Training with Tom Platz


tom platz  For those who are unfamiliar with Tom Platz, he was a successful bodybuilder in the 1980s. He was well known for his leg development that he put down to mainly the squat exercise. He is now regarded as one of the greatest from a "golden era" of bodybuilding.


Recently I had the oportunity to participate in a "squat clinic" with Tom Platz. The day started in a classroom setting where Tom talked about his leg training philosophies and detailed some old stories from the golden era. Tom then analysed my squat technique in the gym providing some useful cues. He pushed me on a moderate weight set with high repetitions showing me there is always "5 more reps" if you really want it. It was great to hear Tom was impressed with my form and said I looked well rehearsed in the squat.

Tom further pushed me on a couple of other leg exercises and with his motivating voice and prescence ( for those in the bodybuilding world know you dont give up if Tom Platz says" do more" 🙂 ) pushed me through some brutal techniques.

This was a great experience for me to meet an idol. His love of bodybuilding is still very present and has given me a big kick in all my training since. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, my clients have felt the extra intensity from this day too 🙂 !

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The difficulty of beginning training

Why is it some people seem to be addicted to their training regime and yet others shiver at the thought of exercise?

Apparently only 6% of us exercise on a regular basis. This surprises me with the vast amount of information through government funded posters and TV adverts we have encouraging us to exercise. So what makes some people hooked and some people never get over an initial hurdle.

From my own experience and through training others I think the difference is simply a few weeks! I strongly believe that a little bit of consistency for about a month is enough to change someone from an exercise hater to someone who regards it as a worthwhile and productive cause.

Exercise has a number of benefits that I would simply put into two categories as well being and appearance. Well being representing the improvements in health and energy and appearance describing the positive changes in lowering body fat and building lean tissue. Both of these are usually visable after about 3 weeks into an exercise program ( presuming the individual is following a suitable program). If an individual does not make it to this mark then they will be left feeling like the exercise is a waste of time. I have seen new members to the gym come for about 2 weeks almost everyday and then never seen again, perhaps until new year. This is a shame because I feel just a bit more consistency would have allowed them to regard the training as enjoyable and productive.

So i have highlighted that it takes a bit of time to reap the benefits of exercise but i feel there is another reason why beginners give up so easily: Exercise hurts! Yes exercise is a stress to the body using up valuable resources, damaging muscle fibres and leaving us feeling sore and worn out. However given time the body will become stronger and fitter meaning exercise seems like less of a chore and actually rewarding. The stress part is largely eliminated leaving the positive effects on seretonin levels. The trainee is far less sore after the exercise as the body can now cope with the initial stress of activity. Set goals now seem achieveable and the body is toning muscles to handle added work levels.

Another point to note is something I have found with clients who have had training breaks, even as short as a couple of weeks. They will often complain of things aching a bit more, but literally a session or two later things are back to normal. It suggests that returning to exercise also presents a small hurdle but easy to overcome than the first time around. It is though bodies are more sensitive to pressure, pain and lactic acid when they have not trained for a while.

In summary if you are someone who dislikes exercise then simply give it another go and see it through, the rewards will happen! Push through that 2-3 week hump and come out the other side with a more rewarding life. This is the same advice for someone who has been a regular trainer before but feels they are far away from their previous fitness. Get started and it will become easy and rewarding in no time.

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Bad Personal Training

10 bad practices I have seen THIS WEEK by other trainers.

1)      Late for appointments

2)      Wearing casual “going out” clothes while teaching

3)      Leaving clients for long periods during paid sessions

4)      Delivering non progressing workouts

5)      Not correcting form

6)      Teaching areas of fitness the trainer has no experience of

7)      Unnecessarily invading the clients personal space

8)      Eating while teaching

9)      More focus given to phone than client

10)   Talking bulls#*t

Yes, I have witnessed all of the above just in a week.

 The reason why I have highlighted these points is to express my opinion of the generally low quality of personal trainers out there.  It takes 6 weeks to obtain a personal trainer qualification, 6 WEEKS! Hell, I’ve gained my knowledge and experience over 10 years and yet these freshly qualified trainers are regarded as “experts” because of a six week course (???).

 Even amongst the other “experienced” trainers I share a gym with only 30% of them stick to a regular training program themselves!  This is very frustrating as I’m training hard 4 days a week, eating my tuna and rice without fail, and living the lifestyle of a trainer: that’s the person I think I should be to call myself a “personal trainer”. I don’t force this way of living on my clients but surely the guy who is passionate about his work is leading by example.

My overall point is please take caution when choosing a personal trainer. There are some great ones out there but I believe 75% of them are not worth even a quarter of their hourly rate. Someone who has done a six week course may know a little more than you, and sadly probably enough to fool you into thinking they are an expert. My advice is question what your trainer does, firstly look at them: are they even in good shape themselves!!! Ask for achievements within the industry, they are a “professional” after all.

The world of exercise and changing body composition can be a confusing and contradictory one, don’t add to the problem and waste money in the process by accepting your trainer is an expert!

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What is best to eat before exercise?

This is a common question I get asked by clients. The answer can be quite individual as one stomach tolerates certain foods better than the next.

All things being equal in regards to food tolerances then there are usually 3 factors:

1) Type of training to be performed

2) Weight goal of the client

3) Time of day

1) For sessions where the goal is to push fitness capabilities, or work at a high intensity then as a general rule aim to eat around 2 hours beforehand. The  meal should be light and contain a mix of low glyceamic carbohydrates(slow release),  a good quality protein (chicken, fish, eggs) and a little bit of fat. The examples are endless but for example: egg on toast, pasta and tuna and light dressing. 

