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Maximize your natural gains part 3

Maximiere Deine natural Zuwächse Teil 3

Neurotype 2 - The reward addict

Part 1 of this article series included an introduction to neurotyping. In a nutshell, the baseline levels of 3 neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine) significantly influence your personality, dictating how you should train and how you should eat to achieve the best possible results. In Part 2, we covered the first neuroprofile: the constant seeker of novelty.

In Part 3, we will cover the best training and nutrition approach for Neurotype 2 - the Reward Seeker. This neurotype seeks rewards to increase their norepinephrine levels. These rewards range from social recognition, such as trying to please everyone, to achieving goals.

The optimal training for neurotype 2: the reward addict

1 - Training preparation

Neurotype 2 exercisers need to feel competent. Getting into the right "groove" from a technical perspective and feeling the right muscles doing the work is crucial for this type. Therefore, it is important during training preparation to put a big emphasis on going through the movement patterns of the day.

This could mean doing a lot of preparatory sets before performing the working sets for the main exercise. It could also mean performing peripheral activation training for a major muscle of the main exercise, such as activating the glutes before performing squats. This neurotype does not require the same amount of myofascia release work (fascia roll) and dynamic stretching as other types.

When he gradually increases the weight for the big basic exercises, he should not waste too much energy, as he will (subconsciously) assume that these preparation sets will reduce his performance due to the associated fatigue. This will affect their motivation.

This neurotype has two different options for warming up before a heavy basic exercise:

Option 1:

Use a 1.5 to 1 ratio of prep sets to work sets, but perform fewer reps on the prep sets than on the work sets (e.g. 5 reps instead of 8 reps, 3 reps instead of 5 reps, 1 rep instead of 3 reps).

The whole thing could look like this:

Preparation sets:

  • Set 0: Empty bar x 10 repetitions
  • Set 1: 135 x 5 repetitions
  • Set 2: 165 x 5 repetitions
  • Set 3: 185 x 5 repetitions
  • Set 4: 205 x 5 repetitions
  • Set 5: 225 x 5 repetitions
  • Set 6: 245 x 5 repetitions

Work sets:

  • Set 7: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 8: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 9: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 10: 245 x 8 repetitions

Option 2:

Use a 1:1 ratio of prep sets to work sets and use the same number of reps in both prep and work sets.

It could look like this:

Preparation sets:

  • Set 0: Empty bar x 10 repetitions
  • Set 1: 135 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 2: 185 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 3: 205 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 4: 225 x 8 repetitions

Work sets:

  • Set 5: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 6: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 7: 245 x 8 repetitions
  • Set 8: 245 x 8 repetitionsp

In both cases, the training style should not be too explosive. This neuro-type needs to work on his mind-muscle connection and perfect his form. He needs to feel competent. A slow eccentric (lowering) phase of repetition and an accelerated but controlled concentric (lifting) phase are best.

2 - Training variation

This neurotype needs variation, but not as much as neurotype 1. Before changing an exercise, he needs to see that he has made progress with the previous exercise. If he changes exercises after 2 weeks, this may be too early to see progress. This applies primarily to heavy basic exercises. Remember that this neurotype needs to see progress in order to feel good and increase his motivation.

The heavier exercises should remain the same for at least 4 weeks - probably even better 6 weeks - while simple isolation exercises can be changed more frequently. Changing exercises too often can lower his motivation as he never gets the feeling that he has really mastered an exercise.

With the difficult basic exercises, the primary demotivating factor is the feeling of not being able to perform an exercise correctly. Changing an exercise that he is struggling with and has just started to master will destroy his motivation.

With isolation exercises, the most demotivating thing for a neurotype 2 exerciser is not feeling the exercise in the right muscles. They should therefore not hesitate to swap one exercise for another if they cannot feel it properly.

If you are a trainer, then when you change something in a training program, make sure you address it in a positive way. Saying "we're going to use goblet squats instead of traditional barbell squats because you're unable to perform a proper squat" will destroy the motivation of this neurotype.

3 - Training frequency and training split

This neurotype will do better with a "uniform" training day where only one movement pattern or muscle group is trained. If he focuses on one thing, then he will feel more competent and feel a stronger local pump. Both elements will give him positive reinforcement.

