The John Meadows Leg Workout | The Ultimate Guide!


John Meadows is an IFBB professional bodybuilder and one of the best bodybuilding coaches in the world. John believes one of the best ways to build massive legs is to use his Mountain Dog Training program.

If you want to learn how John Meadows designs his brutal leg workouts then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Leg Training Theory
  • Part 2: John Meadows Leg Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will show you how to build huge quads and hamstrings using John Meadows’ Mountain Dog leg workouts.

John Meadows says that his Mountain Dog Training program is all about building as much muscle mass as possible while staying healthy and avoiding injuries. John likes to train his quads and hamstrings together in the same workout.

Here is a basic template for his leg workouts:

The John Meadows Leg Training Template

  • Exercise #1: Hamstrings
  • Exercise #2: Quads
  • Exercise #3: Quads
  • Exercise #4: Quads
  • Exercise #5: Hamstrings

John likes to start his workout with leg curls and then perform 3-4 exercises for his quads. After his quad work he sometimes finishes his workout with one more exercise for his hamstrings.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain all of this in more detail. First let’s talk about how John trains his hamstrings. Check it out:

The John Meadows Hamstrings Training Rules

  • Rule #1: Start your workout with leg curls
  • Rule #5: Finish your workout with a compound hamstrings exercise

John almost always starts his leg workouts with leg curls. Here is John demonstrating a high-intensity set on the lying leg curl machine:

He says that performing leg curls first in your leg workout is a great way to bring up your hamstrings. It also makes your squats and leg presses feel better on your hips and knees.

At the end of the workout John sometimes performs a compound exercise for his hamstrings like Romanian deadlifts, glute-ham raises or the inverse leg curl machine.

Here is John demonstrating the glute ham raise:

John says these exercises place the hamstrings under a huge loaded stretch and should be performed at the end of your workout.

Now let’s talk about how John trains his quads. Check it out:

The John Meadows Squat Training Rules

  • Rule #1: Perform squats and leg presses early in your workout
  • Rule #2: Perform hack squats and lunges late in your workout
  • Rule #3: Leg extensions and split squats can go anywhere
  • Rule #4: Use bands and chains on your heavy quad exercises

John says that exercises like squats and leg presses should be performed first or second in your quad workout. These exercises are easy on your knees and let you use a lot of weight.

For example here is John demonstrating the safety squat bar squat:

John says that other exercises like hack squats and lunges are much tougher on your knees. He only performs these exercises 3rd or 4th in his quad routine after his quads are pre-fatigued and pumped full of blood.

John follows these first 2 rules in almost 100% of his workouts. Some exercises like leg extensions and split squats can go anywhere. John sometimes starts his leg workouts with leg extensions or Bulgarian split squats to pre-fatigue his quads.

For example here is John demonstrating a high-intensity set of Bulgarian split squats early in his leg workout:

Other workouts he performs split squats or leg extensions 3rd or 4th in his quad routine to finish off his quads. They can really go anywhere.

Finally John is a big fan of using bands and chains on his heavy quad exercises like squats, hack squats and leg presses. I will show you some of John’s favorite strategies for each exercise in the workouts below.

Here is a very simple example of how John likes to organize his leg workouts. Check it out:

Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Kneeling leg curl, 4 sets of 8-12 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Spider bar squat, 4 sets of 6 reps
  • Exercise #3: Machine hack squat, 4 sets of 6 reps**
  • Exercise #4: Walking kettlebell lunge, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Inverse leg curl machine, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

**Perform a double drop set on your last working set.

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is a perfect example of how John likes to train his legs.

He starts his workout with leg curls, then performs 3 compound quadricep exercises and finally finishes the workout with a compound exercise for his hamstrings. Let’s go through his workout step-by-step. John starts the workout with kneeling leg curls.

John likes to perform a few warm up sets and then go absolutely crazy on the last set. John usually trains to failure then performs drop sets, partial reps, iso-holds and other brutal high-intensity techniques.

For this workout John trains to failure and then performs a double drop set. John says that going crazy on his last set of leg curls is how he built up his hamstrings. Check it out:

“I feel like people don’t push the leg curls hard enough. They take them for granted. They do their 3 sets of 10 reps and then leave and say “hey, I don’t have any hamstrings!”

