T Nation

John Meadows vs. Scott Abel


I could be wrong about this, feel free to tell me if thats the case, but just something I think I've noticed. Scott Abel has written a few articles for this site. Most seem to be very high volume involving multiple intensity techniques and not surprisingly most people on this site (the knowledgeable ones anyway) say it looks pretty much like BS.

When John Meadows posted his first few articles on his "Mountain Dog" training I looked at it the same way. Great physique on both of these guys but I thought OK here we go with more really high volume and intensity technique crap that rarely gets anyone big. But having said that it seems like a lot of guys really love John Meadow's stuff, including Shelby Starnes and Dave Tate.

I'm sure both would agree with the fact that you need to get pretty damn strong to get really big but just as far as their posted routines go they really don't seem that different. Any reason I'm missing that Scott Abel is pretty much dismissed while everyone seems to like John's stuff?


I think most people feel that Scott Abel focuses too much on odd minutia. I personally always enjoyed his articles, but can't say I don't agree that his approach can be baffling sometimes....


i would tend to agree skynett. meadows stuff works well for some reason. ive been doing mountain dog for about 6 weeks now and its killer. i love it. i think the reason meadows approach works is because its heavy weight for high reps. for example, for preacher curls, he has you hit your 6 rep max and then a training partner helps you do another 6 with that weight.


For sure AB. I'm a firm believer in basic, heavy work myself.

It fucking works!! Not that other methods don't, but keep getting stronger on all the basics and eat to support it and you grow....simple as that. : )

Makes sense that he keeps the rep range higher for size over strength gains. Not that strength isn't gained too of course.....


So are you saying they really are significantly different approaches? I didn't line the routines side by side but just looking at the shoulder routines by them, for example, both involve some main movements, a lot of volume, and additional high intensity stuff


I didn't compare them side by side either. Just more of a general statement as to why readers seems to praise JM and not appreciate SA. It may be just their individual approach to things.....


Could be. Its funny cause when I read John's stuff it looks good, and as can be seen in his videos he is strong as hell, but it also seems like crazy high volume sometimes (and like I said the same seems to be able to be said for Abel's stuff). Something maybe to try once at a pretty advanced stage I guess.



Check out this article where he goes into depth explaining why Dorian Yates trained his back wrong. I think a lot of them made similar outlandish claims that were really offputting.


Hate to sound cliche here, but everyone's tolerance for volume is different. If you can recover from high volume, it will work well. If you can't, you'll just spin your wheels and be lifting the same pathetic weights this time next year.

Some may thrive on 15 sets/bodypart, others may not recover from that. You need to learn these things as you go along, and not question yourself just because someone wrote something

//End hijack


Is the fact that they're both using special supps, relevant for their ability to do both heavy basic lifting, and hi volume isolation? I'm guessing it does.
Also, I bet they didn't train this way when they started. Coleman said, in a seminar 1 year ago (a friend attended), that he does not do less than 10-12 reps per set. We know he used to train differently..


no your absolutely right. but i think there is something to be said about going balls to the wall with high volume for a couple months. i think where most trainees go wrong, and this is clearly my opinion, is that they dont build up to high volume. they go from something lower to something like meadows and after two weeks its just too much and they quit and try something else. if you do like meadows suggests and slowly build up, you kinda get used to the volume and by the time you hit your peak youre ready to lower the volume again.

and like skynett said, nutrition has to be carefully considered. im a low carb kinda guy but i bumped up when i started with mountain dog. the volume has kept me lean(ish) even though my carb intake is twice what I usually eat.


I have seen Abel described as insane by some of the more advanced members of this board, and trying to read his articles makes my head hurt. However, his exercise demonstrations on youtube are simple and straight forward, and he seems like an entirely different person live than he does in writing.

Just an observation.


Both comments are true (and regarding my own training I do significantly less volume) but this isn't about whether they together are right or wrong for any specific person or group. Whatever your opinion on the training may be, my point is that the training styles seem similar yet I've only really seen trash talked about Abel but a lot of people seem to love Meadow's stuff and I don't see that much of a difference.




