Don’t Be Average:
An Interview with Ryan Mathias, the Creator of the Mathias Method
How did you come up with the idea for the Mathias Method?
It came from all the different styles of training I did throughout the years. Whether it was the body weight stuff that I did at home, going to the high school gym or all the different gyms I went to; it’s how my training progressed throughout the years. I have always made my own program from the start. From the very first day I walked into the weight room at high school, I wrote my own plan. I did it my way, which may not have been the right way, but that was good enough for me. Then as I made mistakes, I learned. Every time I made another mistake, I learned more, and from all of the mistakes I eventually came up with a really good plan that worked without injury or plateauing
When did you come up with the Mathias Method? And when did you decide you had to share it?
I decided to share it with other people over the last year. Christmas day is when I started writing it all out and doing the Daily 30. That’s when I made the decision that I’m going to make this brand. It didn’t come together in just one day. It came from all of the knowledge I gained from all of my plans I made year after year. I had always gone back every 3 to 6 months and re-evaluated my plan. Then I would make changes to make it better. Sometimes those changes made it better and sometimes they made it worse. Then I either had to stick to that or go back to what I was doing before; and every couple months I’d go back to the drawing board.
What’s your background or where do you get most of your knowledge and input into the Mathias Method?
Experience. Experience is number one, like I said earlier based off all my failures and successes I’ve found what works for me and what works for most other individuals based off how I’ve evaluated their training, and also from what I learned at college.
With so many gyms out there, literally on every corner what do you attribute this entire fitness craze to in the last five or ten years? It seems there are more and more gyms popping up of different varieties?
Crossfit. Crossfit has been blowing up over the last five or six years. It’s been around over a decade. It’s a community and everyone in that community sticks with it so that’s the big thing now. I’m a big fan of it; it’s just not for me. I’m more of a power lifter, so I stick to my sport and I recognize and like all other strength lifting in sports. I like watching that stuff and seeing it, just like anybody that likes football. They all have their favorite team, but they still like watching football.
How would you compare your method with other peoples, like for example, you brought up crossfit, how can somebody who does crossfit benefit from the Mathias Method or how can somebody who does other types of gym training like circuit training, how are they going to benefit from the Mathias Method?
Any style of training, for any sport can do the Mathias Method because it is just a system based around strength. I mean what sport do you not need to be strong in? If you want to get stronger at your sport, whether that be a strength sport like power lifting or strongman, or something like body building or crossfit, Mathias Method can be used. It’s a system that says warm up, mobilize whatever you really need to mobilize to get in the proper position, activate the muscles your about to use to ensure everything is firing properly (you check your whole system at that point and make sure everything is feeling good for that day), then you work on technique bringing up your weaknesses and do a main strength movement, which is were you want most of your energy to go; doing as much of it as you need to do to get stronger. After that you do some accessory work to add to training volume and work on whatever you need for your sport or your way of lifting, if you’re at the highest level you do some conditioning and then to finish you mobilize, so then you can get into better positions, stronger positions.
With so much on TV like the biggest loser, and all these fitness videos and quick fix pills, why is your way better?
I made this program for me. It’s the program I wanted to have or wish I would have had back when I started training and progressing. If you make something you enjoy, other people will enjoy it too. It’s to make the world a better place for everybody. It made my world better, so I’m hoping to help catch on to everybody else and make their world better too. Help them out, just like it helped me out. I mean I don’t know if everyone else’s fitness programs and products are really thinking of making the people and the world a better place, but that is the whole idea for me. To help people become better, whether it motivates them or drives them or whatever it does. As long as it helps them to progress, just like it helped me to progress, that is what I’m here for.
Your goal isn’t for anyone to have a quick fix weight loss. Your goal is to make them stronger in their everyday life and in their in a sport. You want to make them stronger for that sport, stronger for whatever they choose to do because being stronger will help them change their world and they can then help change others?
Yes, and the rest of the world, now first of all to be stronger we’re not just talking about how much weight you can lift or anything like that. That’s the very minimal amount of strength that we’re talking about. That is a way that helped me get stronger in my own life by building confidence. Like I said, the guy that can pick up 500 pounds is not an average person. They have confidence, they are focused, and they have all these new tools and new discoveries about themselves. They can push forward and help other people. So getting stronger not just about how much you can lift. It is getting stronger inside. Getting stronger in every way. I don’t just want to make me stronger; I want to make everyone stronger.
Why is your program better than all the others?
First, the program is not as important as the person’s dedication and effort to the program. The Mathias Method is very comprehensive focusing on building up all areas of strength. This includes strengthening your mind with your body. I hope to help people push forward in all areas of their life, no matter their goals. I didn’t make this for any reason other than it’s something I knew that I wanted and if other people want it, it’s there for them. It’s a brand to change the world.
