If you’re active in the sports nutrition industry, then you’ve undoubtedly met — or at least heard of — David Dodrill of Arms Race Nutrition (ARN). He’s the man in the van, driving across the nation to retailers, gyms, and everything in between to spread the good word of the Arms Race.
Arms Race Nutrition recently won the 2022 Breakout Brand of the Year in PricePlow’s 2022 Supplement Industry Awards. They had a phenomenal year with many great releases, upgrades, and flavors. From what we’re seeing so far in 2023, ARN will be in the discussion for brand of the year — if nothing else, they’ve made themselves a consistent brand to watch.
A lot of this is in part of David’s hustle. He’s taken it upon himself to get ARN’s supplements into the hands of consumers nationwide, and he’s done a spectacular job of it.
David leaks Harness Evolution formula on the Podcast
In this episode, we discuss David’s backstory, get into the new Harness Evolution formula (where we were able to tease the formula first), talk about new Foundation Bars coming, and finally get into an RTD that’s in development!
Great conversation with a great man — check it out below:
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Show Notes with David Dodrill of Arms Race Nutrition
0:00 – Introductions
Our guest is David Dodrill from Arms Race Nutrition – Mike and Ben are extremely excited to have him on in anticipation of the Harness Evolution release.
David lives in Ohio but is typically off traveling, visiting stores, and doing his work from the road. Arms Race is an influencer-driven brand, so David’s job is to manage those relationships wherever they are.
David started out in law, doing criminal and bankruptcy for a firm. It turned out that it wasn’t for him. That said, while he had the 9-5, he got deep into the fitness world. Previously weighing 430 pounds, David managed to lose a whopping 190 pounds in a single year.
After leaving law, David owned and sold a meal prep company before going over to GNC, where he progressed through the ranks. Arms Race launched in September 2019, and they did an event at David’s store. Through this experience, David got to know Doug Miller over at ARN/Core.
David pitched the idea of a traveling relationship manager for Arms Race to Doug, who thought David would be the perfect man for the job. During a huge snowstorm, David rented an SUV and drove to Virginia for his first day. He’s been driving for ARN ever since.
9:10 – Bodybuilding
When David was at the law firm, he got very into an intense, regimented diet, leading him to bodybuilding. His very last show was against a young man you may know as Chris Bumstead, who unsurprisingly wiped the floor with everyone. David hasn’t competed since then, but still takes fitness and diet seriously.
After dabbling in the carnivore diet, he’s come back from the brink. He recently hired a new coach for this year from Core to hopefully resume competing next year.
11:55 – Arms Race Breakout Brand of 2022
Mike was very bullish on Arms Race for running in 2022’s brand of the year – with launches like Clarity, Nite Nite, Foundation Bars, and Stabilize His / Stabilize Hers, Mike could see Arms Race making a serious play for Brand of the Year in 2023.
People wonder why Doug has so many brands. According to David, he’s so passionate about what he does, that when he hears a good idea he just goes for it.
ARN began when Core tried to get Julian as an athlete. Julian wanted to stop hopping around and create something that lasts. Julian, from the start, cared about the way he influenced. The Arms Race name comes from Julian’s Arms Race gym in Oregon, which isn’t military related.
From the beginning, ARN wanted to do an influencer brand the right way by making products so good that they’d stand on their own – even without Julian. They’ve tried to change the game by asking what people aren’t doing, and what supplements the founders themselves want to take. They launch whatever they like, leading to an authenticity that is unique in the industry. ARN comes out with passion products, rather than pandering to the most popular categories.
As far as branding goes, ARN and Core couldn’t be further apart in personalities. Ben mentions how cool it is to see David and Patrick from Core on the road together. The strict “Core” lifestyle is represented well by Patrick, and David represents the ARN brand well. Both brands are at Vitamin Shoppe now, but have very different demographics, introducing a cool synergy to the process. To Mike, the two brands don’t compete against each other. They target different audiences.
For David, Core veers more towards being a lifestyle brand, whereas ARN is more casual – for the (above, according to Ben) average lifter that likes to smoke a little.
20:45 – Story of the brown paper labels
Mike asks about the origin of the brown paper labels for ARN products, wondering if they’re meant to invoke images of cigars. That’s what David likes to say now, but wasn’t around for the original vision. To David, the look is classier than the bright, overbearing labels found in most other brands.
The labels are a nice shift away from cartoonish and less mature labels. It doesn’t necessarily pull an older demographic, however. David likes to compare Ghost to Nike, and ARN to VANS. They want to be an off-beat brand that everyone can relate to.