On that last set i like to dig down with drop sets, partial reps, iso-holds – that for me is when my hamstrings started to get that nice little hang.”

For quads John performs 3 basic exercises: squats, hack squats and walking lunges.

For the squats John uses the spider bar instead of a regular barbell. He usually uses the safety squat bar or the spider bar because they are easier on his lower back but the regular straight bar still works.

“These are called spider bar squats. It’s a combination of a cambered bar and a safety squat bar.

My doctor doesn’t want me putting a heavy regular bar on my back anymore.

This bar is tremendous. It’s a little more quad as well and I feel like I can stay more upright when I squat.”

After squatting John moves onto the hack squat machine.

John says the hack squat is his favorite overall exercise for his quads. He just likes to perform them a little later in the workout after he is warmed up.

“When you get a hack squat that feels good, that feels comfortable, man I feel like that is just the best exercise for quads.”

Finally John finishes his quad training with some walking lunges. This is another quad exercise that John likes to perform towards the end of his workout.

For his hamstrings John finishes the workout with the inverse leg curl machine. This is a machine that Louie Simmons invented. You can click right here to learn more about this incredible hamstrings machine.

Here is another one of John Meadows’ go-to leg workouts. Check it out:

Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise #2: 45 degree leg press, 4 sets of 8 reps****
  • Exercise #3: Machine hack squat, 4 sets of 8-10 reps******
  • Exercise #4: Smith machine front foot elevated split squat, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: DB stiff-legged deadlift, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

**On the last set perform a double drop set, then perform 10 partial reps in the stretched position, then perform a 10-second iso-hold in the stretched position with extra manual resistance from your training partner.

****On the last set perform a double drop set with a 10-second iso-hold at the end of the set

******Perform 1.25 reps. You go down all the way, come up a quarter of the way, go down all the way and come up all the way. This counts as 1 rep. Perform all of your reps this way.

Here is the training video:

Talk about a brutal leg workout! John follows his usual leg training template for this workout.

The big difference between this workout and the last one is he includes many different high-intensity techniques on the first three exercises like drop sets, partial reps and iso-holds. Actually this is one of John’s favorite ways to perform leg curls.

He performs a double drop set, then performs several partial reps in the bottom position and finally he performs a 10-second iso-hold with his knees slightly bent.

John says that performing a high-intensity set like this on your last set is a fantastic way to speed up your progress.

Here is John talking about what it feels like to push through a tough leg workout:

“There’s nothing like walking out of the gym knowing that you did that.

Knowing that I didn’t think I was capable of doing that, I didn’t think I was capable of doing that many plates for that many reps, dropping the weight and doing more.

For me it was awesome when Dave and I walked out of the gym and we said, I didn’t think I could do that.

That is such a good feeling! Doing something that I didn’t think I could do.”

So far we’ve looked at workouts where John performs the leg press or squat first in his quad routine. This is probably his favorite way to organize a leg workout but it is not the only way.

Sometimes he likes to pre-exhaust his quads with leg extensions or even split squats before performing his heavy quad exercises. This was a favorite strategy of the legendary bodybuilder Dorian Yates.

Here is one of John’s pre-exhaust leg routines that you can try. Check it out:

Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Machine leg extension, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Safety squat bar squat with chains, 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Exercise #4: Smith machine split squat, 4 sets of 8 reps

**On the last set perform a double drop set, then perform 10 partial reps in the stretched position, then perform a 10-second iso-hold in the stretched position

Here is the training video:

Talk about a brutal workout! This is one of John’s lower-volume leg workouts. The key to making this kind of routine work is to train with mind-blowing intensity.

For the first 2 exercises John performs several warm up sets and then performs 1 all-out working set to failure.

On both exercises John performs a double drop set, then performs several partial reps in the bottom position and then performs a 10-second iso-hold in the bottom position of the exercise.

I highly recommend you watch the training video to get a better idea of how hard John is training on these high-intensity sets.

“There’s an old samurai maximum: only when man stands on the brink of destruction can he truly realize what he is capable of.

You can handle a lot more than you think you’re capable of.”

Next John performs the safety squat bar squat with chains. John first learned about squatting with chains when he trained with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting team.

The chains make the exercise feel lighter in the bottom position of the exercise. They also force you to lift the weight explosively on the way up.

This fits John’s philosophy of making exercises safer and more effective for building muscle.