People are sometimes nervous about lifting weights because they are afraid it will make them gain weight. Will it?
It depends on what you weigh now; it may change your weight. If you have a good amount of body fat and you start doing something like strength training or power lifting your fat could switch over from fat weight to muscle weight. You see people who weigh themselves everyday; going to the gym and training, but the scale doesn’t change; but their mind and their body does. This is because as your losing fat, you’re gaining muscle and more valuable tissue while getting rid of the less valuable tissue. That is what strength training does, it promotes building the right tissues. There is a point where you can over do that and get too much of what is considered good tissues to turn into bad tissues.
It also depends on what you eat as well, if you eat more food (which I would suggest you do with more activity), you may gain weight. If you have more activity you can’t eat less food and expect to be healthy. Usually when people say they want to lose weight they don’t really want to lose weight; they just want to lose body fat. If they want to gain weight, they don’t want to gain fat. They want to gain muscle, so strength training releases all the hormones that you really need to best promote change in body weight. Whether you want to go up or you want to go down you need to build muscle. Whether that means getting larger or getting more dense tissues or getting more mitochondria in the cells [strength training] releases the hormones that you need to become a healthier individual. So if people want to gain weight we can talk about that. Anyone could send me an email. Or if you want to lose weight we can talk about that or if you just want to get stronger which is the whole idea. Getting stronger whether it is inside [mentally] or out is going to promote what you really want. Sometimes, looking better may translate to the same weight or less or more.
So for the sedentary 6 foot 120 pound guy or the 5’6” 250 pound guy they would both start at level zero and be doing the same thing, one to lose weight and one to gain weight, but they would be doing the same thing? What would be the benefits of the Mathias Method to each of those men?
They would not have to lose or gain weight. This is a very individual question and they may not even start on the same level depending on their background. If they have both always been sedentary then they would both start by changing their mind, which is the first step of it, then start changing their body. That is all level zero is; getting you dedicated. After you are dedicated to the Mathias Method, or dedicated to changing yourself and changing your life, then you can actually start progressing into what would really make the change in your body, by progressing to level 1 where you start actually going to the gym and training, getting stronger. The idea is not to focus so much on how good or bad you look or gaining or losing weight. The focus is on getting stronger. Strength is the basis for all fitness. Like I said there’s no sport that strength is not going to help. Strength is important in every single sport no matter what it is. So don’t even worry about how you look. Just go and get stronger. Once you get stronger, then you can start making the very particular changes if you want to; or just fall in love with strength like I did and stick with that.
You mentioned older people in their eighties doing this and benefiting, is there a younger age that won’t benefit from doing the Mathias Method?
Any age can do this and it can have benefits. I would recommend the age that they want to start doing it is when they should start. Otherwise there is no point. If you’re doing it for someone else, there’s no point.
If we are talking about going to the gym and lifting weights, its beneficial for young people to have guidance and assistance with somebody who really knows what they are doing and can individualize a program to help that young person. I would suggest they start by doing the Daily 30 trying to progress and keep moving forward. Just by doing body weight and getting accustomed to your own body is one of the most important things for kids. So by going out and playing games or sports rather than sitting around you’re going to have benefits. Once you get in the teen years and start hitting puberty that is a great time to start doing actual weight training. Actually pushing and try and progress more cause that is when the changes are really going to occur. If you don’t have those hormonal changes you’re not going to be able to progress in the safest most optimal way. So body weight training with the Daily 30 every day, any age you want to start. As soon as you want to do it, go for it. Strength training you should probably hit puberty first and have hormonal changes before you start going to the gym, lifting some heavier weight.
You have always been physical in activity, you have always been somewhat fit, since you were probably 10-11 years old you have always been pretty deeply involved in bettering yourself and active in sports, what about the average person or the sedentary person whose 450 pounds and can’t get out of their chair and wants the quick fix of losing 200 pounds in 6 months, how are they going to benefit from your program, your methods?
If you are a large sedentary individual then you need help that is different than just fitness and nutrition. You need psychological help, so that you can change your mind about what you already know or think becoming a new and different person. The whole idea with the Mathias Method is not just making your body stronger and better. It’s about making your mind better too; getting you motivated, more determined, focused and help you persevere. When I see other people work hard or pushing hard and getting stronger themselves, whether that be through fitness or not, it motivates me to get better. So what I hope to do is, motivate people that may be sedentary or feel like there’s no way for them to really get better. I want to motivate them to get up out of the chair and start changing their life and helping others around them. [I want them] getting motivated, changing their lives and keep changing the whole world! I mean it starts with one person at a time [but] we have to keep growing it.
