We sit down with the inventor of Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) to discuss the program and his work with Bryson DeChambeau
Brent Stewart: Congratulations on your success in general and of course on your success with Bryson.
Greg Roskopf: Thank you. Yeah, pretty neat experience.
BS: Yeah, I bet. How did you meet Bryson and how long have you been working together?
GR: Bryson and myself are both from Fresno, and his coach Mike Schye is the brother of a woman that worked for me for years. Mike knew about MAT (Muscle Activation Technique) prior to me moving to Denver and all of the work I was doing. He coached Bryson as a young golfer and when Bryson went away to college, we set him up with a MAT specialist that we trained in Dallas, and so he worked with him the whole time he was at SMU.
As soon as Bryson turned pro, he reached out to me and wanted to work with me directly. So we have been pretty consistent for the last four years. He comes out about every three weeks, on average, for a couple of days at a time. We’ve got a good foundational program going with him.
BS: Before we get into the details of Bryson’s program, please tell us about basics of Muscle Activation Technique (MAT).
GR: The MAT process and methods look at the neuromuscular system specifically and how it is designed to relieve pain and improve mobility. I always say we’re kind of tightening battery cables. The analogy refers to the body’s biomechanics that consist of the brain as the battery, the nervous system as the cables and the muscles as the engine.
Whenever you have stress, trauma or overuse of particular muscles, the resulting inflammation alters the communication between the nervous system and the muscle system.
The muscles do not fire or activate in the proper way, and it’s like having loose battery cables where the connections between the nerves and muscles are not connected properly. Most times this results in a neuromuscular issue and a muscular instability problem. This instability issue shows up as muscle weakness.
That’s when a person comes to me in pain or complaining of muscle tightness due to these muscle weaknesses. We identify where these altered communication pathways are that lead to muscle weakness, and we do hands-on therapy. We basically activate the muscles, kind of like tightening the battery cables.
In this setting, we activate the muscles using different techniques that tighten the connections of the nerves to specific muscles. With this work, the painful muscles can properly fire on demand and pain or inflammation is reduced. Many times, it’s because of these inefficiencies or the instability issues, and we identify where these altered communication pathways are located in the body, and we do hands-on therapy. We basically activate the muscles, kind of like tightening the battery cables. Then the muscles can fire on demand. And when you have these altered communication pathways – loose battery cables – the first sign of this dysfunction is muscle tightness. The second sign, if you keep putting forces on the body because the muscles are weaker, is the body shouts out in pain saying, “Quit doing this until you fix the problem.”
Through the advanced MAT techniques, I have identified 43 movement patterns in the body that account for all of the muscles. Of those, there are about 20 primary movements in the body, involving the core to the hips and shoulders, that are most prone to injury. With Bryson, I have worked him through specific exercises for each one of those 20 movements. MAT techniques involve working with each movement, muscle by muscle, to achieve proper firing/activation throughout the body. The body is an integrated system and is only as good as the function of its isolated parts, so we just make all of the isolated parts function at a high level.
BS: It’s hard to miss the changes in Bryson’s body. When you first started working with him, how much did he weigh? Tell us about the process you went through to gain the muscle weight gain.
GR: When we started, he was 190, and now he’s up to 240. That’s 50 pounds that he’s put on, and most of it’s been in the last 18 months.
Bryson had some hip and some low-back issues, nothing major, but eventually that could have caught up with him. He worked with one of our specialists in Dallas starting with the standard level of MAT, tightening the battery cables and reorganizing the neuromuscular system. That helped with his hips and lower back muscle tightness in his college days.
As I mentioned, as soon as Bryson turned pro, he wanted to start working directly with me. We started challenging certain body movement patterns. Using specific exercises on exercise equipment, I would put him under load using increasing weight until it would overload his system and would cause him to go weak.
We continued challenging his tolerance levels, trunk rotation, spinal rotation, the key motions to golf. Bryson was limited in his spinal rotation when we first started working. Well, you need that rotation and strength while in motion to play your best golf.