Neurotype 2 exercisers cope well with a higher training frequency. This makes them feel good due to the release of noradrenaline. Therefore, these exercisers should perform 5 to 6 training sessions per week. These can be split in 3 ways:

Split exercise pattern

  • Day 1: Squats and support exercises
  • Day 2: Bench press and support exercises
  • Day 3: No training
  • Day 4: Deadlift and assistance exercises
  • Day 5: Overhead press and assistance exercises
  • Day 6: Pulling exercises
  • Day 7: No training

Muscle group split

  • Day 1: Quadriceps
  • Day 2: Chest and shoulders
  • Day 3: No training
  • Day 4: Back
  • Day 5: Leg curls
  • Day 6: Arms
  • Day 7: No training

Pull-push legs split

  • Day 1: Pull muscles
  • Day 2: Push muscles
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: No training
  • Continue with day 1

The worst thing for this neurotype is a bad training session. Therefore, too little rest and recovery, which can lead to sub-optimal performance in the gym, can destroy their motivation to train.

4 - Training volume

The dangerous thing about this neurotype is that they can easily become stimulus addicts: these are the exercisers who are always trying to do more, both to get a stronger noradrenaline rush and to earn the respect of others. They risk compromising their gains because how much they do is more important to them than how their progress turns out.

This is due to both physiological and psychological factors: the noradrenaline rush and the desire to impress others or earn the respect of others. This type of exerciser may also have self-esteem issues and see their body as a way to artificially boost their self-esteem. As a result, these exercisers often put a lot of pressure on themselves in the gym, especially when the gym is busy, which can lead to the production of excess cortisol.

You need enough volume to feel a solid pump and feel exhausted at the end of the training session. But too much volume will make it difficult for them to progress due to excess cortisol production. Workouts totaling 20 to 25 sets that are between 75 and 90 minutes long are a good starting point for this neurotype.

5 - Training intensity

Neurotype 2 exercisers need to achieve a good feeling through their training. This means either achieving a good pump or performing fairly heavy workouts with solid technique. They usually respond better to more traditional bodybuilding methods and techniques that focus on the mind-muscle connection.

These exercisers can train for strength and be quite good at it. Remember that they want to impress others. But they also put a lot of pressure on themselves to train heavy, which can lead to injury or a reduced rate of progress due to a higher cortisol release (these are also the ones who tend to exaggerate when it comes to how much weight they can move, by the way). They want to look good with all their might - and performing heavy single reps and the 'competition mode' they're in significantly increases their risk of injury.

As far as hypertrophy is concerned, these exercisers are better off with a medium repetition range of 6 to 12 reps, as this gives them the best combination of intense muscle tension and pump.

As far as strength training is concerned, they should stick to sets of 3 to 5 repetitions. You can do sets of 2 reps from time to time, but you should stay away from heavy single reps with maximum weight as you will subconsciously see these as a test, which will increase your cortisol release. This neurotype feels about two to three times more stress during a heavy single repetition than a heavy set of 3 repetitions.

6 - Equipment, methods and strategies

This neurotype prefers to use equipment, methods and strategies instead of exercises. This is especially true for the big heavy basic exercises. Having the feeling of not being efficient at an exercise can seriously affect their motivation. Changing the big heavy basic exercises too often can affect his drive to train and the results he gets from his training sessions.

When it comes to building muscle mass, this neurotype is better off with a slower pace including isometric holds during a set, adding a few partial reps at the end of a set, and methods such as descending sets and rest/pause. He will respond well to anything that gives him a better pump.

Oddly enough, this neurotype also responds well to explosive exercises such as training with a weight sled, sprints, jumps and throws. He can get very good responses from low-level athletic training. This increases his norepinephrine levels, which makes him feel good. Athletic training that requires specific athletic skills (Olympic weightlifting or gymnastics) can be a double-edged sword, because if this neurotype does not feel competent, it can have a negative impact on their motivation.

This neurotype achieves very good results with short rest intervals between sets. This promotes the release of more adrenaline. When performing heavy basic exercises, however, longer rest intervals are still better in order to prevent suboptimal performance.

7 - Exercise sequence

The heavy basic exercises should be performed first during a training session after the activation exercises. This will help this neurotype to have a more positive attitude for the rest of the training session.

Because this neurotype performs better when adrenaline levels are higher and because they need to feel competent during the heavy basic exercises, they should perform plenty of preparatory sets before starting to perform the working sets during the main exercise of the day.

This type of exerciser responds well to combinations of exercises: Supersets, complexes, circuits, alternating sets, etc. He also responds well to stretching under load for the main muscles of the training session. This should be done at the end of the training session.

