Mountain Dog Training | Push Pull Legs!


Are you curious how John Meadows organizes his push / pull / legs program? Do you want to know how John trains his chest / shoulders / triceps on his push day, his back / biceps on his pull day, or his quads / hamstrings / calves on his leg day?

Then you’ve come to the right place. In this comprehensive guide I will show you exactly how John organizes his push / pull / legs workouts to build muscle mass and strength. 

Introduction

  • The Mountain Dog Training Push Workouts
  • The Mountain Dog Training Pull Workouts
  • The Mountain Dog Training Leg Workouts

John Meadows is an IFBB professional bodybuilder and one of the most sought-after bodybuilding coaches in the world. John trains his clients using many different training splits. However, the classic push / pull / legs split is one of his absolute favorites.

John likes to use the 4-day and 6-day versions of the push / pull / legs splits with his clients. Here is what the 6-day version looks like:

John Meadows’ 6-Day Push / Pull / Legs Split

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Off

John Meadows says that this 6-day training split is great because you can train each muscle group twice per week.

John likes the classic push / pull / legs split because it simplifies your training and it reduces overlap between different muscle groups. For example, you never have to worry about your triceps being sore on your chest day, or your biceps being sore on your back day, because all of the “pushing” and “pulling” muscles are trained on the same day.

I hope you found this overview helpful. Now let’s take a closer look at how John organizes his brutal Mountain Dog workouts…

The Mountain Dog Training Push Workouts

John Meadows says that his Mountain Dog Training program is all about building as much muscle mass as possible, while staying safe and avoiding injuries. So how does John pull this off? How does he build maximum muscle mass while avoiding career-ending injuries?

John says the key is to sequence your exercises correctly. Here is a simple chest / shoulder / triceps workout that demonstrates exactly how John likes to sequence his bodybuilding exercises. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Push Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: 30 degree incline DB press, 4 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #2: 30 degree incline barbell press, 4 sets of 6 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:

Talk about a high-volume push workout! John starts this workout with four different exercises for his chest.

John says that the incline bench press is his absolute favorite chest exercise. He says that this exercise has done more for his overall chest development than any other movement. However, John almost never performs it first in his workout.

Instead John likes to start his workouts with a joint-friendly exercise like a machine or dumbbell press. John says this strategy lets you train heavy and explosively on your incline bench press without worrying about tweaking your pecs or putting pressure on your pec tendon near your shoulder.

John almost always works up to a heavy set of 6 reps on this exercise.

“Working our way up – explosive sets of 6 reps.”

Finally John finishes his chest routine with two exercises that put the chest under a deep stretch: weighted dips and machine flies.

John says that exercises that put your muscles under a deep stretch are great. However, you want to perform them towards the end of your routine after your chest is pumped full of blood.

John follows a very similar strategy for his shoulder and triceps exercises. He pre-fatigues his shoulders and triceps with joint-friendly exercises like the reverse pec dec and spongy grip pushdowns, and then moves onto more demanding exercises like overhead presses and lying triceps extensions.

Here is another one of John Meadows’ advanced push workouts that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Push Workout #2

  • 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:

In this workout John follows his usual exercise sequencing rules for his chest movements. However, he actually deviates from them for his shoulder and triceps exercises.

For his chest John starts with the incline dumbbell press, then performs his incline bench press and finally finishes things off with two exercises that really stretch out the chest.

Here is John describing his form on the incline bench press:

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

Normally if you watch us incline, we’ll stop a couple of inches close. But that was with a different grip and a different path with the bar.

We brought our grip in, and we tucked our elbows a little more, and that is what allows you to go with a full range of motion. And it protects your pec tendon from getting injured.”

Here is one more advanced chest / shoulder / tricep routine that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Push Workout #3

  • 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 a high volume push workout! John performed this routine with Mr. Olympia competitor Terrance Ruffin.

John performs 4 exercises for his chest, 3 for his shoulders and 2 for his triceps for a total of 9 exercises.

John actually started his chest routine with the incline bench press, rather than a joint-friendly exercise like a dumbbell press or a machine press. John made this decision because he was training with the EliteFTS shoulder saver bar.

This bar has a large padded surface which limits your range of motion on the bench press. Check it out:

“You may wonder why I’m doing the incline bench press first. It’s because I feel extremely safe with the shoulder saver bar. I don’t feel stressed – this bar keeps me feeling really safe. I make an exception for this bar right here.”

After performing his heavy pressing movements John performed two chest exercises which really stretched out his chest: weighted dips and ladder push ups.

As usual John performed these stretching exercises at the end of his chest routine when his chest was pumped full of blood.

