John Meadows is one of the most successful bodybuilding coaches in the world. He has trained many professional bodybuilders including the Mr. Olympia finalist Terrance Ruffin.
John believes the fastest way to build huge biceps is with his Mountain Dog Training program. If you want to build a pair of biceps that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger jealous then this article is for you!
- Part 1: Biceps Training Theory
- Part 2: Sample Training Routines
In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about how to build massive biceps using the Mountain Dog Training program.
The Mountain Dog Training program is all about building as much muscle as possible while staying healthy and avoiding injuries.
John says building muscle is about more than just throwing around heavy weight in the gym. The way you train has a huge impact on your results.
John says the key to building muscle while avoiding injuries is to pick the right exercises, to perform them in the right order and to safely use high-intensity techniques to increase the intensity of your workouts.
Here is John giving a great overview of his Mountain Dog Training program:
“When I think about my training program, it’s looking at how we can safely grow the most amount of muscle possible.”
In this guide I’m going to teach you the training principles that John Meadows uses to design his own Mountain Dog bicep workouts.
I will teach you John’s favorite bicep exercises and how he uses them to build his bicep workouts.
At the end of this article we’re going to look at 6 Mountain Dog arm workouts to see exactly how John applies his favorite bicep training principles. We are going to look at full bicep and tricep routines because John often trains them together using techniques like antagonistic supersets.
Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this cutting edge information! Now let’s get down to business…
Part 1: Biceps Training Theory
John Meadows knows a thing or two about building big arms. His biceps were his best body part on the bodybuilding stage and his arms measured over 21 inches at his peak.
John says his biceps really started to grow when he lightened the weight and started focusing on curling with perfect form.
He likes to squeeze the barbell, dumbbell, machine or cable as hard as he can during the entire range of motion.
This reduces the amount of weight he can lift but John doesn’t care – he is only interested in building muscle, not lifting with his ego. Check it out:
“When I used to do the real heavy curls, sure my biceps looked like they were moving a lot of weight, but I pretty much had tendonitis all the time and my arms wouldn’t grow.
Then when I lightened the weight up, POW! My arms started to grow.
The biceps are a unique muscle. You have to be very cautious with going really heavy.”
Just take a look at John performing 90 degree barbell preacher curls:
John doesn’t care how much weight is on the bar – he is 100% focused on making his biceps work as hard as possible.
John usually performs 3 biceps exercises per workout. He says if you need to perform more than 3 exercises for your biceps then you probably aren’t training hard enough.
John says that the biceps are a smaller body part and can handle more sets to failure and more high-intensity techniques like drop sets, partial reps and iso-holds. John likes to perform 3-4 sets per exercise and he usually takes all of these sets to failure. Check it out:
“I’m generally going to pick 3 exercises and perform 3 sets on each exercise to failure.
To really exhaust the muscle we’re probably going to use some high-intensity sets as well.”
When John designs his Mountain Dog bicep workouts he likes to sequence his exercises a certain way. He does this to keep his joints healthy and to make sure he is stimulating as much muscle growth as possible.
For biceps John likes to pick exercises that overload all three parts of the strength curve: the stretched position, the shortened position and the mid-range position. In other words John likes to pick exercises that work the biceps the hardest in the bottom, middle and top of the exercise.
Here is how John likes to sequence his biceps exercises:
Proper Exercise Sequence For Biceps
- Exercise #1: Middle of the strength curve
- Exercise #2: Top of the strength curve
- Exercise #3: Bottom of the strength curve
Here is John describing his approach:
“You start with a mid-range exercise – regular dumbbell curl, hammer curl or barbell curls.
Then you go to something that works the contraction hard at the top so you pump a lot of blood in there.
Once your arms are full of blood, then you train them with a stretch exercise.”
John says that this approach is so effective because you save exercises like preacher curls that really stretch out the biceps for the end of your workouts when your biceps are already pumped full of blood.
John says that performing preacher curls or incline dumbbell curls first in your workout is a great way to injure your elbows. He believes these “stretch” exercises should be done towards the end of your workouts.
Now let’s take a closer look at each of these exercises.
Exercise #1: Middle Of The Strength Curve
John Meadows likes to start his bicep workouts with an exercise that works the middle of the strength curve. In other words he likes to start with exercises that are hardest right in the middle of the range of motion.
