How to choose a workout program according to your type of personality

Published on 24, Jul 2017

If your workout program doesn’t bring results, it’s not laziness or bad genetics. The problem is that the selected workouts don’t match your personality type.

The rule of achievement in any sport is hard training and full concentration. However, you will not be able to keep your attention for a long time on what you are not interested in. That is why the same training program can work perfectly for some people, and also bring only disappointment.

If the training matches your personality type, it will keep your interest in sport and ensure constant progress. A correctly selected program will motivate you to regular and persistent workouts.


How to choose a workout program according to your type of personality

How to determine your personality type

The Cloninger Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) questionnaire, which considered as true in the scientific community, is used in many cases to identify the personality type.

This psychodiagnostic technique is based on the truth that each person is programmed on the genetical level with a different amount of neurotransmitters. They are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This is what determines the personality characteristics.

There are three personality types according to Cloninger, determined by an increased or decreased number of neurotransmitters: novelty seeking, reward dependence and harm avoidance.

Type 1. Novelty seeking

The seekers of novelty have a low level of dopamine. They do everything to increase it. Such people often become dopamine addicts: they constantly look for thrills with the release of adrenaline.

They are very curious and quickly become bored. The same strength training or endurance sports drive them into anguish. They are strong but quickly become tired.

Seekers of novelty are extroverts. They feel well surrounded by people and love to compete. They like to challenge themselves and learn something new.

Preferences in sport

They prefer extreme and contact sports: football or martial arts. Also seekers of novelty suit individual sports with short intensive loads: sprints, jumps, throws.

In the weight training, they like demonstrative types, for example, bodybuilding. Also, they become wonderful CrossFit athletes. The variety of exercises and the opportunity to compete do not let them get bored.


The best is a high-protein diet with a low carbohydrate content, most of which is consumed before or after the training. Every 3-4 days it is worth doing refeed — carbohydrate loading.

Rules for an effective workout

1. Prepare the body for training

At the beginning of the workout, you need to raise the level of dopamine. To do this, after the warm-up perform the activating explosive movements, for example, three sets of five vertical jumps.

During warm-ups before the weight exercise, try to go through the concentric phase (to raise the gear) as quickly as possible. This will strengthen the nervous system, ensuring the release of dopamine.

2. Change your exercises more often

Change the program every two weeks, supplement your workouts with different activities or arrange different workouts within one week.

If you are doing powerlifting, try the Westside system. It includes different workouts: on strength and speed, unusual strength exercises instead of basic and every week program changes.

3. Train often, but not for long

You better organize short, but frequent workouts. Heavy training can exhaust your dopamine level, so the next day you will need a restorative load — short sessions of explosive exercises that will help to replenish dopamine supplies.

Every day alternate high load, recovery training and medium load. Train six times a week, rest one day. Do not rest for two days in a row, because it will reduce your performance and make the first after the rest training inefficient.

4. Small amount of training

You have good strength indicators, but you quickly get tired. Intensive training for 45-60 minutes will suit you. You will have time to give your best and not get tired or bored.

For multi-joint basic exercises will be enough 4-6 repetitions for muscle growth and 1-3 for strength, for isolated ones — 8-10 for hypertrophy and 6-8 for strength.

5. Change methods and strategies

If you can’t change the exercises, change the way they are done. For example, you can replace the normal grip with a trap grip, try the usual exercises with dumbbells or weights on one leg.

Change the number of repetitions, try isometric and explosive approaches, drop sets. Your main task is to maintain interest in training, constantly adding something new. There will be a novelty, there will be progress.

Type 2. Reward dependence

These people haven’t enough of norepinephrine. It’s a neurotransmitter, which is associated with self-confidence and a sense of well-being. Self-evaluation of such people directly depends on others’ opinion. It is very important for them to be respected, supported, admired.

They are very social, sympathetic, caring, can help others even to the detriment of themselves, because for them there is nothing worse than to disappoint someone. Their main motivation is to look good and be liked by others.

Preferences in sport

Usually, reward dependent people badly show themselves in individual sports but perform well in the team. They rarely become superstars, but they do their best to win own team.

