John Meadows Case

I am huge fan of John Meadows. There are at least 5 exercises i learned from him and made a staple in my routine. I was extremely happy when he finally turned IFBB Pro after years and years of competing.

He competed in a low caliber pro show this saturday. Upper photo is the top 4 and they are all unknown names. Below photo is his front double biceps pose from the same show. He was in the last callout with Will Harris who looks like absolute shit.

I never competed but i believe getting into that extremely lean condition year after year must be really hard on the body. I think he should concentrate on his personal training business and stop competing because even though he is the most hardworking and intelligent bodybuilder i have ever seen, there is nothing he can do to correct his structural flaws and he will always be overlooked in the competitions. This is really sad but true. I dont want to see him hurt himself because he has two little boys.

Just my 2 cents.

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I agree, big fan of Meadows, dude is just grainy year round and I love his every day look and work ethic, I don’t want to see him fall off with poor showings and poor presentations. He just dropped (maybe less recent than I found it) a supplement line and is starting to sponsor competitors and such, I too hope he hangs up his posing trunks and focuses on other stuff.

Unfortunately, Enjoying something, and being passionate about doing it doesn’t guarantee that you will do well. Someone once said about the late Greg Kovaks that “He loved bodybuilding, but it didn’t love him back.”

Meadows has a clunky structure, with a very wide (relatively) midsection (I know all about his medical issues), and very little taper. Add to this his head to body ratio, and he’s doesn’t even get the “short guys have an advantage” benefit you sometimes see.

John has also, despite his “graininess and vascularity” year round, lost any actual muscle separation he may have once displayed. If you compare his above pic with the guys in the line up you posted, he doesn’t look like he’d even belong in the same level contest.

Now, I like John. I appreciate his love of the sport, his ability to make a living from it despite not being a top pro (or even a pro for the majority of his years of competing), and I certainly like his willingness to try new things (I’ve seen plenty of his “meadows” exercises done in gyms for years, but no one cared to write articles about them -lol) that might be perceived as outside the usual gym rat dogma but,… competing does take it’s toll. Competing as an IFBB Pro (and we all know what that means), isn’t a healthy endeavor, especially when you’ve been competing for 20 something years, and your body is pretty maxed out, so you have to find “other” ways to try and get an edge.

When my son was born, despite a few injuries I figured I could work around, I knew that it was more important to be able to play with my child than still get under a mess of plates at the gym. Every time an IFBB Pro dies, I always find myself just shaking my head in thoughts about his immediate family. I just hope John doesn’t go that route.



Dude has a cinder block for a skull haha

I’m a big fan of John from a theoretical and training perspective, and we have that home-town connection going on. But I have to agree with @The_Mighty_Stu that the muscle separation is going away, already gone in many places. And, in my opinion, he’s getting the mild beginnings of that ‘chemically burnt’ look. It’s not really noticeable unless you compare him now to what he looked like ten years ago. And then the tan covers a lot of it too…

My only other thought is concerning what class he competes in. Last year, for example, he did pretty well - meaning, he placed in nearly every event. It should be noted that he competed in the 212 class. This year, he decided to do the Open class instead and I think that hurts him a little bit, at least in terms of placement. I believe that, at this stage in his career, John needs the conditioning that it takes for him to be in the 212 class for the sake of placing.

He’s competing again in two weeks. It seems like he is in an undue prep at times.

While I agree with all the sentiment behind he should hang it up I think the dude absolutely lives and loves the sport. Competing has just been what he has doe for so long. I don’t think where he places matters to him as much as the progress he sees. I listened to almost all of his podcasts back in the day and I never got the impression he was all about making it to the top as much as constantly improving himself.

I completely agree that the amount of drugs done has to take a toll at some point one would think. Even as incredibly smart as he is

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Shelby Starnes must have understood the fact that he will never be one of the top guys unless he pushes as hard as Shaun Clarida so he is prepping for his final contest at the moment.

I understand what you’re saying regarding his love for bodybuilding.

I believe people are concerned more with this than they are about where he places. If he was natural, I don’t think people would suggest he hang it up. But most people know what’s up. I am not very knowledgeable on anabolic, but I assume, perhaps wrongfully so, that he is not using paltry amounts judging by his appearance, nor does he appear healthy. And I think it’s safe to say that in many cases, if someone looks unhealthy, he or she is unhealthy. Purple or red-appearing skin does not give a healthy appearance. I agree with Iron in that he is starting to have the chemically burnt appearance or pre-Palumboism and I believe the body simply stops responding to diet, training, and anabolic after a certain age or decades of competing. Dorian, Nasser, Ronnie, all got out when their bodies started to regress.

