Written by Ron Harris
31 May 2016


Bodybuilding's New A-Team?

How Dallas McCarver & Coach Matt Jansen are Bound for Glory



It’s not often that I feel compelled to direct your attention to a thread on MD’s No Bull Forum, but in this case it’s one you should not miss out on. “Grow Time! McCarver’s off-season shifts into high gear!” began with a different title in July 2015, as Dallas McCarver had just begun prep for his first Mr. Olympia contest. Both Dallas and his coach Matt Jansen posted daily, including detailed breakdowns of daily workouts and meal schedules, as well as regular training and lifestyle videos. No other pro and his coach have ever been so generous with information before.


At the 2015 Olympia, Dallas placed 13th, at 272 highly conditioned pounds with great shape, a placing many fans felt could have, and probably should have, been a few slots higher. Luckily for fans of Dallas, he and Matt did not close their thread down once the Mr. Olympia was over. Instead, they kept it going as McCarver transitioned into his off-season and proceeded to make steady gains— all the while giving MD’s forum members a front-row seat to the entire process.


A picture emerged of the two young Southerners (Dallas is 24, Matt is 26): hardworking, analytical and dedicated to giving their best every day. Dallas is determined to be one of the best pro bodybuilders in the world, and Matt is equally passionate about helping him get there. Dallas’s next contest is the Wings Of Strength Chicago Pro on July 1st and 2nd. I took the opportunity to speak to this dynamic duo as they zoned in on the Windy City.


First of all, how did you meet Matt, and how did you end up working together?

DALLAS: I met Matt through social media, and Justin Compton. Me and Justin turned pro around the same time, so there was always a mutual respect. We always kept in touch and would text. I knew Matt was friends with Justin and had been training with him. I had a few questions, and I had heard that Matt knew his stuff. So I reached out to him, and asked for some advice. Every piece of advice he gave me was helpful. Then, we just kind of developed a friendship. At the time, I was living in Memphis and he was in Lexington, Kentucky, about six hours apart. He moved to Knoxville, and I moved to Chattanooga, both in eastern Tennessee, so we’re about 45 minutes apart now.


What did you two have in common that made you realize it would be a very productive partnership?

Work ethic, and I saw that from the first time we trained together. Most people, when they try to motivate me in the gym, I just wanna punch ‘em in the face. If someone were to yell at me the way some of these YouTube workout guys do in their videos with people, I’d slap the teeth out of their head. Matt has a way of motivating me without being a complete douchebag or an obnoxious asshole. He’s the hardest-working man I’ve ever met in my life, and I’ve met a lot of hardworking dudes. When I reached out to him, the information he gave me was all accurate and reliable. Then, from the first time we trained together, I was like … yeah, that’s what’s up. We just clicked as people, and our philosophies are a lot alike. A lot of it even goes down to core moral values. He’s a good person, and I try to surround myself with good people. As you know, there are not a lot of them in this industry.


What are some of the unique or favorite training techniques that Matt likes to use in workouts? How does the way you train now differ from what you were doing before?

When I started working with Matt, I threw everything I knew about how to lift out the window. It was a very humbling experience. I had to learn how to train with heavy weights, and I had to do it in the manner that he wanted me to do it. It was such a challenge for me to take two or three plates off and learn how to do the exercise the way he wanted it done. So if he says he wants a four-second eccentric, he means a fucking four-second eccentric … don’t cheat it, ya know? Control the weight. Overall, it’s just attention to detail and very strict form on everything. Eventually the weights all went back up, but now I’m getting so much more out of them.


How about nutrition— what are some ideas and techniques Matt was able to share that made a big difference in results?

That was the biggest change. Before I worked with Matt, I was eating 12, 14, sometimes even 16 ounces of meat protein per meal. He opened my eyes to the theory, or I’d say it’s a fact, that your body can only utilize so much protein at one time from direct sources. After that, your body tries to convert it to carbs or use it for energy, rather than breaking it down into amino acids and building muscle tissue like it should. I went from eating 12-14 ounces of protein per meal to six to seven ounces. It seems like it’s working all right. I fluctuate between 295 and 305. We calculate all my indirect protein into it, too. So if you eat oats, a lot of people don’t realize that a cup and a half of oatmeal has about 10 grams of protein in it. Another thing is, Matt calculates your protein needs from your lean body mass. So if you’re a 300-pound individual with 10 percent body fat, that’s 30 pounds of your body that does not need to be fed with protein. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. My blood work since I’ve been working with Matt has been perfect. My energy is way up, and my strength is still very high. He’s put me on a whole list of health supplements (see sidebar, “Daily Health Supplements”) and I feel so much better in general now.