John also likes to use the Bulgarian split squat to pre-exhaust his legs before performing heavy squats. Here is a pre-exhaust workout that he performed with Evan Centopani. Check it out:

Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Bulgarian split squat, 3 sets of 10 reps***
  • Exercise #3: Spider bar squat (medium stance / heels flat), 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Exercise #4: Reverse band hack squat, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #5: Machine leg extension, 1 sets of 15-20 reps****
  • Exercise #6: Glute ham raise, 3 sets to failure

**On your last set only: perform a double drop set, followed by 20 partials in the bottom position, followed by an iso-hold in a power position. All of this is done back-to-back with no rest.

***On your last set only: perform a triple drop set with iso-holds after each attempt. Perform 10 reps, then a 10-second iso-hold, then drop the weight. Repeat this sequence 3 more times with no rest between attempts.

****Perform 1 set to failure.

Here is the video of John Meadows and Evan Centopani performing this workout:

Talk about a brutal workout! John performs his usual high-intensity leg curls and then moves right into the split squats.

Here is John describing the exercise:

“I’ve never been a big fan of Bulgarian squats from the perspective of balance. When you have a foot elevated and there’s a balance component to it.

Even if you hold both dumbbells I think there’s a balance issue. However, if you do it the way we did in the video it’s a phenomenal exercise.

We’re holding a dumbbell with one hand and the squat rack with the other.

So you take the balance part out of the exercise and you can really focus on getting your reps, executing with good form and generating intensity.”

After the split squats John moved onto spider bar squats and hack squats. John actually used something called “reverse bands” on the hack squats.

Reverse bands is where you attach bands to an exercise where they decrease the weight in the bottom position of the exercise. John says he likes to use reverse bands on hack squats because they take some of the pressure off your knees in the bottom position of the exercise.

Here is Evan Centopani describing this exercise:

“Oh man! What a difference it made. The weight was getting progressively lighter as you squat down.

It makes a big difference because you’re able to feel much greater tension in the upper quads and take the knees out of it.”

Now let’s look at some of John’s higher-volume leg workouts.

One of John’s favorite strategies to add size to his quadriceps is to superset two different quad exercises together. In other words he performs two quad exercises back-to-back with very little rest.

Here is one of John’s high-volume Mountain Dog leg workouts that you can try. Check it out:

Workout #5

  • Exercise A1: Kneeling leg curl, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise B1: 45 degree leg press, 4 sets of 8 reps****
  • Exercise C1: Machine hack squat, 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise D1: Machine sissy squat, 4 sets to failure, no rest
  • Exercise D2: Machine leg extension, 4 sets to failure, 2 minutes rest
  • Exercise E1: Stiff legged deadlift, 4 sets of 8-12 reps

**On your last set train to failure, then perform a 10-second eccentric-only rep with extra manual resistance from your training partner.

****On your last set perform 8 reps just shy of failure, then perform a mega drop set. You perform 8 reps, then your training partner performs 8 reps, then you take a 45 pound plate off each side and go again. Repeat until you perform an attempt with only 3 plates on each side.

Here is the training video:

This is a very normal looking leg workout for John Meadows. He starts the workout with leg curls, leg presses and hack squats. So far, so good. The real surprise comes at the very end of the workout: John supersets sissy squats and leg extensions.

John is using this superset to get the biggest, nastiest pump in his quads that he possibly can. Here is another leg workout where John used a similar superset strategy. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Leg Workout #6

  • Exercise A1: Lying leg curl, 4 sets of 6-8 reps**, 2 minutes rest
  • Exercise B1: Safety squat bar squat, 4 sets of 6-8 reps, 2 minutes rest
  • Exercise C1: Vertical leg press, 3 sets of 12-15 reps, no rest
  • Exercise C2: Sissy squat machine (holding weight at chest), 3 sets of 12-15 reps, 1 minute rest
  • Exercise D1: Smith machine split squat, 3 x 12-15 reps, 1 minute rest

**Perform a double drop set, then perform 10 partial reps in the stretched position, then perform a 10-second iso-hold

Here is the training video for this workout:

For this workout John decided to superset vertical leg presses and the sissy squat machine.

He performs 12-15 reps on the vertical leg press, then immediately goes over to the sissy squat machine and performs another 12-15 reps to failure. This is a very nasty combination – you need to have a high pain tolerance to train this way.

