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An Interview with TrueProtein Sponsored Athlete John Meadows

Shelby

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Back when I first got into bodybuilding in the late 1990s I remember seeing an article on John Meadows in a Beverly Nutrition magazine, talking about his diet and training in preparation for the upcoming 1998 Jr. USAs. Included with the article was a picture of him hitting a side chest pose that just blew me away – the density in his pecs, arms, and legs was immense. I remember looking at that photo many times and thinking about all the work and dedication it would take to build a physique like that.

Many years later I finally got in touch with John via the internet, as he was prepping for the 2007 North Americans. We’ve been in touch ever since, sharing diet and training knowledge, and it was a great honor for me to get the chance to interview him recently for this TrueProtein Sponsored Athlete series. John has accomplished a ton onstage, but more impressive to me is how he conducts himself offstage: always willing to help, teach, and encourage, John is truly a class act who will leave a legacy not just as a great bodybuilder but as a great person as well.

Without any further ado, let’s get to know John Meadows.


Here are some highlights from the 30-40 shows that John has been in over the years:

1992 Teenage Mr. Cincinnati, 1st place and overall
1992 Mr. Midwest, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight and overall
1992 Mr. Glass City, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight and overall
1993 Ohio Gran Prix, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight
1993 Mr. Metropolitan, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight
1994 Mr. Ohio South District, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight
1995 Ohio Gran Prix, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight and overall
1997 Mr. Ohio, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight
1998 Battle of Champions, 1st place Men’s Light heavyweight and overall
1998 Jr USA, 6th place Men’s Light heavyweight
1999 Jan Tana Classic, 1st place Men’s Heavyweight and overall
1999 Mr. USA, 4th place Men’s Heavyweight
2000 Mr. USA, 8th place Men’s Heavyweight
2001 Collegiate Nationals, 1st place Men’s Heavyweight and overall
2001 Mr. USA, 13th place Men’s Heavyweight
2002 Nationals, 10th place, Men’s Heavyweight
2004 Conquest Championships, 1st place Men’s Heavyweight and overall
2004 Mr. North America, 4th place Men’s Heavyweight
2005 Mr. USA, 13th place Men’s Heavyweight
2006 – sickness – see “A Story of Hope”
2008 – Kentucky Muscle, 1st place Men’s Heavyweight


SS: To start off with John, let’s discuss your background in the iron sport – what got you into bodybuilding? What got you competing? I believe you’ve done at least 9 National level shows, is that correct? And many more on the state and regional level too. How many shows total have you done?

JM: I got into bodybuilding at a really young age. I was actually 13 when I did my first contest. I would go to the store and look through the muscle magazines, and was just memorized by it. I wanted to look like those guys so bad. All the girls thought it was gross, but I didn't care. I remember reading how Bertil Fox had gained an inch every year on his arms starting when he was like 16. I remember trying real hard to do that. I trained my whole body every day. I didn't know any better, and I was training pretty hard too! 9 national shows sound right. As far as total shows…I think somewhere between 30-40. I can count 13 I won off the top of my head…of course I got blasted in a few too..lol.

