Coach Matt Powell and Lessons Learned Preparing for the 2018 Arnold Invitational, PT. 1- 2/8/2018


The last year has been crazy! With the birth of my daughter, my wife taking a new job offer and me taking 9-15 credit hours in 8 week class lengths each semester while also working a fulltime job. But this is life, and so my training has not been as consistent as I would prefer. I’ve been consistently training 3x/week and most of them were solid, but I felt constantly behind and unprepared. Finally, my wife convinced me, after our daughter was 5 months old and on a “schedule”, to train up for and compete in a local competition where we could stay with friends in Athens, GA. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it, as that competition would be the first time I had competed in 11 months, and while I had hit some gym PR’s, I let insecurities creep in after some nagging injuries and time off.

So on July 29th, 2017 I competed in the 220# open division for the Georgia Log and Deadlift championship. The top 3 competitors in each weight class earn invites to nationals and the top 2 deadlifts for each earn a spot at the XPC Deadlift 21 Salute at the Arnold 2018 Sports Expo. I had my deadlift goal, but figured it was lofty, as I had pulled 700# in training just after my daughter was born and wanted to pull 735# or more at the contest. I went in with the plan of pulling 675# as an opener, 700# as my second attempt and then 735# to finish and hopefully earn my right to compete at the Arnold.

I warmed up back stage with my last pull being 635# for a very fast single. My name was called, I walked out, grabbed the bar, set tight and pulled 675# scary fast, to the point even I was shocked at the speed. Went back to the table, called for 700# as planned and then sat down until my next attempt. Now I had time to think. Now I had time to be nervous. I just surprised myself, but was it luck? Am I in a better spot that I believed I was earlier? Fast forward to my name being called for 700#, and my nerves grew even more since I had never pulled this in contest before. I grabbed the bar, brought in as much air as I could, set against the belt and again smoked it. This felt much lighter than my training pull at the same weight a few months ago! I called for 735# and felt confident- it wasn’t luck. After I watched the video my buddy had taken and talked about it with my training partners I felt good. I separated myself from the crowd to focus, but doubt crept back into my mind.

My name, and 735# were called. This time the crowd, specifically my vocal wife in the front, was loud and getting behind me, I was finally pulling big weight! I got set, felt good about my cues and pulled hard, but didn’t stay back far enough and lost it at the knee. I had a minute with this competition, so I took a moment, tried to correct and pull again, but I was too frantic and frazzled to make the rep. I was happy with the improved speed and quality of my 700# pull but knew what I would need to fix for 735# to be in range.

The next few months after the contest I would check the leader board on the United States Strongman website constantly to see if they had updated the 220# weight class and who was going to the compete at the Arnold. I didn’t think there was any way that I could hold onto a top two position, as surely some other 220# competitor would pull heavier at another competition between July and December and knock me out of contention. Surprisingly, I got a call the week before Christmas and was asked if I wanted to accept my invitation, which I of course did happily!

The Arnold is a big deal to every strength athlete, as it is the site where many people earn their pro cards for strongman and bodybuilding, accomplish elite totals in powerlifting, and the American Open for Olympic weightlifting is held there. For me this is a shot at redemption, as the last time I went to the Arnold it was to compete in the Amateur Strongman Championships for the 231# weight class. I qualified at strongman nationals in 2015 and competed at the 2016 Arnold, but I tore my quad during the log clean and press event. As I go into this train up I view it as a chance to go back to Columbus Ohio and have some redemption. The circumstances are very different, besides the obvious that I am only deadlifting at this competition, the last time I started my train up I was underweight for my class, having to put on 20# just to try and fill out the class and I was still 6# below the cut off!

My train-up started about 12 weeks out from the Arnold and as I write this at 8 weeks out the biggest things I worry about are breaking in my new deadlift suit, making sure I am ready for my weight cut to 220#, working on my grip strength while staving off injuries with preventative care. It will also be an interesting balance as I am hoping to parlay this Arnold experience this year into my train-up also for the Kentucky Battle of the Bluegrass Platinum Plus event in Louisville KY in April. A good showing in KY will qualify me for Strongman Nationals as well as the 2019 Arnold in Strongman. My goal for this contest is to pull over 700#, I have lofty goals in mind, but have already had some small set-backs with sickness and other issues, but feel comfortable that I will be ready to have a quality showing.