View this post on Instagram
Great to see @greg.roskopf and get in some sessions with him as we gear up for a return to competition. If you missed it on Twitch, check out the full stream in my past broadcasts section. I won’t be doing another live session with him, so it was definitely a rare look at our process. I’ll have a new episode on The Lab IGTV series soon as well! . . . #muscleactivationtechniques #muscleactivation #musclebuilding #golftraining #golffitness #gregroskopf
We worked with each movement in his body, including the major muscles of the core that involve spinal rotation, spinal flexion, spinal side bend and spinal extension. Through each one of these movements, we challenged the movement through exercise and weight until it would actually shut him down, which would be those loose battery cables or weakened connections between the brain, nerve fibers and the necessary muscles to complete the proper movements of the body.
Then we would fix the cable connection to the muscles, and it was like rewiring or reengineering with immediate results. Bryson would go back to that same exercise and his range of motion and strength would increase as soon as the cables were tightened, and the muscles were property activated by the associated nerves.
About 18 months ago, we began an accelerated MAT program by challenging his tolerance levels through exercise and that is what helped us achieve maximum results.
BS: Is that how he increased his clubhead speed?
GR: Yes! We had a session about 18 months ago, focusing on his trunk rotation. He made incredible progress in that one session. Bryson was shutting down with 90 lbs., and using our Muscle Activation Techniques we were able to move past 90 lbs. to 110 lbs. to 130 lbs., then 140 and very soon he was doing 150 lbs. That was the week when his clubhead speed increased from 118 to 123 and he was ecstatic.
He said, “I’ve tried everything to increase my clubhead speed, and this is the first time I’ve seen any type of dramatic change like that.” The MAT and using the added weight challenges was the first time he had succeeded in increasing his clubhead speed dramatically.
So then we capitalized on it. That was just one movement. And like I said, there’s 20 main movements that we’ve gone through. We’ve gone through all 43 movements in the body including the muscles that work his fingers and toes, everything. But the main 20 movements in his body are what we have focused on. We’ve repeatedly gone through every one of those 20 movement patterns and have continued to challenge and raise his tolerance levels.
He was here in Denver right after the U.S. Open and we were right back to challenging his tolerance levels through the specific exercises. I challenge each movement through exercise, and if he does shut down, we have to reactivate it to get that movement stronger. And he always leaves Denver with a more solid foundation.
I pulled the data from several months ago, and his current strength levels, through this process and because he has all the exercise equipment at his home, he’s pretty much doubled in strength in almost every movement that we have worked through. So if he was doing 100 lbs. a year ago, he’s doing 200 lbs. now; and if he was doing 40 lbs., he’s doing 80 lbs. for rotator cuff movement or something like that.
It’s been amazing to see. I’ve been working with pro athletes for 30 years and you don’t see those types of changes on people even if they take steroids. And I can guarantee you, he’s not taking steroids but optimizing his neuromuscular function using Muscle Activation Techniques.
BS: Wow. That’s crazy. What a story. Have you gotten calls from other professional golfers that have heard the story?
GR: Yeah, I’m getting bombarded. I’ve always been busy, and now it’s like I’m busting at the seams. I don’t know how to handle it all.
I’ve had players’ agents reach out to me, and I’m not in a situation where I’m going to start flying around following players on the tour. Bryson accepted that right away and he flies to me in Denver. And the ones that make the commitment and take the time, I make it work.
The agent of a pretty high-profile player contacted me last week and he worked with one of our specialists back east. He’s about 62, and he’s been suffering from back pain for a long time. He called me and said, “This is just unbelievable. I’ve been suffering from pain, I came out feeling so much better, and it’s just something completely different.”
BS: Can MAT help the average golfers out there and how can they find a practitioner?
GR: Of course, for all the same reasons MAT has helped Bryson and hundreds of others with pain and mobility issues.
Our MAT education is probably the biggest part of the program. We train trainers and therapists in the Muscle Activation Technique across the country. We have certified specialists in just about every major city in the U.S. Some are listed on our website.
BS: From my personal experiences, I’ve become a big believer in MAT. Several years back, I worked with Greg Roskopf on my shoulder, which was in pain from golf. After a few sessions, he had me back to playing golf pain-free.
Recently, I hurt my back hitting out of a fairway bunker, to the point that I couldn’t finish the round. I started working with Jessie Colley, who is a Master Level MAT Specialist at Elite Speed Sports Performance in Denver. My back is feeling much better, and we are working on other main body movements to help my golf game.
If you are interested in talking to Jessie, here is his contact information:
Jessie Colley MS, MATm, TPI Level 1
Elite Speed Sports Performance, Denver CO