Type 3 with Low Recovery

Hello Coach!

I’ve commented on here before about my issues but I was hoping to follow up with you. I’m a type 3 (high anxiety, high stress, high cortisol “adrenal fatigue” symptoms). I’ve been having issues trying to find a training program that I can recover from. I have no health issues (sleep study completed with no sleep apnea) but I suffer from high stress high anxiety (I have had this my whole life). I’ve been working on it but it’s still a work in progress. I’ve also always been a bad sleeper due to racing mind and wired/tired feeling. I’ve experimented with different types of training to see what what I can recover from. Recently I’ve tried very low volume and very high intensity for one set but that was too much and I felt crappy for days after. I then tried sub-maximal intensity and higher volume but that crashed me even more. I’ve found that I need two days in between workouts, which only allows me 2-2.5 training days a week. Basically forces me to do full body workouts. I’ve also found that the day I workout and the day after my sleep is awful and my tired/wired feeling is increased and then on that second day off that night’s sleep is alot better and I wake up feeling less anxious, less tight, and it feels like I wake up without a weight on my chest. Lastly, if I really overdo it (for example I was traveling and had very high stress and lower quality sleep for a few days and then I tried the higher volume workout and within days I was holding so much more water. Puffier in face, love handles bigger, stomach bloated, etc. and then I took my few days off and by the second day when I had better sleep I woke up visibly leaner).

any recommendations based on these facts? My goal is hypertrophy but It seems like I’m going to have to do sub max intensity and lower volume which is not great for my goals.

Thanks a lot for everything you do!

Do you consume coffee? I kicked it a few months back and it ameliorated some similar issues. I also noticed, that no matter how hard I tried to Carnivore or Keto or Ketovore or Low Carb myself into Immortality, that after adding in carbs and calories I just recover better and feel better (although too many make me lazy). I do well training HIT, I personally like Mentzer’s work for training and respond well to it, psychologically and physically, but am finding, as Darden has talked about, that I do even better if I don’t go balls to the wall every exercise every training session. Also doing less exercises per sessions (if following a Mentzer’esque split) has helped tremendously.

You might just need to find a remote lake in a forest somewhere and take a swim. Lol, Dead serious, I go once a week at least. There are a variety of things you could try, meditation, Wim Hof method breathing, saunas, writing exercises, fasting. Something else may be going on in your life that you are choosing to not address, and your inability to train/recover from training could just be exposing it, and irritating you further.

Throwing in my two cents, to see if you can glean any ideas from my experience with racing mind, fatigue, poor recovery, etc. Haven’t been on the forums in years. CT will have better insight.

It’s been a while since I read his Neurotyping work, and I’ll have to revisit it.


I’ve noticed the exact same thing. Every time I’ve tried low carb, life became miserable, I got weaker, and progress stalled.

OP, I started eating oatmeal and Metabolic Drive before bed and sweet potatoes at dinner. I added 400mg magnesium twice a day. Life got better and I started making slow progress again.

Thank you both for your replies! Really appreciate it! I actually don’t consume any caffeine at all (which I know is surprising haha). I found out a long time ago that I do not do well with caffeine.

I try to stay lower carb on the days I don’t work out due to insulin sensitivity issues but maybe I do need some more carbs on my off days just to feel better. I am going to try more magnesium at night! I usually take magnesium at night but not at those doses so maybe that’s the issue.

Thanks again for your replies!

Is the insulin resistance issue an actual medical diagnostic or just something that you think that you have? Because if you have insulin resistance issues, consuming carbs would make you feel worse and since they make you feel better, that is likely not a real issue.

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Mike Mentzer used to train with 3-4 days of rest between workouts to allow him to use a super high level of effort/intensity. And obviously used low volume.

He would do half the body in one workout and the other half in the other workouts.

That might be the solution as you seem to be more affected by volume and effort level (and I believe that effort level is more important).

I would do these muscles:

Workout 1 = Quads, pecs, delts, triceps
Workout 2 = Hams, lats, upper back, biceps

I would do 5-6 exercises total per workout, spread over the 4 muscles of the day (e.g. 2 quads, 2 pecs, 1 delts, 1 triceps)

1 warm-up of 8-10 reps with around 50% of your target for the heavy set
1 feeler set of 6 reps with around 80-90% of your target for the heavy set
1 heavy set of 5-8 reps (to which you can, every 3-4 weeks add an intensifier like rest/pause or drop set) done to failure with the aim of adding weight every workout
1 back-off set of 8-10 reps with 20% less than the heavy set, also to failure or 1 RIR (this is an optional set)

You could do this schedule:

Day 1: Workout 1
Day 2 - Rest
Day 3 - Rest
Day 4 - Workout 2
Day 5.- Rest
Day 6 - Rest
Day 7 ; Workout 1
Day 8 - Rest
Day 9 - Rest
Day 10 - Workout 2


Not to toot my own horn but as a fellow type 3 I recommend you visit my profile for advice on sleep, nutrition and stress management. All of the information I wrote in related topics is available for you to use freely as add-ons alongside the training recommendations CT gave you. I don’t get anything out of it, I simply want to help you because I’ve been there and I truly believe some of the insights I share will benefit you.