Stay tuned, as my next blog will go in depth on how I am fueling my training to support increases in LBM and strength, while staying within “cutting range” of 220 LBS for the 2018 Arnold XPC Deadlift 21 Salute and the Kentucky Battle of the Bluegrass Platinum Plus event.




New Year's Resolutions- A Primer on Assessing Your Goals and Progress This Year- 01/27/2018


This blog post may seem late, but honestly it is right on time. Nutrition, training and improvement are very rarely linear things. A straight line from where you perceive yourself to a better place of being is never how it really happens. Meaningful and important progress always comes with highs and lows, setbacks and breakthroughs. Where you go from these setbacks is what matters most. The goals we set for ourselves are often the hardest ones to not only achieve but also to just write down or say out loud. So now that you’ve been following your New Year’s resolution for the last few weeks, have you slipped up yet? Have you already thrown in the towel and said something like, “there’s no way I can do this”? If so, you’re not alone and you can still make some great strides towards your goal, even with setbacks in the short amount of time that you have rededicated yourself to nutrition and training.

Let’s step back for minute, reassess WHAT goals you chose, WHY you chose these goals and HOW you plan to get there. One of the biggest mistakes people make when picking their New Year’s goals is to set very generalized and lofty goals such as, “I want to be more fit”, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to LGN (Look Good Naked)”. While these are all good goals that MIGHT be achieved, there is not a true way to measure progress or hold you accountable with generalized goals like these. We’ve all had days where we feel “fit” during a certain workout or we take off our clothes in a certain light and think “Damn I look good”, but does this mean that for those fleeting moments we have achieved those goals? Probably not as we’re just as likely to think we’re completely out of shape or fat in another situation the next day. So, let’s make some adjustments to what our goals are and how we set them.

WHAT: Figure out if you want to get ready to compete in something against other competitors or you want to simply work towards self-improvement. Both are great reasons to change your training, diet, recovery and lifestyle, but deciding which you are chasing will drive your goals. If you are looking to compete you need to take a hard look in the mirror and figure out where your shortcomings are as a competitor in your chosen sport. This could be simple for some, but for many this self-reflection and honesty can be scary. Nobody wants to hear that they are bad at something but identifying one’s faults and flaws can make them much better at not only preparing for competition, but also in other aspects of life. Once you can confidently own where you are weak you can attack it with all your energy and earnestly try to fix it. Competitors stuck in self-denial about their weaknesses are the ones who constantly stagnate and lose. Once you figure out exactly what you need to be a better competitor, moving up or down a weight class, adding lean mass to be stronger or losing fat to be faster in your endurance event, you need to look below and start setting the how’s that will help you reach your goal.

WHY: If you are looking for self-improvement, you need to look at the WHY you are doing something. What is your reason driving you to push yourself to do these things that honestly don’t feel good at times. The biggest issue most non-competitors have with their training is being consistent because they feel like there is nothing driving them. My wife is a great example, she was an amazing D1 women’s basketball player, but since her time on the court she has had a hard time finding a “why” for her training. She finally found her groove after a couple years post collegiate career, like many former athletes, but we got pregnant soon after that. Since having our beautiful daughter she has now found her why again in that she wants her pre-pregnancy body back and to feel more confident. She’s done an amazing job of figuring out her driving force and setting small weekly and monthly goals for her training, eating and her weight is already 5 lbs lower than pre-pregnancy and her body composition is starting to show great improvement. This is a great example of someone looking for self-improvement finding their why and striving towards it for a specific reason. She has lofty goals that I will let her keep to herself, but I am excited to see how far she takes it.