Here are some of Johns’ favorite choices:
The Best Mid-Range Biceps Exercises
- Option #1: Barbell curls (supinated grip)
- Option #2: Drag curls
- Option #3: Ez-bar curls (supinated grip)
- Option #4: Ez-bar curls (pronated grip)
- Option #5: Dumbbell curls (supinated grip)
- Option #6: Dumbbell curls (hammer grip)
- Option #7: Pinwheel curls
- Option #8: Cable curls (supinated grip)
- Option #9: Cable curls (reverse grip)
Many of these exercises involve a hammer grip or a reverse grip. John uses these hammer grip and reverse grip exercises to target the brachialis muscle.
The brachialis is located in between your biceps and your triceps. It is a powerful elbow flexor and it makes a huge difference in how your upper arms look when its fully developed.
Here is John talking about the importance of training the brachialis:
“I think every bicep workout should include some brachialis work. It is a big mistake not training the brachialis so make sure you train this muscle.”
One of John’s favorite exercises for targeting the mid-range of the strength curve is the regular barbell curl. Check it out:
John says this is a fantastic biceps exercise. The key is to perform it with perfect form.
John likes to squeeze the barbell as hard as he can through the entire range of motion. He also likes to flex his biceps as he is raising the bar and especially at the top of the movement.
Squeezing and flexing your biceps will limit the amount of weight you can lift but it will help you to recruit more muscle fibers in your biceps. Give this technique a try – I think you will be shocked at how sore your biceps get the next day.
Another one of John’s favorite mid-range biceps exercises is the pinwheel curl. Check it out:
This exercise is very similar to a regular dumbbell hammer curl. The difference is you are going to curl the weight across your body instead of straight out in front of you.
The pinwheel curl is a great exercise for training the brachialis and the brachioradialis. Just make sure you are squeezing the dumbbell as hard as possible like John Meadows during your sets.
John says your biceps should be activated and pumped full of blood after your first exercise.
Now it’s time to move onto an exercise that overloads the shortened position of the strength curve.
Exercise #2: Top Of The Strength Curve
John Meadows really likes to use biceps exercises that overload the top or shortened position of the strength curve. In other words he likes exercises where your biceps have to work the hardest when they are fully contracted.
These types of exercises are great for driving blood to your biceps and for increasing your mind-muscle connection with the biceps.
Here are some of John’s favorite exercises for this purpose:
The Best Top-Range Biceps Exercises
- Option #1: Barbell curl with chains
- Option #2: Barbell curl with bands
- Option #1: 90 degree barbell preacher curls
- Option #2: 90 degree ez-bar preacher curls
- Option #5: Dumbbell spider curls
- Option #6: One-arm cable curls
John uses a lot of novel exercises in his Mountain Dog Training programs. Don’t worry – if you aren’t familiar with one of these exercises then you can click on the links above for a video of John performing the exercise.
One of John Meadows’ favorite exercises for overloading the top end of the strength curve is the barbell curl with chains. Check it out:
Barbell Curl With Chains
If you read my article “Mountain Dog Training: The Ultimate Guide!” then you probably already know that John Meadows loves to use chains in his workouts.
John is using the chains to make the barbell curl harder in the top part of the exercise. In other words he is using them to overload his biceps in the shortened position of the strength curve!
Don’t worry, if you do not have access to chains then there are plenty of other exercises you can use for your 2nd bicep movement.
Another one of John’s favorite bicep exercises is the 90 degree barbell preacher curl. Check it out:
90 Degree Barbell Preacher Curl
John says that he learned this exercise from John Parillo in the 1990s. The key is to use a vertical preacher bench so your upper arms are pointing straight down to the ground.
There is very little tension in the bottom position of this exercise. However, by the time your forearms are parallel to the ground the tension is out of this world!
Another great choice for overloading your biceps in the shortened position is the dumbbell spider curl. Check it out:
Dumbbell Spider Curl
This exercise is performed using an adjustable incline bench. You just lay face-down on the bench and curl while keeping your elbows pointed down towards the ground.
This exercise is also very difficult near the top when your biceps are fully contracted. Another benefit of this exercise is it is very hard to cheat and use momentum.
Exercise #3: Bottom Of The Strength Curve
John Meadows loves to use exercises that stretch the biceps in his Mountain Dog bicep workouts. However, he believes these exercises should only be performed towards the middle or the end of your workout after your biceps have been pre-fatigued.