“We finished chest up with some dips. You noticed I like to have my feet up in front and my elbows out to the side to put pressure on that lower pec. Then we went to some ladder push ups.

In extreme range of motion which you know I like, once the muscle is pumped and warmed up. Once the muscle is pumped and warmed up – then we use the extreme range of motion.”

For shoulders and triceps, John focused on joint-friendly isolation exercises, rather than any heavy compound pressing exercises. Here is John describing his form on the rear delt cable fly: 

“When you get fatigued, instead of getting real ugly with your form, just move to a partial range of motion. Just make sure you’re flexing your rear delts when you drive your arm back.”

There you have it – three advanced Mountain Dog chest / shoulder / tricep workouts that you can use to take your training to the next level.

If you want to learn more about how John trains his chest, shoulders and triceps then make sure you check out the following articles:

Trust me, you won’t find this cutting-edge information anywhere else!

The Mountain Dog Training Pull Workouts

John Meadows says that sequencing your exercises correctly is just as important for your “pull” workouts as it is for your “push” workouts.

For example, here are some of the rules that John almost always follows in his Mountain Dog back routines:

  • Perform rows and pulldowns at the start of your back workouts
  • Perform pullovers in between rowing and pulldown exercises
  • Perform rack deadlifts towards the middle or end of your back routine
  • Perform high-intensity stretching techniques at the end of your back routine

John also has some rules when it comes to training the biceps. However, they aren’t as important, as your biceps will already be warmed up from all of the pulling exercises that you perform.

Here is a medium volume Mountain Dog pull workout that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Pull Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Machine chest supported row, 3 sets of 10 reps 
  • Exercise #2: One-arm barbell row, 3 sets of 8-12 reps**
  • Exercise #3: Band assisted pull up, 3 sets to failure****
  • Exercise #4: Reverse pec dec, 3 sets of 30 reps
  • Exercise #5: Seated DB curl (hammer grip), 3 sets of 10 reps******
  • Exercise #6: Machine preacher curls, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

**On the last set train to failure, drop the weight and train to failure again. 

****On the last set train to failure, then pull yourself halfway up and perform a 10-second iso-hold

******Perform 10 reps to failure, then perform 5 partial reps out of the bottom position

Here is the training video:

This Mountain Dog pull workout is about as simple as it gets. John performs 6 total exercises: 3 for his back, 1 for his rear delts and 2 for his biceps.

John also uses plenty of high-intensity techniques throughout the workout – just look at the ** symbols below the routine for more information.

For the upper back exercises, John says that he was very careful not to perform too many movements that stress the lower back. This is because he was using his 6-day push / pull / legs split and he had to perform some heavy squats the next day.

“We’re only really doing one movement today where we’re bent over and stressing our lower back.

The reason why is in the program, tomorrow is a max squat day, so you gotta be smart, don’t tear your lower back up. Three sets here bent over is all the stress we’re putting on our lower back.”

After his back work John performed 1 exercise for his rear delts. John sometimes does this on his back / bicep workouts, as the rear delts are heavily involved in all of your pulling exercises.

John wants you to use high reps for this exercise. This is actually one of his secret tricks for making the rear delts blow up in size.

“It’s a lot of reps, but I’m telling you, the high reps on rear delts makes them grow. Just suck it up and do 3 sets of 30 reps here.”

Finally John finishes this pull workout with two exercises for the biceps.

John normally like to perform stretch exercises towards the end of his biceps routines. However, he was OK jumping right into them in this routine as his biceps were already warmed up from his upper back movements.

“This is a seated hammer curl and you’re tilted back so you get more stretch in the bottom.

Normally I say not to do a stretch exercise first, particularly on biceps because of the fear of injury. But we’ve done plenty of rows, so your biceps are warmed up, you don’t have to worry about that.”

Here is a slightly more complicated John Meadows pull workout that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Pull Workout #2

  • Exercise #1: One-arm barbell row, 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise #2: Lying DB pullover, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Exercise #3: Rack pull (just below knees), 5 sets of 5 reps
  • Exercise #4: Pull ups (wide / overhand grip)**, 4 sets to failure
  • Exercise #5: Hanging lat stretch, 1 sets x 60 seconds
  • Exercise #6: Standing barbell curl, 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise #7: One-arm DB preacher curl (supinated grip), 4 sets to failure

**Perform 4 sets to failure. John wants you to fail somewhere around the 8-10 rep mark.

Here is the training video for this workout

John Meadows follows his exercise sequencing rules to a “T” in this routine. John starts this workout with one of his all-time favorite upper back exercises: the one-arm barbell row.

