From a skinny refugee who was bullied in the playground to a bodybuilder rubbing shoulders with legends of the industry, IFBB Pro and team BSN athlete Sam Mohammad has come a long way. By Alison Turner
Sam Mohammad arrived in New Zealand in 1999 as a refugee after his parents gave up everything they had, including the family business and wealth, to escape the threat of dictatorship. In the land of the long white cloud they found a fresh start, but it wasn’t easy at first for then 16-year-old Sam.
“I hated school, he says. “I was bullied, I was picked on, I was made fun of, because of my different culture and the fact that I had no English when we first moved over. I hated lunchtime as I had no one to hang out with.”
But luckily, Mohammad discovered a small gym right next to his PE classroom.
“It only had single bench press and few dumbbells,” he says. “I had no idea what to do or how to train! I learnt everything through research from books and the internet, and I trained during lunchtime in order to kill time and get through school. Eventually my body responded really well. So I have to say I totally respect this sport as it gave me confidence about myself.”
After finishing school, Sam moved to Australia to find work and explore new challenges.
“Australia is my home now,” he says. “Not only am I sponsored by BSN, but I also I work for them as a territory manager in Western Sydney. I love my job because they really look after me. My workmates support every step of my career – my boss even rings me every now and then, checking to see if I’ve done cardio for my upcoming show. I hate cardio!”
Sam started competing in 2002 and won his IFBB Pro card in March 2014 at an international pro-amateur event in New Zealand, winning his class and the overall class as well. He most recently competed at the 2016 Pro Asia Grand Prix in Korea.
“It was a great learning experience,” he says. “The show was stacked with all the big names including my BSN teammate Flex Lewis. We’re both trained and coached by Y3T creator Neil Hill. Jose Ramond and David Henry, were also there. It feels incredible and very humbling to be on stage and rubbing shoulders with these huge names in the industry.
“I didn’t place [he came in eleventh place], but to be honest there’s no excuses, although flying from Sydney to Korea took over 18 hours, and that’s a lot of stress on the body.”
Training with world renowned coach Neil “Yoda” Hill has made a huge difference to Sam.
“Neil has always been my number one choice since I noticed Flex Lewis rising,” he says. “Neil’s been coaching Flex since he was a young, upcoming bodybuilder, and as Flex and I are both sponsored by BSN and in the same weight class, it made perfect sense for me to reach out to Neil and get his expert coaching to help get me to the next stage of my pro career.
“Neil isn’t just my coach, he’s a good friend. The way he coaches you isn’t just giving you a standard plan to follow. He actually mentors you and explains everything step by step thoroughly! I thought I knew what bodybuilding was until I met Neil [laughs]. He schooled me all the way through. Of course, it isn’t easy being coached via Skype or Facetime, but Neil makes it fun.”
Sam knows that there are no shortcuts when it comes to succeeding in the world of bodybuilding – it comes down to hard work and discipline.
“There are no short cuts here,” he says. “I wish I could say yes, but really, nothing beats the journey. The pain, the hard work, the discipline – you end up appreciating what you’ve gained so much more.”
SAM’S TRAINING SPLIT
Monday: back & calves
Thursday: hamstrings & calves
Saturday: back *
*Back is Sam’s weakness, so he trains it at least twice a week. He also does fasted cardio for 45 minutes each morning, Monday to Sunday.