John just really likes to stretch out a muscle after it has been pumped full of blood. Here are some of John’s favorite “finisher” biceps exercises:
The Best Bottom-Range Biceps Exercises
- Option #1: Ez-bar preacher curls
- Option #2: Dumbbell preacher curls
- Option #3: Zottman preacher curls
- Option #4: Machine preacher curls
- Option #5: Incline dumbbell curls
- Option #6: Incline cable curls
As you can see John is a BIG fan of preacher curls. In fact John said that if he could pick just 1 exercise for overall biceps development it would be the preacher curl.
There are many different ways to perform the preacher curl. Here is the machine version of the exercise:
Machine Preacher Curls
The preacher curl places a tremendous amount of tension on the biceps in the bottom position of the exercise when your forearms are parallel to the ground. It also places a huge stretch on the biceps.
John says that research and “in-the-trenches” experience have shown that putting the muscle under a deep, loaded stretch is a fantastic way to stimulate muscle growth.
John also likes to use different types of incline curls in his workouts. Here is John demonstrating the incline cable curl:
Incline Cable Curl
Incline curls are probably the best exercise you can use to train the long head of your biceps. The key is to keep your elbows *behind* your body as you curl the weight (or cable).
The long head of your biceps is recruited more whenever you curl with your elbows behind your torso. Incline curls are also great for putting the biceps under a deep, loaded stretch.
In fact the biceps are stretched the most when your elbows are held behind your body.
Part 2: Sample Training Routines
If you made it this far then you should know that John likes to use about 3 different biceps exercises per workout and he likes to use exercises that target the mid-range position, shortened position and stretched position of the strength curve.
Now let’s put it all together by looking at some sample Mountain Dog Training bicep workouts.
John likes to train biceps and triceps together on the same day. He has three main strategies for organizing his arm workouts:
The Three Types Of Mountain Dog Arm Workouts
- Option #1: All biceps, then all triceps
- Option #2: Alternating exercises
- Option #3: Antagonistic supersets
The first option is to perform all of your biceps exercises in a row, then all of your triceps exercises. This is a very straightforward option.
The second option is to alternate between biceps and triceps exercises. So you would perform your first biceps exercise, then your first triceps exercise, then your second biceps exercise and so on.
This option gives your biceps and triceps more rest between exercises so you can lift slightly heavier weights. The downside is your short-term fatigue in each muscle is reduced.
The last option is to use antagonistic supersets. This is where you alternate back and forth between sets for biceps and triceps.
Let’s start by looking at a high-volume biceps workout where John performs all of his biceps exercises in a row. Check it out:
Mountain Dog Biceps Routine #1
- Exercise #1: Barbell curl with bands (supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Exercise #2: Dumbbell pinwheel curls, 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Exercise #3: Standing DB curls (hammer grip), 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Exercise #4: 45 degree incline DB curls (supinating grip), 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Exercise #5: 90 degree preacher ez-bar curls (wide / supinated grip), 2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Exercise #6: Standing ez-bar curl (reverse grip), 2 sets of 8-12 reps
Here is the training video:
For this workout John performs 6 exercises in a row for a total of 12 sets. John normally uses 3-4 biceps exercises per workout but he decided to mix things up here.
As usual John starts the workout with different exercises that overload the mid-range position of the strength curve like barbell curls, pinwheel curls and hammer curls. After that he moves onto some of his other favorite exercises like incline curls and 90 degree preacher curls.
Here is another simple biceps routine that you can try. Check it out:
Mountain Dog Biceps Routine #2
- Exercise #1: Elbows supported DB curl (hammer grip), 4 sets of 10 reps
- Exercise #2: One-arm T-bar curl (reverse grip), 4 sets of 6-10 reps
- Exercise #3: Preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 3 sets of 8-10 reps
- Exercise #4: Ez-bar drag curl (wide / supinated grip, 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Here is the training video:
John starts this workout with his favorite brachialis exercise: the elbows supported dumbbell hammer curl. This exercise is performed where you lean back on the pads of a lat pulldown station.
John likes this exercise because the lat pulldown station fixes your elbows in place. All you have to worry about is curling the weight up while flexing your biceps as hard as possible.
As usual John finishes his workout with exercises that target the short and long heads of the biceps like the preacher curl and the drag curl.
Now let’s look at a slightly more complicated Mountain Dog arm workout. Check it out:
Mountain Dog Arm Routine #3
- Exercise #1: Standing barbell curl, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Exercise #2: Dual rope pushdown, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Exercise #3: Preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Exercise #4: Lying dead stop DB extensions, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Exercise #5: Seated DB curls (hammer grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Exercise #6: Cable pushdowns (medium / pronated grip), 3 sets of 10-12 reps**
**Train to failure, then immediately perform an overhead cable extension to failure using the same weight and cable setup.