Like you, I’ve also lived my whole life trying to cope with anxiety. 6 years ago I had my first official burnout and 2 years later I developed depression as the aftermath from being chronically stressed out and tanked dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin levels. My body became insensitive to adrenaline which made me feel weak in the gym and the low dopamine/noradrenaline had me feeling low on mental energy/concentration/motivation pretty much most of the year.

However, I did find ways to get out of this state and imo the answer does not lie in nutrition (including supplements), training or sleep. Sure, they are all critical and very helpful to make sure your wellbeing does not decline further. When applied correctly, they can actually help you to not only cope with anxiety but also to feel a lot better and regain quality of life. But they only adress the symptoms of anxiety, not the root cause which is almost always related to trauma and unprocessed emotions which are holding you back from living your best life.

You might not agree with this, certainly not if you consider yourself as someone who is not emotional at all but don’t be fooled: we all have them and when they work on a subconscious level you can spend your whole life not knowing where your issues come from when you choose to surpress or ignore uncomfortable feelings that are actually key to understand where your anxiety comes from. A common misunderstanding that is shared amongst men is that trying to acknowledge and understand one’s emotions is the same as being emotional and mentally weak. That’s not the case at all and this kind of thinking actually limits your progress in finding out who you really are.

After almost 6 years of dedicating my life with a vicious obsession to literally thousands of hours of research, books and high quality courses on sleep, nutrition, training and stress management I finally accepted that there was no real cure to be found in these 4 pillars of health unless I added a 5th one: emotional health.

Anxiety is physiologically explained as a state in which neurons are firing to fast, which gives you that sensation of a racing mind. What’s more important though is why this happens.

Psychological stress is expressed by intense, physical stimuli and behaviors that are mainly driven by subconscious thoughts and emotions. They are often a reflection of (subconscious) beliefs/memories, stored in your limbic system (hippocampus to be specific), which may or may not be triggered by your external/internal environment.

While they can be unpleasant and sometimes irrational, it’s important not to ignore or surpress them, which is especially difficult for men because again, the word emotion is wrongly but strongly associated with being feminine or weak minded. This is a big mistake (caused by socio-cultural factors) because you can consider them as sources of information to learn more about the reason(s) behind your restlessness, which regularly fall(s) back to a basic need that has not been met for too long or a basic need that you want to protect.

For example, they tell you how you feel about a certain person, thought or situation and you can find out what that says about you. I’m not suggesting that from now on you have to try and explain every emotion/thought you’re experiencing. That would defeat the purpose and make you even more anxious.

It’s about learning to be more attentive and self-aware of recuring patterns in your thoughts and emotions when it matters, for example at times when you are under immense pressure or whenever something/someone triggers you.

When you don’t perceive them as futile, embarrassing or something to be afraid of and you can see the connection between your emotions and needs, you can gain great insights about yourself. You will be able to better understand why you react so strongly to external or internal stimuli.

When you’re experiencing anxiety, you have less access to your prefrontal cortex, the youngest part of your brain that is responsible for self-control, logical thinking, planning, problem solving, etc. Your behavior and your actions are therefore mainly controlled by your limbic system.

This system processes information from your body/environment that enters via your senses or thoughts and analyzes whether or not this information poses a threat to you by making associations with your (subconscious) beliefs/memories that are stored inside your hippocampus.

When the analysis is complete, it is followed up by corresponding behavior and determines how you react to the received information. Although this process is very efficient to protect you from danger/harm, the downside is that you can feel anxious for no apparent reason because the treat that was once real, doesn’t exist anymore but you haven’t processed it so your brain still perceives it as real.

However, if you understand why this happens, you can figure out where your stress is coming from. This allows you to regain some of that lost access to your prefrontal cortex and makes it easier to become your calm self again.

In other words, you can use your thoughts and emotions as a personal guide during stress to determine precisely which need is not met in your life or which need you think is being threatened by a person/situation and if that threat is actually real or not.

