Mountain Dog Training: Not What You Think

Of all the training methodologies out there this has to be the one which name I like the best. This name sounds wild and intense, the truth is this training methodology is just that, but guided by some serious experience and underlying training principles designed to give you some serious size and strength gains. Unlike many other systems this program focusses on both training and nutrition. But for the sake of time in this article we are going to concentrate on the training, the nutrition comes at a later date! Mountain Dog training was designed by John Meadows, a former amateur bodybuilder who competed at, and won, many regional level shows in the U.S.A. It is since the development of this program and the use of it, successfully, that his name has become well known and respective in the bodybuilding world.

What's different about Mountain Dog training?

Unlike other training principles this has distinct levels of training from novice, intermediate and advanced or 'warrior'. Each workout focusses on a typical body part split such as back, chest, legs, shoulders and arms. But each session has a varied number of training types, including time under tension (TUT), rest pause, partial reps, drop sets and dead-stop work, creating a variety of different stimuli within each session across several exercises. This is without doubt one of the highest volume training systems out there per session and is why the nutritional component for recovery becomes so important. John Meadows Whatever level you are at, the principle is progressing the intensity and volume of the workout each week, with de-load weeks put in to help you rest, recover and grow. Weeks 1-3 uses a medium volume approach, gradually incorporating high intensity sets such as rest-pause, TUT and partial reps for each exercise, workouts should typically include around 12 sets per body part. For weeks 4-9 the intensity gets ramped up, more sets deviate away from the classic 8-12 repetition range and with sets increasing to 16-20 per body part. This is some serious tonnage being shifted in these sessions, the session now incorporate more drop sets, TUT rest pause and partial reps to really ramp the volume up. Weekly increases in volume have been shown to be the key indicator or muscle growth, assuming adequate nutrition for recovery. Weeks 10-12 reduces the volume to a low to medium range, with only 8-10 sets but each set is meant to be the ‘toughest you will ever do’, this program relies on mental toughness to ensure even on these lower volume weeks, the intensity is there to push yourself beyond normal training intensities to get the most out of this program. Finally after the brutal 12 weeks there is a 2 week de-load period to allow you to recover ready to take it up a level in your next training cycle. Each session also incorporates the idea of intense stretching; a principle included more and more frequently in training programs to promote the stretching of the muscle fascia, which they suggest is a limiting factor for muscle growth. The muscle fascia is a tough connective tissue that surrounds muscles and the principle is if you can enlarge this, through massage or stretching, then you have more room for the muscle to grow in to.

Now on to some specifics of the workouts

For legs they suggest doing isolated hamstring work first using hamstring curls or stiff legged deadlifts, before proceeding to compound exercises for quads/hams and then if required to isolation movements. The theory being that the order of the exercises influences the impact on the performance of the next exercise, therefore training in this order allows you to maintain higher intensity through-out the session. For back the approach appears to be attacking as many angles of possible using a variety of rows, pull-downs and pull-ups. Meadow’s suggests you perform deadlifts and heavy rows first as these are the best movements to develop back thickness and overall size, and we would agree. After rows use some intense stretching, such as lat pull-downs with a deep stretch at the top of the rep, before moving on to the traps and rhomboids and finally on to isolated movements for the spinal erectors, although these can be included anywhere in the workout as long as your back isn’t pumped after heavy rows or deadlifts! Followed by you guessed it more intense stretching. For chest and shoulder workouts the principles are to basically work through a range of angles and range of motions using dumbbell and barbell movements (for shoulders pressing should be limited to protect the joints) with isolation work thrown in for good measure, and of course some more intense stretching. Arm day starts concentrating on the biceps and the underdeveloped arms muscles that conventional angles ‘miss’ including cross body hammer curls and revers grip EZ bar curls, targeting the brachialis. This is then followed by conventional bicep work, such as dumbbell, cable, preacher and EZ bar curls. The triceps are the final thing to get worked, starting with isolated push down movements to increase blood flow in to the muscle and joint, then moving on to dipping or pressing movements and finally on to extension exercises such as skull crushers to really fry those tri’s.

Intensity is the factor

You may have noticed at this point that there aren’t many specifics about exercises, the number of sets performed on each exercise and reps. That really is the underlying point of this program, it is about the intensity with which you train and the relative volume you produce in each session. The exercises, sets and reps come secondary to the performance of these exercises and as long as all the muscles within each group are hit hard. As long as the number of sets for each phase is reached then the volume, using rest pause, drop sets, partial reps and TUT, should be high if performed with enough intensity. In theory, for weeks 1-3 for example, you could use twelve different exercises at one set each to hit chest, or 4 exercises with 3 sets each, one of rest pause, one of TUT and one drop set or any combination of these. There within lies the beauty of this training program, the principle is simple but also allows you to put as much variety into you training session as you wish as long as you are intense and hitting some decent volume. We really like the variety this program brings and the focus on intensity, so if you want to change up your training to something a little more next level than your usual spilt, then give this training method a try. Peace, weights and protein shakes. Paul Rimmer (BSc, MSc). [wpsr_socialbts]