The story of how John stood on stage far heavier, far more muscular, and far more shredded than he's ever been.
"When first testing Plazma,™ I did things that I'd never advise anybody to do — like crazy intensity and insane volume — and honestly, I didn't cramp up, I didn't get sore, and I got these mind-blowing pumps.
"Doing machine presses, for example, I'd usually come 3 or 4 plates short of doing the entire stack and do maybe 8 or 10 reps — but that day I ended up using the whole stack, doing something like 16 or 17 reps. Thinking maybe I got lucky, I went to barbell incline press and the same thing happened — I knocked out a really high number of reps on that, as well. My training partners were dumbfounded. They're like, 'Wow, what happened to you?' and these are guys that I've trained with for years.
"It went like that the whole workout. It was pretty freaky.
"The next three weeks, I kept training like this and eating a lot to see how much muscle I could gain. Getting leaner wasn't even on my mind. So, when my body fat dropped from about 9 percent to 5 or 6 percent, it was pretty much by accident.
"I thought, 'This is really cool. All I have to do to is follow the Plazma™ protocol and go to the gym and train my ass off, which is what I love to do. That's it.
"The best way I can describe being on Plazma™ — it feels like I'm unbreakable."
A Fascinating Story...
On Saturday, July 21st, T Nation's John Meadows took 2nd out of a field of 27 heavyweights at the NPC Masters Nationals. John was by far the most massive and shredded. He simply lost to someone who was taller and had a "prettier" physique. Far more interesting than John's contest ranking is why he decided to compete and the circumstances that led up to that decision. Here's a glimpse of what happened:
- While training to on pack on new muscle, John noticed he was also shredding up. And in a 12-week period, without even trying, he got into contest shape.
- In contrast to usual pre-contest dieting, he increased his daily food intake by 500 calories, and pushed his carbs up to as much as 570 grams per day.
- John credits the shredding while gaining phenomenon to the specialized nutrients and carbs he added into his diet, which came from Plazma.™
- Equally as impressive to John was his newfound ability of being "invincible in the gym," training brutally hard with Dave Tate and gaining muscle mass at a record rate.
- Lastly, he did absolutely no cardio.
John ended up standing on stage at 221 pounds — far heavier, far more muscular, and far more shredded than he's ever been in competition. The story of how he accomplished all of this is largely due to an intramuscular effect called the Reactive Pump.
Pumping Growth Factors Into Muscle
The whole point of the reactive pump is making muscle hyper-responsive to nutrient uptake and hyper-responsive to growth signaling, which has everything to do with what you're pumping into the muscle. To get this effect, you have to enhance the muscle's uptake capacity, then pump it beyond anything you've ever experienced with blood that's pre-loaded with certain growth factors.
So when I talk about the reactive pump, I'm not referring to the regular kind of a muscle pump that we've all experienced. Rather, there's a real science behind the reactive pump. It's a blend of artistry and chemistry, and you really have to know exactly what you're doing in order to create the special kind of pump we're talking about.
But before getting into any more details, we've got to go back a few years to when John's theories about working out were still gelling together.
"I'd drive to Westside Barbell and do a leg workout over there; squats for example," remembers John. "We'd do 8 sets of squats... you know, dynamic work and so forth. Then I would get in my car and drive as fast as I could to World Gym and literally run in the door, load up the leg press, and try to get my legs as pumped as I could."
John couldn't support what he was doing with any science; he only knew that it was making him bigger and stronger. As the months and years went on, he began experimenting with things like explosive accommodating resistance, i.e., band and chain work, but still the pump remained at the forefront of his training.
Contrary to what anybody else was doing, John started training the pump first before doing the "big bang" movements like bench and squat and training the high-threshold motor units. Then he'd train for the pump again to really push massive amounts of blood into the area.
"It was working really well," explained John, "I tried to find some good scientific literature to back up this style of training and it was really thin, so I thought, 'Okay, well, I don’t care. They can figure it out in 20 years. I've got it figured out now.'"
But the limiting factor in John's training... heck, the limiting factor in anyone's training, is of course, recovery. John's big body parts were always trashed for several days after a workout, especially legs and especially when he and Dave Tate got together for their regular Saturday workout where the unspoken goal was to make the other guy hurl.
This is about the time John started talking to Tim Patterson. Tim was intrigued by John's training, especially his "elegant, layered approach" to achieving the effect he wanted in a muscle.