Once you have identified the need(s), you can learn to regulate your anxiety by looking for a solution to satisfy or protect these need (s) in a constructive manner so that you no longer experience the same amount of stress. For example, having the confidence to do or say things that are an expression of who you are at your core without fearing social judgement or focussing more on building great connections with your social environment (for example finding friends who truly understand, support and accept you for who you are) or walking in nature (which is a great second coach, especially for people with anxiety who need more calming environments) are ways to build up your life the way you want to live it.

Off course your need(s) could also be related to sleep, nutrition and training and you need to make the appropriate adjustments there. But imo you don’t develop anxiety solely from a lack of sleep, nutrition or movement. There are other factors involved.

Type 3’s tend to overthink and overanalyze everything, which keeps you stuck in your head and your toxic loops of trying to figure out ways to battle anxiety. This will never work unless you learn how to listen to your intuition too. Type 3’s usually have very good introspection. You just need to learn how to use it to your advantage. Also, try to practice letting go of perfectionism and ocd like behavior. This will take a lot of pressure from your shoulders and allow more freedom, spontaneity and flexibility in your thinking which feels weird in the beginning but will make you happier later on.

In short, my biggest piece of advice to you is: use your head to think about solutions for your problems or to calm yourself down by knowing what your triggers are, but trust in your intuition to make the right and final decision. The more you choose to do what feels right and what is in line with who you really are (use common sense off course, sometimes you have to make compromises), the less anxiety you’ll experience.


Toot away, man. I’m currently reading through some of your old posts.

I’m curious: as a type 3, and as with the posters above, did you find the low-carb/carnivore/keto diets with hard exercise simply don’t work for you?

I recently discovered neurotyping and have found the diet and supplement recommendations spot on so far.

Hope to hear back; in the meantime, I’ll keep digging.

I never tried the carnivore diet. I did do low carb and keto when I was younger but I dropped it after a few weeks. It didn’t work for me for several reasons:

  1. It was really bad for me mentally. While low carb and keto do increase dopamine and noradrenaline levels, it doesn’t have the same effect for people who are anxious or those who naturally have low levels of inhibiting neurotransmitters. The body likes to keep an even balance between dopamine and serotonin so if your serotonin levels are low that means more dopamine will get converted to noradrenaline and eventually adrenaline (dopamine is the precursor for both noradrenaline and adrenaline) when it is too high. Cortisol increases this conversion, that’s why anxious people don’t do well on a keto or low carb diet because it worsens their symptoms due to an increased production of adrenaline. On top of that, if you have a slow COMT enzyme, adrenaline stays connected to the B-adrenergic receptors for much longer, which keeps you trapped in that fight or flight state. Keto does increase the conversion of glutamate to GABA but serotonin is more important for type 3’s because they are already overwhelmed and have a hard time adapting to changing circumstances. GABA has a sedative effect but serotonin is more useful in general because it allows you to more easily adapt to people and situations and not always feel that urge to have complete control over everything. It’s thus a more important neurotransmitter for them in a social or work related environment.

  2. I did not look good: the increase in cortisol and adrenaline made me retain a lot of water in my midsection and thighs. Cortisol increases the activity of aldosterone and vasopressin, hence the water retention. At the time I was using keto to drop fat so the fact that I not only felt bad but also started to look worse made me drop the diet and switch to a high carb approach which felt a lot better.

  3. I noticed a drop in recovery from training. At the time I didn’t know that this drop was also related to overproducing cortisol and a big drop in sensitivity of the B-adrenergic receptors. I wasn’t able to train as hard and the elevated cortisol levels made it harder to refuel my muscles after a workout. Later on I also learned that low carb or keto is not ideal when you’re trying to build muscle because of a reduced mTOR response, which is especially important if you’re more of a slow twitch dominant individual (common for type 3’s).

  4. Keto wasn’t compatible with my social environment, a factor that’s often overlooked by many. Just think about it, are you willing to give up on chocolate, cookies, chips, popcorn, cakes, french fries and all other carb loaded foods out there for the rest of your life? Are you going to be that person who always skips the carb sources when you’re having breakfast/lunch/diner with your friends/family? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about health but I also want to enjoy myself and indulge in pleasure foods every now and then. There’s so much more to life than being shredded and suffering all the time. At least it is to me. Even if I wasn’t such a foodie looking for ways to enjoy junk food, I’d still be feeling like I’m missing something in my life when I cannot enjoy healthy carb sources like fruits, potatoes, grains etc.

I’m not saying that low carb/keto doesn’t work. For some folks it does make them feel and look a lot better. But imo the vast majority of people is better of with a different diet because of the reasons mentioned above and because most people cannot sustain that type of diet for long periods of time, let alone a lifetime.