During the workout John gives some great insights into his leg workouts. Here is John describing how he likes to use the leg curl machine:

“What I like to do is work up to a top set and on the top set I like to throw in high-intensity sets. Maybe a forced rep or a drop set or a cluster set or partials. I like to go crazy on the last set!

The other nice thing about getting a pump in your hamstrings is your squats and leg presses just feel better. It feels better on your hips and your knees. If you try this you’ll see what I mean.”

And now for something completely different! Here is a Mountain Dog style leg workout that Jujimufu performed with John Meadows’ old training partner, Dave Tate.

This workout features 11 different exercises and is probably the most difficult Mountain Dog leg workout that anyone has ever completed. Check it out:

Bonus: Jujimufu’s Mountain Dog Leg Workout! 7

  • Exercise #1: Seated leg curl, 4 sets of 6-12 reps*
  • Exercise #2: 45 degree leg press with bands, 4 sets of 8-20 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Safety squat bar squat with chains, 4 sets of 5-10 reps***
  • Exercise #4: Machine hack squat with reverse bands, 4 sets of 8-20 reps****
  • Exercise #5: Machine leg extension, 4 sets of 8-20 reps*****
  • Exercise #6: Stationary lunge with chains, 3 sets of 6 reps******
  • Exercise #7: Machine sissy squat, 3 sets of 21 reps*******
  • Exercise #8: Kneeling leg curl, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #9: Lying leg curl, 3 sets of 8-15 reps********
  • Exercise #10: Dumbbell stiff legged deadlift, 3 sets of 8-15 reps*********
  • Exercise #11: Glute ham raise, 3 sets to failure

*On the last set train to failure, then perform several forced reps with 1-3 seconds of manual overpressure in the stretched position on each rep, then perform over 9,000 partial reps in the stretched position to further fatigue the hamstrings.

**On your last set perform a cluster set. Perform 5 reps, pause for 10 seconds near lockout, perform 5 more reps, pause for 5 seconds near lockout perform 5 more reps, done! Have your training partners perform forced reps as needed to complete all 15 reps.

***On your last set perform a triple drop set. Train to failure with 3 sets of chains, then train to failure with 2 sets of chains, then train to failure with 1 set of chains, then train to failure with straight weight. Rest 0 seconds in between attempts.

****On your last set train to failure, then perform a 10-second iso-hold near the top position while your training partners add extra manual resistance to the machine.

*****On your last set use the tempo contrast method. Perform 2 regular reps, then 1 rep with an ultra-slow tempo on the way up and on the way down.

******On all 3 sets perform 6 reps, then perform a 6-second iso-hold near the bottom position, then drop a chain and repeat, then drop a chain and repeat, then drop a chain and repeat, done!

*******On your last working set perform 7 full range of motion reps, then perform 7 partial reps in the bottom position, then perform 7 partial reps in the top position

********On your last working set perform 8 reps to failure, then raise the chest piece 3 inches and perform another 8 reps (with forced reps as needed to reach 8), then raise the chest piece 3 inches and perform 10 partial reps in the bottom position, then perform 1 eccentric-only rep with the help of a spotter.

*********On your last working set perform a double drop set.

This is a long video so here are the timestamps for Jukimufu’s top sets on each lift: exercise #1, exercise #2, exercise #3, exercise #4, exercise #5, exercise #6, exercise #7, exercise #8, exercise #9, exercise #10, exercise #11.

Here is the training video for this workout:

Jujimufu performs a high-intensity technique on almost every single exercise! This workout is for entertainment purposes only.

If you actually try this workout then make sure you know where the closest hospital is!

Conclusion

John Meadows is one of the world’s best bodybuilding coaches and it’s easy to see why. He designs his workouts so that you can build muscle mass very quickly while staying healthy and avoiding injuries.

John says the key to building your legs or any other muscle group is to sequence your exercises correctly and to find safe ways to increase the intensity of your workouts.

If you are looking for a new way to train your quads and hamstrings then you have to give John Meadows’ leg workouts a shot. If you enjoyed this content then make sure you check out the following articles:

These articles may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.

“I looked up to the guys who could really take their training to another level. They would not leave the gym until they won. And that’s the mentality I’ve always had – I would not leave the gym until I put everything I had into it.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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