"It was clear to me there were some really cool things he was doing," explained Tim. "Like, for example, pumping the muscle up and then training the high-threshold motor units with that pumped muscle. But like all methodologies, his was based on, or limited by, recovery.
"Everybody’s training system has to consider where the body begins to break down, and you can’t go past that point without devastating consequences. Unfortunately, people really don’t know how to effectively train on the edge. They’re coming to wrong conclusions, like doing less or working out less frequently or going through de-loading phases. There just aren't good answers.
"For instance, John would never consider doing a brutal leg workout and then doing another leg workout in the same week, which is what he'd need to do to get more out of his leg development. And due to his pre-pump concept, it seemed to me that John would be the ultimate subject for exploring the next step in peri-workout nutrients."
By trapping certain growth-signaling compounds in the target muscles via the pump, Tim theorized that John's style of training could very well make the muscle more responsive to growth signals and blow recovery limitations through the roof, which is why he termed this phenomenon the "Reactive Pump."
"Without utilizing some kind of hyper-reactive state, muscle cells simply aren't responsive enough to nutrient transport to drive in the levels required for what we wanted to see." said Tim. "If you want to experience shocking gains, you have to create an entirely different chemistry inside working muscle the kind that makes cells far, far, far more anabolically reactive. Furthermore, you have to prevent most of the damage and inflammation that results from those kinds of physical demands."
Tim Patterson is always doing experiments. There's even a rumor that there's a collection of brains in pickle jars down in the Biotest cellar. At least that's what Igor says.
For instance, last year, in accordance with his experimenting nature, Tim tried out something out on what he considered to be a nearly impossible challenge. The subject of his experiment was an endurance athlete who participates in triathlons, only he doesn't really train for them to the degree he should. He sometimes enters competitions and then comes pretty close to kidney failure, peeing blood, passing out, and they practically have to Air Evac him out of there.
Partly as a humanitarian effort and partly as an exploratory scientific endeavor, Tim develops a formula to essentially pull nutrients into working muscle and keep this triathlete from destroying muscle and from dehydrating. His goal was to create a nutrient complex that has the perfect chemistry to continuously drive fluids and nutrients into muscle to the extent it would revive and fuel someone who's dying from extreme exhaustion.
A few weeks later, the triathlete is scheduled to do a casual race in Europe with two professional bike riders and their route would take them over 3 mountain passes. The three cyclists have done it before, and normally our triathlete spends the race looking at the skinny asses of the pros in front of him until he completely gasses out, which usually occurs before the second mountain pass.
But this time, Tim gives him the formula before the race and he ends up blowing past one of the pros on the second pass, and goes on to easily complete the race. Obviously, this triathlete is sold on the formula and protocol, and now he won't compete without it. "He's invincible at this point, really," says Patterson, with just a hint of satisfaction in his voice.
Intrigued by this effect, Tim starts thinking about how else he might use the principles he learned through the triathlete experiment. He thinks to himself, "This thing is crazy because, during the most extreme physical demands, we have muscle pulling in nutrients as if it were a vacuum, and the effect completely revolutionizes sports performance. I'm going to see if we can get a similar effect with muscle growth and recovery. Whatever this is doing for endurance athletes, it should do substantially more for bodybuilders and power athletes."
And that's when he thinks of John Meadows. He thinks about John's love of the pump and how, if he and John worked together, John could refine his training to take advantage of this supplement, and use the pump to deliver targeted nutrients directly to the muscles being worked.
"I Feel Like I'm in the Twilight Zone."
Tim achieved this effect with something he calls Plazma,™ and John finds a supply of it on his doorstep. He starts using Plazma,™ and the protocol Tim suggested, and suddenly all of the pain stops like someone had thrown a switch:
"I didn’t get sore anymore. I tried, I mean I really tried. It was so unusual that I'm thinking maybe I just didn't train hard enough. I thought, 'We'll fix that!'
"I went to Tate's gym and we did a three-hour leg workout where every single exercise was probably 7 or 8 sets. We worked hard and then we just did an insane drop set at the end of each exercise. It's one thing to go to failure, but we'd go way beyond that. We'd take it to failure and then do partials. Then we'd do even smaller partials. And then we'd do something where we can maybe move the weight an inch.
"Testing Plazma,™ we did things that I'd never advise anybody to do, and honestly, I wasn't sore and I had this mind-blowing pump. After the workout, I went home and got out of my truck real gingerly like, just waiting for the cramps to hit hard and for me to fall over, but nothing. No pain. So I mowed the lawn and then went out to a movie. I told Tim the best way I can describe it is that when I'm on Plazma,™ I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone."