Thanks for the detailed response, Lou. I’m almost certainly a type 3 as well.

Like you, I absolutely experienced the same drop in recovery when I cut back on carbs. My sleep became disrupted, and I had no interest in any part of life. I also completely relate to looking worse and holding water. Unlike you, I stubbornly kept sticking with low carb, until recently during a fat loss phase.

There’s an article on Thib’s site that mentioned eating more carbs as you continue a fat loss phase. Because my strategy wasn’t working, I ate a couple bowls of oatmeal, immediately dropped some water weight, felt alive again, and almost slept normally. I was absolutely shocked at the difference.

Lately, I’ve been gravitating towards low carb /high protein during the early part of the day, higher carbs before and after a workout and before bed. If you don’t mind my asking, do you do the same or do you have smaller amounts of carbs all day long?

I use a different approach but honestly, it’s not that important. You don’t need to copy what I do with my meals. I believe that meal frequency and how you spread your macro’s throughout the day should be based on personal preference because that way every meal feels more satisfying and you experience less frustration of not being able to eat what you want because someone else’s meal plan says so.

Yes, you can eat more carbs peri-workout and in the evening because it’s a good strategy to enhance performance during your workouts or too relax a bit faster in the evening. But it’s not that big of a deal. I also adjust my peri-workout meals based on my goals (for example when I’m training for strength I usually won’t eat any carbs pre-workout because this way I can jack up my adrenaline production but for bodybuilding work, which relies more on the glycolitic pathway, I will eat carbs pre-workout. Not always right before the workout, I usually add carbs in the meal previous to my workout).

The way I do it is I eat 4 meals per day as I found that this frequency works best for me and it helps to keep me full. I do not follow CT’s meal frequency recommendations for a type 3 because having a lot of smaller meals never fully satisfies me and it makes me crave food all the time. It’s one of the few things that I do not agree with personally. I’m sure he doesn’t mind me saying this because he understands it’s not that big of a deal.

I always eat most of my carbs at breakfast and very little protein/fats. It’s the complete opposite of what training experts would recommend but you know what, it works for ME. I like to start my morning with hydration and a walk first. After that I have a big bowl of oatmeal with a couple of fruits mixed in and a pinch of maple syrup and cinnamon (cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity and I like the taste). I do not crave protein or fats in the morning at all. A meat and nuts breakfast is not what I desire in the morning. I also like to give my liver, pancreas and kidneys a little break until noon because carbs like oats and fruits are easier on the digestive system.

At lunchtime I usually go for lower carb and higher protein/fats options with a lot of veggies on the side. One of my usual dishes is something like 200 grams of chicken baked in coconut oil with leafy greens, cucumber, carrots and onions, tomatoes, half of an avocado or a handful of nuts and some ketchup on top because ketchup = life. I don’t normally add carbs at lunchtime because I had my fill of them in the morning. BUT, sometimes I switch things up depending on the context of the day. If I had a stressful event in the morning I will add carbs to my lunch to bring myself back down to baseline afterwards. In this scenario I move my fats to dinnertime.

In the afternoon I have a high carb/high protein snack which could be something like a protein shake and a couple of fruits (I usually eat between 7-10 pieces of fruit everyday) or if I’m in the mood for solid protein I usually opt for lean white meats like chicken or turkey.

My evening meal looks similar to lunch but this is the time of day where I usually have my second biggest amount of carbs. It depends on what I ate at lunch and how I’m feeling. I have had a lot of high protein/high fat meals with low carbs in the evening without any issues. The trick is to combine that meal with something that relaxes you. For me that’s typically watching one of my favorite series on Netflix. This helps me unwind and switch to rest mode. Also, I almost always eat my last meal at least 3 hours before bedtime because I noticed that this little tweak has a huge impact on sleep quality. I especially noticed a big increase in the amount of deep sleep (I use an Oura ring to track my sleep) that I’m getting each night. I believe it has to do with core temperature and resting heart rate. Digesting a meal increases core temperature which increases heart rate slighty. You need the exact opposite to happen in order to get into that deep sleep stage.

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Fellow type3 here, with much similarities to OP’s situation. Thank you for the great suggestions!

What if I try to increase my cardio? My go-to form of cardio is walking, because I can tolerate the intensity level, therefore I can do it everday, not to mention it calms me greatlly.

But I am sure it does not train my cardiovascular system (I play around with high inclines, because I can track how much it raises my HR while still not agressive like running). Thank you


I feel the same about almond butter.

Thanks again for the detailed response. I enjoy learning about the strategies others use–I’m a tinkerer at heart and like having ideas in my back pocket to experiment with.