I can understand building up to high volume, although everyone's opinion of high volume is different (if I remember rightly, John doesn't seem to do low volume (under 10 sets/bodypart). For me, 10-12 sets/bodypart is high volume (typically, for long term gains, I do better with less than 8 sets/bodypart, and even less for higher rep sets like for legs).

In fact, I'd question how many natties with average recovery (or less) would do well long term with what John says is "medium" volume (assuming the lifter is putting in 100% effort).

It really would help if his articles weren't so specific to a certain area, and covered more of the principles. But I guess if you make your living through coaching you're obviously not going to want to reveal too much.


True, unfortunately it is hard to see how his routines work with his clients too. Dave Tate is apparently liking it but not only are his genetics insane, he's also had more size I believe in the past so its not like its new gains. I can't say for sure about Shelby, I think he mixes it up.

[i]This is from his shoulder article:
Sample Workouts

Here's a typical shoulder workout from Phase I of my program (8 sets total). Remember, I do chest first with barbell inclines to help with shoulder development.

  1. Heavy lateral raises (partial reps): Grab a pair of very heavy dumbbells, and let your arms hang straight out to the side. Just do little swings. Do 4 sets of 35 reps. Tilt your head back when you do these, and again, keep your arms straight. Make sure the medial head of your delts begins to lift the weight up.

  2. Machine rear delts (reverse peck deck): 3 sets of 35 reps. Get the weight back as far as you can with kind of an exaggerated ROM.

  3. Rear delt dumbbell laterals face down on incline bench: 1 destroyer set. Grab heavy dumbbells, strap up, and do 60 reps. Drop the weight and pick up half of that weight for the next set of 30. Lastly, drop that weight in half, and do 10 reps using a FULL RANGE OF MOTION and 2 second holds. Lights out delts! [/i]

Just doesn't seem like something you'd do consistently to get big shoulders, and thats just phase 1 ("medium volume"). Although maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm wrong about people here thinking his stuff is so great.


I also had some concerns how a natural lifter would be affected by the mountain dog training. I decided to give it a try because of John's claim that his programing would allow you to gain size while keeping you injury free, which for me was a big point seeing how I had separated my shoulder during college hockey. I went from training with 5/3/1 method, which was great for increasing my strength but lead to pain in my shoulder after 6 cycles.

And I can honestly say that after completing two training cycle of Meadow's program, I don't think I will be switch to a different program anytime in the near future. Meadow's program allowed me to gain noticeable difference in my legs, shoulders and arms. I also no longer have pain in my shoulder after a chest and shoulder day.

But the negatives of the program are; it has had an adverse effect on my strength level due to moving the main lifts from the beginning of the workouts. I can say that I had to focus a lot more on recovery than I ever had to with 5/3/1. With 5/3/1; I could use foam roller after the workouts and be perfectly fine the next day without muscle soreness, I could get a bad night of sleep and still recover fairly well.

With MD training; I had to up my usage of the foam roller, if I didnâ??t sleep atleast 8 hours I felt like I was experiencing rigamortis. But once I figure out the proper recovery method to include with MD training, which was 10 minutes of foam rolling the night before on the target muscle groups and 10-15 minutes after the workout, I didn't experience any overtraining warning signs.

I'm still sort of baffled how Iâ??m able to recovery. So I decide to check my food and workout logs to see if there was any major difference between my time with 5/3/1 and MD. And after reviewing the logs, there was no major difference in calories consumed, cardio time or GPP work with the sled. The only thing I can think of is that my training volume throughout college makes it conducive for me to use a higher training volume method for hypotrophy.


agreed. i love it.


Think I've got a good idea as to how he structures things, but this is only an educated guess: All his articles are specialisation articles (something not specifically stated). As such, specialisation involves training just one or two bodyparts with high volume (and/or frequency). The part that makes it "doable" is the fact that other body parts are put on hold/maintenance (i.e. low volume).

That's my theory ^


People have gotten big off high volume and low volume programs. I almost feel most top end bbers train with a high volume I could be wrong though.

If I recall most people dismissed Abel cause he was pretty crazy. A lot of his stuff was hard to understand for people w/o a science background. He hasn't been around in a while though.