They also love bodybuilding and other kinds of power sports, because it allows them to look beautiful, to admire other people and to become more confident.


As a rule, they are good at maintaining diets if they feel responsible, for example, if they want to please their dietitian or coach.

As food itself can become a reward, they risk acquiring a food dependence. Therefore, they need to completely exclude a harmful food from their diet, and during the refeed to consume only what is in the main menu.

Rules for an effective workout

1. Well learn the technique of exercises

It is important for you to perform the exercises correctly, so carefully practice the technique, and during the preparation make activating movements that will help to include the right muscles into the work.

2. Don’t change exercises until you learn it

Your main motivation is to do the exercises correctly and to feel the right muscles. So do not change the program often. It is enough to vary the basic movements every 4-6 weeks. Simple isolated exercises can be changed more often.

3. Do often

Frequent workouts raise the level of norepinephrine, so you can train without problems 5-6 times a week. Try to focus on one motor pattern (pulling or pushing exercises) or one group of muscles within one workout.

4. Do not overload yourself

To impress others, you can take too much work. This can lead to injury or increase the level of cortisol, which will stop muscle growth. So try to avoid competition and don’t drive yourself.

Perform 6-12 repetitions for muscle hypertrophy and 3-5 to increase strength. Stay away from a one-time maximum: it increases the level of cortisol.

5. Dilute the complex exercises with simple

You can be upset by difficult exercises from weightlifting and gymnastics if you can’t master them. Support the motivation in such moments will help simple exercises that don’t require special skills and techniques.

Type 3. Harm avoidance

People with this type of personality have lowered serotonin. They have a low level of energy, they quickly get tired, like to be in a familiar environment that can be controlled.

As a rule, avoiding harm — introverts, they are shy, vulnerable to criticism, try to avoid conflicts. Their anxiety causes an increased level of cortisol, which adversely affects the growth of muscles.

Unexpected changes upset them and cause stress. They like to plan everything, they are very organized and cautious, but under the pressure of stress, they can start to procrastinate.

The main driving force of this type of person is to stay away from stress and trauma. They like repetitive workouts, are fully concentrated during classes, strive to perform exercises with perfect technique.

Preferences in sport

Such people don’t like contact sports or sports, in which unexpected factors can be of great importance.

They are best suited to a stable training program, where exercises, methods and rest intervals change very rarely.


Don’t severely limit the number of carbohydrates — they should be present in each main dish. It’s worth eating a little carbohydrate before exercise to lower cortisol, and at night to boost serotonin.

Rules for an effective workout

1. Warm up efficiently

You are afraid of injury, so pay special attention to warm-up. Roll out on a massage roll, make a dynamic warm-up, exercises which increase mobility.

In warm-up approaches with light weight, strain your muscles as if you are going to work with a one-time maximum (1TM). It will warm your muscles well, reduce the risk of injury and your concern about this.

2. Try not to change the exercises

Changing exercises increases your cortisol level. Try to change them as rarely as possible — every 12 weeks.

If the changes are still necessary, vary only the exercises, and leave unchanged the number of approaches and repetitions, the training scheme and the order of the exercises. Any modifications in the training program should be gradual.

3. Train four times a week

Your type is most sensitive to the production of cortisol during stress, and the weight training is stress. To reduce the level of cortisol and the catabolic effect which stops muscle growth, don’t exercise too often.

Workout four times a week, alternating training on the upper and lower body with days of rest.

4. Choose the average number of repetitions

Perform 8-15 repetitions for hypertrophy of muscles. Approaches with 4-6 repetitions are suitable for developing strength. When working out with large weights, perform 2-3 repetitions with 75-85% of 1TM and 4-6 repetitions with the maximum possible weight and with the perfect technique.

5. Keep it under control

You are demotivated by danger and loss of control, so work on the technique and choose the weight in which you are sure. The best for you is work according to a clear program with a gradual increase in load. It will give you a sense of confidence so that you can train harder.

Published by Sergey Ermilov

Editor in chief and author of the Traveller, blogger, designer etc. Living all around the World, share the best experience.