HOW: Now that we know our self-improvement reason or sport we are training for, we need to look at what we are willing and not willing to change to reach these goals. There are multiple levels of readiness for change that the American Dietetics Association goes through when an RD meets with a client and decides what to recommend for their future eating and education. The more ready for change the easier the client will be to work with, but realistically there are going to be specific things that the professional or yourself won’t compromise on and it is important to know when setting goals. I had an athlete that I worked with that would NOT give up her ice cream at night, no matter what I said, asked or tried to replace it with. That was her few minutes to herself that gave her happiness and allowed her to unwind after her long day. So instead of fighting her after a few suggestions and potential fixes I simply adjusted the rest of her eating, which she was very flexible on, and ice cream portion size to make it so that calorically she could enjoy her nightly ice cream. Now this seems like a silly thing to find so important, but for her it was a no brainer and no way I could convince her otherwise. I am sure you have things in your life that you feel the same way about, and identifying these things is an important part of the HOW.

How to set and track goals:
Step 1- Choose goals that you can measure and check progress on consistently over time. This might be a specific weight, body fat percentage, waist or other body measurement, etc. When you do this, your consistency in measuring is of the utmost importance. Make sure you use the same time of day for weight or measurements, time between measurements, lighting and clothes if you are doing progress pics. If you change any of those small things it can lead to very deceiving results.

Step 2- Be realistic and evaluate if you are being honest with yourself when you chose those specific numbers. If you are 5’6, have never weighed over 200# and typically carry 15% body-fat, setting your goal to be 220# with 10% body fat might be a bit unrealistic in the mid-term. This isn’t to say you can’t hit new and great numbers along the way, by increasing lean body mass and decreasing fat, but gaining 30+ LBS and losing body fat might be a bit much.

Step 3- Set specific dates for specific measures you want to reach along the way. Having a goal of losing 20 lbs is attainable for many people and doing it slowly over 6+ months is also reasonable for most. The practical numbers would say that losing 1-2 lbs/week would get you to 20 lbs in 10-20 weeks. Let’s be more specific and set weekly and monthly goals. If you can consistently train and eat at the appropriate caloric deficit to lose 1# each week we know exactly when we’ll reach our goal, and we can make sure we are on the right path by checking in to make sure the weekly and monthly weigh-ins agree. I will caution that if you are a bit obsessive like me, it might behoove you to assess your progress 1x/week otherwise you can quickly get frustrated if you don’t see immediate results.

Although this article is specifically talking about New Year’s resolutions, it is obviously applicable anytime you decide to rededicate yourself to something worthwhile. The main take-aways that I have found to be more important as I get older are the following:

– Know why you are doing this! If you don’t have a good reason, specifically something that brings you at least some joy and satisfaction, you won’t stick with it. The best intentions never come to fruition without the correct reasons and approach.
– You must know that there will be good days and bad days. I don’t care how dedicated you or the person you most admire in the world are, there have been setbacks, slip-ups and other mistakes along the way that have led to a lack of progress for a period of time. This is part of the game and is something you must deal with. I’m not saying you should be happy about it, but you can either use it as motivation to correct your actions or you can victimize yourself about your circumstances and give up.
– Your readiness to change and what you are not going to compromise on are both important things to figure out before setting goals. If you want to be successful you need to know what obstacles you are going to encounter, specifically from yourself. The more self-aware and honest you are the better you’re going to do on any quest for improvement.

If you haven’t followed these steps, and are dedicating efforts to your New Years Resolutions, or any resolution to change, take the time to do it now. Analyze your goals, and don’t be afraid to find a professional for help or advice. Quantified Nutrition Coaches are always available through Social Media, and are always willing to help out those who are wanting to put in the work for change. Good Luck, and remember- small setbacks are expected!



Protein vs. Protein and Carbohydrates Post Workout- A perspective on recovery for athletes- 12/20/2017

You see it all the time in commercial fitness centers, guys standing around talking about how important protein is and how they need to increase their intake as though that alone were a magic bullet. Protein is certainly a large and necessary component of post workout nutrition and should be taken seriously as a supplement in the first 30-90 minutes post workout, but should it be the only thing in the shaker bottle? You broke down muscle, but you also burned through some of your energy stores. What about those?