“I started doing these before nationals in 2002. So that was 16 years ago. And immediately my back got better doing these. This has always been a favorite of mine – one-arm barbell rows.”

After that John performs lying dumbbell pullovers and a special version of rack deadlifts where he pulls the bar against the power rack during the entire range of motion.

John says that he likes to include pullovers and rack deadlifts in the middle of his back routines to give his arms a break.

Finally John finishes the back routine with exercises like pull ups and weighted hangs to really stretch out his lats.

“I used to do those weighted hangs at John Parillos in the early 90s. I’m not real strong on them. You should probably do 2, 3 or 4 plates, and try to hang for 60 seconds. And make sure to use your straps.”

After the weighted hangs John performs two exercises for his biceps: standing barbell curls and dumbbell preacher curls.

Here is one more John Meadows back / bicep routine that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Pull Workout #3

  • Exercise #1: Chest supported row, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise #2: One arm supinating lat pulldown, 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise #3: Rack pulls, 3 sets of 4 reps****
  • Exercise #4: Band assisted pull up, 3 sets of 10 reps******
  • Exercise #5: Lying DB pullover, 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Exercise #6: 45 degree barbell back extension (snatch grip), 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Exercise #7: Preacher DB curl (supinated grip), 3 sets of 20-30 reps
  • Exercise #8: 75 degree incline DB curl (hammer grip), 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Exercise #9: Bent-over rear delt DB fly, 3 sets of 15-20 reps

**On your last set train to failure, then do a single drop set, then perform a static stretch in the bottom position with manual overpressure from your training partner.

****On every rep flex your lower lats as hard as possible. On your last set perform a quadruple drop set with 4 reps on each attempt.

******On your last set perform 10 reps, then use a wide grip and perform 10 partial reps, then perform a 10-second isometric hold in the mid-range position of the exercise

Here is the training video:

Talk about a high-volume back / biceps workout! John says that he was really happy with the exercise sequencing that he used in this workout – especially for his upper back exercises.

John wanted to do some heavy rack pulls in this routine. However, he wanted to perform them to target his lats – especially his lower lats.

John performed some one-arm supinating lat pulldowns second in his routine to really activate his lower lats. That way, when he performed the rack deadlifts he would have an easier time activating them. 

“One combination I really like is doing a rack pull after we kind of get that lower lat area. It just feels right doing these.

Normally a lot of people start off their workouts with the rack pull or something like that. But I think if you sequence this right, it’s really good for your lower lats.

You’re going to go down just below your kneecap, and when you pull, I want you to lock your lower lats and pull back.

So instead of just gripping it and ripping it, I want you to be conscious of keeping your lats flexed and pulling back with your lats.”

After the rack deadlifts John moved into another one of his favorite lat exercises: band-assisted pull ups.

John says that performing the rack deadlifts in between pull downs or pull ups is great because you can target your lats while giving your arms a break. This means that your lats will work even harder as you progress through your workout. 

“We’re doing banded chin ups, but one of the things is the sequence for how we did this. We did the rack pull – that kind of rests our arms up after doing the pulldowns.

So now we go back to the chin, but our arms are rested. Sometimes I like to do that.

In between the pulldowns or rows, I like to put a pullover or a rack deadlift in there to rest my arms up. It’s little, but sometimes little things like that can really help.”

There you have it – three advanced Mountain Dog back / bicep workouts that you can use to take your training to the next level.

If you want to learn more about how John trains his back and biceps then make sure you check out the following articles:

Trust me, you won’t find this cutting-edge information anywhere else!

The Mountain Dog Training Leg Workouts

John Meadows says the key to building massive quads and hamstrings is to sequence your exercises correctly, to find safe ways to perform high-intensity techniques, and of course, to perform plenty of high-rep sets that challenge the limits of your pain tolerance.

Here are some of the rules that John uses to sequence his leg exercises:

  • Train hamstrings first with leg curls
  • Next train quads with squats and leg presses
  • Hack squats and lunges are performed last for quads
  • Leg extensions and split squats can go anywhere for quads
  • Optional: perform stiff-legged deadlifts last after quads 

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

Mountain Dog Training Leg Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Lying leg curl, 4 sets of 6-8 reps**
  • Exercise #2: Safety squat bar squat, 4 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Exercise #3: Vertical leg press, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Sissy squat machine (holding weight at chest), 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Exercise #5: Smith machine split squat, 3 x 12-15 reps

**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:

Talk about an intense leg workout! John follows all of his exercise sequencing rules to a “T” in this routine. As usual John starts the workout with some leg curls to pre-exhaust his hamstrings.

