Ohio has been a bodybuilding hotbed for a long time. Columbus, Ohio is home of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic and a top amateur show in the NPC Mike Francois Classic. Out of the many amateurs who have hailed from the Buckeye State, one stands out in particular, John Meadows.
Meadows, a current NPC national level competitor, has been bodybuilding since the age of 13 and thought adding some extra muscle to assist him in track and football would help him excel in those sports.
“I woke up one day and saw my dream of being the next Carl Lewis wasn’t happening and neither was being the next Barry Sanders, so I stuck with bodybuilding,” he said. Meadows progressed through the ranks winning state shows in Ohio and winning the NPC Collegiate Nationals while in graduate school. He has also placed top five in the NPC USA Championships and IFBB North Americans.
“I have been around for awhile,” he said and added that he was never one to compete year round and had to selectively pick a show or two due to family obligations and his work in corporate America.
Meadows inspiration in the sport of bodybuilding came from “The Golden Eagle” Tom Platz. Platz, 3rd place finisher in the 1981 IFBB Mr. Olympia, was the one bodybuilder that Meadows wanted to model himself after.
“I went to a seminar of his when I was a teenager and he started talking about golgi tendon organs, sarcoplastic reticulum, and all the cool “sciency” stuff,” he said. He added that Platz had a good business mind and thought outside the box in regards to training.
“He saw training the same way I did which is like a religious experience to me,” he said.
Meadows was also one of the few bodybuilders to cut their teeth at the famed Westside Barbell, a powerlifting gym ran by Louie Simmons located in Columbus. The gym boasts members who can squat over 1000 pounds, bench over 700 and deadlift over 800.
“ Louie is awesome, I learned so much from him. Not just training methods, but training philosophy,” he said.
He said others came to him inquiring about Simmons system, but Meadows knew that Simmons didn’t follow a system at the time Meadows was at Westside.
“Louie said that if he gets stuck in a mindset, his lifters wont get better,” he said adding that he and 1995 Arnold Classic Champion Mike Francois were able to hang with the big boys at Westside.
“Louie respected that we could get down with some weights like Chuck Vogelphol, Dave Tate and all the other animals there. It got crazy in that gym,” he said.
Bodybuilding has a culture of training through pain and sometimes eating through it. While preparing for the 2005 USA’s Meadows started to experience stabbing pains inside of his stomach that became worse and progressed to where any more than 500 calories a day would cause him pain. When he met his friend, Dr. Eric Serrano, Meadows was told to go to the emergency room.
“While there, the diseased veins burst in my colon and I began bleeding to death,” he said.
He went into shock and was rushed to emergency surgery where his life was saved, but barely,”
“I had a disease called Idiopathis Myointimal Hyperplasia o the Mesenteric vein,” he said. A diagnosis by the Mayo Clinic thereafter lined up with all of the symptoms Meadows was feeling.
“It was a close call and forever changed what I think is a “big deal” now,” he said.
After recovery, Meadows never thought he would compete again.
“I had 30 something staples running up and down my stomach, endured many incisional hernias and at one point my linea alba and fascia melted and my abs began to move to the side of my body,” he said. Meadows revealed he did a show with his body in this condition, but it gave him the push to get it fixed.
“ I got in contact with a surgeon who sewed my abs together and put giant mesh underneath,” he said. He said it took three to four years to be able to do a sit-up and he can do 15 now.
“I did get some function back, but it sure does make squatting a deadlifting more of a challenge,” he said.
While training and competing through the years, Meadows has developed a training system called Mountain Dog Training. He said that he developed the system on many different principles.
“Number one, intensity rules the day. If training intensity is not tough enough to drive a change, you will not reach your ultimate potential,” he said. Volume is ramped throughout the program, exercises are rotated in and out and pre, intra and post-workout nutrition is fine-tuned to support the intensity of the program. Meadows also uses implements that is common to the powerlifting community harkening his time spent back at Westside Barbell.
“I use a lot of accommodating resistance such as bands and chains,” he said adding that the use of chains allows a trainee to load a bar to have maximum tension throughout the movement. Meadows said the reaction to the programs has been good.
“Well I have a waiting list at all times for my programs,” he said.
His approach to nutrition is unique also.
“I don’t believe you have to eat six to seven times and day. People have varying metabolisms, insulin sensitivity and appetites so you cant say you have the perfect way for everybody to eat.
Meadows also serves as a coach to everyone that is willing to work with him, but he has some heavy hitters under his instruction.
“Mark Dugdale started with me after his last show, Kyle Witherspoon will be a threat at the Nationals with 15 pounds of muscle added on him. Shelby Starnes (2011 NPC Jr. Nationals Light heavyweight champion) will be a force and Antoine Valliant is going to do well at the Canadian Nationals this year.
From being top national competitor, near deaths door, current reigning 2011 Ohio State mens overall champion and prep coach, John Meadows shows no signs of slowing down.
Meadows runs a website called www.moutaindogdiet.com and for a fee get to see how he’s prepping people, access to a Q and A session, advanced nutrition articles and interviews.