Mountain Dog Push Workouts | The Ultimate Guide!


John Meadows uses many different training splits with his Mountain Dog Training program. However, one of his favorite training splits is the classic push / pull / legs split.

He trains many of his top athletes including the Mr. Olympia competitor Terrance Ruffin with this exact training split.

If you want to learn how John organizes his “push” or chest / shoulder / tricep workouts then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Push / Pull / Legs Split
  • Part 2: Sample Push Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you how John Meadows organizes his Mountain Dog push workouts to build his massive chest, shoulders and triceps.

The push / pull / legs split is one of the oldest and most effective training splits. The idea is simple: you train your entire body over three separate workouts.

You have a “push” day where you train your chest / shoulders / triceps, a “pull” day where you train your back / biceps and a “legs” day where you train your quads / hamstrings / calves. Check it out:

The Push / Pull / Legs Split

  • Day 1: Chest / Shoulders / Triceps
  • Day 2: Back / Biceps
  • Day 3: Quads / Hamstrings / Calves

The push / pull / legs split is so effective because it reduces overlap between body parts. You work all of the pushing and pulling muscles together on the same day which makes it easier for your body to recover between workouts.

It also gives bodybuilders plenty of room to specialize on their upper body and perform many different exercises for each muscle group.

For his push workouts John likes to perform 2-4 chest exercises, 2-3 shoulder exercises and 2 triceps exercises. Here is an easy, beginner-friendly Mountain Dog push workout that you can try. Check it out:

Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: 10 degree decline DB press, 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Exercise #2: 60 degree incline DB press, 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Pec minor dip, 3 sets to failure
  • Exercise #4: Smith machine overhead press, 4 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Exercise #5: 30 degree incline DB “Y” raise, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Exercise #6: Dual rope cable pushdown, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #7: Dual rope overhead cable extension (high pulley), 3 sets to failure

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is a really simple chest / shoulders / triceps routine that you can try in almost any gym.

For this workout John follows his usual “push” workout formula. He performs 3 exercises for his chest, 2 exercises for his shoulders and 2 exercise for his triceps.

If he was training these muscle groups on their own training day he might use a little bit more volume for each muscle group. However, when he trains them all together in the same workout he likes to cut back a little on the number of exercises per muscle group so the workout doesn’t take too long.

John starts this workout with one of his favorite chest exercises: the slight decline dumbbell press.

John says that he really likes slight incline and decline dumbbell presses because they are very easy on his shoulders and really target the chest well.

“We’re starting with a decline dumbbell press. The key is it’s a slight decline. All we did is put a 25 pound plate underneath the bench.

I find this exercise is really easy on the shoulders and if you look at the research you get really good chest activation from this angle.”

For his shoulder workout John performs the smith machine overhead press and a special shoulder isolation exercise called the 30 degree incline DB “Y” raise.

This is one of John’s favorite shoulder exercises because it targets the front, side and rear delts all in one go.

“This is a raise I really like for shoulders. You raise your arms at an 11 / 1 or 10 / 2 angle.

You get a lot of delt fibers. You get some front delts, some side delts and maybe even some rear delts.

You cover a lot of ground from one exercise and I really feel like this exercise keeps the traps out of the movement.”

Finally for triceps he performs a couple of cable exercises using the rope attachment.

The last workout was great for beginner and intermediate level bodybuilders. For more advanced bodybuilders John likes to increase the training volume and use more high-intensity techniques like drop sets, partial reps and iso-holds.

Here is an advanced Mountain Dog push workout that you can try. Check it out:

Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline barbell press, 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 sets of 8-10 reps**
  • Exercise #3: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 3 sets to failure
  • Exercise #4: Ladder push ups, 3 sets to failure***
  • Exercise #5: 30 degree prone kettlebell front / lateral raise, 3 sets of 12-15 reps****
  • Exercise #6: Cable rear delt fly, 3 sets of 12-15 reps*****
  • Exercise #7: Cambered bar seal row, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Exercise #8: One-arm cable pushdown (grenade attachment), 3 sets of 6-8 reps*****
  • Exercise #9: Medicine ball machine pushdown, 2 sets of 8-10 reps******

**On your last set perform a double drop set followed by a 10-second iso-hold in the stretched position

***Perform 3 mechanical advantage drop sets to failure. Train to failure in the lowest position, then train to failure in the middle position, then train to failure in the top position. Perform 3 sets of these mechanical advantage drop sets.

****On your last set perform 15 reps, then 10 partials in the bottom half of the range of motion.

*****On your last set perform a massive drop set with 5-6 drops.

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

Here is the training video for this workout:

Talk about an intense workout! John uses some type of high-intensity set on the last set of almost every single exercise. He uses drop sets, mechanical advantage drop sets, partial reps and iso-holds all throughout the workout.

Most of the time John likes to start his push workouts with some type of joint-friendly pressing movement but today John starts with the incline bench press.

He says that he really likes to perform exercises like the incline bench press explosively to activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

“I personally like explosive movements for bodybuilding. Telling your nervous system to fire every muscle fiber you can.

Although I do believe in controlled tempos I like to train certain movements explosively.”

Here is another crazy high-volume / high-intensity push workout that you can try. Check it out:

Workout #3

  • Exercise A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise B1: 45 degree incline bench press, 4 sets of 5 reps***
  • Exercise C1: One-arm cable crossover, 2 sets of 20 reps, rest 10 seconds
  • Exercise C2: DB press static stretch, 2 sets x 30 seconds, rest 2 minutes
  • Exercise D1: Seated 80 degree incline smith press, 3 sets of 3 reps****
  • Exercise E1: 60 degree prone DB “Y” raise, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Exercise F1: Standing DB partial lateral raise, 3 sets of 20-30 reps, no rest
  • Exercise F2: Broomstick stretch w/ bands, 3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest
  • Exercise G1: One-arm Tate press, 2 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise H1: 45 degree incline DB extension (hands to chin level), 3 sets of 10-20 reps

**Perform 2 hard working sets of 8 reps with the same weight. On the second working set perform 8 reps, then drop the weight by 30-35% and train to failure again.