John says that performing leg curls first is great for warming up your knees and for bringing up your lagging hamstrings.

“I’m a big believer in prioritizing hamstrings. I think if you look at most guys’ legs, they’re a little more quad dominant. I think that is from a general lack of focus on hamstrings.

Most people tack on a couple sets of leg curls at the end of their workout, it’s not! I like to work up to a top set, and on the top set I like to throw in high-intensity techniques.

So maybe some forced reps, or cluster sets, or a drop set, or partials – I like to go crazy on the last set!

The other nice thing about getting a pump in your hamstrings, when you move to your leg presses or squats, it just feels better!

It just feels better on your hips and your knees. When you do this you’ll know what I’m talking about.”

After leg curls John moves onto his quadriceps exercises. For this workout John starts with the spider bar squat.

John says that you should start your quad routine with something like squats or leg presses. He thinks these exercises are much easier on your knees than other exercises like hack squats or walking lunges. 

“I love squats. I think squatting variations should probably be the key to your lower body work.”

Finally John finishes his routine with a nasty superset of vertical leg presses and sissy squats, and finally some smith machine lunges. John says different lunge variations hit your quads and hamstrings pretty hard, and they really stretch out your legs, so they are a perfect choice for your last leg exercise.

Here is another intense Mountain Dog leg workout that you can try. Check it out:

Mountain Dog Training Leg Workout #2

  • 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 performing this workout:

John Meadows actually performed this workout with IFBB pro Evan Centopani.

John starts this workout with leg curls – nothing out of the ordinary. However, things get a little more interesting with the first exercise for quads. John performs a brutal drop set on the Bulgarian split squat to pre-fatigue his quads before squats.

This was the set that made Evan Centopani puke in the video! Here is Evan describing the drop set:

“This for me was the surprise of the workout, this was the winner. And unfortunately for most of you who are watching this, I don’t think you are going to be able to really understand what it felt like.

It felt way crazier than probably what it looks like. The way that this was executed – wow! This blew my mind.”

After the Bulgarian split squats John moves onto spider bar squats and machine hack squats. Evan says that he normally doesn’t like to perform hack squats. However, by performing them at the end of the workout with “reverse bands” he was able to get a lot out of this exercise.

“When John and Dave were like alright, we’re going to do some hack squats now, I said uuuugh! Because I don’t normally do a lot of hack squats – they wreck my knees!

But there were a couple of bands attached that took a little bit of the pressure in the bottom where you’re coming out of the hole… Oh, man! What a difference it made!

Because the machine had progressively more resistance as you went through the movement.”

Finally John finished the workout with a few sets on the inverse leg curl machine – yet another exercise that was invented by the mad genius Louis Simmons.

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

Mountain Dog Training Leg Workout #3

  • Exercise A1: Lying leg curl, 4 sets of 8 reps**
  • Exercise B1: 45 degree leg press, 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Exercise C1: Leg extension, 5 sets of 8-12 reps, 10 seconds rest
  • Exercise C2: Reverse band hack squat, 5 sets of 8-12 reps****, 2 minutes rest
  • Exercise D1: Dumbbell stiff-legged deadlift, 3 sets of 8-12 reps

**Perform a rest-pause set on your last set. Train to failure, rest 20 seconds, train to failure with the same weight, rest 20 seconds, train to failure with the same weight, done!

****Use a 3-second negative phase on each rep

Here is the training video:

You should be familiar with this type of workout by now. John starts the workout with lying leg curls, and then moves right into his heavy quadriceps exercise.

On this day that was the 45 degree leg press. Finally John finishes the workout with a nasty superset of leg extensions and reverse band hack squats, and finally some dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts.

There you have it – three advanced Mountain leg workouts that you can use to take your training to the next level.

If you want to learn more about how John trains his back and biceps then make sure you check out the following articles:

Trust me, you won’t find this cutting-edge information anywhere else!

Verdict: Mountain Dog Training | Push Pull Legs

John Meadows is one of the smartest bodybuilding coaches in the world. He is known for his Mountain Dog Training program, which he uses to help advanced bodybuilders blast through training plateaus.

John uses many different training splits. However, one of his favorites is the classic push / pull / legs split. John likes this split because it reduces overlap between muscle groups and it allows you to train with a reasonably high training frequency.

If you respond well to high volume bodybuilding workouts then you have to give John Meadows’ push / pull / leg workouts a shot. They may be just what you need to take your training to the next level.

“But I looked up to guys who could really take their training to another level, man. They would not leave the gym until they had won. And that’s the mentality that I’ve always had. I’m not leaving this gym until I’ve put everything 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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