"John! What's Happened to Your Body?"
Obviously, John's training is going gangbusters. He's added frequency, he's not cramping any more, the weights are flying up, and he's looking better by the day, but he doesn't know just how much better until one day his wife says, "What's happening to your body? Have you checked your body fat lately?"
Puzzled, John pulls out the skin fold calipers and checks his subscap site, which is traditionally for him his fattest area. He likes to make sure it reads no more than 14 or 15 millimeters because that lets him know he's cruising at about 8 or 9 percent body fat. About three weeks earlier it was 14, but this time it reads 10, which is equivalent to about 5 or 6 percent body fat, and his weight hadn't changed a lick.
"It was so amazing and I thought, 'You know what?' This is pretty easy. I hadn't wanted to compete this year because of the stress of dealing with everything involved with a contest. Competing can be a miserable experience and it's tough on everybody. You're completely fatigued and sometimes you're just miserable. But now I'm thinking, 'Wow, I could compete and I can still have a functional family. I can still live life. I can still be happy. We can still go out to eat. This is really cool. All I have to do is follow the Plazma™ protocol and go to the gym and train my ass off, which I love to do. That's it. And to think, I'd pretty much gotten in shape by accident."
"So I talked to Tim and told him what I wanted to do. He gets quiet for a minute and then he says, 'You know, this is perfect timing. Let's keep on going and see just how massive and shredded we can get you on stage, eating big and training hard all the way to the contest.'"
780 Pounds for 10 Reps
As John continues to prepare for his show, he's still hooking up with Dave Tate on Saturdays to train. A few days after one of those workouts, on Tuesday, John texts Dave. The text says, "Hey, I'm squatting today. What are you doing?"
They'd just trained legs on Saturday, so Dave is incredulous. He responds with, "You’re nuts, man. What's wrong with you?"
And the same thing happens the next week. By now, John's doing it to rub it in, to mess with Dave, sort of like poking a bear with a sharp stick. This time, Dave just responds with. "Really?"
So Dave starts using John's Plazma™ and following the dosing protocol. Dave was somewhere around the upper 240's with about 9 percent body fat when he began. A few weeks after training on Plazma,™ he's in the upper 250's without adding body fat.
"And in the last two weeks," exclaims John, "he's done things he hasn't been able to do since he was in the 308 power lifting class. Last week he did 780-pound reverse band squats for 10 reps on a safety squat bar. This is a guy with herniated disks, with a torn... everything you could possibly imagine has been torn on him. And honestly, I think if he could get his arms behind a regular squat bar, he could probably squat 1,000 now.
"We exchanged text messages probably 3 weeks ago and we're both like, 'This isn't possible for 40 year olds to be changing this quickly. This just doesn't sound possible.' We're both pretty amazed."
As the contest draws nearer, John is just cruising. Things are totally different from his previous contest-prep experiences. He's not spending half the day sleeping. He's not doing any cardio and he's eating carbs, lots of carbs, sometimes as many as 570 grams in a day. He's still eating hamburgers and fries on the weekend; still having French toast during the week.
And perhaps most amazingly of all, when the week of the show arrives, his strength was up, not down, and he hasn't been sore a single day since he started using Plazma.™ The last time John competed, he'd stood on stage at 210 pounds, but when he hit the stage a couple of weeks ago at the NPC Masters Nationals, he weighed in at 221.
"I literally put on 11 pounds of stage weight at 40 years old, and I hadn't been sore in 3 months. So essentially I gained more stage weight in, what I would say conservatively, the last 3 months than I had in the previous 4 or 5 years. As kind of a weird side note, I don't have a colon now [it was removed surgically a few years back after a serious illness], so I'd probably weigh closer to 225 if I did.
"So I enter the contest in the best shape I've ever been, I'm the biggest and hardest guy in the show, and it's the highest I've ever placed in a National show... I mean, it's just remarkable. I know it's really weird for me to say all this, but these are the facts."
230 Pounds at 4% Body Fat
John Meadows is using Plazma™ and the Reactive Pump™ Program — the name given to the Plazma™ protocol combined with his unique style of training — to pack on as much muscle as humanly possible with one goal in mind:
"I think I only lost the contest by one or two points. So I'm thinking, what if I repeated it one more time? That could be pretty remarkable. I mean, next year, at only 5'6", I could be the guy on stage at 230 pounds and sub 4-percent body fat. I'm not thinking in terms of limits anymore. This is so exciting because I don't see any reason why this system won't keep working."