***Work up to a hard set of 5 reps. On your last set perform 5 hard reps, then drop the weight by 30-35% and rep the weight out just shy of failure.

****Work up to a heavy set of 3 reps. On the last set perform 3 reps, drop the weight by 30-40%, rep the weight out, drop the weight by 40-50%, rep the weight out, then perform a 10-second iso-hold in the top position with your elbows slightly bent.

Here is the training video:

John really turns up the heat in this push workout with 4 exercises for chest, 3 exercises for shoulders and 2 exercises for triceps.

For this workout John decided to mix things up. Normally he likes to use the 30 degree incline bench press as his primary “power” movement but today he used the 45 degree incline close grip bench press.

He says this exercise has some advantages over the traditional 30 degree incline bench press:

“We did our inclines but we used a medium grip and that is what allowed us to go all the way to our chest.

Normally with the incline bench press we stop a couple of inches off our chest. But we’re using a different grip today.

We’re using a 45 degree incline with a close grip and that lets us go all the way down to our chest.”

Throughout the workout John gives some great advice on how to manage your recovery ability while training for hypertrophy. For example:

“A lot of people think central nervous system fatigue is from heavy weight. It’s actually more from high reps.

So when you see guys doing really hard sets of 20 or 25 sets, it’s not a bad thing, but it actually creates more central nervous system fatigue than heavy sets of 3-5 sets. Most people have it backwards.”

I highly recommend you watch the training video from start to finish. There are only so many of John’s nuggets of wisdom that I can fit in one article!

Here is another advanced chest / shoulders / triceps workout that you can try. This one was designed for IFBB pro and Mr. Olympia finalist Josh Wade. Check it out:

Workout #4

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline DB press, 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline barbell press, 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #3: V-bar dips (forward leaning torso), 1 set of 30 reps**
  • Exercise #4: Machine fly, 3 sets of 8 reps****
  • Exercise #5: Reverse pec dec, 4 sets of 20 reps
  • Exercise #6: Seated kettlebell overhead press, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #7: Spongy grip cable pushdown, 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Exercise #8: Lying kettlebell extension, 4 sets of 12 reps

**Perform 10 reps, rest 20 seconds, perform 10 more reps, rest 20 seconds, perform 10 more reps for a total of 30 reps

****Perform 1 half-rep in the stretched position, then 1 full range of motion rep. That counts as 1 rep. Perform 8 of these “1.5” reps. On your last set perform 8 reps, then 10 partial reps in the stretched position, then a 10-second iso-hold in the mid-range position.

Here is the training video:

This is another normal looking chest / shoulders / triceps workout for John Meadows. Throughout the workout John uses some very interesting exercises for these different muscle groups.

For example John uses kettlebells for his overhead pressing exercise and for his lying triceps extensions. The kettlebells give the exercise a completely different feel because the center of gravity of the exercise is actually below your hand rather than above it.

Just because I’m a nice guy let’s take a look at one more of John Meadows’ Mountain Dog push workouts. This one was designed for a female competitor who wanted to really bring up her side and rear delts. Check it out:

Workout #5

  • Exercise A1: 30 degree incline DB press (semi-pronated grip), 4 sets of 8-10 reps**
  • Exercise B1: 30 degree incline bench press, 4 sets of 6 reps
  • Exercise C1: Standing DB lateral raise, 3 sets of 8-10 reps****
  • Exercise D1: Two-arm cable rear delt fly, 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise D2: Seated cable row (wide / overhand grip), 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Exercise E1: Rear delt hang and swing destroyer set, 1 set of 60 reps******
  • Exercise F1: 30 degree incline DB front raise, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise G1: Rope cable pushdown, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise H1: Machine pushdown, 3 set of 12 reps

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

****Perform 8-10 partial reps in the bottom position with a heavy weight, then drop the weight and perform 8-10 full range of motion reps

******Perform 60 partial reps in the bottom position, then cut the weight in half and perform 30 reps, then cut the weight in half again and perform 10 full range of motion reps

Here is the training video:

This is another brutal workout by John Meadows – especially for the shoulders! He performs 6 different exercises for his front, side and rear delts! That is an insane amount of volume but it is just what his client needed at the time.

Here is John describing his “rear delt destroyer” set that he had his client perform to finish off her rear delts. Check it out:

“We’re going to finish rear delts with the legendary destroyer set. It’s a 60 / 30 / 10.

So you swing 60 reps, you generally cut the weight in half and do 30, then you cut the weight in half again and do 10 reps with a full range of motion.

If you do this correctly then your rear delts will be on fire. It’s a crazy set to jam blood in your rear delts. We call this the hang and swing destroyer set.”

If your rear delts are lagging behind the rest of your body then give John Meadows’ rear delt destroyer set a shot. He says it is the single best thing you can do to bring up your lagging rear delts.

Conclusion

The push / pull / legs split is one of the most popular training splits in the world. Many world-class bodybuilders like John Meadows, Ronnie Coleman and Terrance Ruffin have used this training split to take their training to the next level.

If you are interested in the push / pull / legs split then I highly recommend you experiment with some of John’s chest / shoulder / tricep workouts from this article.

If you enjoyed this content then make sure you check out my article “Mountain Dog Training: The Ultimate Guide!

“If you want to turn a vision into reality, you have to give 100% and never stop believing in your dream.”

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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