Believe it or not, just like almost everyone else I have a few fitness resolutions for 2016! Actually, looking back, it is true that last year my resolution for a lower weight goal did not happen. Sad but true. Really, trying practically everything to lose weight like French Women Don’t Get Fat, Weight Watchers, Zumba, and hiring personal trainers guaranteeing weight loss, only enhanced my appetite for more good food and drink. Ultimately, I gained more pounds. Also, in this 2015 pursuit of achieving lower weight for better health and fitness, I may have spent enough money for a two week luxurious Bahama vacation. So, this year I resolve to get smarter at the weight and fitness game.
Time to truly understand how exercise works for your body. Time to meet Dr. Neil Wolkodoff. He developed Training 101, where through a combination of Olympic level testing and exercises one learns what works for your goals for your body. No more generic program, a person learns what works precisely for you, and how to implement easily the exercises and routines. Dr. Wolkodoff reinforced what I already knew when he said, “I felt the patients I worked with were not doing the correct program and were being sold personal training and various wonder-classes with little results.”
Now, this year my resolution is to try Training 101 to discover if his fitness program will finally get me to my lower weight goal and teach me effective exercise routines that are easy to do on a regular basis. Dr. Wolkodoff stated, “Training 101 is about learning by doing and mastering manageable amounts of information and techniques, so they are slightly challenging and not overwhelming.” The five sessions are spread two weeks apart, so the patient has time to try all the exercises and techniques, and then get a refresher on anything as the first part of the next session. So dear reader please stay tuned as I will write an article in this column after each session to report on my progress with Training 101.
Neil Wolkodoff, Ph.D. has his testing lab and exercise center at Colorado Center for Health & Sport Science, in the University Hills shopping center. Neil greets his patients with a smile and amiable warmth. Immediately, one senses that Neil is the man in the know on what to do. In addition to his great education, Dr. Neil is a certified Health Fitness Director by the American College of Sports Medicine. An author of five books and numerous research studies on fitness, health, and sports performance he is knowledgeable about fitness and health.
Training 101 combines some type of test that determines your current level and, therefore, yields information about what to do with that information, which you apply in the session. During the five sessions, you get to measure everything from muscle mass to your VO2 max. The standard apps on your phone are just now catching up with Wolkodoff’s approach. In the Wall Street Journal, “Fitness Test: Measuring Your Body’s Fat vs. Lean” Diana Kapp writes that “the latest obsession, at least among some in the tech industry, is tracking body composition—the proportion of fat versus lean.” Well, Dr. Wolkodoff offers the state of the art measuring devices in all areas. His program is in step with what is the trend in that he has been taking this kind of measurements for ten years and been applying that information to tweaking personal exercise programs for better results.
My first session that took 2 hours started with a complete medical and fitness history and a discussion of my goals. I viewed a short video presentation on how formal and informal exercise needs to be structured to get me to my goals. “It’s really about moving more in the day in the right way, and then structuring your four or five exercise sessions the positive way for your needs,” said Wolkodoff. He calculates that we need to burn about 3500 calories from all activity per week to reach weight loss, weight maintenance and have the best effect on health.
The key to energy burn is having enough muscle, so the first test is the Muscle Mass IQ, which measures body composition and determines a target weight. More importantly, he noted, was the amount of muscle someone should have compared to normal at their ideal weight in the major segments of the arms, trunk, and legs. “Segmental muscle mass analysis is a game changer in that it determines the amount of resistance training needed, and which body parts need more muscle to be effective,” said Wolkodoff.
Neil teaches with easy analogies, for example, now I understand that not having enough muscle is like driving a stupid car versus a V8 Cadillac. My goal is to burn as many calories as possible for my body in an hour and engine size makes a difference. In my case, I discovered that at my ideal weight, my muscle mass in my legs is about 15% below where it should be. I was surprised to learn that all the dog walking, hiking, biking, zumba dancing I do as well as horseback riding doesn’t maintain or build muscle. Wolkodoff explained that muscle needs a certain stimulus to be maintained, and after the age of 30, that is probably confined to weight training. Cardio workouts, even if they stress the legs, just don’t do it. And, my numbers on his chart state that is true. So, until I get some more muscle mass in my legs, my cardio workouts won’t be that effective because currently I drive with too small an engine.
One new year’s resolution is that hopefully, I perform five days of “cardio” training during one week, and for two days I add leg-specific resistance training. There is enough muscle except in my legs, so I should focus on the “energy system” training to burn more calories. My prescribed goal is to enjoy going to the club, establish a new exercise habit, and try all the various machines to establish a habit while getting re-acquainted with my new attitude toward the exercise equipment. Santa brought me a new iPad so listening to music or watching movies will encourage me to like doing a new gym routine. Certainly, I’m on a quest like a working exercise safari to explore all the options at my club both improving my knowledge of how they work and establishing a routine. I have been directed to exercise at a 6/10, aerobic level, similar to cruise control on a caddy for the first two weeks. In my next session, I will perform an “isokinetic” strength test, where my strength and endurance in all my muscle groups, and my legs specifically, will be measured so my resistance training can be optimized for better results based upon my needs.
As Mark Twain once said, “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.” Dr. Wolkodoff’s fitness program “Training 101” gives the tools to become knowledgeable about your health and fitness, and the habit of exercise is encouraged in a fun and productive manner ultimately paving the path to a healthier and happier life. In ten weeks, will there be a new fitter and healthier body? Hopefully! Please stay tuned for more articles on this subject.