John Meadows was an American professional bodybuilder and entrepreneur with an intriguing story. While John now boasts a successful career as an IFBB Pro bodybuilder and fitness company owner, his journey towards the top was extremely difficult.
Growing up, John never met his father, and his mother died at an extremely young age. This meant John only had his grandmother to take care of him. When his grandmother tragically passed away in 1999, John was left alone without his family to support him.
As the years went by, John continued to face new adversities in his life. During his early days in bodybuilding, John suffered from a rare colon disease. After fighting the disease for several months, his colon burst – almost resulting in his death. Luckily, John was quickly rushed to an emergency room where his life was saved. After several months of recovery, John was finally back on his feet.
Coming back into bodybuilding, John used the very obstacles that almost cost him his life as ‘fuel’ to grow stronger. Ever since he recovered from the colon surgery, John has gone on to become a successful bodybuilder, entrepreneur, and inspiration for many people all over the world.
This is his story:
Full Name: John Meadows Weight Height Year of Death Nationality 215 - 225lbs (93.0 - 102.1kg) 5'6" (167.5cm) 2021 American Profession Alias Era Professional Bodybuilder, Entrepreneur Mountain Dog 2010 Weight 215 - 225lbs (93.0 - 102.1kg) Height 5'6" (167.5cm) Year of Death 2021 Nationality American Profession Professional Bodybuilder, Entrepreneur Alias Mountain Dog Era 2010
- Capital University BA in Health and Fitness Management.
- CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist)
- CISSN (Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition)
- NPC Physique Light Heavyweight, 2nd place
- NPC Junior USA Light Heavyweight, 6th place
- NPC Jan Tana Amateur Heavyweight & Overall, 1st place
- NPC USA Championships Heavyweight, 4th place
- NPC USA Championships Heavyweight, 8th place
- NPC Collegiate Nationals Heavyweight & Overall, 1st place
- NPC USA Championships Heavyweight, 13th place
- NPC Eastern USA Championships Heavyweight, 3rd place
- NPC Nationals Heavyweight, 10th place
- IFBB North American Bodybuilding Championships, Men’s Heavyweight, 4th place
- USA Bodybuilding & Figure Championships, Men’s Heavyweight, 13th place
- Los Angeles Bodybuilding, Fitness & Figure Championships, Men’s Heavyweight, 4th place
- IFBB North American Championships, Men Heavyweight, 16th place
- IFBB North American Championships, Men’s Heavyweight, 12th place
- North American Championships, IFBB Men’s Bodybuilding: Heavyweight, 9th place
- North American Championships, IFBB Bodybuilding: Over 40 – Heavyweight, 2nd place
- North American Championships, IFBB Bodybuilding: Heavyweight, 7th place
- NPC Teen, Collegiate & Masters National Championships, Bodybuilding: Over 40 – Heavyweight, 2nd place
- Masters National Championships, Bodybuilding: Masters Over 40 Super Heavyweight, 2nd place
- Masters National Championships, Bodybuilding: Masters Over 35 Super Heavyweight, 3rd place
- NPC National Championships, Bodybuilding Heavyweight, 6th place
- Masters National Championships, Bodybuilding Masters Over 35 – Super Heavyweight, 2nd place
- Team Universe, Bodybuilding Over 40 Super Heavyweight, 4th place
- NPC Universe, Bodybuilding Over 40 Overall, 1st place – Earned the Pro Card
- Wings of Strength Texas, Bodybuilding IFBB Pro 212, 5th place
- Tampa Pro, IFBB Pro 212, 3rd place
- Vancouver Pro, Bodybuilding IFBB Pro 212, 5th place
- Wings of Strength Chicago Pro, IFBB Pro Men 212, 10th place
- Toronto Pro, IFBB Pro Men 212, 10th place
- Arnold Classic, IFBB Pro 212, 9th place
- Muscle Mayhem Pro, IFBB Open Men, 14th place
John’s Difficult Start to Life
John Meadows was born on Aprill 11th, 1972, in a small town near Columbus Ohio. Growing up, John didn’t have an easy life. He didn’t know his father, and his mother died at a very young age, leaving John in the hands of his elderly grandmother.
“My grandmother was a cook in a restaurant, so we were pretty poor.”
Throughout his early schooling days, John became involved in a variety of sports. Some of his favorites included baseball, American football, track, and wrestling.