SS: What was your first national level contest? How old were you?
JM: My first national level contest was the Jr Nationals in 1997 when I was 25. I almost completely forgot about it actually. I had taken off 1996 and really lost my zeal for training (the only time that ever happened to me). I started my diet at something like a soft 195 or so? I ended up competing at 185 and did not make the top 15. I went on to win the Ohio later that year though so it wasn't all that bad. I got a lot better the next year, and turned the corner in 99.
SS: Which contests and placings were your most memorable?
JM: Two contests come to mind. In 1992 I won the Teenage Mr. Cincinnati. Back then there were a ton of shows in Ohio, and they all had teenage classes. You never see that now. Anyway, the Cincy show was the toughest in Ohio, and we had 9 teens in the 18-19 class. The guy that got 3rd in my class has placed 3rd at teen nationals, and the guy that got 2nd had never lost a show in like 7 tries..so the competition was stiff. I ended winning by 1 point. The reason why it was so memorable was that after I won my grandmother came running down the aisle crying to give me a hug. She was a very special women that I miss dearly.
The other show that I remember the most was the 1999 Mr. USA. Being in the first call out was really cool, especially considering I didn't make the top 15 at Nationals in November the year before as a lightheavy (was shredded at 207 for USA), and that I was a no-name. After the prejudging I had tons of people come up to me asking who I was, and how I got into that kind of shape as a Heavyweight. What made this event really special though was that I was carrying around an engagement ring all weekend in my gym bag. It was backstage…basically everywhere I went. I didn't want my girlfriend at the time to find it. So the morning after the USA contest, I take her out on the beach early. My plan was to propose as the sun was coming up over the ocean. There was one small problem with my plan…..the sun doesn't come in the West!! HAHHAHAHA. She was like "hey isn't that the sun coming up over those buildings?" It all ended well though.
SS: How did your style of diet and training evolve over the course of the years that you competed? Who (or what) influenced you most in regards to diet and training?
JM: My style of diet has certainly changed a lot over the years. I think the major influences were just what I read at the time. I remember when I was 20 years old, and prepping for my first men's open shows. I was so scared I would be too small I pretty much just ate tuna and lettuce plus an occasional sweet potato the last 6 weeks so at least I would be shredded. Oh my gawd I felt horrible, but I did win the overalls in all the shows I did that year, so at the time, it worked for me. Generally speaking, I have used and been successful with a low carb and a low fat approach. My diets when I was in my 20's were more sky high protein, mod carbs and low fat. I would get lean, but I would lose muscle, and my joints would always be killing me by the time I got ripped. As I got older (and more educated), I began to see the value of fats. The large majority of what I ate for the 99 Mr. USA where I was extremely lean was whole eggs, salmon patties, and steaks. For shakes I used that old Met-rx Ketopro stuff too. I started to feel better, kept more muscle, and got just as ripped. Now over the last 5 years, I have really got into the science of fats. My diet staples consist of grass-fed cuts of meat, pastured eggs, wild salmon, raw milk (in the offseason), and carbs are kind of as needed. I feel awesome now to be honest with you. My joints feel great again, my mood is usually positive, and my energy levels are much more sustained. I don't have to do the lunch time naps like I used to with higher carb, and low fat diets. There is definitely more than one way to skin a cat, to get ripped, but for me as I get older, the health factor begins to weigh into the equation much more.
I do not feel like eating grass fed meats, raw milk, etc give you magical muscle increases, by I do believe the make you much more healthy, and eventually that becomes important for everybody.
Training-wise, I modeled my training after Tom Platz. He like me, did not have beautiful aesthetics, and freaky genetics. He got to where he was from mind blowing intensity. Intensity can be defined in many different ways, lifting more weight, doing more reps with it, resting less between sets, introducing new angles of training with unique exercises, etc. but the common denominator for me is increasing intensity somehow. I do feel that you have to watch your CNS, and there are definitely times to back it down, we are human after all, BUT I think people have an irrational fear of overtraining. One other thing I want to mention is that over the years, the thing that really changed, is my knowledge of exercises. I'll give you an example…my back used to suck..it was a joke. I deadlifted