The Mathias Method Strength System

The Mathias Method Strength System

The Mathias Method Strength System is a systematic approach to strength training designed to help you get stronger and perform better for any sport or goal. Including powerlifting, bodybuilding, weightlifting, athletic sports, bodyweight fitness and more! This system has been used for years helping everyone from beginners to advanced Strength Warriors take their training to the next level with proven results!

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Learn Proper Strength Programming

The Mathias Method Strength System is the ultimate strength programming guide for maximum results! It is a unique systematic approach to strength training that teaches you how to get stronger and workout properly for your specific training goals! Simply apply our strength system to your current workout program or strength training routine to amplify your results!

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The Mathias Method STRENGTH SYSTEM

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Simply apply our strength system to your current training program, or create your own, to amplify your results!

The Mathias Method Strength System Overview

Optimizing Your Strength Program For Maximum Results!

Everything in the Mathias Method Strength Program has a purpose. Below is a short overview of the Mathias Method Strength System and our Strength Training Principles. Get our Best Selling Strength Training Guide to learn more!

Workout Routine Structure:

  1. Proper Warm-Up
  2. Main Strength Work
  3. Accessory Work
  4. Conditioning
  5. Mobility Work

1.) Proper Warm-Up

  • Bodyweight Warm-Up
    • 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 decrease pain and improve performance.
  • Muscle Activation Techniques
    • 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.
  • Main Movement Technique Work
    • Do 3 sets of 5-10 reps with a lightweight (<50%) main movement 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.

2.) Main Strength Work

  • Get Stronger through the 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.
  • After your main strength work is complete, you can choose to do 1-3 extra back-off sets to get more work volume in.
  • This is the main piece of our strength system!

Note: The Mathias Method strength training workouts focus on training movements, not muscle groups. This is much more effective for building strength and achieving maximum results.

3.) Accessory Work

  • Use 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.

4.) Conditioning (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, 
  • sports practice, 
  • and other difficult forms of cardio.

5.) Mobility Work

  • Mobilize to Increase Range of Motion and prevent injury.
  • Take at least 10 minutes after every training session and work on improving, or maintaining, your mobility. 
  • Choose 2-3 mobility exercises that will help loosen your tight tissues, or recover from your training session, and work them for 2-5 minutes each.
  • Examples are foam rolling and stretching.

In all, this is the basic structure of the Mathias Method Strength System! Simply apply this strength system to your current workout program to get maximum results!

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Learn everything you need to know about how to get stronger, build muscle, improve your performance and create the most effective strength training routines of your life!

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The Mathias Method Strength System Strength Program Principles

Ryan Mathias 315 lb bench press

Strength Program Principle #1: The Warm-Up

First, the Mathias Method Strength System begins by emphasizing the importance of a proper warm-up before you begin any strength training routine or workout program. This is to help decrease pain, prevent injury, and fully prepare your body for the workout ahead.

Dynamic Bodyweight Warm-Up

To begin, we start with a short and simple dynamic bodyweight warm-up to see how your body is feeling. We begin by simply going through a few full-range of motion bodyweight exercises to lubricate your joints and check for any minor pain that you may need to work on.

If you do feel some muscle or joint pain during any part of your warm-up, you can start by trying to massage your tight tissues and see if that fixes the issue.

After you get some movement going and feel out your body for the day, you will then do some mobility exercises to stretch out any tight tissues that may prevent you from getting into better and stronger lifting positions. For example, if you have tight hamstrings or ankles that prevent you from reaching full depth during the squat, you will do some mobility work on these muscle groups.

It would also be a good idea to have a basic stretching routine that you do before every workout. You can customize the routine to you and what you need to mobilize based on your workout for that day.

Warm-Up Routines:

For our specific workout based warm-up routines, you can check out our How To Warm-Up Properly Guide.

Muscle Activation

The next part of the Mathias Method Strength System’s warm-up uses muscle activation techniques, or exercises, to fully prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. These muscle activation exercises teach the correct muscles to turn on, or activate, and bring blood flow to the muscles before the workout begins.

Muscle activation exercises are specific to every workout’s main strength movement. These muscle activation techniques include balance training to improve neuromuscular proprioception, or muscle activation, and joint stability.

By combining your bodyweight mobility warm-up with these muscle activation techniques, you are improving your range of motion and strength in those positions. Now you are ready to start your workout!

