At Muscle Activation Schaumburg, we often receive the question of, “How do I know if Muscle Activation Techniques® is something I should be doing?”.  This is a very valid question because MAT® is something that helps a wide variety of people, from professional athletes to professional parents, from elementary school kids to executives, and from the most active among us to those who are far more sedentary.  All of these populations seem to benefit from MAT®, so how can you know if MAT® is something that you are a candidate for?

When it comes to the “who” of MAT®, we generally see that our clients fall into one of three categories here at Muscle Activation Schaumburg.  But, the category that you fall into depends on how you answer the following three questions.  If you want to know if you are a candidate for MAT®, ask yourself these three questions:


1) Is there anything physical that I would like to be able to do that I am currently unable to do?

2) Do I want to be able to keep doing the activities that I enjoy most?

3) Am I looking for an edge to take my physical health and performance to the next level?


If you can answer “yes” to any of these three questions, then you are likely a candidate for MAT®, but the type of candidate that you are will vary by your responses.

Related: 4 Early Warning Signs That You Need MAT®

If you answered “yes” to question #1 (Is there anything physical that I would like to be able to do that I am currently unable to do?), you would be considered a candidate for what we call the “Progressor” group.  The Progressor group is characterized by having a goal to perform a physical activity that they are currently unable to do.  Our job at Muscle Activation Schaumburg is to then help them progress to being able to do that activity.

For example, if you have a goal of running a 10K but you find that after the third mile your hamstrings really start to tighten up, we would progress your body to being able to run that 10K.  Or, let’s say you have a 60-minute commute to work each day but after 30 minutes of sitting in the car you feel your low back getting really tight.  Your goal may be to drive the entire commute without your back tightening up, in which case we would help your body progress to being able to do that.  Or, if you are a grandparent and you enjoy playing with your grandkids on the floor but you struggle to get back up off of the floor when you are done, that would be a goal that we could help progress your body to.

Each of these examples would involve us assessing your muscular system to identify which muscles are not working as well as they should be and then help to get those muscles stronger.  By doing so, this can help to take stress off of other muscles that are overworking (like the tight hamstrings and back) and help you be able to do more of the things you enjoy (like playing with your grandkids and then getting off of the floor when you are done).

Now, if you answered “yes” to question #2 (Do I want to be able to keep doing the activities I enjoy most?), you would be considered a candidate for what we call the “Maintainer” group.  The Maintainer group is characterized by being able to do the things they enjoy in life coupled with a desire to continue to do those things for the foreseeable future.  They don’t necessarily want to be able to do more, they just want to maintain where they are at for as long as possible.

For example, perhaps you are in your early 40’s and are an avid tennis player.  You see some of your older tennis peers starting to really slow down when they hit their mid to late 50’s, and there is definitely a noticeable decrease in how often people are playing once they get to their mid to late 60’s.  Not you, though.  Not only do you want to be able to keep playing tennis well into your 60’s and 70’s, you want to be able to minimize your risk for injury while you are at it.  Or, let’s say you are in your early 70’s and really enjoy going for walks with your significant other.  You see some of your friends start to decline rapidly once they get into their 80’s, though.  You, however, want to make sure that you are you able to keep going for walks when you get to that age.  Both of these would be great examples of people who would fall into the “Maintainer” category.

With Muscle Activation Techniques®, we would be looking to do infrequent but consistent tune-ups with these individuals to make sure their muscular system stays working well over time.  Think of it like a regular cleaning that you would do with your dentist–it doesn’t happen every day, but it happens consistently to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy.  This is a similar approach that would be taken with this group’s muscular system health.

Related: What is MAT®? A brief history and overview.

Finally, if you answered “yes” to question #3 (Am I looking for an edge to take my physical health and performance to the next level?), you would be considered a candidate for what we call the “Optimizer” group.  The Optimizer group is somewhat of a combination of the Progressor and Maintainer groups.  They are characterized by currently being able to do the things they want to do, but, they have a desire to be able to do those things better.  Typically, this group is either highly active or competitive with their physical activity and they are looking for something to bring their current performance a notch or two higher.

For example, you may be a triathlete and you feel really good overall, but you find that during your runs your right knee starts to feel a little bit unstable by the end.  It isn’t preventing you from competing or running, but if it felt strong the entire run you think you may be able to cut a minute or two off of your time.  Or, let’s say you participate in CrossFit.  You love the workouts and the atmosphere, but lately, you have been finding that it is taking you longer to recover from your workouts than before.  Again, this isn’t prohibiting you from participating, but if you could recover better you feel you would be able to have better workouts every time you go.  Another example would be if you are a powerlifter.  When you do squats, you are able to hit your depth, but it takes a while for you to warm up your hips, back, and ankles to be able to get that motion.  If your joints were able to move better from the start of your workout, you could spend more time training through the range of motion that you want to instead of spending part of your workout trying to open up that motion.

With Muscle Activation Techniques®, we would be looking at each of these individuals and asking, “Where are their weak links?”.  By identifying where their weak links are, we would be able to focus on tuning those areas up and improving their stress tolerance so they can stay strong even as their body gets more stressed with the workouts and competitions.

In a sense, each of these categories is a progression of sorts, starting from the Progressor group, then to the Maintainer group, and finally to the Optimizer group.  Some people may find themselves in the Maintainer group or Optimizer group from day 1.  Others may be in the Progressor group based on a muscular system issue that needs to be addressed.  Regardless of where you start, consistently doing something to progress and maintain the health and function of your muscular system over time will be vital to ensuring that you are able to do the things you love to do for as long as you want to do them.

By asking yourself the above three questions, you can figure out if you may be a candidate for MAT® and, if so, which category of candidate you fall into.  While your MAT® practitioner will assess your body to create a plan for you, knowing what your goals are and which category you are in can help to determine how frequently you should be looking to see your MAT® practitioner.  If you are interested in finding an MAT® practitioner in your area, check out the directory of certified practitioners here.

Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates is the leading consultant to high-level professional, college, & high school basketball players in the Chicagoland area for injury prevention, recovery, & muscle performance. As a certified Muscle Activation Techniques® MATRx practitioner & former college basketball player, he uses his personal experience & understanding of the game & player demands to create customized exercise options for his clients to recover faster & perform their best. He is certified in the highest levels of MAT®, including MATRx, MATRx Stim, and MAT® Athlete. Follow him on Instagram @CharlieCates!