Amateur Bodybuilder Of The Week: Chris Gave A Kidney And Became A Bodybuilder!

Chris knew his father-in-law needed a new kidney and was shocked to find he was a match. After the surgery, Chris found motivation to take the stage, and won!

How did your bodybuilding
journey begin?

I never thought about competing in a bodybuilding show or any kind of sporting event. But that changed March 6, 2012. I decided to give my left kidney to my father-in-law who had his kidneys fail about three years prior. He was dying before my eyes and I had to help. After losing my father to a heart attack in 2007, I didn't want to lose another person I loved when there was something I could do about it. I was tested by the transplant center and I was a perfect match for my father-in-law. The doctors were dumbfounded that we matched so well.

While I recovered at home for eight weeks I lost 20 pounds and I looked sickly. I decided to do something with a new lease on life. I started doing some research on how to start eating right and finding a workout plan I could use. Then, June 20, 2013, I started working toward a goal to get a six-pack.

All I wanted out of the plan was a six-pack. One day I was approached by a bodybuilding show promoter about entering a competition. I told him I wasn't the kind of person to show off, and I was afraid of being judged by perfect strangers. When he asked me about competing in a show, though, he planted a seed. I was in the last phase of my program. When he asked again, I said "Yes!"

What was I in for? The show was in three weeks. I started posing like crazy, ordered my suit, and made all the last-minute prep needed for the show. Wow ... the show was a success. I came in at 169 pounds and 5.5% body fat. I had entered the Novice Middle Height class and Tall Open class and won the Middle Novice class (out of 5 competitors). I was overwhelmed by wining first place on my first try. I never thought I would win.

Chris Pugh Bodybuilder Posing Routine
Watch The Video - 1:33

The judges called the Novice Short, Middle, and Tall first place winners up to the stage. I thought it was for a photo or something else. It was a pose-down! I had no idea what to do until the other guys started hitting some poses, so I started posing also.

I didn't win the overall, but I still had a chance to compete in the Tall Open class. After going through the posing again for the Tall Open class I felt good. I gave it my best and my father-in-law was in the audience cheering me on with his new kidney, my old one. I felt like a winner just making it to the stage.

Cool Fact

My sister-in-law, Tania Penalosa, is my coach backstage.
She guides me through my posing and gives me advice!
Tania also makes the best "Clean sweets" in the world for me.

What workout regimen delivered the best results?

My training is simple. I train each body part once per week. I do a six-day split, making sure to provide enough time for the muscles to repair and rebuild. When I'm training on-season or off-season the goal is the same: I want to make my time in the gym matter. I do a week of heavy, then a week of moderate weights. I switch the weight and reps so I don't get bored in the gym and so my body never adapts.

On-season, pre-contest training routine:

Day 1: Quads

Day 2: Chest

Day 3: Back

Day 4: Hamstring/Calf

Day 5: Shoulder

Day 6: Arms

Day 7: Cardio

Amateurs Of The Week honors amateurs across all categories for their hard work, dedication, and great physiques. Learn how our featured amateurs built their bodies and hit their goals!

What nutrition plan fueled your body?

I don't follow a typical bodybuilding diet. I use flexible dieting to achieve my goal body fat percentage. I don't eat "bad" food because I like to eat. The "cleaner" the food the more I can eat.

Bulking Phase

My bulking phase is simple: I add 500 calories to my normal diet until I get to 15 pounds above stage weight, then I start backing the calories down little by little until I find my maintenance.

Meal 1
Meal 2: Pre-Workout
Meal 4
Meal 5
Meal 6: Before Bed

What Supplements Gave You The Greatest Gains?

"I challenge myself every day. I push past what I think I can do and do more."

How did your passion for bodybuilding emerge?

I have so much more self-respect. It taught me self-discipline. I challenge myself every day. I push past what I think I can do and do more. Research on training and nutrition is one of my hobbies. I don't compare myself to anyone; I just compete against myself and make sure I beat my personal best every time. I enjoy helping others and inspiring them after they hear my story.

Where did you go for inspiration?

I have self-motivation. That's what drives me. I'm my own worst critic. I have to outdo myself from the last workout. Each day is like an internal competition.

What are your future bodybuilding plans?

I want to take my body as far as I can. Bodybuilding isn't something you do as a fad, it's a lifestyle and I love it. I hate it, then I love it. I never stop pushing myself.

"I like the challenge. It's hard at times, but I enjoy the challenge. Self-motivation is the key."

What is the most important bodybuilding tip?

I'm the only one who can do it, who can make me a bodybuilder. I can't rely on someone else to do it for me. I like the challenge. It's hard at times, but I enjoy the challenge. Self-motivation is the key.

Who is your favorite bodybuilder?

C.T. Fletcher is one of my biggest bodybuilding motivators. I look up to Phillip Ricardo Jr. because he's a natural bodybuilder and what he is trying to do for the sport. I get inspiration from Kiyoshi Moody, who overcame an injury to become one of the greats. In my case, I overcame a major surgery. I know with hard work and dedication I can make it to the top of natural bodybuilding.

How did help you reach your goals?

I couldn't have got to this point in my bodybuilding career without I can find workouts to fit my ever-changing needs. I can't get enough of the recipes. I love trying all the different type of recipes. I find myself using what I learn from the articles in the gym and the light bulb goes off. Why haven't I been doing this all along!

Contest History
  • OCB October 20 2012 (Battle for Tidewater), 1st place Middle class novices, 2nd place Tall open
  • INBF October 27 2012 (Neptune Classic), 3rd place Middle class
  • OCB May 4 2013 (Atlantic Supershow), 2nd place Middle open
  • OCB February 15 2014 (Body Sculpting), 2nd place Middle class

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