@Hungarianfather Are you asking CT or me?

I don’t know who your question’s directed to based on your post.

It wasnt directed to anyone honestly, any advice would be greatly appreciated :wink:

This is gold for Type 3s. Thanks @lou_smeets

No worries mate and thank you for trusting me.

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Well, what’s the purpose behind your question?

Do you simply wish to know what an increase in your daily/weekly cardio sessions will do to you and if it’s ok to do so?

Or do you want to know how to improve cardiovascular fitness?

Basically both, I would like to slowly improve my cardio fitness, but only within safe limits (intensity, volume, frequency etc.) thank you!


The best form of cardio for a type 3 is arguably any form of steady state cardio, performed at a moderate intensity of 60-70% of your max heart rate. Depending on injuries/preference you can use different modalities to train in this zone (cycling, longer duration loaded carries, fast pace walking with weighted vest, light jogging, swimming etc.).

A duration of 20-40 mins (you could go much longer depending on your goal) per session is usually best and doesn’t impact recovery needs that much because the intensity is not high and type 3’s usually get a calming effect from SSC. Therefore, cortisol will not ramp up as much as in a regular strength training session for example.

However, this is only true for shorter bouts of steady state cardio in a somewhat fed state. If you plan on doing long sessions of 60 + minutes, you obviously will increase cortisol by a greater extent because you need to mobilize energy to support continuous movement. So, unless your goal is to run/swim/cycle for long distances/duration, doing 2-4 sessions of SSC per week is more than enough to maintain and even improve cardiovascular fitness.

SSC has a positive impact on mitochondrial density and lays the foundation for more demanding energy systems work like anaerobic treshold (for example fartlek intervals), anaerobic capacity (true HIT training), VO2 max and anaerobic power. Gradually build up your work capacity by doing SSC cardio first. After that, you can start working in other training zones to improve your cardiovascular fitness even further.

A first progression could be to do intense SSC, like 20-30 mins at 75-80% of max heart rate where you start to sweat and feel your muscles. You can use a high incline on a treadmill for example but other modalities will do the job to.

Anaerobic treshold, anaerobic capacity and Vo2max training will improve mitochondrial density by a lot and also cause an increase in capillaries inside the working muscles. This is awesome because now you do not only get more energy producing units inside your muscles, you also get more oxygen-rich and nutrient rich blood to the working muscles, which will dramatically improve your physical as well as cognitive performance over time. For more details on the different training zones and how to apply them: Metcon is Mandatory: Cardio for Physical Dominance

Having said all this, type 3’s usually respond best to less intense SSC done for 2-4 sessions of 20-40 minutes per week, depending on other lifestyle factors (if you have a physical labor job, training 3-4 times a week and have lots of other stressors, 2 SSC sessions might be a better option). It depends on your personal recovery capacities.

You can, overtime, incorporate more intense forms of cardio but it’s probably a good idea to replace them with one of your SSC sessions. For example, instead of doing 3 SSC sessions, you could switch to 2 SSC sessions and one interval session (not true HIIT but more fartlek or gym rat high intensity interval training). Start with a warmup of 5 minutes, then do bouts of 30 sec hard (between 80-85% of max heart rate)/30-45 sec active rest or 45 sec hard (80-85%)/45-60 sec active rest. Start with 6-8 bouts in your first exposures and work your way up to sessions lasting 12-15 minutes. 1-2 weekly sessions is likely going to be enough.

True HIT and VO2 max sessions (working at 90-100% of max heart rate) is not recommended for type 3 because of the huge cortisol spikes and fatigue buildup. Because these training zones are so demanding I would only do 1 session per week and only if you need to because it is likely going to impact your recovery time and your quality of life in the 1-2 days after your session.

In short: Type 3’s are usually built for and prefer longer duration conditioning work done at a moderate intensity of 60-70% of max heart rate. 2-4 sessions of 20-40 minutes are ideal but you can do more depending on your goal/lifestyle factors. SSC cardio will improve their cardiovascular fitness and quality of life because of its impact on longevity.

Every now and then they can incorporate more intense forms of SSC or intervals but it is recommended to take out one of their SSC sessions as to not compromise their recovery. Sessions lasting 12-15 minutes each and done for 1-2 times per week are usually best and will greatly improve mitochondrial and capillary density in the working muscles.

I’m not the best expert on conditioning though so if you would like to know more I suggest you start a separate topic because it is not directly related to the topic of the OP. Maybe @Christian_Thibaudeau or @doddfrank can give you some extra tips as they are more experienced in this category than I am.

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