24:38 – Cigars at Caesar’s Palace
Ben recounts the story of how he, Julian and the ARN team went on an adventure in Vegas at Supply Side. They went on a 1 AM quest for In-and-Out Burgers and nearly died of frostbite on the strip. It’s easy to forget that influencers are real people, and it’s very refreshing to spend time with people outside of a meet-and-greet. Ben says it felt good to spend time with someone like Julian and relate on a human level.
David mentions how down-to-earth Julian is. He’ll talk at events, and keep inviting his fans into the discussion. It’s clear Julian puts in a lot of effort for remembering people he meets. He sets aside time every day to respond to everyone he can online.
28:08 – Harness Evolution
The Harness pre-workout is one of the best daily drivers. This year, ARN wanted to add something new to it. Evolution doesn’t have any more stims, but wanted to pack it with a bunch of awesome ingredients. This isn’t a daily driver like Harness, but it’s fun to take when you need it.
As for caffeine content, Harness Evolution packs a pretty hefty punch with around 400 milligrams of caffeine, composed of caffeine anhydrous (300mg), and ZumXR (150mg), yielding roughly 100 milligrams more. Mike is a big fan of ZumXR, as it really does extend the hit of caffeine.
Additionally, we have a whopping 6.4 grams of beta alanine in a two scoop serving, which is definitely going to bring on the tingles. The goal is to get to carnosine saturation as quickly as possible. There are several additional studies that show even better improvements on the 6.4g dose.[1,2]
One of the biggest changes for Harness Evolution is its focus on pump. With large doses of citrulline (6g), betaine anhydrous (2.5g), Nitrosigine (1.5g), and VasoDrive (245mg), you’re in for some extremely pump-heavy workouts.
There are also some ingredients geared towards boosting focus, like citicoline (250mg), CognatiQ (100mg) and huperzine-A (20mg).
Rounding out the formula is ElevATP (150mg) for some ATP support, and SantEnergy Nu (400mg) to help with oxygen support and improved endurance.
42:20 – Beta testing
Mike asks whether David beta tested Harness Evolution, and about his gym situation on the road. David tries to get back to HQ twice a month, where he tests out products like Harness Evolution. He’s been training on it consistently for the last month.
There were only about 2 iterations of Evolution. There’s an ask from retailers to have the $60 pre-workout to meet the demands of a more educated customer base. Harness is enough, but there is a demographic that wants a more ingredient-packed pre-workout. Ben notes that you can stretch out the tub by playing around with the dosing. One scoop could serve well some days, and two could serve well on other days.
44:45 – Pre-workout formulations and influencers
Julian does a pretty good job of asking about new ingredients he doesn’t know about. He takes a pretty active role, whereas many influencers just put their face on the products.
He does his best to understand science. It was cool for Ben to see Julian at Supply Side, which is a much more science-based ingredient event.
47:30 – ARN going forward
ARN has been quiet so far this year. They haven’t launched a new product. That’s changing soon, though: during the Arnold, 3 flavors of Harness Evolution will be launched.
Fun tease: even if you can’t make it to Arnold, you’ll be able to get it on sale online. Not quite as good as at the Arnold, but it will still be a pretty good deal.
Additionally, some new flavors of the ARN Foundation Bar will be coming in April. Mike and Ben love the cinnamon flavor, and we’re getting two new ones: frosted crunch cereal, and fruity cereal, which will initially be exclusive at Vitamin Shoppe.
How has the feedback been with the bars? They’re doing well at the stores. They did so well with the cinnamon that cinnamon is flying off the shelves, leaving chocolate looking unsuccessful in comparison. ARN is redesigning chocolate to be a bit milkier.
54:40 – Involvement with other brands
David is going to have more of a crossover role with other Crush It Brands. When he goes into Vitamin Shoppes, he talks about Core as well because Core is how ARN started – its where it comes from.
59:25 – Harness RTDs
Doug is hoping for ready-to-drink products to be available in Q2. He’s very excited with the taste from the beta testing. They now have a finished product and are trying to get the bottle design down. It’s a non-carbonated Harness Pre-Workout RTD.
David teases a top-secret project. He can’t talk about it – it’s strictly classified – but he does say it involves a product, a collaboration, and virtual reality.
Follow David and Arms Race Nutrition on Social Media:
Big thank you to David, Doug Miller, and Julian Smith for having David on and allowing PricePlow to be the place where the formula’s announced!
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