A crowd has gathered. A dozen cameras are flashing. iPhones and iPads are recording video. The two lifters barely have room to walk around and load plates. But they seem unfazed. Their focus never wavers.
It's the day after the Olympia, a time when every physique athlete schedules his or her photo shoot. Figure competitors wearing nothing but makeup and dental floss. Top female bodybuilders wearing bondage gear and five o' clock shadows. Spritzed and oiled men pretending to lift as professional photogs scurry around them.
There are at least six other shoots taking place around us at City Athletic Club in Las Vegas, but for some reason the crowd has gathered around pro trainer John Meadows and IFBB pro Mark Dugdale. This is something different. They're not posing. They're not being spritzed. They're training.
Plates are piled onto bars. Sets are completed, then extended, then extended again. Empty bottles of Plazma™ are hitting the floor like spent ammo casings.
The crowd grows larger still as the workout stretches past the two hour mark. Dugdale isn't supposed to be doing this, and the crowd knows it. The day after a major bodybuilding competition, you're supposed to blow your diet, get a quick pump, and take a few photos using your best over-the-top lifting face. But Dugdale isn't pretending. This workout is real. Just 12 hours after his last competition, he's preparing for the next one.
Meadows coaches Mark when it's not his turn under the bar. There's no screaming and no catchphrases. There's not even any swearing. Just lifting cues, technique adjustments, encouragement, and tips for making every exercise more effective.
The pattern of the workout would be familiar to T Nation readers: pre-activated muscles that have been loaded with high-tech nutrients are pumped and engorged. Fast-twitch fibers are stimulated. Then using specific exercise techniques, supra-maximal pump volume is induced to engorge muscle with specialized growth nutrients. Twenty minutes into the workout and their T-shirts don't fit anymore.
The sets seem endless, but there's a plan in place here, training methods Meadows has been testing and perfecting on himself and top bodybuilders for over 20 years. There's a purpose for every set and no rep is wasted.
Double the Training Volume
"I first heard about John Meadows through T Nation," Dugdale tells us. "I'd sworn off all the 'bodybuilding gurus' out there. I'd had some prior experiences with them that just weren't beneficial, other than I learned what not to do. But I had a ton of respect for John from reading his T Nation articles and knowing that he'd cut his teeth with a lot of really experienced powerlifters and bodybuilders. He had the knowledge, and he was also living it out as a competitor himself."
After the Arnold Classic, Dugdale did a photo shoot at Dave Tate's gym. Mark had heard that John was going to be training there and wanted to catch a workout with him. They talked shop and decided to team up.
Before Meadows got his hands on him, Dugdale had been experimenting with new training methodologies. "I'd trained using the Dorian Yates style of HIT through my 20's and into my early 30's," he said. "That served me well, but that type of training runs its course. Even with some new training programs, I felt like I wasn't making a lot of progress. I was training about four days per week at the time."
Dugdale was excited to work with Meadows, but was shocked when he received his first program. "He wanted to take me to seven days per week. I scoffed and said, 'I'm not 22, John! And I couldn't even do that in my 20's, so I'm not sure how I'm supposed to do that now!' But I trusted his judgment and said I'd give it a shot."
Dugdale embraced the new training system, but he had a hard time keeping up. He was sore and barely surviving the intensity and frequency. "John told me he wasn't getting sore, and I couldn't believe it. I was thinking, come on, I train hard, but John was training even harder. Plus he's older than me!"
Meadows could relate. "Here was a guy who'd been in the game a long time, same as me, and both of us had been kinda stuck. We were at a pretty high level but not getting much better. Not long ago I was thinking, well, maybe I've tapped out my potential. Then in one year I gained over 10 pounds of stage weight, something I hadn't done in the previous 5 to 7 years."
You Have to Be Unbreakable
Meadows wanted Dudgale to experience the same type of new growth as he did, so he let him in on a secret. John had been using a supplement strategy from Biotest, one that allowed him to train longer, harder, heavier, and more frequently. But it wasn't available to the public yet at the time.
"I picked his brain about this pre and intra-workout supplement," Dugdale said, "then I tried what a lot of people have probably tried: I went out and bought some fast-acting carbs and protein powders, thinking they were all about the same. I figured it had to be relatively close to whatever John was getting from Biotest. But it didn't work. I was still getting sore and still barely getting through the training.
"You can only lift so hard before things start breaking. People always say that the mind fails before the body. But when you've been doing this for 20 years and you're in your 30's, well, I'm pretty mentally tough but at this point my body will break before my mind will.
"So I kept bugging John, asking him when this secret stuff was coming out because I wanted some. That's when John put me in touch with Biotest founder Tim Patterson. Tim was gracious enough to send me some Plazma,™ even though I wasn't an officially sponsored athlete with Biotest at the time. In fact, I was sponsored by another company. But Tim wanted to see if he could get me to experience the same kind of effects as John.
