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Optimal Workout Preparation for Your Neurotype

Articles / 12 December, 2017 /

By Christian Thibaudeau

“You need to foam roll, then do mobility work, this will reduce muscle tension, perception of pain and will help you lift better and prevent injuries.”

“No, you should do explosive exercises to amp up the nervous system prior to lifting to increase fiber recruitment and increase strength and power.”

“Nah, the best way to prepare for a session is to do some lighter muscular work to pre-pump a key muscle you will use in your workout.”

Screw it, I’ll do them all… then proceed to do a “warm-up” that lasts longer than most people’s workout.

Heck, I once knew a couple (boyfriend and girlfriend) of CrossFit competitors who “warmed up” for 40 minutes prior to their workouts. I can only imagine what their preliminaries were like before sex!

So, which approach is best? All of them (except the 40-minute mating ritual)! It really depends on your neurotype and what you are using the preparatory period for.

THE NEEDS OF EACH NEUROTYPE

IMPORTANT: I recommend that you visit the blog section of www.thibarmy.com to watch the introductory videos on each of the 5 neurotypes.

Each neurotype has different needs when preparing for a session. Here is a brief overview of what that is:

TYPES 1A & 1B

These are the “on and off” guys. To perform well, they need to emphasize the sympathetic nervous system prior to starting their workouts. These are the guys who walk into the gym and almost look lazy, like they don’t want to push hard, and maybe 15 minutes into their workout, everything kicks in. Sadly, they wasted the first part of their session.

What they need

What they need to do is amp up the nervous system prior to starting the heavy lifting portion of the workout. This means anything where they must produce either a lot of tension or a lot of speed.

What they should avoid

Anything that activates the parasympathetic nervous system (stretching, foam rolling, lacrosse ball, yoga, etc.) will make it a lot harder for these guys to get amped up and motivated to train. If you want a Type 1A to have a bad performance, have them do foam rolling and static stretching prior to lifting.

They should also avoid very long “warm-ups”. Type 1A are “on and off”. It’s all or nothing. They are designed to be very intense but fizzle out really fast. After 35 minutes, their focus can start to drop. If the warm-up is too long they will lose interest and motivation.

Note: The main difference between 1A and 1B will be the type of activation they do best on. Type 1A will do better on high tension exercises and 1B on high speed ones.

TYPE 2A

They are the “fun” guys. Training has to be diversified and if it can have an element of fun it’s even better. They do best when adrenalin is high so they need activation, but they are equally muscle and neuro driven, which means that they need both neural and muscular activation prior to a session.

What they need

They need to amp up the nervous system but also work on peripheral (muscle) activation. On top of that they need to ramp up adrenalin really fast. In short, their preparation needs to 1) amp up the nervous system 2) prime a key muscle for work 3) get adrenalin flowing.

What they should avoid

Type 2A are chameleons. They can do pretty much do everything. As I always say, with them everything works, but nothing works for a long time. So, they won’t be negatively affected by any type of preparation work although since they need a higher adrenalin level to perform well, mobility and foam rolling-type work might not be ideal. However, 5 minutes of mobility/foam rolling prior to activation will not have a negative impact on their workout.

TYPE 2B

These guys are all about sensation! When training they need to feel an important muscle contraction and get a big pump. If they don’t “feel” a muscle working it kills their motivation. They also have a higher than average anxiety. While they do need adrenalin to be their best, too much of it can lead to excess anxiety which can lead to muscle tightness. Their saving grace is that they are the ones with the best natural mobility (in general) so they will not be as negatively affected by tightness as the Type 3 who is naturally tighter.

