I possess a ton of respect for Joe Weider.  His vision, work ethic and passion fueled modern day’s billion dollar bodybuilding and fitness industry. Coupled with the efforts of his brother Ben they formed the International Federation of Bodybuilding in which I’m a competitor and beneficiary. Over the years Joe developed a number of guiding principles for training progression aptly named the Joe Weider Training Principles. People will argue whether all of these principles are truly attributable to Joe, but that’s not the point of this article. I would like to simply like to propose the value of guiding principles. I further am inclined to say the benefit of foundational guiding principles bleed into all areas of life, extending beyond the chalk and iron of the gym.

Founding Fathers

In a rush to completely sanitize any sense of divinity from all aspects of public life, Americans tossed aside some of the guiding principles set forth by our founding fathers. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” is no longer a phrase in which people rally around, and I’ll argue that with the exclusion of absolute, self-evident truths we’ve attempted to erase God. Why? Because we believe culturally our intelligence, often espoused as tolerance, evolved beyond the wisdom of our forefathers. Because many embrace the notion that truth is subjective and in a truly autonomous culture we want to provide each individual the freedom to choose or create their own truth.

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Proverbs 29:18 offers us a counter-perspective, “Where there is no revelation [guidance from God], people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”

And yet we don’t want choices dictated to us by someone in charge, be it God or otherwise, because we want to dictate our own truth.  Sounds good on the surface if everyone wants to play nice, but we know that’s not the case, otherwise we wouldn’t lock our doors at night. A man without restraint, a set of guiding principles, and who is completely averse to subjecting himself to authority is dangerous.  Nobody who is serious about forward progress enters the gym without a plan, without a set of guiding principles. I’ll argue the same is true in life.


The Mountain Dog Way

About six years ago, coming off over a decade of Dorian-style HIT, my body was beat up with joint inflammation and muscle tears. I knew I needed a change as I floundered around in the gym searching for something different. I dabbled with several other training philosophies, but nothing helped. My physique was backsliding along with my ability to train intensely. It sucked the joy out of me.  I’m honestly not in love with the bodybuilding stage. Training was my first love and I was losing my affection for it. That’s when I stumbled across an article by John Meadows.

A quick Google search revealed John’s website ( which contained a good amount of training information and articles focused on his nutrition philosophy. It all resonated with me. I began watching his YouTube channel and implemented some of his exercise ideas. I thought I was essentially doing Mountain Dog Training (John’s training method) by way of stealing his exercise variations and implementing them into my own routine, but didn’t truly see the light until I met John in 2012 and hired him to program my workouts.

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The genius in which John programs exercises in a micro (individual workouts) and macro (12-week program) served as the guiding principles which breathed new life into my physique and returned the joy of training.  I sometimes deviate slightly from his prescribed exercises, but the overarching guiding principles of Mountain Dog Training hem me in. I admit some days I prefer different exercises or more or less volume, but I submit myself to the major theme of each workout because I trust John’s reasoning behind the program. I don’t believe Mountain Dog Training is a self-evident training truth which every single person must follow. I am contending for the universal need for some form of guiding principles in the gym.  Neither truth nor training is entirely subjective.

Subjectivity -> Vacuum

Socially, the rally cry for subjectivity creates a rudderless society and is actually a self-defeating statement. Claiming truth is no longer self-evident, but rather claiming it is self-determined, is in fact an ultimate truth statement which defeats the very premise of fully autonomous/subjective truth. Train purely on subjectivity, void of guiding principles, and you won’t get very far. Please don’t hear me arguing for a particular religious dogma, as much as I’m arguing against the unraveling of the moral fabric of America via the push for individualism. Man-made religion is often divisive and has a poor history of loving and embracing differences while defending the value of moral character and the benefit of guiding principles. However, since when did extolling moral conduct become something egregious?

Make no mistake; western culture is dying because we decided to kill it. Sanitation of God-centered, self-evident, guiding truths creates a vacuum. If everyone were high on marijuana and feeling the love of the 70’s hippy movement 24/7 it might work, but no culture exists in a vacuum. Something will invariably fill the void. When the pulse of our founding fathers' appeal to a higher power finally stops, the pulse of another world religion or moral code will take its place. Subjectivity is a vacuum which I believe cannot last, therefore when you toss out, “we hold these truths to be self-evident…” be prepared for something else to fill the void. Similar to how nobody trains in a vacuum, devoid of a plan.

When the popularity of one training method wanes, another takes its place…or else training stops completely.