Have you ever had a client that just couldn’t feel the exercise where you wanted them to?  Every time you would do a chest press, all they could feel were their deltoids.  Or if you did deadlifts, they only felt their hamstrings, never their glutes.  You tried cueing them differently or changing how they would do the exercise, but still, they just couldn’t feel the muscles you were trying to work.

As a personal trainer, this can be a frustrating thing.  You want your clients to have a great experience when they workout with you, and they do, for the most part.  But you want it to be even better.  You want them to feel how you feel when you workout–strong, capable, energized.  And yet, despite your best efforts, they don’t.  Something is still off.

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This is a situation I often ran into during the first part of my training career.  Because I was inexperienced, I figured it must be something wrong with the client.  They must not be focusing enough during their exercise, or they just want to have something to complain about.  It couldn’t be me.  I could feel all of the exercises just fine–and do them felt great!

Until I could no longer feel the exercises as I used to, and doing them didn’t feel great.

That was a scary day for me.  I was twenty-three years old and still new to my professional personal training career.  The exercises I did during college no longer felt great.  The aches and pains that I had heard my clients talking about were starting to set in.  I could no longer feel my muscles squeezing like they once did.

Imagine this: you have a brand new sports car with a massive engine.  You have all the horsepower in the world in that car and can get from 0 to 60 in five seconds.  But one day the battery cables get a bit loose and all of the sudden become disconnected.  Can the car now go as fast as it once could?  Not at all. Does this mean there is something wrong with the engine?  No, the engine is fine, it is just not accessible.  However, once you reconnect the battery cables, ZOOM!!, you are able to once again access all of the horsepowers and speed the car once had.

This is what was happening to me.  After four years of playing college basketball, I had a number of muscle imbalances and previous injuries that I was compensating around.  And as much as I was trying to do the right thing with my training, all of the exercising I was doing was just creating great imbalances.  Some of my muscles were not sending and receiving enough signal to and from my central nervous system, and as such, they were not able to contract as well as they once were.  When I would exercise, my body would keep defaulting to using the muscles that were already working well–my shoulders and hamstrings–because my other muscles–my pecs and glutes–were not working efficiently.  As you can imagine, this just led to greater imbalances over time.

Then I found Muscle Activation Techniques™.  From that moment forward, everything changed for me.  Muscle Activation Techniques™ (MAT™) is like a tune-up for the muscular system.  It identifies which muscles are not working properly and gives them some extra attention or “tutoring” to bring them back up to speed with all of the other muscles.  The MAT™ process figures out where the metaphorical battery cables are loose–which muscles are not sending and receiving enough signal–and helps to improve that communication.  Once that communication is reestablished, all of the horsepowers and speed the engine–muscles–once had shown up like it was never gone in the first place.

This is what I found to be the case with my clients, as well.  When they weren’t able to feel an exercise in the muscles that we were targeting, it was often because those muscles weren’t able to send and receive enough signal.  Once I learned MAT™, I could help them improve that signal, which in turn helped them to have a better exercise experience and get better results because now their muscles were working as they were supposed to.

If your clients are unable to feel the muscles that you are trying to target with their exercises, there may be a disruption in the signal that is being sent from and received by those muscles.  It may be worth finding a local MAT™ practitioner to help your clients get their battery cables reconnected while you continue to help them build their engine.  And, if MAT™ is something you are interested in learning for yourself, there are plenty of courses going on throughout the U.S. and abroad, so check out the schedule to see if any work for you.

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Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates

Charlie Cates is a mastery level Muscle Activation Techniques™ Specialist (MATm), a mastery level Resistance Training Specialist™ with honors (RTSmh), and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He is a certified MATRx™ foot and hand practitioner and is a candidate to graduate from the MATRx™ total body program in February 2017.

Charlie attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College in 2010, where he played varsity basketball for four years. In 2016 he graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Master of Science degree in exercise science.

A type-1 diabetic, he is the owner of Muscle Activation Schaumburg in Schaumburg, IL . He is an instructor for the Muscle Activation Techniques™ program, introducing students of all different backgrounds to the MAT™ process.

Charlie specializes in managing and improving the function of his clients’ muscular system through the MAT™ process and utilizing RTS™ principles.

He can be reached via e-mail at charlie@matschaumburg.com. Follow him on twitter at @CharlieCates!
Charlie Cates


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