A taste of the future: Matt Lovell interview
Paul Zanon speaks to Matt Lovell - aka Amino Man - about his work improving boxers' performances...
Amino Man. Almost sounds like some kind of super hero. However, the softly spoken, mild mannered Matt Lovell professes to be anything but.
With 20 years of practice within the holistic human performance industry and a host of elite athletes under his charge to boot, Lovell is adamant when he says, “There’s no miracle formula in this game.”
Lovell doesn’t claim to have the cure for cancer or be able to make a 50-year-old man run the 100 metres in under eight seconds - but what he does have is a lot of answers, based on years of collaborating with some of the best sportsmen and women on the planet.
Having worked with everyone from the England rugby team to Premiership footballers, Lovell’s knowledge has helped many top sportsmen and women unlock their full potential in their respective fields. Obviously, for the purpose of Boxing Monthly’s readership, we wanted to know about his work with professional boxers and how he added value to their performance.
One of the most highly debated areas of boxing, (apart from the validity of championship belts) is making weight. I ghosted Jamie Moore and Paul Ingle’s books and became well acquainted with the devastating effects that rapid weight loss can have on a boxer.
For example, Moore’s dramatic 20lb drop in 20 hours for his 2009 but against Ryan Rhodes must rank in some form of weight loss leaderboard out there.
Having worked with Olympic gold medallist and European heavyweight champion Audley Harrison, Lee Meager and Carlos Takam, amongst others, Lovell was happy to share his views and knowledge regarding boxing.
“I’ve worked with fighters whose coaches have not believed in dramatic weight cutting, staying at or around your weight; maybe two kilos over," he explains. "I’ve also seen fighters walk into a ring after cutting 10 kilos through dehydration, looking like they were two weight divisions above on fight night and then getting smashed.
"I think to be competitive, you have to cut weight in a safe way. What I would do is four weeks out, I would put them on a very energy restricted diet [in order] to maximise the amount of body fat they can lose, so they are getting as lean and as muscular condition as they can be, before they do weight cut [24 hours before the weigh-in].
"The weight cut would involve water loading and then absence of water. It would involve sauna, sweat suit and salty baths, to the point they make weight. Sometimes skipping half an hour before just to get that last 200 grams off - that’s not fantastic from a health perspective and I would only ever do the weight cut process if they had 24 hours or more to rehydrate.
"If you have 24 hours or more, you can get the process of fluid and carbohydrate replenishment underway and, really importantly, the correct balance of electrolyte replenishment, because the salts, the minerals, they take in at that point are essential.”
In terms of Lovell’s experience of enhancing performance, he adds: “The bedrock of helping a boxer is maximising their fat to muscle ratio. My personal preference is to get them as fit and strong as possible and get them to make weight and then get them into a position where they can bounce back up. Not all the boxers I work with adhere to that philosophy, so you have to accommodate their own ethical way of approaching it.
"Over time, I would measure their macro nutrients, protein, fat and carbs and [check that they are] supplying the right type of fuel at the right time for the type of training they are undertaking.
"Eat, sleep and train are the fundamentals and trying to keep as happy as possible in between all that.” As with any boxer in the ring, one of the key qualities to fuelling the body is timing. “Eating supplements at the wrong time is detrimental,” Lovell points out.
If you are perhaps vegetable or fish adverse and are looking for a way to get those essential vitamins and minerals, it’s worth looking into Lovell’s range.
However, having sampled some of Lovell’s products myself, it’s fair to say that the flavours might not be for everyone’s palate. In his own words, "Some are like Marmite."
The flipside of the coin is that some of the others tasted so good, I actually thought I was having a 'cheat day'.
Amino Man. Just remember – he’s not a superhero, but he does know his stuff!