The main thing that protein accomplishes is that it increases Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS). MPS is well documented to be accommodate increases in LBM, strength, and recovery. Consuming Whey Protein post workout increases MPS for up to 3-hours post ingestion and specifically peaks at 45-90 minutes, which makes Q//Whey Protein a perfect product to intake immediately post workout to spur on the aforementioned benefits.

So what role do carbohydrates have post workout? They replace and increase muscle glycogen stores, which allows for better recovery, and improve workout intensity and time to exhaustion from BOTH strength and endurance training in subsequent workouts (Ivy, 2002). Carbohydrates also facilitate rehydration by allowing the cells to absorb more water and electrolytes after strenuous activity, thereby aiding in the removal of cellular waste products created during strenuous activity.

So, what if we take both Q//Fuel (carbohydrates) and Q//Whey (protein) together post workout for the strength athlete? Now we are increasing both muscle glycogen levels, which will help with recovery, AND we are increasing and optimizing MPS which will help with increases in LBM (Van Loon, 2000). And what if the strength athlete is looking for hypertrophy? We know that the increase in MPS will lead to an increase in LBM, but what about total mass and the necessary nutritional state to reach that goal? The research says that while it will not increase MPS *IF* the appropriate amount of protein is ingested- the increased calories, insulin response and replenishment of muscle glycogen are reasons to continue including it in your post workout drink (Ziegenfuss, 2004).

What about endurance athletes in comparison to the strength or hypertrophy driven athlete? There are many endurance, specifically ultra-endurance athletes, who mostly focus on carbohydrates post workout. The literature suggests that although the empirical advice and recommendations often call for a carbohydrate-centric recovery protocol, that a protein and carbohydrate drink mix post endurance activity is very important (Saunders, 2004). It will again lead to the increased muscle protein synthesis, quicker recovery time and improved future training. This is something that is slowly becoming more common in the endurance community as they begin to take into consideration the muscle damage done in certain types of endurance training, as for a long time it was only considered to be a strength athlete thing to intake protein post workout (Glynn, 2013). More research coming out suggests that the intake of both carbohydrate and protein together will help with many aspects of physical performance, not just strength (Williams, 2003).

As for the amount of protein and carbohydrates required, it is important to use the ARC to make sure you are reaching your supplement needs for protein and carbohydrates. Also, you must know what your daily macronutrient intake should be and your post workout nutrition should be accounted for in your overall macronutrient intake to avoid unnecessary calories. Great peri-workout nutrition doesn’t trump a poor general diet. The optimal amounts for each athlete will of course differ based on weight, exercise choice, intensity and goals. Consuming optimal amounts of carbohydrate and protein post workout will further facilitate your goals of increased LBM while better preparing you for your next training sessions

Take aways:

1) Whey protein intake post workout is important, as it increases MPS, but it will not optimize all aspects of recovery and potentially not increases in LBM and strength
a. Remembering earlier articles, you might also need to intake some amino acids with your post workout shake if you are not reaching your necessary essential amino acid intake in order to optimize your MPS
2) The inclusion of Carbohydrates in the post workout shake will lead to better muscle glycogen store replenishment, and this is of the upmost importance for endurance athletes that are not on ketogenic diets
3) Whether you are a strength or endurance based athlete the research suggests that you mix both carbohydrates and protein together to optimize your training, recovery and performance




Glynn EL, Fry CS, Timmerman KL, Drummond MJ, Volpi E, Rasmussen BB, (2013). Addition of carbohydrate or alanine to an essential amino acid mixture does not enhance human skeletal muscle protein anabolism. J Nutr. 2013, 143 (3): 307-314. 10.3945/jn.112.168203.

Ivy, J.L., H.W. Goforth Jr., B.M. Damon, T.R. McCauley, E.C. Parsons, and T.B. Price. (2002). Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. J. Appl. Physiol. 93:1337–1344.