As John said, even though he didn’t have the material things many of his peers had, he was still thankful and happy for having his grandmother, and sports in his life.
Humble Beginnings in Bodybuilding
When he was 13, John moved to Columbus, Ohio. It was during his time in Columbus when John discovered the bodybuilding lifestyle. One day, he was visiting a store with his grandmother when his eyes fell upon a fitness and bodybuilding magazine.
Looking through the magazine, John became fascinated with the muscular physiques he saw. As he said; “My favorite sections were the kinesiology articles where they showed diagrams instead of photos, and explained muscle function. Those articles fascinated me, and I suppose that showed that I was really interested in how muscles work and how to get the best out of them.”
As a result of his new-found interest, John soon started lifting weights at the gym. At the time, he played school sports which involved weightlifting. Because of this, he would first train with his sports team, then go to the gym to train on his own.
First Taste of Competing
In 1985, at the age of 13, John entered his first bodybuilding contest. It was the Mr. Buckeye competition for teens, which featured three other participants aged 14-17. As the youngest and least developed of all the competitors, John took the last place that day.
Here’s John talking about the experience; “At 119 pounds, I got fourth out of four. I don’t really have a lot of recollection on how I prepared for it, other than people told me not to drink water for the last day or two. I remember just having a couple of ice cubes now and then. That was pretty much all the liquid I got.”
In August 2021, John died “unexpectedly and peacefully” at his family’s home. At the time of writing, it’s unclear what his official cause of death was, and whether it was related to any of the health problems that he experienced in the past.
John Meadows during his early bodybuilding days.
Death of His Grandmother
In 1999, despite being in good health, John’s grandmother suddenly passed away while asleep. John was devastated by the event, as he didn’t have the chance to talk to his grandmother one last time.
As John said; “It was rough because I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I was in shock because she didn’t have anything wrong with her; she just went to sleep and didn’t wake up.”
Almost Dying From a Colon Disease
John continued competing in bodybuilding shows for the next several years. Then, in 2005, John was faced with yet another adversity. In the last few weeks leading up to his competition, John started feeling unusual pains in his stomach.
As the time went by, the pain became worse and worse. In fact, it got to the point where John could no longer eat food, as his stomach would inflame and become extremely painful after eating.
However, John ignored the symptoms at first, believing it was only due to stress from competing and eating a lot of protein. But, the pain persisted even long after the competition was over.
Eventually, the pain became so unbearable John had to go to a hospital to see what was wrong. After numerous tests, it was discovered John had a rare and serious colon disease. While in the hospital, John’s colon burst and he started bleeding to death. He was quickly rushed to an emergency room where the doctors managed to save his life.
John Meadows recovering from his colon surgery.
As a result of the surgery, John had his entire colon removed. As John said; “the first initial surgery in September 2005 was lifesaving, and they removed my entire colon. The operation itself caused many problems, including multiple hernias that cleared up in 2007. “
He continued; “If I hadn’t been in the hospital, I wouldn’t have survived. They didn’t figure out what was really wrong until they did a biopsy. It was a vascular disease in a particular vein in the sigmoid part of my colon.”
Fortunately, after months of recovery, John’s agony was over. He slowly returned to lifting weights, and later, competing in bodybuilding.
John’s Comeback into Competitive Bodybuilding
Two years after his colon surgery, John came back into competitive bodybuilding. His comeback show was the 2007 IFBB North American Championships, where he took 16th place.
As John’s experience in bodybuilding grew, so did his ambitions in the sport. Aiming to take his career to new heights, John began competing in the National Shows. By winning such a contest, John would secure himself the famous Pro Card.
Fighting For His Pro Card
After years of competing, and 14 attempts at winning the Pro Card, John finally realized his goal. He earned his Professional status at the 2015 NPC Universe, where he took the overall 1st place.
Needless to say, winning the Pro Card after so many attempts was exhilarating for John. He said; “It was very emotional— lots of people that have been with me through the years were there and they were crying. After 16 years of trying for the card, it was an unbelievable feeling that will be really hard to beat.”
Later Competitive Years
Riding high from his Pro Card success, John didn’t waste much time. He made his Pro Debut the same year, taking the top 5 place in the 2015 Vancouver Pro.
A few weeks later, John competed in yet another show. This time, it was the Tampa Pro, where he finished 3rd.
John Meadows Latest Years
Showing no signs of slowing down, John continued to partake in biggest bodybuilding contests across America.
