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Optimizing Our True Nature

by: Jessica Hunter

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In the “Under the Bar” Podcast #64, Christian “Tippy Toes” Thibaudeau, Canadian bodybuilder and strength-training coach divulges the methods by which he has gained success with his coaching career. His discussion focuses on our “true nature” and how aligning with what we are naturally suited for can produce better results in the gym. 

Below are some key insights and contemplation on his cutting edge approach and how its lessons can be translated to other areas of life. 

Listen to the full podcast here.

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When referring to the GVT Method in strength training – which involves doing 10 sets of 10 reps with the same weight for each exercise – Thibaudeau notes, “My neurological profile is not suited to that type of stimulation…the more you go against your true nature, the harder it is to get results because, well, the training won’t motivate you, for one thing…you can’t train hard if you’re not motivated – at least not for long enough to get results…and also, if the training program goes against your nature…just like everything in life…anything that goes against your nature will enhance the stress response you’re gonna get from that thing. So if your training is far away from what you are built to do, you are drastically increasing the stress reaction from training.”

Whether we are talking about muscle gains or some other form of training or education, it seems that going with our own natural rhythm, whatever that may be, not only produces better results but in the long run paves the way for us to experience a more vibrant state of health.

Why is this? Because when we go against our true nature, we increase stress response levels. Our production of cortisol increases, and we find it harder to manage stressful events in our lives. This can lessen our quality of life and even lead to more serious physical reactions. In the context of this podcast, Thibaudeau says that an increase of stress responses will decrease the likelihood of muscle gain. But this notion can easily be mapped onto other areas of life. Whatever goal we are trying to reach, whether physically related, career related, emotionally related…most of us can become discouraged from what we perceive as too high levels of stress, and either cease efforts altogether or become overwhelmed and begin to perform poorly.

Thibaudeau’s coaching style strives to better understand the uniqueness of each of his clients and how their specific neurochemical makeup can affect their ability to perform during certain training methods. He makes fascinating use of a cutting edge personality assessment known as the Cloninger model, which breaks personality down into two broader categories, Temperament and Character, and then break these down into 7 sub-dimensions (see more here).

“Most people misunderstand the role of each neurotransmitter when it comes to training…I’m using the Cloninger model, which is the most proven in personality assessment. It has actually been proven that a certain personality type has a neurotransmitter dominance or imbalance…If you know the profile of somebody, then you can know how to train them…”

When asked the question of whether it was possible for a neurotransmitter profile of a person to evolve over time, Thibadeau responds, “It’s probably hard-wired 70% of the time, but you can optimize your own nature,” meaning we can personalize our modalities through which we set out to achieve our goals, opting for things we know that we respond well to. In addition, we can modify our behaviors and reactions, with help of things like mindfulness training and proper nutrition, etc., which allow us the opportunity to adapt toward healthier responses. Without as much stress, our hormones will not be as negatively affected, and will thus be more in balance.

What if, in pursuing our particular goals where we are not seeing results, we are simply going about it in a way that veers from our true nature? Perhaps in better understanding ourselves through the Cloninger method, we can not only see results in a physical-based way, like Thibadeau sets out to do with his clients, but we can also see results in our emotionally-based, spiritually-based and career-based goals.

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To learn more about the Cloninger method, check out these sources:

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperament_and_Character_Inventory
2) http://psychobiology.wustl.edu/what-is-the-tci/