Here is the training video:
This is one of those workouts where John alternates back and forth between biceps exercises and triceps exercises.
This strategy is great because it lets you lift more weight on your 2nd and 3rd exercises. It also gives you an incredible pump in your upper arms. As usual John performs 3 working sets to failure per exercise.
OK, now we’re getting to the good stuff. Let’s look at a high-intensity biceps workout where John uses antagonistic supersets. Check it out:
Mountain Dog Biceps Routine #4
- Exercise A1: Machine dips, 3 sets of 8-12 reps**, no rest
- Exercise A2: Standing DB curls (hammer grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 1-2 minutes rest
- Exercise B1: One-arm cross-body lying DB extension, 3 sets of 8-12 reps****, no rest
- Exercise B2: 30 degree spider DB curl (supinated grip), 1-2 minutes rest
- Exercise C1: Spongy grip pushdown, 3 sets of 8-12 reps, no rest
- Exercise C2: Standing alternating DB curl (supinating grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps******, 1-2 minutes rest
- Exercise D1: Standing ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 4 sets of 10 reps, 20 seconds rest
**On the last set perform a double drop set followed by 10 partial reps in the stretched position
****Train to failure, then perform regular one-arm DB extensions to failure
******On your last eccentric rep perform a 10-second iso-hold in the mid-range position with extra manual resistance from your training partner
Here is the training video:
This workout features 3 supersets and then a 4th biceps exercise. For each superset John performs 1 set for his triceps, then immediately performs 1 set for his biceps and then rests for 1 minute.
Alternating back and forth between exercises for biceps and triceps has many advantages: it helps you recruit more muscle fibers in both muscle groups, it improves your muscular endurance and it gives you an incredible pump in the arms.
John also performs plenty of high-intensity techniques in this workout like drop sets, partial reps, mechanical advantage drop sets and iso-holds. I highly recommend you watch the training video before attempting this workout.
Here is another Mountain Dog arm workout where John uses antagonistic supersets to blow up his arms. Check it out:
Mountain Dog Biceps Routine #5
- Exercise A1: Standing DB curl (hammer grip), 6 sets of 8-12 reps, no rest
- Exercise A2: Cable pushdown (pronated grip), 6 sets of 8-12 reps, no rest
- Exercise A3: 90 degree preacher curl (wide / supinated grip), 6 sets of 8-12 reps, no rest
- Exercise A4: Dual rope cable pushdown, 6 sets of 8-12 reps, 2 minutes rest
- Exercise B1: Standing barbell curl, 3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest
- Exercise C1: Football bar bench press (medium grip), 3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest
Here is the training video:
In this workout John uses something called “antagonistic giant sets.”
The basic idea is to perform 4 arm exercises in a row with no rest between sets. You perform 1 set for biceps, 1 set for triceps, 1 set for biceps, 1 set for triceps and then rest for 1-2 minutes.
All of these sets are performed on different exercises. Antagonistic giant sets are kind of like antagonistic supersets on steroids.
They give you an unbelievable pump in your arms but you can still use a good amount of weight on all of the exercises.
If you are looking for a Mountain Dog arm workout that will blow up your arms then you have to give this one a try.
Mountain Dog Training is one of the most effective bodybuilding training programs ever invented. It works especially well for helping you build muscle while staying healthy and avoiding injuries.
If you are looking for a great bicep training program then I highly recommend John’s Mountain Dog back workouts.
John does a great job of using novel exercises like barbell curls with chains, spider curls and different types of preacher curls to stimulate growth. He also does a great job of sequencing the exercises properly to keep your joints healthy.
If you have lagging biceps then John’s Mountain Dog bicep workouts may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.
If you enjoyed this content then make sure you check out my article “Mountain Dog Training: The Ultimate Guide!”
“Only when standing at the brink of destruction does man truly realize his potential.”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!
What’s going on! This is my own personal training log. Follow along as I train to become The World’s Strongest Natty Bodybuilder! Also, check out my NEW online coaching program: DC...
What’s going on! This is my own personal training log. Follow along as I train to become The World’s Strongest Natty Bodybuilder! Also, check out my NEW e-books: The Dr. Mike Training...