In recent years, his biggest goal was to qualify for the elite Mr. Olympia, as well as competing in this very contest.
After he accomplished this goal, John planned on retiring from professional bodybuilding.
John Meadow’s Back Training
After years of trying different training techniques, John has found that his back responds the best to high-intensity training.
He utilizes methods such as drop sets and forced reps to maximize intensity during his workouts.
When it comes to specific back exercises, these are John’s favorites;
- Hammer row – Before starting this exercise, John makes sure to warm up first. After he’s done warming up, John will do 3 sets of 10 reps with heavier weight. During the movement, he’ll focus on squeezing and contracting the muscle to maximize the intensity. After the last set, John will do one more drop-set with less weight, for as many reps as he can.
- One Arm Barbell Rows – In this exercise, John aims at doing 4 sets of 8 reps with heavy weight, and perfect form. He said, the 8th rep should be extremely challenging do to with perfect form – this is how he knows if he’s doing it well.
- Pullovers – For this movement, John uses either dumbbells or a machine. He says, it doesn’t matter which one he uses, as long as he lifts with enough intensity.
- Away Facing Lat Pulldowns – Here John does 4 sets of 10 reps. During the movement, he focuses on flexing his lats as hard as possible.
- Reverse Hypers – John does 10 reps for 3 sets in this exercise. Once again, he focuses on performing the movement with a controlled form.
- Rack Pulls – This exercise is one of John’s favorites for building thickness in his back. He doesn’t train with heavy weights here, but instead focuses on doing controlled reps.
Leg Workout Routine
Just like with his back training, John puts the priority on his form over everything else. Only after he’s mastered the form, John will increase the weights.
This is how his leg workout looks;
- Standing single-leg, seated or lying leg curl, 4 sets of 10 reps
- Adductor Machine, 4 sets of 10 reps
- Barbell Squat or Leg Press, 5-8 sets of 8-10 reps
- Hack Squat or Leg Extensions, 4 sets of 10-12 reps
- Smith Machine Stationary Lunge, 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Stiff-leg Deadlift, 4 sets of 8-12 reps
John Meadows’ Diet
One of the primary rules of John Meadows’ diet is to focus on micronutrition, instead of macronutrition. His diet is based on these key concepts;
- The best food comes from animals that have been fed their natural diet – According to John, foods such as grass-fed beef, wild salmon, and free-range eggs are all superior to their conventional counterparts due to their high omega-3 fat content. In other words, John will avoid any products from animals that aren’t pasture-raised.
- The correct ratio of fats with a special emphasis on saturated fats – Contrary to a common belief, John recommends eating saturated fats. He says, these fats are vital for hormonal balance, and other key functions in the body. For this reason, he advocates eating foods such as grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon, which are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fat soluble vitamins and their role in endocrine function – John believes that consumption of vitamins A, D, E, and K is extremely important for endocrine function and overall health. Moreover, he believes that by getting enough of these vitamins, he speeds up his fat loss.
- Keeping your liver healthy – John likes to take a few days off from training and dieting here and there to let his liver ‘catch up.’ He also takes supplements such as milk thistle to promote liver recovery.
- Supplements to manage glucose disposal – By taking supplements such as alpha-lipoic acid, John helps his body stabilize blood sugar levels. This, in turn, helps him lose fat more quickly.
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Idols and Influences
John credits his wife Mary as his biggest influence in life. She was with him through ‘ups’ and ‘downs,’ always supporting his decisions in life.
Here’s John talking about his wife; “I couldn’t have done it without her. When I was sick and got out of the hospital and I was too weak to look after myself, she did everything for me, including sanitary things I can’t talk about.
If I say I want to do something, we’ll talk about it, make sure it’s workable and then she gets behind me and supports the idea and me all the way. And when I’m hurting the last three or four weeks of my diet, she sees the look on my face and says, “Just hang in there, it’s going to be worth it.” And I need to hear that at that stage.” – John Meadows
What we can learn from John Meadows
One simple thing we can learn from John Meadows’ story, is to never lose faith. John faced countless challenges on his way to the top, but he never gave up. In fact, he saw these obstacles as something that would help him grow stronger, and they did.
If you’re ever in need of inspiration, look no further than John Meadows’ story. He is a living proof that no matter how hard life gets, you can still come out on top and become the greatest version of yourself.
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