"Sure enough, within a day the soreness started going away and I was fully recovered by the second day. Before it had taken me four or five days to recover, which made working out more than four times a week impossible. Now, I was able to train seven days a week. Even with legs, by the time the second leg workout rolled around I was chomping at the bit to get back in the gym and lift weights.
"To me that's the best indicator that you've recovered. In the past there were days when I'd go to the gym dragging. I had the discipline of an obsessed bodybuilder so I'd go train regardless, but after using Plazma™ and then adding Mag-10® and Indigo-3G® I literally could not wait to get back into the gym. It was awesome."
"Before we got Mark on the Plazma™ protocol people were starting to whisper about if he was ever going to hit his stride again," Meadows said. "He'd torn a pec, pulled a hamstring, and torn a quad. I told him the way I had his training sequenced I was going to keep him healthy. When we eventually got him on the Plazma™ protocol, that was it, man. He took off!
"People started talking, saying that Mark was back. Then he competed in the Toronto show and took second, the best he's ever looked. He was fuller, harder, and had more muscle. And he improved even more for the Olympia."
Too Much Muscle?
"The 212 class is brutal," Meadows told us. "There are some phenomenal bodybuilders in that class. Before Tim Patterson and I started working with Mark, he was coming into competition at 207 and not really ripped yet. Since then he's put on 5 to 7 pounds of dry stage weight. At the Olympia he was 215 on stage and as hard as a rock."
But things got scary right before then. Dudgale was gaining muscle fast and not losing any muscle when he began dieting for the show. "He was at 232 pounds, lean and hard. We were getting worried that he couldn't get down to 212 for his class. Where were we going to pull it from?" Meadows said.
Dugdale adds: "I even emailed John at one point and said, 'I think I'm growing too much muscle!' He laughed and said he could not believe a bodybuilder would say that. I told him, well, I have to get down to 212 for the weight class. They moved it from 202 to 212, so maybe we can get them to move it to 220!"
It came down to the wire, but things worked out. Dudgale weighed in at 212 on the dot. "With the Plazma™ protocol, I'm going to have do things a little differently next time," he told us. Faster muscle gains and no loss of muscle when contest dieting? That'll make anyone upgrade their plans.
Get Out of Training What You Put Into Training
"This is what I love," Dudgale said. "I'm not the type of guy that says, take this pill and look like me. I'm not looking for a shortcut. I just want to get out of training what I put in, and I put in a lot. I'm willing bust my butt seven days a week, but I want to be able to see the results of that and not just grind myself down. That's what these three supplements – Plazma™ Mag-10® and Indigo-3G® – do for me.
"I love the tagline for Plazma™ Be Unbreakable, because that's what I experienced. It allows you to invest in hard training and recover. If you're recovering then you're growing. I love the fact that I'm going to get out exactly what I put in. I love hard work, and this protocol affords me that opportunity."
Build Muscle Every Single Workout
"Training itself is catabolic, not anabolic," Meadows said. "There are two sides to the coin, muscle protein synthesis – which is how you build muscle – and protein breakdown, which is where you lose it. I can't think of anything more impressive that what Plazma™ has done in this situation.
"You can't just train hard. There has to be a nutritional component to it. And you can't just use whey protein, something your body has to digest while you train. You don't want blood flow being diverted from your legs when you're doing squats to your stomach to digest a protein shake. And post-workout isn't enough; you need pre and intra-workout nutrients. In fact, of the three phases of workout nutrition, intra or during is the most important, pre-workout is second, and post-workout is third.
"This is where bioactive casein comes in – the high-grade stuff that's been broken down into di-/tri peptides. It doesn't work with the cheap stuff. Plazma™ puts protein synthesis into motion while at the same time stopping protein breakdown by using the right carbs and aminos to create this awesome insulin response. Nothing is more powerful than insulin at stopping protein breakdown.
"You see, when you're training you're digging a ditch. If you dig that ditch 5 feet deep – signifying muscle protein breakdown – you've got to build it up 5 feet just to get back to where you started. Wouldn't it make sense to only dig it a few inches deep, then add a couple of feet back to it? Now you're building muscle every workout."
"The truth is, Dudgale chose us," Tim Patterson said. It's true. In many ways, Mark Dugdale is homegrown. He's been reading T Nation for over a decade, gleaning diet and training information from the site and working it into his plans. And it's just getting started. Tim now has Meadows and Dugdale using Micro-PA™ and Mark is adding in extra workouts designed by Christian Thibaudeau and Tim Patterson. You can follow their logs in the Micro-PA Forum.
Meadows and Dugdale don't just want you to read their logs. They don't want fans. They want you to join them, ask questions, and advance your training. "I'm having more fun than ever before," Meadows said. "I can't wait to see what's next."
The crowd of onlookers that day in Vegas probably left the gym with the same thought:
I thought I knew what hard training was all about. I thought I knew what I was doing when it came to workout supplementation. I thought I was hardcore, but I was wrong. There's another level out there that I didn't even know existed. And you know what? I think I can get there.
Redefine intensity. Redefine hardcore. Meadows and Dugdale will be here to show you the way.