Monthly Archives: May 2016


This is one of our trainers at FF Sean Merz. He dropped from 208 sloppy and a bad diet of crap food to 180 via clean eating and exercise. Over the past several months he went on a hypertrophy (body building style protocol) and has packed on some serious muscle. He now weighs 201 and 11.9% body fat. This process took about 2 years! In this blog I will talk to you as brief as possible about a simple approach to building muscle. Also some factors that go into it.

sean merz


Genetics: If your parents are shorter and thinner chances are you will be too. If your parents have big arms or legs, chances are you will too. If your parents became obese vs skinny fat chances are you will too (unless you do something about it of course.) The reality is that what works for one person may not work for the next. Each person is different!

The truth is it is often WAY harder to gain 10 pounds of muscle then to lose 10 pounds of fat! Both are difficult but in most cases the body physiologically adapts to dropping some lbs, way faster and easier than what goes into building muscle.

Add some activity level, full body fat loss training, movement, cut the calories, eat cleaner and boom you will be down some weight. Fat loss could take a few weeks, and in some cases depending on the person a few days! To build muscle you need a specific, consistent approach when it comes to training and program design. You also better get ready to eat often and consume way more food! So now you’re going into a caloric surplus vs a caloric deficit! This could take years!


If you want to gain weight you need to eat like the weight you want to be! So if you weigh 150 and want to be 250 you need to eat like it. That could be a HUGE difference in the amount of calories you consume each day. The average 250lb male for instance could consume as much as 3500/4000 calories a day! Too get more calories into you you’re going to have to make big changes! Which will be way harder than you think. Below are some ideas for you……

#1 eat more often maybe every 2/3 hours

#2 Eat foods high in nutrients that are calorically dense. For example a 6oz piece of chicken has about 300 calories and 20/30 grams of protein. If you are someone who only eats 1 piece during your meal, it’s time to start eating 3 pieces. Just like that you can get an additional 600 calories and 40+ grams more of protein in your sitting!

#3 eat larger portions (similar point to above) – use shakes, blenders etc if you can’t chew it

#4 eat before bed


Reps / Sets/ Time Under Tension

Think about using 6 to 10 reps a set and make your sets last 40 to 70 seconds. You can do this by lowering the weights down for 2 seconds and then raising the weights up for 2 seconds. If you are doing 10 reps that’s 40 seconds of tension. If you do 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up that’s 6 seconds a rep and 60 seconds over 10 reps.

Set Types:

There are many sets and rep schemes you can use and play with. That could be a blog on its own. For simple to understand purposes and 2 quick ideas for you to use try Compound Sets & Giant sets!

Compound sets 2 exercises focusing on similar muscle groups. An example of this if the chest was the muscles you were trying to target, could be a bench press to a push up!

A Giant set is similar however a series of 4 exercises focusing on the same muscle groups. This is a tough way to train. However will pump blood into those muscles like you can’t imagine. Lets use a chest work out again, think bench into push up, into DB incline bench, into dips leaning forward!


For the people who are unsure of whether to lift heavy for a few reps or moderate weights for moderate reps or light weights for high reps…….the answer is all of these rep zones help. Don’t forget each person is different! If I were to pick I would go with moderate reps / moderate weights / moderate reps more sets!

For those of you who wonder what each rep zone does for the body here ya go…….

Moderate weights will create tension. Utilize Squeezing the muscles and going through full ranges of motion. Feel the tension so to speak. The constant tension increases the blood into the muscles as mentioned earlier.

Heavier weight or new exercises or working your muscle from a different angle could cause what is called muscular damage. Causing muscle fiber damage and swelling in a good way.

Lighter weights come from Metabolic Stress which is the pump and buildup of lactic acid to your muscles. This is called metabolic stress.


Then only rest 60 to 90 seconds between rest before performing the next set. You want to use volume as your friend! So 4 or 5 sets of 10 reps (40 or 50 reps) would serve you better than 3 sets of 10 (30 reps) in this case.


Hope all of this blog helps! Great job Sean!



Cut These and Do These

Machines can be beneficial in a few situations but for the most part I would steer clear of them as we sit too much throughout the day as it is. Some machines are worse than others. Here are a few I would not do and what you should do instead! Hope this helps!


Seated ab machines can create lower back problems because they rotate the area beyond a safe range of motion. Your lumbar spine can only twist 13 degrees—that’s less than one hour on a clock. Turning beyond that puts massive strain on your vertebrae, and, combined with the resistance of the machine, can quickly become more than your back can bear. Your lower back is actually designed to resist twisting, not generate it.

Instead perform planks and side planks!

ab crunch



It places dangerous torque on your knee joints because it pulls your shins back as you lower the weight. Also, knee extensions develop an imbalance between your quads and hamstrings, which causes knee problems. As you move, your quads always work with other muscles, never in isolation—even when you kick a soccer ball, you flex your hips, twist your trunk, and stabilize through your other leg.

Better options are front or back squats, lunges, step ups, split squats and rear foot elevated split squats!

leg press

front squat


Your hamstrings are built to work with your glutes to create movement. Seated or prone leg curl machines, however, ignore your glutes, which increases your risk of hamstring pulls and knee injuries. By isolating the hamstrings alone, they become tight and overactive over time. The best exercises to build strong hamstrings also maintain hip extension and glute activation

Swiss Ball Leg Curls are a great option instead!




The seated abductor and adductor machine is both weird and bad. By forcing your legs to open and close, you put a lot of stress on your hip capsules and IT bands. A better way to strengthen your abductors and adductors is to stand on one leg: not only are you activating those muscles to keep your leg stable, but you’re also activating your core.

1 Leg Dead Lifts / Lunges / Lateral Lunges / Single leg squats are better options!




This machine can be beneficial to teaching scapula rhythm, control, upward and downward rotation and truly learning how to vertically pull. Also to pack on some muscle I like to do high rep lat pull downs for my back every here and there! However, from a strictly strength stand point, once you can pull your own body weight, it would benefit you more to do chin ups and pull ups than a Lat Pull down. As some trainers would consider the lat pull down they would only use in a rehab situation for those who need assistance. To read further on this stance check out my blog on Pull Ups that can be located here ……..

lat pull down


I hope this blog helped! Any questions feel free to ask!