Implementing The Mathias Method and
Optimizing Your Training Program
“The Mathias Method does not change your training program, it improves it!”
The Mathias Method is a System, not a Training Program. It is a Systematic approach to Strength Training that allows you to stay Healthy, Improve your Performance, and get STRONGer, all while moving towards your specific training goals.
The Mathias Method focuses on Strength, because Strength is the basis for all other training goals. By getting STRONGer it is easier to lose weight, gain weight, look aesthetic, be healthy, decrease injury, move athletically, increase performance, run faster, jump higher and more! By getting STRONGer it is so much faster and easier to obtain these other goals. So, we first focus on improving your strength so that you can better obtain your goals.
The Mathias Method Strength System consists of these following parts:
Warm-Up through Active Mobility Techniques
- Do full Range of Motion movements and stretches to improve your joint function and check how your body feels for that day. If certain areas are in pain or do not function properly then spend some time mobilizing them to improve performance and decrease pain.
Activate the Muscles to be Trained (part of Warm-Up)
- Use activation techniques to bring blood flow to your soft tissues and ensure that they are firing correctly for optimal performance. This will also help with increasing your neuromuscular proprioception improving muscular function.
Technique Work to Strengthen Weaknesses (part of Warm-Up)
- Do 3 sets of 5-10 reps with a light weight (<50%) or a bodyweight exercise to improve upon your weaknesses and reinforce proper movement patterns. This is done at the start of every workout so it is not neglected.
Get Stronger through a Main Strength Movement
- Pick one main exercise that will build the most strength in the areas you are training and do a lot of work with it. Focus on perfecting this movement and increase the intensity slowly over time to continuously improve.
Accessory Work to Build Muscle and Train all Planes of Motion
- Choose 3-5 other exercises that will improve your main exercise or build up your weaknesses and do a good amount of work with them. Try to make all areas of your body strong by building up the areas your main lifts may neglect or not train hard enough.
Condition Your Body (optional)
- For athletes or those experienced, utilize conditioning work to strengthen your cardiovascular system so that you can withstand more workloads. Take 10-20 minutes post training, or on non-training days (20-30 minutes), and do exercises that push your cardiovascular system while helping you with your goals. Examples are sprints, jogging, jump rope, sled drags, light training circuits, sport practice, etc.
Mobilize to Increase Range of Motion
- Take at lease 10 minutes after every training session and work on improving, or maintaining, your mobility. Choose 2-3 mobility techniques that will help loosen your tight tissues, or recover from your training session, and work them for 2-5 minutes each.
First, a proper warm-up to any form of training is vital for optimal performance. The warm-up will better prepare your body to function properly, decreasing the risk of injury, while meeting the demands of the workout. The goal of the warm-up is to better prepare your body to perform safely and optimally. This includes physically raising your body’s skeletal muscle temperature, and improving your oxygen uptake through low-moderate intensity, training specific exercises.
The first part of any warm-up should begin with moving your body through all planes of motion using full Range of Motion. This is a way to help determine how your body is feeling and gives you more insight on what you should do in the following pieces of the warm-up to prepare yourself before adding loads, and helps to increase, or maintain, your joint mobility lessening any potential problems.
Take your body through all planes of motion that may occur in your training, or all movements that your body can do safely. Control your movements and utilize a full range of motion in order to fully prepare your soft tissues to move efficiently. Some long duration, static stretching movements should be utilized focusing on tight areas of your body in order to relax chronically tight tissues for better performance. For most mobility stretches, hold for 10-30 seconds to help increase your range of motion, and only utilize longer duration stretches for extremely tight tissues. Try not to be static in your stretches, but rather contract and relax or move in and out of tension in order to increase the muscular function with movements. For running and cycling, you may need to only focus on the ankles, knees and hips, while for strength training it will depend upon the exercises in your workout. Some training days may need to only focus on the shoulder and arm joints while some may need to focus on all the joint in the body. If you are unsure, an athlete, or want to improve your entire body’s joint function, then follow our Warm-Up Guide.
Activation Techniques Described:
The next piece of the warm-up, after going through full range of motion movements and stretches, are the activation techniques. These are techniques utilized to help activate, or turn on, the correct muscles for the workout. This will help teach your body to fire the correct muscles and make sure they are working efficiently. It is best to use light weight, or bodyweight, movements to bring blood to the proper tissues without overly fatiguing them. The goal is to stimulate the muscles and improve their neuromuscular function to improve performance.
Activation drills are specific to each training session’s main movement. The activation drills include balance training to improve neuromuscular proprioception, or muscle activation, and joint stability. Both mobility to improve positioning and the activation drills to teach proper muscle activity will better prepare your body to perform optimally and make you STRONGer. To view Activation Technique Examples go to Warm-Ups.
Technique Work Described:
Exercise Technique is a crucial part of any movement based training program. Without proper technique your body will learn improper movement patterns that can hold back your strength and cause injury. Technique is so important that it should be worked on every time you start a training session. This is still part of your warm-up and therefore only light weights (<50%) or bodyweight should be utilized. The focus is on improving your movement pattern by utilizing perfect form, under controlled movements. Knowing your main lift, or exercise, of the training session, pick a related exercise that you need to improve upon, or that works on your weaknesses. This may even be the main lift, just done with much lighter weight to improve your form. Choose an exercise that will help you improve upon your weaknesses and do 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions while focusing on perfecting your movement pattern. If you are not sure the correct way to perform a lift check out our Main Lifts Page.