What they need

2Bs need two things: 1) to feel the working muscle 2) to feel pumped and “jacked”. As such, I use one of two strategies with 2Bs. The smarter one is to use a “primer”. A primer is an isolation exercise for one of the key muscles in the session. You do that exercise focusing on mind-muscle connection, squeezing and flexing the target muscle. You don’t want to go to failure to create too much fatigue but you want to have a slight pump going. This will help them better feel that muscle while doing the main lift of the workout, which will keep them motivated. A second strategy is what I call the “bro-up”. Basically, using an exercise or two (as a superset) just to pump up a “feel good” muscle (muscles that make you feel jacked when they are pumped). You do that at the start of the workout using light weights and slow tempo to get a quick pump. This will make them feel more confident and will be more motivated to train.

What they should avoid

2Bs don’t respond well to explosive work. So, neural activation work will not have many benefits, and it might even hurt their performance. They can do mobility work and self myofascial release if needed (for a tender muscle or a specific mobility issue), but if they don’t need it, it should not be part of the preparation period.

 

TYPE 3

Type 3 are the most anxious neurotype. For that reason, they don’t like novelty/variation and do better when they follow a static routine or a precise plan. Weight lifting creates more anxiety and stress than for the other neurotypes. Anxiety is simply an excessive neuronal activity, so the last thing you want to do with a Type 3 is to increase neuronal activity even more. In fact, they need to reduce it to train properly. Type 3 also tend to be “tighter/less mobile” because of their anxiety (anxiety increases muscle tightness, especially in the flexor muscles).

What they need

Type 3 should focus on the parasympathetic nervous system when preparing for a workout. They actually need to reduce neuronal activity. For them, mobility work and self myofascial release (even flow work) are very effective pre-workout, as they decrease anxiety and improve mobility, which are the two main problems for a Type 3. Type 3 also have an increased perception of pain, so self-myofascial release and mobility work will also help in that regard. One last thing they can benefit from is adding “rehearsal work”: a lighter and less mentally traumatic version of the main lift of the session. For example, doing some slow goblet squats before back squats.

What they should avoid

Type 3 should avoid anything that will increase neuronal activity: no explosive work, no unstable exercises and no maximum tension drills (overcoming isometrics).

EXAMPLES OF GOOD PREPARATION MEANS

Type 1A

Overcoming isometrics

Functional isometrics

Hanging band technique

Loaded carries

Type 1B

Jumps

Throws

Sprints

Prowler sprints

Battle ropes (9-12 seconds all-out)

Type 2A

Complex/Superset of one “Type 1B” exercise and one “Type 2B” exercise. For example:

A1. Medicine ball chest throw (or plyo push ups)

3 x 5 violently explosive reps

30-45 sec of rest

A2. Straight arm pulldown (lats activation)

3 x 8-10 slow and squeeze reps

60 sec of rest

This is for a bench press session if you have problems engaging the lats.

Type 2B

Isolation exercise for a key muscle involved in the main lift of the workout (either a lagging muscle group or one they have problems feeling)

The “bro-up” strategy of doing a superset of 2 exercises with light weights and pump work for muscles that make them feel jacked. Do not push it too hard or use a lot of weight, we just want enough pump to feel more motivated to train.

*If a 2B has a specific mobility issue or pain, they can do a little bit of mobility work and self-myofascial release prior to the isolation warm-up.

Type 3

Self-myofascial release

Mobility work

Rehearsal work

Ideally a Type 3 should use all three, in that order. They can even have elements of the warm-up between work sets of the main exercises to maintain a lower anxiety level.

CONCLUSION

Preparing for a workout should not take long, but 5-8 minutes is a good investment to improve workout performance, and the better you perform, the more you will gain. However, one man’s treasure is another man’s poison: what can help a Type 1A or 1B can inhibit a Type 3 and vice versa. It’s all about giving your brain and body what it needs to perform, and as such, the means you chose should reflect your nature.

-CT

 

Christian Thibaudeau

Written by Christian Thibaudeau

Christian Thibaudeau has been involved in the business of training for over the last 16 years. During this period, he worked with athletes from 28 different sports. He has been “Head Strength Coach” for the Central Institute for Human Performance (of…