Saunders, M. J., Kane, M. D., & Todd, M. K. (2004). Effects of a Carbohydrate-Protein Beverage on Cycling Endurance and Muscle Damage. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(7), 1233-1238. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000132377.66177.9f

Stearns, R. L., Emmanuel, H., Volek, J. S., & Casa, D. J. (2010). Effects of Ingesting Protein in Combination With Carbohydrate During Exercise on Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(8), 2192-2202. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181ddfacf

Van Loon, L.J., W.H.M. Saris, M. Kruijshoop, and A.J.M. Wagenmakers. (2002). Maximizing postexercise muscle glycogen synthesis: Carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixtures. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 72:106–111. 2000.

Williams, P.B.R., D.L. Fogt, and J.L. Ivy. (2003). Effects of recovery beverages on glycogen restoration and endurance exercise performance. J. Strength Cond. Res. 17:12–19.

Ziegenfuss, T. N. (2004). Postworkout Carbohydrate and Protein Supplementation. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 26(3), 43-44. doi:10.1519/00126548-200406000-00012

Q//WHEY and Everything You Need To Understand About Whey Isolate - 9/27/2017

Whey Protein is well researched and seen everywhere these days. Let’s start at the beginning and define it and its function, then we can define what makes Whey Isolate different, and why you should incorporate Q//WHEY into your training regimen. Whey Protein and Casein Protein are both found in milk.  When a chemical agent, usually renin, is added,  they can then be separated. The casein is the curds part of the milk after the coagulation and the whey is found in the water soluble part. The Whey Protein can upregulate the muscle protein synthesis (MPS) in the human body and is absorbed faster than most other protein sources. Whey has the correct mix of amino acids, specifically leucine and L-cysterine to help reduce fat while maintaining or increasing LBM, even in obese populations (Frestredt, 2008).

Now that we know what Whey Protein is and how helpful it is, we can look at Whey Protein Isolate- which has a higher level of concentrated protein with fewer carbohydrates, less lactose and less fat than Whey Concentrate (Cribbs, 2006). This higher concentration of protein can lead to more specific protein macronutrient intake without the addition of potential GI distress due to lactose or unwanted carbohydrate derived calories. This makes for a superior product that has also been proven to work better in the body even compared to other proteins (Tang, 2009).

Multiple studies have compared the types of protein used post exercise, and have shown that Whey Isolate led to the better lean body mass (LBM) increase, body fat (BF) decrease and 1 rep maximum strength gains than Casein and other types of Whey Protein (Cribbs, 2006). These studies solidify the idea that Whey Isolate should be used whenever possible as a supplement compared to other protein supplements. That’s where Quantified Nutrition and Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate come in.

Using the A.R.C. we can see for specific people the amount of Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate can vary, but the results support its use. Many studies specifically show that the damage that occurs from eccentric loading during exercise is best recovered from by Whey Isolate vs other forms of Protein, meaning that even if the exercise is mostly high impact cardio Whey Protein Isolate can still lead to gains in LBM and decreased BF (Cooke, 2010). The large eccentric loading that happens during running, sprinting and jumping is often enough stimuli to lead to a change in muscle for endurance athletes which makes Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate a great protein resource for days that involve resistance training, high impact cardio or those trying to lose body fat while preserving LBM.

The A.R.C. Scoop contained within Q//WHEY allows for accurate measurement of each serving, so whether you need 12 grams or 42 grams of protein, you are able to easily and accurately dose that serving for yourself.


Take away points:

1) Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate helps to optimize post workout nutrition by having optimal protein bioavailability and Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
a. Use the A.R.C. to calculate the appropriate amount for you, then apply those numbers to your post workout intake of Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate for resistance training and high impact cardio

2) Q//WHEY- Whey Protein Isolate can also be used as a great way to break the fast in the morning for an athlete who wants a high quality source of protein while also minimizing carbohydrate intake. This will help stave off catabolism, decrease BF and increase LBM




Cooke, M. B., Rybalka, E., Stathis, C. G., Cribb, P. J., & Hayes, A. (2010). Whey protein isolate attenuates strength decline after eccentrically-induced muscle damage in healthy individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 7(1), 30. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-7-30

Cribb PJ, Williams AD, Carey MF, Hayes A: The effect of whey isolate and resistance training on strength, body composition, and plasma glutamine. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006, 16: 494-509.

