Interview with Bodybuilder Perry Merlotti Interviewed by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com - January 2008
1) CRITICAL BENCH: Perry, welcome to Critical Bench. It's an honor to speak to a bodybuilder who has achieved so much already like yourself. Introduce yourself to the muscle world!
Perry Merlotti: Well first off I am a college student and Missouri Southern State University in Joplin,MO. I am majoring in health wellness and promotion and minoring in marketing. I used to play soccer and was going to play here at MSSU but decided to pursue bodybuilding instead.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: When and how did you get started in bodybuilding?
Perry Merlotti: I got started with bodybuilding when I moved to college. I was always active and into sports but once I got to college I was burnt out on soccer so I decided to pursue bodybuilding. Ever since then I've been hooked and can't put down a weight.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: What competitions have you entered? Tell us what it is like competing in bodybuilding shows!
Perry Merlotti: This past summer I competed in the Show Me Naturals in St. Louis, MO and placed first in the middle weight class. Competing in bodybuilding shows is such a rush, you go on stage and before you know it, the whole show is done with. Back stage is always hectic because you are trying to get your oil put on you, get your pump up in and also make sure you don't look flat.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Perry, congratulations with all of your success in competitive bodybuilding so far! Do you have any good advice for someone who might want to do a bodybuilding show in the future?
Perry Merlotti: Some advice I could give future competitors is to come in ripped. A lot of the time people think bigger is always better when it's the opposite around. You want to come in as ripped as you can be and when you do this you tend to look bigger once you're on stage.
5) CRITICAL BENCH: Great advice. Perry, we are interested in how you got so ripped and in how you train. First, start off by telling us about your arm routine!
Perry Merlotti: I workout my biceps, triceps and forearms together once a week. I will do 15 sets of biceps, 15 sets of triceps, and 12 sets of forearms. I tend to switch up my exercises of the workout from week to week so I just use a variety of lifts.
Perry Merlotti: For legs I normally work them out two times a week. The first workout of the week I will do 12 sets of quads and 6 sets of hamstrings. I will also do 15 sets of calves on this day. I tend to use a variety of exercises because I feel if you switch up your routines you will always trick your body into new growth. The next leg day I do 12 sets of hamstrings and 6 sets of quads. I will also do 15 sets of calves on this day as well.
Perry Merlotti: For back I normally do 18 sets of back exercises. I will do 3 different exercises to target my lats, like wide grip pullups, lat pulldowns, and weighted pullups. Then I will move on to middle back exercises like the T-Bar rows, low cable row machine, and reverse grip barbell rows. I also switch up the exercises for back because shocking the muscles is what sparks new growth in your body.
Perry Merlotti: My chest days are normally about 18 sets for chest. I will do a variety of chest exercises but tend to start off with barbell bench press and then move on to incline barbell bench press. I will then throw in some weighted chest dips and then some variations of dumbbell flies.
Perry Merlotti: I do my abs every day of the week. I will do 15 minutes of straight abs. I will also have a variety of ab routines, some weighted some unweighted but either way I will do them non-stop for the 15 minutes.
10) CRITICAL BENCH: Your ab routine sounds intense! Do you do cardio?
Perry Merlotti: No, I don't do cardio. I only do it when I am cutting down for a photo shoot or bodybuilding contest. I feel if you workout with a high enough intensity then you do not need to do cardio in the off season.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have an on season and an off season? How is your training during your on season different than your training during your off season?
Perry Merlotti: I do have an on and off season but my body doesn't change that much. I will only add in cardio in my on season to change it up so I can drop some weight. I never let my abs go away because I feel that there is no point in working them out if you can't even see them. When I'm in my on season stage I will normally do higher rep routines as well.
12) CRITICAL BENCH: How has bodybuilding made your quality of life better?
Perry Merlotti: Bodybuilding is a lifestyle and it's not just an activity. So bodybuilding has changed my whole perspective of life. Bodybuilding allows for me to eat healthy and also feel healthy.
13) CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you happy? What are your fears and what are your pet peeves in the gym?
Perry Merlotti: My friends and family make me happy. I enjoy spending time with them because they are the most important aspect of my life. Working out also makes me happy. My fears are not succeeding in life. When I'm at the gym my pet peeves are when people don't use proper form, throw their weights around, and also not clean up their weights after they are done.
14) CRITICAL BENCH: What would you like to see change in bodybuilding and in the whole bodybuilding/fitness industry in general?
Perry Merlotti: I would like to see the idea of bigger is always better change. I feel that the bodybuilders nowadays are losing the whole sight of bodybuilding. I hope that it goes back to the Arnold era where they had the small waists and the amazing V tapers. The Frank Zanes and Arnold looks were the best looks ever.
15) CRITICAL BENCH: If you were to play a role in a movie of any type of character what type of character would you play?
Perry Merlotti: I would have to say an action star who saves the day. I would love to be the big good guy in a movie. Also, I think playing a hitman would be a pretty sweet role as well.
16) CRITICAL BENCH: What do you like doing outside of bodybuilding?
Perry Merlotti: Outside of bodybuilding I love hanging out with my friends and family and also going to the movies and playing sports. Another thing is I love food, so going to a great spot to eat is always a fun thing to do.
17) CRITICAL BENCH: What is your ideal vacation?
Perry Merlotti: My ideal vacation is going to some tropical place with my family and friends and just chilling on the beach. I love taking trips to Florida, so I'd have to say that is my ideal vacation.
18) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about some of the things that you have achieved in this bodybuilding industry that you are proud of!
Perry Merlotti: Well I have been featured in Men's Exercise and I am proud of that. I just won the Males Most Perfect Male Physique contest for the month of November. Also, I have done 2 photo shoots that were a great experience.
19) CRITICAL BENCH: What makes you different than most of the other guys who workout your age?
Perry Merlotti: The only thing that makes me different from them is that I stay focused and follow my dreams. Most of the time guys my age tend to always be out and partying and they never stay focused. If you want to become successful in this sport you have to be disciplined and set goals for yourself that you will strive to achieve each and everyday.
Photos on this page provided courtesy of BBpics.com
20) CRITICAL BENCH: What's your advice for the young bodybuilder who looks up to you and who would like to be like you someday?
Perry Merlotti: I would tell them to stay focused and not let the negatives of life get to you. Stay on track and always follow your dreams. Also, I would tell them to get as symmetrical as they can because that will led to their success in the sport.
21) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
Perry Merlotti: My future goals are to be featured in Muscle and Fitness and to start my own personal training studio.
22) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, you are well on your way. How do you want people to remember you when your bodybuilding days end?
Perry Merlotti: I want people to remember me as the guy who brought back the smaller ripped up look like back in the 70's.
23) CRITICAL BENCH: Perry, it's been great talking to you and awesome work. In closing is there anything else you would like to say and anyone who you would like to thank?
Perry Merlotti: I would like to say thank you to all my friends and family for the support of me during this all. You guys have been there for me and I appreciate everything you guys do.
I like to thank John Mitchell of www.bbpics.com working with me this past year & look forward to work more with him in the future. He introduced me to Tammy of www.realgainz.com which I owe a big thanks to for all the encouragement & support she has given me in pursuing my dreams. Her magazine & the various sponsored contests I entered & won have inspired me to keep improving my physique development & promoting myself in the fitness industry. Thanks Tammy!