Recently, I had the privilege to take a sneak peak at John Meadows’s new program, High Evolutionary. The program is out now on John’s site, so it’s not exactly an exclusive look, but I wanted to offer my thoughts on the plan.

First, here’s John’s own description:

This program is not a push, pull, legs split, it’s more traditional with a separate arm day. Generally, you will hit each bodypart 3 times every 2 weeks. I would consider it moderate frequency. With the intensity I am advocating in this program, I believe it is best to have a separate arm day and slightly more recovery time. You may want to go right home after these back workouts for example, forget training biceps! It’s also nice to have a day to train smaller body parts to allow the larger parts more recovery time. As always, there is a method behind every single thing I do.

I think that’s a pretty fair description. If you’re familiar with John’s programs already, this is about halfway in between two of his most recent ones: Project Colussus and Odin Force. If you enjoyed either or both of those, then High Evolutionary will be right up your alley!

The Basic Principles

Most of John’s programs share a few common traits, and High Evolutionary is no exception.Here are what I consider the highlights:

  • High intensity. All of John’s programs are pretty intense, at least in the bodybuilding sense – you’re pushing to your limit of perceived exertion, or even past it! The RPE chart John uses puts this into perspective rather well: most of your sets will be at least an RPE 9, and several will be 10 or above.
  • Movement rotation. In order to make progress with a sustained level of high intensity, it’s important to implement some other form of variation. John does this through movement rotation: over the course of the six week program, he changes the selected exercises to provide both mental relief (doing the same thing every day gets old fast) and to encourage muscular growth rather than neuromuscular adaptation.
  • Split options. None of John’s splits are set in stone. High Evolutionary is divided into a standard bodybuilding split (legs, chest, back, and arms), but he also provides instructions for customizing that split if you’d like to put more emphasis on a specific bodypart.

An excerpt from the Mountain Dog RPE chart... it goes past 11!

John also uses some pretty unconventional movements that target muscles in ways that you often can’t achieve using more well-known variations. For example, check out this slight decline Smith press he uses in High Evolutionary.

Who Should Use This Program

In my opinion, John’s programs aren’t suitable for beginning lifters. They require a base level of strength to make the best use of the wide variety of movements included. However, if you have 6-12 months of training under your belt, you can probably make High Evolutionary work pretty well.

As far as goals go, this is a well-balanced program for both bulking and cutting. The high intensity levels will work well to build muscle while in a caloric surplus, but the split and moderate amount of rest days will allow for sufficient recovery during a deficit.

Supplementing High Evolutionary

John really stresses the importance of a “recovery lifestyle,” and good recovery really is essential when training hard. Prior to your training, I recommend taking one serving of either Granite Pre-mium (if you respond well to stimulants like caffeine) or Intra-Keto (if you don’t). Either will give you a nice energy boost to push hard during your training.

More importantly, make sure to get in some type of carbohydrate during your training. I recommend Granite Recovery, as the diverse, easily-digested carbohydrate sources will provide stable blood sugar levels and sustained energy during your workouts, and help to minimize soreness post training.

You can use code POLLACK10 for a discount on all Granite products.

The Bottom Line

High Evolutionary is without a doubt a solid program. I am particularly a fan of the shorter duration (i.e., six week) programs, as they allow more flexibility in terms of designing a macrocycle, working around a life schedule, and keeping things interesting. I also enjoy the new movements John introduces in this one!

Personally, I would use this instead of Odin Force, during the offseason – and I would rotate between that and Project Colossus in the offseason. That’s because both this program and Project Colussus are higher intensity programs, which I find beneficial when energy and recovery levels are high. I would use a higher-volume program with slightly lower intensity levels during show prep, as I worry about the risk of injury when training all-out in a caloric deficit. However, again, John’s programs are quite versatile and you won’t go wrong with using them year-round, as long as your diet supports that effort.