Generally speaking, what do you think bodybuilders put far too much importance on, and what do you think they don’t pay enough attention to?

They don’t put enough importance on their health. They put too much emphasis on this hardcore “more is better” mentality. You gotta lift more, eat more and take more stuff. In reality, more isn’t better. Smarter is better. Healthier is better. That’s the biggest difference since I started working with him. I’m just healthier. And when you’re healthier, your body performs better. When I train, I’m not sore and stiff all the time like I used to be. He’s got me stretching, and doing all kinds of tissue work. I don’t think people put enough importance on their health because they’ve never really stepped back and looked at how unhealthy they really are.


Let’s talk about how different Matt is as a coach. First off, many coaches only handle training, or nutrition and supplements. Jansen does both. Why is that important?

You wouldn’t want your head football coach to just coach the defensive line. It all goes together. Realistically, how can somebody’s dietary needs be addressed if you don’t even know what kind of intensity they’re training with, or what kind of volume they’re using? How can you know how much somebody needs to eat if you don’t know what kind of energy and calories they’re expending?


Matt is also your training partner. So he isn’t just texting or emailing you workouts to follow. He’s in the gym with you putting you through the workouts. Why is that so much more effective?

I don’t think some of these coaches really understand the demands that some of these workouts take that they’re putting down on paper. It might look good on paper, but I don’t think they understand what it takes to get through some of the stuff they type up. With Matt, it’s very easy to follow what he says, because he’s right there beside me doing the same exact sets and reps. It might not be the same exact weight, but he’s pushing me. Pound for pound, he is one strong SOB. Having someone go through it with you, they know what it takes. They know what it feels like. It’s far more productive this way. Sometimes, we’ll finish a workout and go, Man, we overdid it. Or other times, we’ll say, We still got four more sets left of this … let’s do it. I don’t have to tell him how it feels, because he knows.


Here’s something that I have had to deal with, not being 300 pounds ripped myself. Many in our industry seem to associate more credibility with bigger, freakier physiques. They assume that the biggest guys know the most. Matt is not a small man, but he’s not the size of you or a Big Ramy. Do you ever have to deal with people who don’t think he can provide valuable advice simply because he’s not the size of a Mr. Olympia finalist?

That’s a great point. Let’s use a body part as an example. Say you want to grow your arms. If you’re smart, and most people aren’t smart enough to think this way, you don’t go straight to the guy with the biggest arms and ask him how he got ‘em that way. Chances are, he has some tremendous genetic gifts when it comes to biceps and triceps. You go to the guy whose arms looked like toothpicks three years ago, and now he’s built a reputable set of bi’s and tri’s. That’s Matt. He’ll tell you he’s not the most genetically superior individual. But look at his pictures from two or three years ago, and look at him now. He’s up to 230 pounds and he’s not fat at all. He’s growing just as fast as I am. I look at him and his progress, and I’ll be honest. The biggest motivator for me is to not get out-gained by my coach. He’s progressing just as fast as I am. He’s not 300 pounds, but it’s all relative. Matt didn’t start out anywhere near as big as me.


What improvements have you made since you started working with Matt in late June/early July of 2015? What improvements are you still looking to make?

The improvements speak for themselves with the progress pics I post. The biggest thing we’ve improved on are my legs, especially from the back. My quad sweep has come up, my hams, my glutes— my whole lower body has exploded since working with him. And just overall size and thickness. I am in the same lean condition now at 300 pounds as I was at 275 before I started working with Matt. So that’s 25 pounds of pure lean tissue gained.When I won the California Pro, I was 260. Three months later at the Mr. Olympia, I was 272, and those were improvements made while prepping!


Training Split

Day 1
Back – focus with heavy compound movements.
Biceps Blood Work

Day 2
Front and Side Delts
Triceps Blood Work

Day 3

Day 4
Back – machine work and pulldown movements.
Rear Delts

Day 5
Arms, abs

Day 6

Day 7



Off-season Gaining Diet

Training Day Meal Layout – January 25, 2016
Meal 1
5 whole eggs
150 grams of raw oats
100 grams of blueberries
32 grams of almond butter
3 grams of omega-3s
1TB of flaxseed

On Back and Leg-training Days
6 whole eggs
3 muffins (any kind, large size)

Meal 2 – Pre-workout Meal
500 grams of any cooked potato
6 oz of 90/10 grass-fed beef, cooked
14 grams of coconut oil
75 grams of cooked greens