John has not progressed in a long time. No one progresses after a certain point! Even the ones at the top don’t and are simply holding onto their physiques to remain at the top. Sure, the condition may vary a bit year to year, but that’s not progress in the physique, just a matter of appearing dryer, fuller, or leaner.

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I actually saw Shaun Clarida in NY Pro this year and at another one a few years ago. I think Shelby would never reach Shaun’s level no matter how hard he pushed.

Also, I firmly believe that after some time the only way to progress is to take more drugs. Men training properly (which includes bringing up weak points along the way, if there are any) for more than decade in their 30’s and beyond, no unique training system will offer them much.

I meant exactly this when i said ‘’ pushing as hard as Shaun ‘’ :slight_smile:

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He’s actually pretty open about his drug use, and advocates very low doses (relatively). Low dose test (300mg-ish), some GH and a little insulin in the off-season, which is considerably less than you’d expect.

He was certainly the first bodybuilder I ever read about really taking his health seriously. Grass-fed beef, organic everything, balancing fats, etc. The Mountain Dog Diet, such as it is, is really just a diet for maximum health where you eat bodybuilder-sized amounts.

And before someone feels the need to point out how unhealthy bodybuilding is - I get it. Simply pointing out that Meadows takes his health much more seriously than most.

Even his workouts are designed for maximum longevity in the sport. Exercise sequence, exercise technique, etc., are all done in a specific way to cause maximum muscle stress with the minimum amount of wear and tear to the shit that gets worn and torn.

So yeah. Hopefully he’ll be rocking in a free world for years to come. Dude loves bodybuilding and if that’s what he loves to do then have at it, sir.


I completely agree, but from reading the post does John think that?

Maybe maintaining at this age is what drives him? Either way I wish him the best seems like a genuinely nice guy who loves the sport and is willing to help others

Good question. Like Brad, I keep my eyes on the various social media outlets and constant public broadcasting that so many people in the fitness world do (whether competitors or not), and again, like Brad, I often shake my head when I read so and so stating how they’ve made progress in the past year with some amazing new approach, and yet every single photo completely disagrees with what they’re writing.

Sadly the hangers-on, and others who expect reciprocal social media patting on the backs, will never say “bro, what the hell do you think you’re seeing in the mirror that no one else does?”


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Bro I added 15 pounds and yeah you can’t see my abs anymore and my boobs look flabby…but you’re noticing that my triceps have added size right?

Before I go ahead and say what I want to, I just want to say here, something as a disclaimer of sorts. I like you and I know you like me. So what I say here is not directed against you at all, but simply a statement about the subject and the bodybuilding scene generally.

Usually I refrain from expressing my dim views on some people or practices in the scene, but I think if I simply remain mature and lucid while expressing my views, I don’t see why there needs to be problems considering we’re all adults here. What dawned on me is that I have usually refrained from expressing my opinions while in many cases there is no reason to do so considering I am not going to be friends with the people we speak of here.

I believe John is a nice guy, but sometimes people on forums who’ve said some irreverent things about him are treated as if they insulted some posters best friends or family members, when they’re simply talking about John the bodybuilder. I assume this is because John, like Dave Palumbo, is gregarious, helpful, intelligent, and passionate, and because of his genetic shortcomings, is looked upon as the everyman’s bodybuilder

And usually it’s the same topic over and over, his health, and a seeming inconsistency in his concern for health while at the same time appearing to be reckless with his health. In my view, one can eat all the organic and grass fed items, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains till their hearts content, but this in no way safeguards someone for the effects of decades of drug use in modest to high doses, drugs that one does not even need for normal function unless they have medical disorders requiring them, let alone that they produce supraphysiological levels in the body with which the organs can’t deal. Even if one takes anabolic in low doses, the body is not equipped to handle them without some disturbance at best, and failure at worst. Of course dosage and duration account for the amount of damage or lack thereof that the drugs can induce, but either way, their use is not healthy.

Like you, one can say he uses relatively small doses of three drugs during an offseason, but they are still drugs he doesn’t need and drugs that are taken in supraclinical amounts, with one clearly being a supra clinical amount, testosterone (three times the clinical amount). So he’s essentially screwing with his organs for a long, long time.