and barbell rowed my ass off, but just couldn't get my back to look good. When I began to get more creative, and try new, sometimes strange exercises, it started growing. Eventually my back became a very good bodypart. I am not saying basics don't work, just saying that you have to identify problems when you train, and think of a way to overcome, or you will just bang your head against the wall forever. I can't tell you how many people come to me for occasional leg workouts because their legs are poor, and then when I give them a routine, they say "well isn't this too much, or well I prefer to do these exercises"…to which my response is usually ok, keep doing it your way then, and let me know how those legs look next year..hahaha. I still go to YouTube before my Saturday leg workouts and watch videos of Platz by the way!
SS: Can you give us a sample Mountaindog leg workout?
JM: Absolutely! Now mind you, every workout I do is different week to week, and I know many people think that progress is not possible training like that, but I beg to differ. Anyway, here is what I did this past Saturday.
Lying Leg curls 3 x 10 to warm up.
Then 1 set of 12,10, and 8 reps. Breaks were 1 minute. The form was I let my legs straighten out all the way, rest for a split second, then curl the weight up and flex. This modified rest-pause full ROM type form works awesome for leg curls. For the 4th and last set I started with the same weight I did for 8 reps, and did 6 reps, then did a drop of 2 plates on the machine and did another 6, another 2 plate drop and another 6 reps, and finally I finish it off by then adding 3 plates back on, and doing 25 little partial reps where you just curl your leg 3-4 inches with constant tension out of the bottom. Try it, the burn is retarded.
I always start with hams by the way, as it just seems to make my hips feel better, and my squats or leg presses feel better as well. I love to do those two basic movements with pumped hams.
So next up was leg presses on a machine supersetted with teardrop leg extensions. First I do a few light sets to get my knees warmed up, then I did the following rep scheme on the leg press.
Do 20 continuous tension reps with no lockout. The next set you go up in weight, and do 15 continuous and 5 rest-pauses where you sit down (deep) in the machine and then explode out of the hole. For the 3rd set add weight and do 10 continuous and then 10 of the rest pauses. For the 4th and final set add weight, and do 5 continuous tension, and 15 rest-pause. Now in between each one of these sets you are going to walk over to the leg extension and sit real far up on it, and as you extend, your butt should come off the seat. It looks funny, but it destroys your teardrop. Do 8 reps on these. Rest break between each superset is 3 minutes, you will need it. After those 4 supersets, most people are curled up into a fetal position in the corner by the leg press, but the show must go on. Sorry about the instructional tone, haha, habit of mine.
Next up was hack squat. I did 2 plates, and 4 plates a side for 6 reps just to get all the pieces and parts moving right. The hard set was 6 plates for 10, then drop to 4 plates and do another 10, then go down another 2 plates and move your feet together and low on the platform and pump little deep reps to failure for teardrop. The pain will be crippling..or at least it was for me.
Lastly I finished with stiff legged deadlifts with dumbells. I always take 3 seconds on the way down on these. I did 3 sets of 10 with 85's, with a nice slow controlled form.
After that I do a bunch of PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching. It helps recovery big time, and keeps my joints feeling good.
SS: That definitely sounds intense! Do you find you need to schedule in "cruise" weeks or deloads when your intensity is this high? Do you find that as you get older, your recovery time is different than it was when it was younger?
JM: I definitely schedule in cruise time…but it's more like blocks of time. For instance I will go balls out for 12 weeks, then cruise for 2-3 weeks. I do on occasion cruise, if I feel I really need it, but you know the funny thing is, as long as my sleep is good, and my nutrition is good, I don't need it often. If I feel anything out of the ordinary in terms of pulls, strains,etc..then I definitely back off for as long as it takes to feel right. No glory in getting injured.
In terms of recovery, I still get sore as hell, just like when I was younger, no better…no worse, but what I do notice is that heavy compound movements can't be done as frequently. For instance I remember squatting 6 plates a side for 10 deep reps 6 weeks in a row in 1999. Now I can only squat every other week. I just get more stiff…especially in my back (having no core strength probably makes it worse too).
SS: How do you normally break up your body part training? What does a typical weekly split look like for you?
JM: I do:
Legs Saturday
Chest/Shoulders on Sunday.