Some people are caught in the problem of already having eaten a "lunch" or "dinner" many hours before and wonder if they can eat a snack to "top up" their energy nearer the session. How close and what to eat will affect each other. Again, try to include a mix of slow release carbs and some good protein: an oat based biscuit and small yogurt should do the trick, or a piece of fruit and small handful of nuts.

2) If your goal is to lose weight then you might want to be careful of adding too many calories into your day. Don't add another meal to your day and call it your "pre gym meal". If possible work your sessions to tie into a suitable window after your normal meals. Id also suggest that with the goal of fat loss in mind it may be effective to train slightly hungry to promote a greater chance of fat being used as the fuel source for exercise. How hungry might need a bit of trial and error as afterall you will need some energy to train optimally.

3)In an ideal world we could train at whatever time we wished and eat however many suitable hours beforehand. As this is not always the case, snack options as discussed above generally provide the pre gym top up. 

A common dilemma is with those who train very early in the morning. While I have had a few clients that have gotten up 2 hours before their session to eat for a 6:30am session, I wouldn't expect or even advise it (sleep is important). At this time of day I find simple and easy to digest foods the best option. Foods like cornflakes work well as they have a mix of starches and sugars. The milk also provides a little bit of protein and fat. I'd go for a small bowl an hour or 45 minutes before.

For some clients this hasn't been enough. They have still felt a bit low energy. For these individuals I find a sports drink during training works very well. Go for lucozade stills or similar (around 120 calories per bottle). Any higher calorie is generally against the goal of improving body composition, and any lower calorie doesn't provide enough energy.


What to eat before exercise can be a tricky one with hectic timetables. However, with a bit of planning and sensible choices needn't be an issue. The perfect pre gym food is quite individual in regards type and timing.

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juice plus

Much like the pyramid selling supplement Herbalife, Juice Plus is gaining popularity as a weight loss wonder and all cure product.

I can confidently say that most of the claims are nonsense and many of the before and after pictures either show an incorrect time frame or a photo-shopped image. Many of the sellers are uneducated and have no knowledge of nutrition. This seems absurd to me as I would never consider selling a service or product I was clueless about, especially when there are professionals out there.

Anyone smart enough to google juice plus will see its embarrassing history, especially involving O.J. Simpson who claimed it cured his arthritis and he no longer needed medication. However, when he was tried for murder he claimed his arthritis was too severe to commit murder and he was taking anti-inflammatory drugs. Studies have also suggested that the nutrients in Juice Plus may not be easily absorbed and are not present in significant amounts.

On the flip side I agree with its principal as a weight loss tool. I must make clear I do not agree with its ingredients, it is too high in sugar to be used as a meal replacement or "health food".

Keeping to a low calorie plan is tough and when you are low on calories your brain will make you want to eat. Planning lots of healthy meals throughout the day can overwhelm some people and the likelihood of falling off a diet plan is high. If the dieter can replace the gaps in between main meal times with a low calorie shake then it is one less healthy snack to think about and the dieter is less likely to pick at food. I have had a lot of success with clients using protein shakes at the usual snack times (11am and 4pm). For many this is a typical time to have a chocolate bar or "pick me up" food to make it through to lunch or dinner. The dieter then only has to think about 3 controlled meals a day, or in the "slim fast" plan, one meal.

In summary, weight loss shakes can be effective but most on the market are junk with an added vitamin pill. Food will always be the healthier choice. Maintaining a diet is as much mental as it is physical, it takes a lot of will power and if there is a compromise to ease things then protein shakes can be useful. I would question all the juice plus claims as it is clearly a well-oiled money making machine that people will continue to believe.


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Do fat burning pills work?


Again I feel another product that is hyped up too much and believed to be something special. 

That said, if someone asked me to use every bit of knowledge I had to help them lose fat, I would include a “fat loss supplement” in the total plan. They will not make the difference between a successful weight loss or not but can make the journey a little easier (“little” being the important word). Fat loss supplements work from a couple of angles: a stimulant or a nootropic effect. Both help to reduce the appetite appetite and keep you feeling energised. ”Energised” should be used loosely as it does not take away the somewhat tired feeling you get from being on a low calorie diet.

Going back to the original question, I would probably say “no” they do not work if you compared two people both dieting, one with the supplement and one without. Or if the amount of fat loss was compared it would be very small.

From experience with clients I generally do not delve into the world of supplements, and yet I’ve had many successes with weight loss. So proving that fat loss supplements are definitely not needed! Infact the more a client knows about supplements the less they focus on what they need to do. They believe that the supplement is the bigger factor in getting them the results they wantIn summary: I believe fat loss supplements do have a role but focus on what is important: training regularly and consistently with effort!

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What is my opinion of protein powders?


I’m all for protein powders but what I dislike is the hype and marketing surrounding them. I’m often asked this question and what bugs me is the number of people who believe that by adding protein powder to their diet that it will make a huge increase to their training progress. For most a negligible effect will likely happen.

Using protein powder is the same as eating chicken, fish, eggs, milk, steak etc (all protein sources). Clever marketing has made people believe protein powder is somehow better. For most a big focus on getting the above protein sources listed into their diet should be the first step! Along with good carbohydrate sources

The big benefit of protein powder is its convenience. Its easy to store and consume.

My advice would be where and when possible eat whole foods, and only when pushed for time use a protein powder as a protein source substitute. From my own experience I feel much healthier with more energy when eating whole foods. The counter argument to protein powder is that it has been so heavily processed the protein is denatured and useless. I don’t know this for fact but I would partly agree with this from experience (energy and well being . I have know a number of people who have relied heavily on protein powders and have suffered colds and flu’s more regularly than the norm.

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