Meal 3 – Post-workout Meal
350 grams of jasmine rice, cooked
6 oz of chicken, cooked
70 grams of avocado

Meal 4
450 grams of sweet potato, cooked
6 oz of ground turkey, cooked (93/7 or close)

Meal 5
6 oz of 90/10 grass-fed beef, cooked
3 whole eggs
210 grams of jasmine rice, cooked
1TB – Flax Seed

Meal 6
350 grams of egg whites
4 slices of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin or 5 slices of regular Food for Life bread
32 grams of almond butter
1 TB of flaxseed
(you could make French toast here if desired)

Intra-workout Layout

(Sip on this pre-, during and post-workout, and start to sip on the way to the gym)
30 grams of aminos/BCAAs
5 grams of glycerol
5 grams of citrulline malate
4 grams of taurine
5 grams of creatine
10 grams of glutamine
2 grams of beta-alanine
75 grams of carbs from dextrins – 1 liter of water and75 grams of carbs on leg- and back-training days (if you can stomach this, you can bump this to 100 grams)


Daily Health Supplements

Tudca – 250 milligrams (1 capsule) taken at meals 1, 3 and 5
NAC – 600 milligrams (1 capsule) upon waking/mid-day/prior to bed
Maximum Milk Thistle – 1 capsule, a.m./p.m.
Ubiquinol – 1 capsule, a.m./p.m.
Curcumin – 1 capsule with breakfast
Pantethine – 600 milligrams, meals 1 and 4
Plant Sterols – 2 grams, meal 1
Resveratrol – 200 milligrams, meal 1
Vitamin K2 – 100
micrograms (mcg), meals 1 and 4
Omega – 6 grams daily


Jansen Speaks: The Man Behind Dallas’ Latest Gains

 You’re not a pro, and you’re not 300 pounds ripped with 23-inch arms. Do you ever have to deal with people who question your credibility as a coach, and think it’s ridiculous for someone who isn’t a huge freak to be giving advice and coaching guys like Dallas?

I have had to deal with it, and it used to bother me a lot more than it does now. The more success I have as a coach, the less it registers. I look up to other coaches not only in this industry, but in all pro sports. I try to take things from them and apply them myself. If you look at a Bill Belichick or anyone else of his caliber, there are a lot of great coaches who were not great athletes. That’s where I found my niche. These guys need a coach. Dallas will be the first one to tell you he needs direction; he needs someone to be hands-on with him. He has gifts that I don’t possess, and vice versa. He looks to me for a leadership role, and I provide that for him. So I don’t really get caught up in the fact that I’m not 300 pounds, because realistically it’s not in the cards for me. I could do everything Dallas does and not look like him, and in many ways I do. We’re in the gym together every day, and clearly I don’t have the same response that he does. I could either dwell on that and be a lesser coach, or realize that we all have different gifts that we need to maximize for the betterment of others and ourselves as well.


Another great example is Chris Aceto, someone I look up to a lot. Yes, he had a very good physique, but the physiques he has helped build over the years have been much better. That takes nothing away from him, in fact I think it speaks more highly to his skills and the fact that he recognized what he was truly good at.


What improvements has Dallas made since he started working with you? What improvements are you still looking to make?

One of the things I am proudest of with Dallas is the evolution and development I’ve seen in him mentally since we started working together. He’s on a different level now. He believes in himself more than ever, and I think that’s crucial. I say this to everyone I work with. When the right mental aspects are in place, the physical results will follow. If you’re always down on yourself and doubting yourself, if you don’t believe in what you’re setting out to do, your progress will reflect that. If you do believe in yourself and that you have a gift you are going to make the most out of by working as hard as you can, your results will also reflect that mindset.


As far as physical improvements, one of the main things I said right off the bat with Dallas is, we have to hammer your legs hard. They just weren’t on the same level as his upper body. We focused on them for six months, training them twice a week. Dallas was really lacking in his adductors, so we hit those with both direct work as well as wide-stance movements. He was also known for having tremendous shoulder development, but lacking in the chest. Now his chest matches his shoulders, which I’m really proud of.


As far as what needs to be improved, his back is not yet at the level of a Mr. Olympia finalist. Now we are cutting leg training down to once a week, and hitting back twice a week with different workouts. That’s one area I want to bring up to complete his look as we move toward the Mr. Olympia this year.

To contact Matt Jansen for coaching services, please email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989, and maintains the popular website www.ronharrismuscle.com, most notable for its blog “The Daily Pump.” He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area.