Jack3d, MusclePharm and a ton of other samples.

I have used creatine during my transformation as well as beta-alanine (currently still use these two important supplements). Amino acids will help prevent muscle-breakdown and I have used that supplement during my transformation.

Never forget your multi-vitamins. The best multi-vitamin I’ve always used was Opti-Men by Optimum Nutrition.

Advice for Others

What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to make their own transformation?
  1. It takes time. I mean a lot of time! Four years may seem like forever! To be honest with you when it’s all over it feels like I just started yesterday. The only time you can say that is when you go through the whole transformation. In the meantime, it takes time to transform your body and you need to constantly (mostly daily) remind yourself of this. At the end of the day, time will pass whether you’re working on your body or not. It will pass you by anyways so why not transform your body at the same time!
  2. Every single day of your transformation will make you feel a different kind of moods. You will feel a certain way for a certain amount of days while feeling something else for the other days. Whether it is positive or negative, you need not to base your work and ambitions on your feelings. One day you may feel like you can do this transformation while the next day you feel like you’re in the gutter and want to give up. I urge you to pass these negative days and move on. I promise you there will be days where you will feel motivated and positive about your transformation. 
  3. What will keep you going in a transformation are the positive results you will gradually see. The results may be recorded and viewed as recorded weight, measurements, and visual aspects such as images. The results you see will become your best motivation to keep on moving forward! Positive thinking and mental perspective is one thing but the results you see will propel you even further into your transformation!
How do you stay motivated? What advice would you give to someone who’s having trouble staying on track?

You can stay motivated by loving what you do. You will fall in love with the art of bodybuilding. I stay motivated by realizing what I was able to accomplish through my body and the wonderful pump in the gym. During your transformation you need to place as many motivational quotes in front of your face. Places may include on your bedroom wall, your computer/laptop screen saver, refrigerator, etc…

Memorize your favorite quotes and keep reciting them over and over inside of your head. Doing that over and over again is programming your subconscious mind to succeed in transforming your body. You need to think of your favorite quote 24/7. It will help you stay motivated and keep you going forward.

Even if you fall off track and don’t really see yourself reach your set goal, don’t panic or lose hope. Pick yourself up again and get to it ASAP. It is never to too late transform your body. At the end of the day you will see more failure than you’ll ever see success.

Every time you fall off track, evaluate why that happened. Assess the whole reason why it happened. Now that you’ve gathered enough insights in why that happened, it will help you stray away from the same mistake again. From now on you need to be smarter on how you work in order to stay on the same track.

More From Samuel Pustea

What is your life like now that you’ve made a transformation?

It is amazing! I have never felt better about living! It gives me such a confidence boost in the things I do in my life. It gives me the courage and the motivation to accomplish many other goals (not fitness). I see how I was able to transform my body and it gives me the motivation to move forward no matter what happens.

I love sharing my love for fitness and how it has been able to change my life. I want to motivate as many people as I can. I want to give people the hope that they can transform their own bodies and achieve their dream ones.

I am planning to share more of my story through my website and I want to also give as many tips as I can through it.

What motivates you currently to keep improving yourself?

What motivates me to keep going even after my transformation is my love that has grown for lifting. You will form this love relationship with it and you won’t be able to go a single day without it.

To be honest with you, the transformation never ends! That’s what keeps me going. I can never say “I made it” because I don’t feel it. I guess it’s the hunger for more success. I am going to improve my physique until the day I die.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am planning to become officially certified in personal training. I want to learn more about how the body functions according to fitness. I want to help others achieve their goals and improve their health. I’m working very hard in becoming a top fitness model in the fitness industry and I’m also creating my own business on the web at the same time.

How can people contact you?

You can get a hold of me and see what I do through my website anytime: http://samuelpustea.com. I’m available on most social media sites. Please follow me!

Thank you!

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2 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 10/19/2014 - 23:50
Enchantedhamper

But still, good on you for working out.

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Posted Sun, 10/19/2014 - 23:49
Enchantedhamper

When I was 15, I was 6'0'' and 100 pounds.