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The Best Exercises for Introverts and Extroverts

Where do you get your energy? See which workout styles fit for you

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue

The ability to stick with an exercise program largely lies in finding an activity you enjoy.

Extroverts and introverts each find happiness in different approaches. Forcing yourself into a workout that makes you uncomfortable isn't likely to lead to success.

"An extrovert gains energy from the outside," says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of Better than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. "Think team sports or high-fives in aerobics class. Conversely, an introvert gets energized from within. Yoga may be a better fit."

Keep in mind that although one modality may be a better fit than another, Lombardo notes the benefits of experimenting outside your comfort zone.

"While introverts may prefer working out on their own and shy away from classes, a cycling class, where everyone does their own thing on a bike, may be a great addition to their workout."

Even a situation involving a group can be good for those who prefer to keep to themselves if they can run on their own outside of the group if desired. Extroverts may also find balance in an introverted workout such as yoga or martial arts, Lombardo adds.

Check out these expert tips to find the best approach for your personality.

Best Extrovert Workouts
Free weights

You'll likely find many extroverts in the free weight area (dumbbells, barbells, etc.), says Pete McCall, senior advisor for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

"They will be the ones lifting heavy and walking around to make sure everyone sees them lifting heavy. The free weight area allows the opportunity to stand out and demonstrate one's strength or skill level in technical lifts."

People tend to watch others lift, too, so it's a good place to be if you like to stand out, McCall adds.

High-energy group fitness classes (Zumba, HIIT, BODYPUMP, boot camp)

People who feed off the energy in intense class formats or who thrive having an instructor in their ear coaching them through every rep of each exercise during a boot camp or HIIT class will enjoy these high-energy classes, says Jessica Matthews, M.S., senior adviser for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

"These classes sometimes feel like a party but still provide a great workout," she says.

Small group personal training

The extrovert who wants to reach a specific personal goal but prefers the camaraderie that comes along with a group fitness class can experience the best of both worlds in a small group training session, says Matthews.

"They receive personalized instruction from a trainer who assists them in reaching their unique fitness goals while working alongside other like-minded exercisers."

Fitness meet-ups (hikes, in the park workouts, etc.)

Adventurous extroverts who like to try new things, like hiking an unfamiliar trail, practicing yoga outdoors in the park or attempting a challenging activity like standup paddle boarding (SUP) while making new friends in the process, will find fitness meet-ups a great option, Matthews says.

Best Introvert Workouts
Cardio machines

An introvert can hop on a single cardio machine and do his or her own workout without drawing too much attention from others, McCall says. This works particularly well in clubs with TV sets attached to the equipment, where you can get lost in a program by yourself.

Weight machine circuit

A set of machines arranged in a sequence not only saves you from thinking about which exercise to do next, but it enables you to keep to yourself without asking for additional assistance or supervision from a staff person, McCall says. This makes it perfect for those who prefer to be left alone during their workouts.

Endurance-based activities (biking, swimming, running, walking, etc.)

Solitary fitness endeavors are good fits for introverts who prefer to utilize their workouts as a time to clear their head and limit life's many distractions, says Matthews. "Swimming, running and biking can serve as great options given the often long duration of these activities."

One-on-one personal training

For the introvert who would benefit from expert guidance on how to get more out of their workouts, working one-on-one with a personal trainer also works well, Matthews says. "It expands their skill level and fitness know-how in an intimate, comfortable and personalized setting."

Solo sports/activities (golf, martial arts, weight training, rock climbing)

Introverts thrive in sports and activities where they themselves are responsible for their own success, Matthews says. "They can push themselves out of their comfort zones without feeling as though they are competing with or trying to keep up with others."

Mind-body disciplines (yoga, Pilates, tai chi)

The inward focus associated with these disciplines makes them a good fit for introverts, Matthews says. "Mind-body exercise is also non-judgmental in nature and is more process-oriented (focused on the experience itself) versus goal or performance-oriented, like other forms of conventional exercise."

Keep in mind these exercise options can appeal to individuals of both personality types, so find one that best suits you.

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