Weight Lifting Technique Work

Now that your body is warmed up, it is time to start your workout. The start to any workout program must focus on lifting with proper technique to avoid injury. The Mathias Method Strength System adds this to the start of every workout so that you are always improving your lifting technique.

Your technique work should include one exercise that is the same or closely related to your main movement. For example, if you are going to do squats as your main lift, then you can do squats or something like front squats or box squats for your technique work. 

Also, the exercise you select should be something you need to improve. To make it simple, just choose something you are not good at, or that you need to work on, that utilizes the same muscles as your main movement.

Keep It Light

Perform your technique exercise with the relatively lightweight and perfect form. The point is to improve your lifting technique, so stay focused and lift with intent. You should do only 3 sets of 5-10 reps or as many as you can do without getting fatigued or losing perfect form. Again, the goal is to improve the motion of this exercise and better prepare your body for the work ahead, not to pre-fatigue those muscles.

Any other bodyweight or plyometric exercises in your warm-up should also be relatively easy and not overly fatiguing. Remember, if they are before the main strength work, they are just a warm-up. So do them as a warm-up and not as a taxing exercise.

After completing all of your warm-up exercises the main strength work should begin.

Strength Program Principle #2a: Main Strength Work

Next, the Mathias Method Strength System focuses on building strength first because strength is the base for all other training goals. Without a solid base of strength to build on, you will just be training in circles. If you want to build muscle, lose weight, jump higher, or reach any other health and fitness goal, then you need to be strong!

The main strength work of the Mathias Method Strength System includes one main movement used to build full body strength. All of the training before and after your main strength work is set to better improve this lift. If you improve your main lift, then you are improving your entire body and working towards your goal. So make sure that your main lift helps move you towards your goal.

Your main lift can vary in many ways (intensity, volume, range of motion, positioning or style performed) depending upon your goals, but it should be a standard motion that improves performance in your chosen sport. Some examples are:

Again, the goal of your main strength work is to build strength. Often this exercise will be done with high to moderate intensity to build maximum amounts of strength. However, you cannot go heavy all the time. You also need to vary the intensity and volume for optimal growth. This means that you will often train the same lift with different intensities multiple times a week.

Varying Intensity

When you are lifting to build strength, use fewer reps, moderate-high intensity, and more sets. For example, you can do 5-8 sets of 1-5 reps using >75% of your one rep maximum to build strength. This is considered “heavy training”.

For “lighter training” days in which you are focusing on building muscle or increasing training volume, you can do 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps using 50-75% of your one rep max. This will give your body a break from heavy work and help build growth in different ways.

Light Doesn’t Mean Weak

The main lifts on light training days are still the focus of the training session. Though this exercise may be different than what you do on your heavy training days. However, everything should still focus on improving this movement, which builds full-body strength.

During light training days the goal is to accumulate volume and practice technique, creating a better potential for strength gains on heavy training days. These sessions will focus on building muscular size, speed, and endurance while bringing up weaknesses. This allows for different stimuli created through varying intensities.

So, if you need to build stronger triceps for the bench press, you can do close grip bench press on your light training days. Or if you need to build a stronger chest, you can do wide grip bench press or pause press. The point is to do something a little different, and harder, on your light training days. This will help you build more strength on heavy training days.

Also, as your muscles grow and adapt to lighter loads, they will have an increased potential to grow more absolute strength. Together, light, moderate and heavy loads utilized on the main lifts will allow for continuous growth without stagnation. This is just one way Mathias Method Strength System will keep you growing stronger.

Strength Program Principle #2b: Back-Off Sets

Back-Off sets are 1-3 extra sets done after the main strength work on heavy days, using a lighter load. These are done to increase training volume and add more work to the main lift. Typically these are only done with advanced lifters that need more training volume. However, they can be added to any of the Mathias Method Strength System workout programs.

After completing your first main lift on the heavy days you can then do an extra 1-3 sets of the same, or a similar, lift to further increase its effect. Use only 50-75% of your one rep maximum for 5-8 reps per set. 

The purpose is to build up your main lift with lighter technique work before moving on to the rest of the workout. So, ensure that you finish strong with perfect form.

Strength Program Principle #3: Accessory Work

Next, the Mathias Method Strength System only uses the most effective strength training exercises that build the most muscle and strength in your workout program. All exercises done after your main lift are considered “accessory work” or “accessory exercises”. These exercises are meant to increase training volume and improve weaknesses by focusing on individual muscle groups.