People can say they get blood work done all they want, but the blood work simply points to the obvious: supraphysiological levels of hormones and other blood values that are abnormal such as kidney and liver function and lipid values, such as HDL, GFR, BUN, creatinine, AST, ALT, as well as estradiol. So I don’t see the point in even getting all this blood work. It’s almost like someone saying to you that you’re wearing a hat after you put a hat on your head.
I’ve seen on FB John state that he got blood work, which I find peculiar, because one doing so seems to me as trying to reassure oneself or others that everything’s OK, while they know deep down it’s not, though I can be wrong on such an assumption.

With all this said, I do not have anything against the use of PED’s generally. It would be certainly be silly if I did considering I’ve looked up to drug-aided bodybuilders, have friends who use, and have been following drug-aided bodybuilding for a very long time. But I go by the old adage, “you play, you pay!” And notice how I said generally. In a case in which some guy is pushing the limit with dangerous practices such as decades long drug use and seemingly never-ending competition (Meadows has a habit of competing in multiple shows back to back, and if I recall correctly, sometimes four to six shows on consecutive weeks or bi-weekly!), with a family and business dependent on him, then my opinion isn’t going to be stellar. Obviously my opinion is not important to many, but I am simply expressing it considering I am partaking in this conversation and I believe such a conversation can actually remind some people to take caution in anything carrying risk, especially when they have children who can be affected.

I am not a famous bodybuilder, but after lifting for a long time and after 25 years of being physically active getting my first injury, two herniated discs, which actually could have produced symptoms and dysfunction far more consequential than I’ve suffered from in the past three seasons, it really made me think that I better be damn careful in what I do physically, whether it’s in the gym, or any stuff that I must do, such as moving furniture, climbing ladders, shoveling snow. I will be 38 in four weeks and a herniated disc and nerve damage can take up to two years to resolve. Though my herniations are minor, the nerve pain I had in my left foot (you know, a bodypart you can’t avoid walking on) and leg drove me nuts and to tears several times. Ask @The_Mighty_Stu how many times I asked him and his brother (my physical therapist) and freaked out about this. So many times I’ve said to myself, “I hope I am OK by the time the baby comes,” and, “I am a fucking loser! I injured myself from a hobby, not obligational manual labor.”

Let me tell you, nerve damage is damn strange. It can give all sorts of bizarre feelings, not just pain! Tingling, burning feet, a feeling of swelling when there is no actual swelling, it really is torturous.

Why do I say this all about myself? Because it shows I simply can’t fathom why people to go such dangerous lengths for a diversion or hobby. People are passionate about all sorts of things. Does this mean they should do it or continue to do it after a certain age or length of time. Several times I’ve met a prolific graffiti writer from my borough. He started writing in 1986. He’s now in his forties and still does it from time to time. He’s passionate about it, but he actually admits it is now a destructive habit that he needs to stop. He actually feels embarrassed about it while at the same time being passionate.

See? Passionate but destructive and dangerous.

I have a similar view on self-destructive powerlifters, Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, and CT Fletcher for example. Louie once provided a list of his dreadful injuries and disasters, numerous herniated discs that have been surgically operated on, numb hands (likely from his cervical herniated discs), broken bones, being pronounced dead, muscle tears, and so on. He said something like, “Why did I acquire all these injuries in all my time lifting? So you don’t have to suffer from them!” What he was trying to say was that he was so passionate about powerlifting and coaching people, that in all his passionate experience he stumbled upon numerous mistakes that can be avoided that people he coached to whom he writes.

But (!), he said this as an afterthought. NO ONE in their right minds wants to live with such pain and suffering and hardware in their body and I consider such people who continue to destroy their body for a hobby, or even a passion, as disturbed, even if I have a high opinion on their character or personality. You know, nice people are not excluded from criticism, including myself or John Meadows (gasp!).

Then we have CT Fletcher saying in front of a crowd of easily-influenced jock grabbers that he had numerous heart attacks or other health disasters requiring medical intervention. He started that he usually disregarded medical advice and just did what he wanted to and lived through it all, as if such recklessness is to be admired by gullible young lemmings.