These are the first exercises listed on each training day. The main goals of these exercises are to prepare your body for the more intense work ahead, build up weaknesses and increase work capacity. The exercise you select should be one that both requires similar mobility as the main exercise of the day, and is a weakness for you. Choose something you are not good at; such as a front squat, low box squat, close grip bench press, incline bench press or military press. It can be anything that utilizes the same muscles as your main movement. This exercise should be done with the relatively light weight (<50%) every time you do it and completed with perfect form. You should do only 3 sets with only 5-10 reps, or as many as you can do without getting fatigued or lose perfect form. Again, the goals are to improve the motion of this exercise and better prepare your body for the work ahead, not to pre-fatigue those muscles.
Get STRONGer Described:
Every training session needs a Main Exercise, lift or movement. It is the focus point of the workout and the reason you are training for that day. All of the training before and after these lifts is set to better improve the main exercise.
The main exercise should be a standard motion that improves performance in your chosen sport. This can be any movement that makes you STRONGer. It should be something that builds the most overall strength. It can be a power lift like squat, bench press, deadlift, a close variation or something like sprints for running. It just needs to be helpful for you to build the strength necessary to be better at what you want to be better at.
You should also do the most amount of work with this particular exercise. If you want to get good at something, then you need to do it a lot. You should spend the most time on this exercise and try to perfect it while still pushing forward. Try to increase the overall workload or weight every few weeks so that you never stop progressing. For detailed information on how to execute this main movement go to our Main Lifts Page.
Accessory Work Described:
You are only as strong as your weakest link, and accessory work is used to build up your weaknesses. Accessory work trains your body through all planes of motion so that you can build full body strength and have no weaknesses. It trains the areas that your main lift may not be able to target as effectively. For your accessory work, choose 3-5 exercises that help build up your main lift, or train areas that it does not, and do a good amount of work with each. Use moderate weight and do as many sets and reps as it takes to improve before moving on. For more on Accessory Work look on our Accessory Work Page.
Conditioning is any form of work that improves your cardiovascular health and total work capacity while assisting with the goals of training. Some examples of conditioning are; jogging, sprints, jump rope, battle ropes, light circuit training, a daily WOD, sled dragging, or just manual labor. Conditioning is meant to increase the ability for your body to withstand work and become stronger. If you have low cardiovascular health and little muscular endurance then the amount of work your body can withstand is greatly diminished, along with your ability to become STRONGer.
Conditioning is not necessary until an advanced level of training, but can be used by beginner and intermediate lifters if desired. Conditioning should be performed 2-4 times per week for 10-20 minutes at a time. You may utilize high intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate intensity steady state training. With high intensity intervals, work to rest should be at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. For moderate intensity steady state conditioning, the body should stay in motion throughout the entire time with little to no resistance in order to sustain a raised heart rate during the time used. It is most optimal to do conditioning immediately after completing a training session, just before mobility. This will add to the work already done in the session and allow for the greatest increase in muscular advancement. Conditioning can also be done on non-training days if preferred, but should then be done for 20-30 minutes. Remember, conditioning is meant to condition your body, not break it down beyond what your body can repair before the next training session. Use relatively light loads and just keep moving.
Mobility is an often neglected, but extremely important, part of any training program. Mobility allows you to improve your joint and muscle function so that you are less likely to have injury occur. By taking your joints and muscles through their normal, Full Range of Motion you will help to improve and maintain their function. Mobility is your body maintenance to keep you pain free and healthy.
A healthy joint and muscle must be both strong and flexible. If there is too much strength without flexibility then there is a higher potential for ligament, muscle and joint tears. If there is too much flexibility without enough strength then the joint is unstable and has a higher potential for dislocation. Therefore, to maintain a high level of performance there must be strength and flexibility throughout the body.
The mobility before a training session is utilized to improve positioning and better prepare the muscles to perform at their highest level. However, if you have specific muscles that prevent you from getting into the proper position needed for optimal performance, then these muscles should be fully mobilized both before and after training with active stretching and massaging techniques (foam rolling).
The time spent after a training session to mobilize should focus on, but not be limited too, the muscles used during the session just completed. If a joint or muscle has proper alignment and range of motion, then do not focus on it. Focus on mobilizing short and tight muscles to better improve range of motion. Each post-training mobility technique should be utilized for a minimum of 2 minutes on each muscle to create lasting change.
Mobility can also be replaced by yoga or any other activity that improves your body’s ability to move as intended without pain, such as rolling out soft tissues. It is most optimal to mobilize right after a training session, but it can also be done on non-training days. The goal is to get at least 30-40 minutes of mobilization done weekly to enhance your recovery and performance. That is just 10 minutes 3-4 times per week.
…and that’s how you Mathias Method! You simply apply this system to your training program to get the most out of it. The Mathias Method does not change your training program, it improves it so that you are always getting stronger!
To view FREE Mathias Method Strength Training Programs that apply this system to it’s fullest potential, click the link below. We have Strength Training Programs that range from beginner to elite. They help anyone from a sedentary lifestyle, to elite lifters, or anyone in-between to get stronger.
Strength to You,
Your STRENGTH JOURNEY Leader,
Ryan Mathias, CPT
Owner and Creator of the Mathias Method