Monday and Tuesday are off, and I need it from the punishing weekend.

Wed is Back
Thurs is arms

Fri is off to rest up for the hard weekend again!


SS: Does your training change much from offseason to precontest?
JM: Not really, maybe a little less rest between sets, but training is still different every single workout. I never repeat the same workout 2 times in a row.



SS: You ran into some health issues a few years back. Can you give us some background on that, what caused it, what you did about it, and how you're doing today? You also competed after the issues, which was awesome to see. Can you speak on that a bit?
JM: I ran into very serious health issues in 2005. I was bleeding to death, and was rushed into emergency surgery while I was going into shock. I had my entire large intestine removed. I ended up going through hell as when I went to get my reconnect done (get rid of the ileostomy I had), I ended up getting a blockage, and required another surgery 10 days later. These were major surgeries. I then got a massive infection that required me to have tubes inserted into me to drain them. Picture 2 tubes coming out of your gut, and draining into a bag taped to the side of your leg. Not pretty. All of the surgeries then resulted in incisional hernias. Long story short, it was bad. The Mayo clinic diagnosed my issue as Idiopathic Myointimal Hyperplasia of the Mesenteric Veins. They had I believe 9 cases of it on file at the time, but when I read about the symptoms, they were dead on. Everybody thinks I had colitis, but I did not, thank God. I can eat anything I want, and dieting doesn't irritate my colon as many people with colitis find. I am healed for now, and God willing my disease won't return to my small intestine.
I did compete in 2007 with the hernias, and they looked bad. I was lean, but my abdominal wall just looked horrible. I noticed Jim Rockell laughing at me on stage and pointing at me, which didn't make me feel too well, but oh well. I had a very high tech surgery in which they basically sewed my abs back together. The surgeon did a phenomenal job. I dieted back down in 2008 to see what they looked like, and 5 of 6 of my abs looked great. One is blurry looking, probably due to the mesh that was put in he said, but the structure looks good again. I actually won my class in the how, and got 2nd in the overall, not bad for a guy that had been through what I had. The bad thing is I have no core strength. Think about how hard that makes squats and such, but hey, it's better to look good, than to feel good huh…hahah.
SS: I know you still diet and train hard -do you plan on ever getting onstage again?
JM: We will see about getting onstage again. I do train hard, and eat well, so who knows? It is definitely not out of the question.

SS: You're one of TrueProtein's sponsored athletes. Can you tell us a bit about that, your association with TrueProtein and what products of theirs you use?
JM: I have been working with Trueprotein since late last year. The truth is that I had been using their products well before that…I had everybody at work drinking those little jugs they have with powder, that you just add water too. They are an outstanding company. I can't say enough about them in fact. Dante is one of those people that I have the utmost respect for. I use their fat burner called Burn for energy when I train like a madman on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Awesome product, one of their best. I use many different versions of their protein, predominantly Whey Isolate CFM, and their Post Workout formula. I like to rotate the ones I am using every 6 weeks to avoid developing any allergies to the proteins. I use their NAC too. It is an unbelievable supplement for health and longevity. I use their Sleep aid as needed, and have had many clients that used it successfully. I use their ALA, as that is probably my favorite supplement in the world for many reasons. Hmm..what else do I use…I use their Lean Beef Aminos in my raw milk to make chocolate milk - it is addicting! I use their Waxy Maize..their Essential Aminos..and probably other things I am forgetting. Again, awesome company, that I loved using before they ever sponsored me.
SS: Do you use any TrueProtein supplements before, during, or after your training sessions?
JM: Before training I use TP EAA's (essential amino acids) with a very precise ratio Dr Serrano taught me. During training I use a load of TP Waxy Maize (Orange Creamsicle is awesome - so is Mango) with BCAA's and Creatine from a company called Double-T sports. Post workout I usually drink TP Whey Isolate CFM with some berries. I also take 2 grams of TP's NAC (n acetyl-cysteine) with 900 mg's of TP's ALA (alpha lipoic acid). Between this and all the berries, it is a ton of antioxidants, which is important after training like a maniac. Remember I eat a pretty big meal 30 minutes before training too, so between this, and all the intraworkout nutrition, I am not usually very hungry after training, so the shake and berries do me fine for an hour.

SS: Tell us a bit about the website you're going to be releasing soon. What can we expect to see on it? Also tell us a bit about your personal consultation services and some of the athletes you've worked with.
JM: The website URL is Mountain Dog Diet - John Meadows
I am shooting for an early June release, but there is a lot of info and it has been a bear getting completed. I am really excited about the concepts behind the website, and the type of service we will be offering. There is a main page that is the URL I listed above that has multiple tabs/sections. It is super simple to navigate. The nutrition section is broken down into fats, carbs, and proteins. I have some of my preferred sources of each and why listed. My goal is to introduce some of the foods and concepts so people can get a feel for what the Mountain Dog diet consists of. There is also a training section that will have a library of cool exercises and techniques that I have been building, and will continue to add to. I have a resource page where you can see some of my favorite books and websites if you are looking for good reading material. There is a gallery for my clients and last but not least, there is a programs section where you can see what type of programs we offer. The diet programs are exciting, but there are also very affordable training programs where you can purchase 12 or 24 weeks' worth of workouts. Everything is customized to the individual.