Accessory work should be performed with low to moderate intensity to allow for optimal muscle growth and proper technique. Failing on accessory work should be rare, and only utilized when the intensity for the main lift was relatively low. This is because failing a lift teaches your muscles to fail. Yes, it is good to push yourself to failure, but not if you do it every set. It is better to do more work through more sets than to constantly push yourself to failure totaling less overall volume. 

For all accessory work, always stop 1-2 repetitions before failure on all sets other than the last, which can be taken to absolute failure if desired.

Upper Body Accessory Exercises (Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps)

Lower Body Accessory Exercises (Legs, Back, Hips, and Biceps)

Heavy vs Light Accessory Work

Heavy accessory work is done on heavy training days. Light accessory work is done on light training days. The focus during heavy sessions should be to achieve a strong muscle contraction. The focus on light training days should be to increase muscular endurance and hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Heavy accessory work should utilize some full-body movement, known as “body English” or “cheating”, to increase the muscular stimulus needed for a strong muscle contraction. However, this needs to be limited. Again, the focus should be on stimulating the muscle rather than just throwing around tremendous weight.

Light accessory work should be done at a slow to moderate pace with relatively strict form to ensure proper muscle activation throughout the entire exercise. It is important to always be in control of the weight during every exercise.

For bodyweight exercises on both heavy and light days, perform the exercises as explosively as possible while maintaining control of your entire body.

Another option for accessory work within the Mathias Method Strength System is to perform it on the days between your main lift sessions. The same strength training principles apply to heavy versus light accessory exercises, though they can be done in the same training session.

Even on accessory only days, it is important to warm-up properly before and mobilize after the training session.

Strength Program Principle #4: Conditioning

Conditioning is any form of work that improves your cardiovascular health and total work capacity while assisting with the goals of training. Examples are; jogging, sprints, jump rope, battle ropes, light circuit training, a daily WOD, sled dragging, or just manual labor. Not walking, because walking is not exercise!

Conditioning in the Mathias Method Strength System is used to help improve recovery between strength training workouts and increase work capacity so you can handle greater workloads. Conditioning is not necessary for all strength training goals but can be helpful. Feel free to use it in any Mathias Method Strength System workout program.

Overall, conditioning is meant to increase the ability of your body to withstand work and become stronger. This is also known as, increasing your work capacity. If you have low cardiovascular health and little muscular endurance, then your work capacity is low.  If you have a low work capacity, then it greatly affects your ability to get stronger.

Frequency, Duration, Intensity and Rest

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 cardio.

With high-intensity intervals, work to rest should be at a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. For example, sprint for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat for 10-20 total minutes including rest periods.

For moderate-intensity steady-state cardio, your body should stay in motion throughout the entire time with little to no resistance. This is to sustain an increased heart rate and improve endurance.

It is best to do conditioning immediately after completing your workout and just before mobility work. This will add to your workout 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 workout. So, use relatively light loads and just keep moving.

Strength Program Principle #5: Mobility

To finish, mobility is an important aspect of the Mathias Method Strength System. Just by taking a few minutes after every workout to improve your mobility, will greatly decrease your risk of injury and greatly improve your recovery. So, do not neglect your post-workout stretching! It is vital for your success as a strength athlete!

A healthy joint and muscle must be both strong and flexible. If there is too much strength without enough 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.

Mobility Practices

The mobility before training is utilized to improve positioning and better prepare the muscles to perform at their highest level, through activation techniques. 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.

The time spent after a training session to mobilize should focus on, but not be limited too, the muscles used during your workout. If a joint or muscle has proper alignment and range of motion then do not focus on it. Instead, 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 best 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.

The Complete Mathias Method Strength System Strength Program

In all, this is a basic layout of the Mathias Method Strength System strength program protocols. For more, read our Strength Training Principles and check out our Diet and Nutrition Principles.

Remember, the Mathias Method Strength System does not change your workout program, it improves it so that you are always training properly and getting stronger! 

Make sure to check out our FREE Mathias Method Strength Training Programs that apply this strength system to it’s fullest potential!

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 learn how to get stronger and workout properly!

Learn more!

The Mathias Method Strength System Book CoverGet the Ultimate Strength Training Guide

Learn everything you need to know about how to get stronger, build muscle, improve your performance and create the most effective strength training routines of your life!

Get Your Guide Now! >>