Some pro bodybuilders develop followings immediately after they start competing.
Guys like Jay Cutler and Phil Heath come to mind as examples of this statement.
There are other guys who have to work for several years to slowly accumulate a reputation and get themselves out there.
Although John Meadows has only been a pro in the IFBB for less than a year, he’s been training for over 30 years. He has worked for several of those as a trainer and helps create diets for athletes who seek his advice.
Today, he is known as one of the top trainers and nutrition advisers in the bodybuilding game.
Because of his willingness to share information via his Mountain Dog website, social media, and forums, the Columbus, Ohio native has developed a large and loyal fan base.
This was evident by the support he received while competing in his hometown at the Arnold Classic 212 show in March.
Related: A Day in the Life of Kai Greene
Although he didn’t come out on top in Columbus, he did place in the Top 5 in his first three shows as a pro in 2015. Thus, he earned an invitation to realize his dream of competing in his hometown on one of the biggest shows of the year to start this new season.
With a blue collar work ethic and an open willingness to share his life and career with anyone interested in following him, there is no doubt why he’s such a popular athlete and has inspired so many people over the course of his career.
He will be the first to tell you that nothing has been given to him and he’s worked hard to earn everything that has come his way.
Long Road to the Pros
John first stepped on a bodybuilding stage when he was 13 years old at a bodyweight of 119 pounds. He would work over the next several years to improve before starting to win shows like the Jan Tana Amateur in 1999 and the Collegiate Nationals in 2001.
Serious health issues in 2005 brought him close to death and would lead to him having to go in for surgery. The most impactful causality was loss of his colon. Although the road to recovery would be a long one, he was back onstage in 2007 trying to work towards his goal of reaching pro status.
Most people would consider themselves fortunate to live through that. For John, it was another form of adversity that he was determined to overcome.
He eventually made his way to the top of the podium at the Team Universe show in 2015 where he would claim victory in the Masters Division. After working for so long to get his pro card, he wasted no time getting his feet wet. Less than a month later, he competed in his first pro show in Vancouver as a member of the 212 division.
He would go on to compete in two more shows and barely missed qualifying for the Olympia. After starting this season in Columbus, Meadows is still considering his next show.
Not Just Bodybuilding…Brandbuilding
Although he can talk training and nutrition with the best of them, fans and friends of John can attest that he is pretty successful when it comes to business as well. This is evident by the number of ventures he has taken outside of the weight room and off the bodybuilding stage.
For example, John built his own website, mountaindogdiet.com , where you can learn more about his training and nutrition philosophy.
There is also his work both as an athlete and supplement developer with Prime Nutrition. Whereas most people who are sponsored focus on promoting through social media, John has actually developed supplements to help make his company better. Intra-MD is a Meadows created product that has been very successful for Prime Nutrition in recent years.
More recently he’s partnered up with Iron Rebel Clothing to come out with his own clothing line and he also has his own bar which he feels is the “Best Bar Ever”. If that’s not enough Mountain Dog in your life, you can also get his training app available through his website.
Let’s Talk Back Training
John obviously knows how to train everything effectively, but one of his strongest areas has to be the back. From the top down, he is wide, thick, and shows great detail when he turns to do a rear lat spread or a back double bicep pose.
When he shared a pic of himself a couple of weeks out from the Arnold 212 on his social media pages, people were blown away by how impressive he was. Obviously, we had to learn more about how he trains back.
John gives High Intensity Training its due, but feels it has its downside when compared to a high volume approach. “Well everything works for a while. True high intensity does work, it is just not sustainable. Injuries are a particular concern with trying to use maximally heavy weights day in and day out with very low training volume or exercise sequencing to warm up soft tissues and joints.”
The workout that follows is high volume in the form of a 22 work set program with each set serving a specific purpose that he shares. He definitely didn’t just throw these exercises together with the hope that it would work. Anyone who has followed his Mountain Dog programs know that he is methodical and calculated when it comes to clanging and banging with the iron.
Hammer Row (DY Row)– “On these take your time and get a good warm up. You are going to do 3 sets of 10 reps with very deliberate form squeezing in the contracted position for 1 second and then getting a good stretch. On your 4th set you are going to do a drop set. Add a little more weight and do 6 perfect reps, then drop the weight some and do 6 more, and then repeat.
Now let the weight stretch you and if you have a partner let them give you a very easy pull for 10 seconds to stretch the lats out even more. See the video below for form and the stretch. 4 total work sets.”
The goal is to activate and pre-pump lats.
One arm barbell rows– “This is just our basic one arm barbell row. Do 4 sets of 8. The 8th rep should be very tough to do with perfect form. 4 total work sets.”
The goal for this lift is to achieve a max pump.
Pullovers – “If you have a machine do them like we are in the video. You probably don’t, so use a dumbbell in our normal style. Do 4 sets of 8. If you have a machine do a drop set as shown in video with an isometric hold at the end. 4 total work sets.”
The goal is to work the muscle from the stretched position.
Away Facing Lat Pulldown – “These are our normal away facing pulldowns. Just do 4 sets of 10 here and really focus on driving elbows down and flexing lats HARD. 4 total work sets.”
The goal is to acheive a max pump with this exercise.
Reverse Hypers– “Do 10 reps here. If you do not have a reverse hyper do 15 reps nice and slow on a regular hyperextension bench.
Rack Pulls– Your lower back is going to be pumped so don’t get crazy with weight here. We did a cool variation on a T-Bar. This felt excellent. Do 6 reps of pulls here.”
Do 3 supersets for 6 total work sets. The goal is to, again, achieve a max pump.
Rest– “Rest enough to catch your breath. For smaller bodyparts and less taxing exercises a minute will usually suffice. For big bodyparts and exercises that require a tremendous amount of effort you may be looking at 2.5-3 minutes. I still want people to get in better shape cardiorespiratory wise though to bring this down a bit as well.”
|1. Hammer Row (DY Row)||4*||10|
|2. One Arm Barbell Row||4||8|
|3. Pullovers (Machine Preferably)||4*||8|
|4. Facing Away Lat Pulldown||4||10|
|5a. Reverse Hypers||3||15|
|5b. Rack Pulls||3||6|
*On final set, perform drop sets of 6
Still Sharing the Knowledge
If you’re interested in learning more about John and his methods, you don’t have to look far. You can find him on all major forms of social media as well as YouTube. He regularly shares clips of his workouts or nuggets of knowledge that he feels others can benefit from.