Linked to the main site is an "Express" site where you can $9.95 a month and get access to all kinds of cool info, as well as a very detailed Q&A I will be doing. I am going to do my best to answer every question posed in detail. For June I have an interview with Jim Seitzer that you will absolutely love. He was behind a lot of Mike Francois success, and there is a funny story in there about when he beat Lee Haney. He also invented a bamboo bar that rehabs shoulders and is great for strength (Westside barbell use this now). It was also used in a certain Marvel Comic movie superstars training. There is much more to this site, but that is the idea.

In terms of athletes I have worked with, I typically only work with 2-3 people a year. With my demanding job in the Banking industry, I just haven't had the time to do to much more. The guys that I trained are not names you would recognize, but in Ohio they did well. I trained an awesome guy and good friend named James Seals who was competing as a lightweight when I met him, and eventually I got him to winning the light heavy and overall at the Mike Francois classic. I trained another great guy named Brian Bonifay who won the overall at the Ohio…so lots of stories like that. Many of the people I work with don't compete. The only thing I care about is that they are willing to work their ass off for me, and they are good people with good character. If they have the attitude and discipline, I know they will get good results. Having a full time job has given me the opportunity to be extremely picky about who I work with. You have worked with many more people than me, so I am guessing that you have run into "that client". The guy who won't listen, who complains, and whines, and so on. Well, I don't need the hassle, and I don’t need their money, and will continue to only work with a small amount of athletes directly. This year I have set a limit of 10 people to work with. 1 of them is named Brad Davis and he will be doing the Jr nationals and USA. Another good guy is John Quint who will be doing the Collegiate Nationals. Wait until you see this guy. Great aesthetics, roundness and shape, and now thanks to me torturing him, he has quads..haha. Todd Buchanan competed last year and won several shows (until he ran into Brad at a show..haha), and I expect good things out of him this year too. He is 44, and last year was by far the biggest and hardest he has ever been. He won the Masters Ohio and was a questionable 2nd in the open. Right now the 10 people I am working with are just fantastic people, and I am enjoying coaching tremendously.
SS: James Seals competed at the first show I ever did, the Motor City back in 2005. Really nice guy, GREAT shape, but wasn't in condition. I would imagine you guys figured that out. Do you know Mike Bishop? I believe he's from Ohio too. He won the overall at that show, as a super heavyweight, then went on to take top 5 as a light heavyweight at the North Americans only 6 weeks later, lol. A year or two later he came back and won the light heavyweights at the North Americans.
JM: I remember that- I was sick and in the hospital so I couldn’t help him, he did tighten up and only lost to Monty Mabry by 2 points in the light heavies at the Ohio..if I could have helped him that year… easy Ohio overall winner…I remember Mike Bishop - but I don't know him at all…

James was competing at 154 when I met him…with teeny legs - we got his legs up to 30 inches… he was an awesome deadlifter….we would do a full 20 set back workout and then deadlift off the floor - he would still hit 675 for triples…awesome back…sick back…good friend of mine… comic book buff like I am… lol


Word association (type the first words that come to your mind when you read each of these):
Tom Platz – JM: intelligence, insanity
Adversity- JM: Nelson Mandella
Bodybuilding – JM: rewarding..frustrating
Coconuts – JM: Almond Joy
Mike Francois – JM: Beast
Intensity – JM: pain tolerance
Offseason – JM: raw milk


SS: What would be your favorite offseason “cheat” meal?
JM: French toast or Cinnamon pancakes with my eggs and milk

SS: You've been in the iron game for a long time John, have experienced a ton and accomplished more than most could ever dream of. If you could give some advice to the newer generation of bodybuilders, what would it be?
JM: The 3 things that come to mind are:

1. The ever elusive search for the "secret". Everybody thinks there is a magic pill, or magic protein, or magic workout. Here is the truth. You have to work hard at training and your diet, and above all, you have to be consistent. I never ever miss meals, and I didn't miss a workout for…well, I can't remember the last time I said to myself "I am just not gonna go in today." Not part of mental psyche. If you start making excuses, you are done. You will do it more and more, as it gets easier to just brush things off. I have seen it hundreds of times. Now there are genetic freaks out there, that can get by with less, but I am speaking to the vast majority here. Stay disciplined, and be consistent, and guess what…this whole thing will be more fun too. You know why, because nothing is as fun and motivating as making progress.
2. Second, make it a point to seek out those who know more than you, and learn from them. Do that. Don't sit there and spin your wheels when there are smart people out there who can help you get better. I have had a mentor or two for the last 19 years. Right now it's Dr. Serrano, and will probably be for a long time, because he has forgotten more than I will ever know.
3. Lastly, don't get dogmatic in your views. Don't be its "my way or the highway" 100% of the time. I have news for you, you don't know everything. I don't, Shelby doesn't, and you don't. If you fall into that trap, learning will cease, and your progress will slow to a halt as well.

SS: What are some positive things you're seeing happening in bodybuilding in the last few years?
JM: Well competitors are being marked down for distended guts, and lumpy muscle from Synthol use and related substances. That stuff has no place in bodybuilding and creation of the perfect physique.

SS: What are some things you're seeing in bodybuilding over the past few years that you're not so thrilled about?
JM: People still now, more than ever, are in search of that magical pill I mentioned earlier, and it seems that if you train hard for longer than 20 minutes you are labeled as overtraining now. Ridiculous. It also disappoints me that people aren’t putting the right amount of work in at the gym and being consistent, and then saying the sport is all drugs. Drugs are a part of the sport no doubt, but many just use that as a convenient excuse as to why they lost.


SS: Any parting words or comments for our readers?
JM: Thank you Shelby, it's been fun, it's also been fun watching your progress over the last years, amazing really. To the readers, be sure to check out the website in June (Mountain Dog Diet - John Meadows), and as my good friend Jason Brush says, "in bodybuilding, the tortoise beats the hare", put your time in, be smart, and continue to learn. All the best everyone.
SS: Thanks John, best of luck to you in your future endeavors and thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
 

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tenny

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awesome!!!!
thanks man

:)
 

Shelby

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some more good shots
 

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#3
 

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last one:
 

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chris250

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great interview Shelby...
 

b-boy

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EXCELLENT article! john meadows has forgotten more about bodybuilding that i have ever known! thus "seek out people that know more than you" thats why im with JOHN! :) :)
 

Flex2019

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Awesome read Shelby. Thank you!
 

kdtl61

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I really enjoyed reading this interview. I have always respected the mass and conditioning John would bring to the stage. I think the 10 chosen clients would make major changes in one years time working with John. Almost makes a guy want to send him a application for a spot :)

.
 

Lenny

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thanks for sharing!

Awesome interview! MTNDG1 is filled with knowledge, experience, and passion for this sport as well as health. Shelby thanks for sharing it, I can't wait to view his website once it is up and running. We should all fill privilige to have him on Promuscle as member.
 

MAINEVENT

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Great interview by 2 guys I highly respect.

John, I haven't forgotten about you buddy....just been busy with "life" lately and plan to get back on track and back to your workouts very soon.
 

Creation

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good.read.thanks.bros!
 
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619muscle

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when were those pics taken?
 

JonnyO

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Cool interview....will these be monthly things?
 

comedycentral

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great interview, i like your ideas on everything. training diet everything, it just shows its hands on advice not some 150lb t nation guru but blood n guts trenches stuff.

cant wait for your site and will def sign up
 

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Kilo Klub Member
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Jan 8, 2007
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We are almost there guys with the site....my team is working hard on it...I have asked them to do quite a bit. I want this to be an awesome site though, and not a bs site that will waste your time. You guys will have alot of input into the direction it takes...I'll explain more later..

Again, my sincerest thanks to all of you for the kind words, I really really appreciate it.....

JM
 

Massive G

Featured Member / Kilo Klub
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Kilo Klub Member
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Feb 13, 2004
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As I wrote on Intense Muscle, Great interview.
One of the best tips I can ever give anyone is read everything John writes, he's an encyclopedia of information and his methodology differs from what traditional bodybuilding diets evolved into. He reminds me a lot of Dante -an innovator and someone who has given 100's of hours of his time and effort to help others for free.
Also Phil Hernon falls into the same category..maybe you can interview him NEXT Shelby. ;)
 

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