Evans WJ: Protein nutrition and resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 2001, 26 (Suppl): S141-152.

Frestedt, J. L., Zenk, J. L., Kuskowski, M. A., Ward, L. S., & Bastian, E. D. (2008). A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study. Nutrition & Metabolism, 5(1), 8. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-8

Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107(3), 987-992. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009

Tipton KD: Protein for adaptations to exercise training. Eur J Sport Sci. 2008, 8: 107-118. 10.1080/17461390801919102.

Athletes Resource Calculator (A.R.C.): How Athletes Can Optimize Peri-Workout Nutrition Strategies - 8/15/2017



The most commonly asked question when an athlete or competitor talks to me about food is “how much?”. This is a good question that needs to be asked and constantly adjusted as training, body weight, body composition and goals change and evolve throughout a train-up, season, deployment or year. These same people calculate their macronutrients utilizing simple online calculators and use those numbers throughout the day. This is an intelligent and important tool for an athlete to use.

Then comes the second most asked question from the same population, “what supplements should I be taking and when?”. This question is often more complicated for the athlete to answer on their own with the amount of misinformation and lack of conclusive research. This question requires more thought and coaching from the professional as well, because it’s constantly changing. Thankfully, now that question can be approached with an online calculator, the Athletes Resource Calculator (A.R.C.). This new offering from Quantified Nutrition allows athletes to calculate exact amounts and timing of each supplement they offer, Q//AMINO, Q//WHEY and Q//FUEL. The ARC doesn’t give just general recommendations using gender, height and weight, but also goes 3 steps further. It asks about exercise type (weight training, endurance, etc.), exercise duration and the intensity of the workout, as measured by Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

This ability to measure each product within a 1.5 gram range aids the user in the adoption of the A.R.C. and provides a huge advantage to anyone using supplements. This allows health and fitness professionals such as myself, or well-informed athletes like you to maximize each training session. Now as body weight, training intensity, competition season or training cycles change there will be a seamless transition and easy adjustments to exact supplementation needs. Let me provide a couple of examples.

Example 1 is a Strength Athlete who has just finished their competitive season. They now need to rebuild, add muscle and strength while starting to prep for the next contest or season. This can be tricky because with most strength sports there are weight classes, so the athlete must remain within a weight cut of their goal weight class, while maximizing relative strength and body composition- not an easy thing to do. So now that same strength athlete can use the A.R.C. to figure out exactly what is required before, during and after his workout at an RPE of 5-8 and exactly how to adjust supplementation to reach his new goals.

Example 2 is a Cross Country (5K) runner who is entering the preseason. They need to develop muscular strength and a large aerobic base prior to specifying their workouts for the actual competition season. These are two different requirements, of which the solution to is different macronutrient ratios depending on the type of stimulus (workout) and intensity. If this athlete were to incorporate the A.R.C., those macronutrient ratios could quickly be calculated to a very specific amount, based completely on the individual Cross Country athlete, without consuming additional calories detrimental to a distance athletes performance.

Example 3 is a Soccer Team. All of the athletes complete relatively similar amounts of work on the same day throughout the season. But not all athletes weigh the same. Some may be nursing injuries and just doing physical therapy. Some days may be more conditioning oriented, while others have weight training sessions. Point being, even within a team environment, there are different considerations that handing out a protein shake cannot possibly account for. A team can quickly categorize players by weight class, make shakes for each weight class based on the type of training for that session, and now every player has a custom shake that accounts for these variables, and keeps the athletes from consuming unnecessary calories in an effort to recover from workouts and training sessions.

What separates the elite from the very good? After equalizing for talent and athletic ability, which is always very close in high level athletes, it comes down to doing the small things better and more consistently than everyone else. This new tool allows athletes to know exactly how to reach each goal throughout their training calendar, including competitions. Being armed with the knowledge of how to prepare the right storage amount of energy, the perfect intra workout/contest calories and the optimal way to maximize recovery post workout could be what elevates you from very good to elite.