8 - Progression model

The key for this neurotype is to see progression. Block periodization or undulating periodization - where you change the type of training during each phase - will not work as well for this type as a more linear approach. This type is better advised to only use a specific progression model for the heavy basic exercises and use a more fatigue-based model for isolation exercises.

For the heavy basic exercises, the double progression model is the best approach. This makes it easy to see progress and it can be used without the constant burden of having to constantly increase the weight.

With the double progression model, you choose a repetition range such as 6 to 8 reps and use the same weight for all your work sets - e.g. 100 kilos for 4 sets. You only increase the weight when you have reached the upper value of the repetition range for all work sets with the selected weight. In our example, this would mean if you can perform 4 sets of 8 repetitions with 100 kilos. However, if you only manage 8, 8, 7 and 6 repetitions with 100 kilos in your 4 work sets, then you will use the same weight again in the next training session.

This neurotype will not do so well with a progression model based on percentages. Some days, the sets and reps with the planned weight will feel too light, which will result in this type of exerciser not feeling like they are working hard, which will affect their motivation. On other days, the planned weights may feel too heavy and this too can have a devastating effect on this neurotype's motivation because they will feel incompetent as a result.

9 - Unloading and preparing for maximum performance

Unloading is a reduction in training stress to restore normal trainability. This is achieved by restoring neurotransmitter levels, hormone levels and glycogen reserves, as well as reducing inflammation to normal levels. Preparation for maximum performance consists of a form of unloading that is specifically aimed at putting the body in an optimal state to perform at maximum capacity on a specific day.

Neurotype 2 exercisers become very anxious and fearful when it comes to competitions. They are the ones most likely to fail in individual events. The fear of failure often leads them to overdo it during the preparation phase. This is especially true in strength sports such as powerlifting and weightlifting, where these exercisers often test themselves too often and use weights that are too heavy during the week leading up to the competition. They do this to reassure themselves that they can move these weights, but this can lead to neural and physical exhaustion, which can and will result in poor performance during the competition.

These exercisers also build up a lot of stress during the preparation week, which can affect their performance and recovery. In physical sports such as bodybuilding and figure classes, this can ruin the preparation process by causing water retention and preventing optimal glycogen storage.

For a trainer, a lot of positive reinforcement and control is needed during this final week of preparation. Calming techniques such as meditation, massages and contrasting baths can be effective here.

If we are simply talking about unloading, this guy is best advised to keep the weight, sets and reps in the same range for the main exercises as during the previous week, but instead of doing support exercises, do neural loading training. This could mean 20 to 25 minutes for the main exercise and 15 to 20 minutes of neural loading training.

Optimal diet for neurotype 2:

  • This neurotype responds best to a diet with moderate carbohydrate intake. A Zone Diet where 40% of calories are in the form of protein, 30% of calories are in the form of carbohydrates and 30% of calories are in the form of fat is the best starting point.
  • This type is prone to cheating on their diet as they see food as a reward. He will reward a good training session with cheat foods. I've seen reward addict type exercisers who gained fat once they started exercising, which is why I don't use cheat days with this personality type.
  • Instead of cheat days, refeed days should be used where carbohydrate intake is slightly increased. However, these refeeds are not planned in advance as they are not often needed. With 30% of calories consumed in the form of carbohydrates, muscle glycogen stores are not easily depleted, leptin levels will not plummet and T4 to T3 conversion should not be affected.
  • This neurotype can be good at sticking to a diet if he has to account for it. For example, if his body fat percentage is measured every two weeks, then this type will be much better at sticking to his diet because the desire to look good in front of his coach may outweigh his desire for a reward in the form of food.
  • I don't really think much of body fat measurements. Most trainers don't know much about them and the measured values mean nothing. But for neurotype 2 exercisers, the simple fact that their body fat percentage will be measured will help ensure that they stick to their diet because they don't want to let their trainer down. Taking photos does the same thing, by the way.
  • This type has more opioid receptors in their brain, which makes them more responsive to sugar. For them, sugary treats are more satisfying and pleasurable than for others, which can easily lead to a kind of addiction.
  • To be successful in dieting, this neurotype needs to be made accountable, avoid cheat foods and avoid eating while doing something else that gives him pleasure (reading or watching TV). In addition, he must try to break the "food as reward" pattern.

In the next part of this article series, we will discuss neurotype 3 - the harm avoider.


by Christian Thibaudeau

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