Dynamic Metabolic Testing for Training


Personal training is about revenue, relationships and results.

As a personal trainer, you are probably dialed into the relationships that help create a revenue stream for you in your particular niche. Successful trainers often overcome weaknesses in programming or knowledge with positive and professional relationships with clients. However, add superior results to exceptional schmoozing, and you have a great business where you are always in demand.

To help clients achieve superior results, trainers will need to conduct tests showing customers the best ways to make improvements. When most trainers think of exercise testing, they envision generic computer reports that tell clients how they fared compared to some average score. As a start to better fitness, that type of testing can be useful in pointing clients in the right direction while giving them an idea of how much time is required to obtain results. After some basic training, however, most clients want more detailed and personalized information about how they can progress to the next level.

When it comes to strength training, personal trainers can easily conduct tests and personalize information. With the myriad of certifications and books that stress resistance training systems, most trainers are adept at giving the client a targeted training program to improve strength and power factors. Unfortunately, when it comes to energy system development, most trainers point to the treadmill and say something like, “Go do 30 minutes of cardio.” This cosmic, “just feel it” approach to energy system training stands in stark contrast to the time and attention given to the clients' resistance training program.

Energy system training is not just “cardio” anymore; rather, it's a set of specific energy zones with specific results. Trainers don't acknowledge this, and, as a result, they allow their clients to pursue aerobic programs using generic and inappropriate energy training zones. This approach may negate all the hard work with weight training.

It doesn't have to be this way. New equipment has arrived that enables the trainer to measure and prescribe energy system exercise precisely and individually — no matter what the client's goals. Based upon gas exchange (GX) testing, the equipment can administer a sub-maximal or maximal test that detects the important points of anaerobic threshold, respiratory compensation point (hyper-ventilation before max) and VO2 peak.

Systems now available offer trainers the ability to become just as much of an expert in energy system programming as they are in strength training. In addition, these systems offer additional precision in determining resting energy expenditure or the amount of kcal the person burns at rest, forming a base for nutritional intervention for weight loss.

What seems like physiological babble is really important for helping the client to set individual heart rate zones for maximum results. Anaerobic threshold helps to determine the best time vs. kcal output pace, and can range from 45 percent in someone just starting to exercise to more than 92 percent in elite cyclists like Lance Armstrong.

For the trainer, knowing the best zones for the individual and his/her goals is important not only for the person's health, but for the ultimate resistance results from the program. Using individual sprint zones in energy system training can substantially raise the work capacity during resistance training, so the client can perform more sets with a better quality of work within his/her training session.

Using an individual's optimum recovery zone after an especially intense resistance session can help speed healing and restoration. If the client doesn't have the basic endurance to complete a resistance training session, then more work in the endurance zone may be the answer.

No matter what the goal, matching clients' desires to individualized training zones detected through GX testing will give superior results, returning clients and ultimately long-term revenue opportunities.

Neil Wolkodoff, Ph.D., operates the Physical Golf program at the Greenwood Athletic Club in Englewood, Colo., where he trains golf athletes and performs metabolic testing and training programs. He can be reached at www.physicalgolf.com.


  • Personal trainers should apply energy system training with the same precision they use with resistance training.
  • Gas exchange (GX) testing provides the personal trainer and facility a source of revenue that is continual, as metabolic responses to exercise change with time and training.

  • Measuring the dynamic response to exercise, either in a sub-maximal or maximal test through GX equipment, allows the trainer to develop individualized heart rates that correspond to a client's individual exercise profile.

  • Individual heart rates zones can be periodized just like resistance training to give the client an energy base for improved resistance results.