Personal Training and MAT® – What’s the difference?

A question we often get at Muscle Activation Schaumburg is, “What’s the difference between Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) and personal training?”.  As personal trainers and MAT® practitioners, this is an important clarification for us to help our clients and prospective clients with.

For us at Muscle Activation Schaumburg, personal training and MAT® go hand in hand.  While there are distinct differences between the two, there are a lot of similarities, as well.

First, both MAT® and personal training utilize exercise to improve the health and function of your body.  MAT® asks the question, “Which of your muscles ARE NOT working well?” and then tries to improve the function of those while personal training asks, “Which of your muscles ARE working well?” and then tries to build upon the health of those.

Related:  What does muscle have to do with it?

Second, both MAT® and personal training at Muscle Activation Schaumburg take an “internal approach” to exercise.  In other words, our primary concern while you are exercising is focused on what is going on within your body, not outside of it.  An example of this is making sure that specific muscles are working for you when we are doing MAT®.  Likewise, when we are doing personal training, we put the focus of the exercise on squeezing and feeling certain muscles while you are working out instead of having you think about trying to do more reps or trying to move faster.

Third, both MAT® and personal training at Muscle Activation Schaumburg use an approach that is customized for your body.  We take the time to figure out where your body is functioning well and where it could use some extra attention.  From there, we are able to construct a plan to systematically improve how well your body works.  We leverage what you are already capable of doing while also helping your muscles that aren’t working well get back up to speed.  This plan of action is different for every individual that comes to Muscle Activation Schaumburg, whether they are doing strictly personal training, MAT®, MATRx®, or any combination thereof.

So, what’s the biggest difference between personal training and MAT®?  Let’s think of your body like a car.  Personal training is like bringing your car into the shop to get your engine built up.  MAT® is like bringing your car into the shop to get your battery cables reconnected.  Both are equally important if you are wanting to drive your car (i.e. use your body).

Related:  What makes a Muscle Activation Techniques® practitioner unique?

If your engine is too small, you will be very limited in the activities you can do.  Likewise, if your battery cables are disconnected, you won’t be able to get your engine to work as well as it should be able to (i.e. you will be compensating around muscles that aren’t working as well).

For us at Muscle Activation Schaumburg, we typically want to make sure that your battery cables are first connected before trying to build up your engine.  For you as the client, this means that when you are exercising with us, we are able to ensure that the muscles we are trying to build up and challenge are working as well as they can.  This approach to exercise creates three distinct benefits:

  1. You stay safer because your muscles are better able to protect your joints
  2. You are able to do more during your workouts because you are able to utilize all of your muscles
  3. You are able to get better results from your workouts because you are able to work the muscles you are trying to work

At Muscle Activation Schaumburg, MAT® and personal training go hand in hand.  Each offers different benefits (reconnecting the battery cables vs. building the engine), but at the end of the day, we utilize each based on how your body is functioning and what your goals are.

Some of our clients work with us primarily for personal training, but we still check in from time to time to make sure all of their battery cables are connected.  For others, they come to us to ensure that their muscles are working as well as they can so they can continue to exercise regularly on their own.  Other clients need help getting their muscles working efficiently again with the goal of transitioning into personal training at some point down the road.

Despite the differences between personal training and Muscle Activation Techniques®, the common goal of improving the health and function of your body allows us to seamlessly integrate both into a completely customized exercise experience unlike anything you have done before.

If you are interested in building your own customized exercise plan, download a copy of our free e-book, “The 5-Minute Mobility Check”!

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Charlie Cates
Char­lie Cates, M.S. is a Muscle Activation Techniques® Master Specialist (MATm), an MATRx® Full Body Specialist, a mastery level Resistance Training Specialist™ (RTSm), and a Cer­ti­fied Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Charlie attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 2010, where he played varsity basketball for four years. In 2016 he graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Master of Science degree in exercise science.

A type-1 diabetic, he is the owner of Muscle Activation Schaumburg in Schaumburg, IL. He is an instructor for the Muscle Activation Techniques™ program, introducing students of all different backgrounds to the MAT™ process.

Charlie specializes in managing and improving the function of his clients’ muscular system through the MAT™ process and utilizing RTS™ principles.

He can be reached via e-mail at charlie@matschaumburg.com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter and Instagram at @CharlieCates!

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