Dave Tate, another guy I like and from whom I’ve been educated, entertained, and bought products, has openly discussed his destructive practices. I was astonished by his list of injuries, which includes numerous herniated discs and muscle tears. Some of these tears were visually evident when he got ripped. He also appeared to have a deviated posture. If I recall correctly, he would do weird stuff like tape and wrap up inured areas of his body or wear canvas suits to provide more stability. He has to make numerous modifications in his lifting (and likely other activities) because of these injuries. I assume, though possibly wrongfully so, that he has had some surgeries and has to take medications.

I was actually entertained by all this when I was younger, thinking, “Damn, these guys are crazy. They really do anything to succeed in their passions. And people just recover from injuries. And when they’re off the drugs, they’ll just return to a normal life.”

But now I know better. Drugs and injuries can cause long term damage. In some cases, people recover and move on. But in many cases they don’t! Does anyone want to wind up on dialysis? Do you think some people would trade in all their fame and accomplishments to be a more typical person and not crippled or in constant pain? I think many would.

Well, now that I know better, am older, the star-struck effect has completely faded, and have suffered pain from an injury myself, am expecting a kid, married, I seriously do not know why such people to continue what they’re doing.

And like @The_Mighty_Stu said, it really is sad that adults continue to exhort people to do things that involve dangerous practices. And it’s not just for John. There’s an IFBB pro who trains at a gym Stu and I went to a long time ago, here in Queens. His wife just donated a kidney to him, because he acquired end-stage kidney failure, obviously requiring dialysis. He implies that his drug practices lead him to this condition. So… after he got his kidney transplanted from his wife, guess what an Instagram- and internet-bodybuilder celeb says to him in response to his vegetable intake or lack thereof? “Screw vegetables! Time to get big.”
And to the ill man I speak of, get big, means get bigger chemically, considering that the subject has posted pictures in which he is damn enormous accompanied by posts like, “I’m skinny here,” clearly implying that he is tongue-in-cheek joking, or actually is dysmorphic. I think the latter, considering it’s clear he loves being chemically enhanced.

I’m done for now. I don’t consider myself a wise man, but I think there are actually times at which people should talk about reality and state what they think, so long as they remain mature and lucid. No one’s making fun of or slandering anyone here. And I or we can like or even love people despite having some negative opinions of them. I’ve actually yet to meet someone who likes everything about me.


Well said @BrickHead. I am a big fan of John Meadows, but I too have started thinking more long term for lifting and I think you hit the nail on the head.

I had been planning to break into the Strongman world this year, but have been working around a knee injury now for over a month and I’m kind of liking this current BB split I’m doing. I’m still going heavy and trying to get stronger in some main compound lifts, but in a different way.

I’m not doing super heavy deadlifts (due to knee pain), I’m not squatting (this will be reintegrated once my knee can handle it - higher rep than previously) but I’m seeing physique improvements and my recovery (and mood) has been notably better. When constantly over-reaching, my overall well-being seems to take a bit of a toll (just ask my wife).

I’m not far out from bringing a little-little sleeper into the world, so I’m starting to think about not wanting to be limping around while trying to teach my kid to play sports, etc.


Totally ignorant here, but what causes this? Is it just the natural order of things due to age?

Curious here too. What do you think accounts for the differences in aging with these drugs? There are actually studies showing potential longevity benefits to TRT patients. Is the devil just in the dose?

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As you know, TRT stands for testosterone replacement therapy, meaning it’s replacing in deficient people a normal physiological value. That’s all, nothing more. It’s not meant for performance enhancement, in the same way that providing thyroid, insulin, and GH are only clinically indicated for people with thyroid, insulin, and GH deficiencies. So such drugs are are actually beneficial for people who are deficient in such substances because it allows them to have normal functioning. If they did not take such drugs their lives would be affected negatively, just as anyone requiring medication will suffer if they don’t use it.

Performance enhancement is a different story because the drugs uses are not needed for normal functioning by those who use them and they’re taken in amounts that provide supraphysiological values in the body and the body obviously does not tolerate them. When I said “low” doses before, I meant to use the word low in regards to what is high or low in the sense regarding PED. Three hundred mg of T is considered a low dose in bodybuilding standards, yet that is still three times the clinical amount given to hypogonadal people. I really don’t give a rat’s ass about what anyone says; sure it’s low in comparison to what’s commonly used and given enough time on “low” doses (not TRT), something wrong can occur.

TRT has nothing to do with bodybuilding; it’s medicine for a condition. And the majority of people who need TRT are not even gym oriented in the first place.


Thanks for the response. I’m not well-versed in it, so it’s purely just questions from me.

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