There is absolutely no quick fix to anybody losing or gaining any amount of weight that’s sustainable in a way that’s healthy. So there is no quick fix at all. They have surgery for this, and the surgery is supposed to be able to fix any issue but really once you come out of surgery you usually have more issues than before. It doesn’t really solve the problem; it just puts the band aid over it. The people that have all these surgeries or major diets, they didn’t change their minds. So they are just going to go back to who they were. You have to change who you are in order to change your body and your life. I try to motivate and help other people to not be sedentary. Start with something simple, [like] the Mathias Method level zero! Start there as your first steps. I made this program so that my grandmother could do it. I mean, we’ve got old Ray on their who’s 84 and he’s doing the stuff. He calls me every couple days and says he’s doing his Daily 30. Also, I made it all the way up to elite level power lifters, or anyone who wants to do it. It is just a system to get stronger. Motivations where it starts and you go from there.
What are your personal goals?
Change the world. That is the only goal I ever wrote down.
And what does that mean to you?
It means I’m going to motivate and help other people become stronger by making myself stronger. I’m going to progress and I’m going to try to help out as many people around me to progress as well; and hope that they help to progress anyone else around them as well. I want everyone to keep moving forward. Instead of just standing there, go and chase what you want.
So if you go chase what you want, all you want is to change the world?
That is the top end goal which is the only one I strive for. In between now and then there’s going to be a lot of little goals that I have in my head but the ultimate goal always stays the same.
For the average person whose goal isn’t to ever get into power lifting, but still wants to become stronger where should they start? Just your average busy person, not doing a sport, just to be healthier, can the Mathias Method help them?
Yes. When I started strength training, I never even thought of power lifting. I never wanted to do a competition. All I wanted to do was get stronger, both by making my body stronger and my mind. So this is for everybody walking the earth. I originally started this just to get stronger myself. People go to the gym for their own reasons and usually it’s because they enjoy it. The people I talk to say they go for themselves and that is really all it is. Just go there because you enjoy it and you want to make yourself better. If you want to make yourself stronger or you just want to be fit; whatever your goals are just go and get them.
How or why are you so focused and what do you attribute that to and how do people who are not normally focused, how do you suggest they get more focused?
There’s a lot of places I get my focus, it’s a very long story of where I get it, but basically I’ve seen it in my family, my parents, and my grandparents. That has always been the start of everything. From a young age I’ve seen everybody [around me] focus on their job or whatever their doing. The second thing that really gave me a lot of focus was martial arts. I enjoyed it a lot and usually the things you enjoy, you focus on. Eventually I got into getting stronger and I enjoyed getting stronger so I put a lot of focus in that. So I enjoy getting stronger and I enjoy helping other people; I put it together and made the Mathias Method.
You mentioned you have some martial arts training. How did that start?
When I was nine years old, my mom and dad put me in Martial art classes which I enjoyed and trained in regularly since.
Has martial arts benefited your life in any way?
Yes, it’s one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done in my life, and I’m very glad that my parents introduced me to it in the first place. That’s where a lot of focus came from; and drive and motivation and pretty much any life achievement I’ve had started with that. Everything progressed from there. Although I’ve always done my own thing doing other stuff, I’ve always had that as my base. It’s the base of everything else I do.
How do people with injuries start the Mathias Method?
It’s very individual, depending on the injury and how severe it is. Most of the time you can work around the injury.
So right now Mathias Method is a website with a multi level program anyone can print off and follow as they need to gain strength. What is your next step?
My next step is to promote the brand by making t-shirts and other products that people can use in training or just to better themselves in their daily life. Things that I hope that they would enjoy. I wouldn’t make or promote a product I didn’t think valuable to people becoming stronger in any and every way, so my goal is to put products together, both in inventions and from whets already out there and give a place for people that want to get stronger get what they need. So only valuable products is what I’m going for. Things to help them in training and just growing stronger every day.
If you could choose just one thing for someone to take away from your website, what would it be?
Don’t be average. Don’t be average, because the Mathias Method is a brand that gives you a way to get stronger. That just my way of trying to change the world; but the whole idea is to make yourself better so that you can keep helping other people get better. If other people get better, the world gets better and that the whole idea. It is changing the world, not just changing me or changing you. It’s changing everyone around you, everyone around them and everyone walking the face of the earth. So the whole idea is to make change and by doing that you can’t really be an average person. I’ve never met somebody that can deadlift 500 pounds that was just average. I mean you can’t do that being just a regular person. You have to have some focus. You have to have some determination. Just like if you have any major accomplishment, whether you get an award for it or not, or sacrificing for the unknown, you’re not an average person. So don’t be average. Move forward and do something. You can’t kick your heels in the ground and expect life to come to you. YOU have to go out and take it.
Thank You, Sandra Mathias
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