When I was first introduced to Muscle Activation Techniques® in 2010, I had never seen it before or heard of it before.  But, the goal of MAT® fit perfectly with an idea I had developed about 18 months earlier.  See, throughout high school and college, I was really big into sports performance.  Initially, my interest stemmed from wanting to improve my own performance, but it soon grew into wanting to help others improve their performance, as well.

By my senior year of college, I was working with a number of sports teams and individual athletes on campus.  I was also constantly running experiments on myself, the most notable of which was testing the hypothesis that if I could just get my body working the way it was designed to work, then I would be able to perform at a much higher level than I ever was before.

I looked throughout the sports performance industry and I saw athletes spending so much time beating themselves up and then having to recover from the deficit they created for themselves.  I saw improper training, overtraining, poor nutrition, unregulated mental and emotional stress, and low-quality sleep reeking havoc on people’s health and performance.  I figured if I could just control those variables to the best of my ability and help somebody’s body work optimally, their performance would skyrocket.

I began structuring my life and schedule around this idea.  I would strictly regulate my sleep, nutrition, and training to the best of my ability.  Looking back, I made a ton of mistakes, but the intent was always there — to try to get my body working the way I believed it was supposed to work.

Related:  Muscle Tutoring

After I graduated college I took a job as a personal trainer in Chicago.  The first gym that I worked at had two MAT® practitioners.  Like I said above, I had never seen MAT® before or heard of MAT®.  But, when I was finally able to get worked on for the first time, light bulbs started going off in my head.  As the practitioner was working on me, he was explaining to me what the goal of MAT® was — to find muscles that aren’t working well and get them back to working how they are supposed to.

This was it!  The thing I had been looking for!  MAT® fit perfectly with the idea that I had been testing out for the past year and a half and I couldn’t wait to start learning it.

Because of this initial idea, I have always seen MAT® as a way to help get the muscular system working the way it is supposed to work.  To me, that has always been the goal of MAT® – to figure out which muscles are not working well and get them back up to speed with all of the other muscles.  In other words, getting the muscular system back up to par.

Most of the time when it comes to health and performance we are so focused on creating an abundance that we neglect to try to first get out of any deficits that are present.  We are looking to build more strength or more endurance or feel like we have more energy, but we go about doing so by only leveraging the things we can already do well.

Related: How To Integrate MAT® Into Personal Training

With Muscle Activation Techniques®, we start by asking the question, “What can your body not do well?” and go about trying to get that working better.  We can continue to build upon your pre-established strengths during this process through resistance training, but we first need to 1) Identify your areas of improvement and 2) Design a plan to sure those up.

If you think of your health and performance like a building, before we can build a bigger building, we need to look to see if there are any cracks in the foundation.  If there are, we need to spend time filling in the cracks before we add too many additional stories to the top of the building.  If we don’t, we risk the entire building toppling over.

Muscle Activation Techniques® helps us to “fill in the cracks in the foundation of your body”.  It helps us get your muscular system back up to par.

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!