Interview with Tom Cocker:
I originally met Tom over 2 years ago now at Xercise4less, the gym we currently both work at. We have trained together in the past and I have always valued his views and opinions on fitness related topics. I decided to interview Tom in order to share useful information that will hopefully benefit people that are interested in the world of health and fitness. Within this interview we will be discussing how to improve your training and nutrition.
Everyone wants to change but are you willing to put the steps in place to make change happen. Results come from stepping outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself on a daily basis. Nutrition will also play a pivotal role in your progression for various different reasons from gym performance and recovery to overall improvement in body composition. If you’re struggling for nutritious snack ideas I would highly recommend checking out a previous blog post of mine “Nutritious snacks”.
What made you become a personal trainer?
I have always been interested in fitness and sport from a very young age. I started out playing rugby league and football when I was younger and enjoyed the challenge of competing against others. When I turned 18 I began studying sports science at Leeds Beckett University, this is when I had the opportunity to become a qualified fitness professional. I found that I really enjoyed helping people and that’s really where my interest in the fitness industry stemmed from.
What is your coaching philosophy?
I believe that as a coach you need to start from the absolute beginning. Initially, as simple as it sounds, I like to get people moving properly. I think it’s important that the program is suitable for the client to progress on a weekly basis without over-complicating things with advanced strategies too early on. Once individuals have learned the basics and correct movement patterns we can then begin to include more advanced training protocols into the programming.
In regards to nutrition, again it remains important to know that there is no one diet fits all. What diet may work for one person may not work for another; it’s about having a basic understanding of nutrition and how to manipulate that for the individual I am coaching.
Who inspires you the most in the fitness industry?
There are a few coaches that I follow in the fitness industry; however, the two that spring to mind are Jamie Alderton and Mark Coles. Jamie is the owner of Grenade Fit and a WBFF body builder. His philosophy on tracking, goal setting, and making a plan of action to make sure you achieve the goals you set out is very important. In terms of mind set, I would definitely say he is the go to guy that I would follow. In regard to training techniques Mark Coles understanding of biomechanics and how the body works and moves is second to none. I would recommend checking his M10 information on YouTube for anyone wanting to improve in that particular area.
What advice would you give to a newbie to the gym environment?
The first thing I would do is seek out help and advice preferably from a qualified fitness professional or reliable source. If you don’t know what you’re doing or you don’t know how to train then creating a plan of action can become quite overwhelming. Even if you just obtained a training program from a personal trainer and have them show you how to perform movements correctly, this will more than likely ensure you stay injury free and progress with your fitness goals.
I would also recommend tracking your food intake and learn about different macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) and how these actually play a role in how your body functions. I would recommend using the app MyFitnessPal for tracking food intake. Once you have a basic understanding of your nutrition and training, the effects combined together in your first year of training will be productive and beneficial.
What top tips can you give for people wanting to stay lean, fit and healthy?
The first tip I would give is to track your calorie intake. You can’t lose body fat and stay lean if you don’t know what you’re putting in your body. It will be very difficult to get optimal results on just guess work alone. The second tip I would give is to follow a 90/10 approach, 90% of your diet should come from whole clean foods. Try to seek out single ingredient foods, lean proteins and starchy carbohydrates along with your healthy fats. This will make up the staple of your diet and help towards achieving optimal results. If you are looking to achieve optimal health and bodily functions then you need to put good food in your body. The final tip I would give is to ensure you follow a structured training program. Make sure you’re training with enough intensity to illicit that response from your body. Avoid listening to the usual mediocre advice that you see all over the internet about high reps for fat loss, still train heavy if you are training to build muscle and add in cardio if needed.
What is your favourite cheat meal?
For me, it’s going to have to be pizza, who doesn’t like pizza? I prefer a BBQ chicken pizza from either Dominoes or a really nice Italian restaurant.
What does your pre and post workout nutrition consist of?
If I’m going to be honest for pre-workout I don’t really have a specific protocol that I follow. I generally make sure that I’ve had a meal 2 hours prior to training consisting of protein, fats and carbohydrates. Sometimes I opt for a quick caffeine fix in order to enhance focus and training intensity. I personally think that there is too much emphasis on this in the industry at the minute. I believe that we need to look at everything as a whole day as opposed to looking at these tiny minuet things that don’t make that much of a difference in most people’s regime.
For post-workout nutrition I personally enjoy the standard protein shake and a source of carbohydrates, for example a banana, or liquid carbohydrates that I can include with my protein shake. Roughly an hour after my post workout shake I will consume a meal consisting mainly of protein and carbohydrates. My main focus would be to make sure that I am hitting my macronutrient target goal and therefore the amount of carbohydrates I consume will be distributed throughout the day where necessary.
3 top tips for building muscle?
- My first tip would be to make sure you are eating in a calorie surplus, without doing this you will find it very difficult to build muscle. I would initially start by working out your maintenance calories and build up from there. Start with small increases ranging from 250 calories paying close attention to how your body responds over a period of time. In my opinion, there is no need be going crazy with your calories, excess calories will only lead to excess body fat.
- My second tip would be to make sure you’re getting the most out of each session by training hard. There are some people that come in the gym and don’t train hard enough or with any intensity and wonder why their results are slow coming. What you need to be doing is sticking to your rest periods, lifting heavy weights with a big focus on exercise execution.
- This then brings me nicely onto tip number three which is executing movements properly. If yo’re not executing exercises correctly and resort to just shifting around weight without learning how to do the movement first with a lighter weight then all you will be doing is putting tension into your more dominant muscles. For example in a chest press you may just end up pushing through your anterior deltoids/triceps and lose out on the main focus being the chest (pectorals).
3 top tips for fat loss?
- As I discussed in my first tip for building muscle you need to track your calories, this time you will need to ensure that you’re in a caloric deficit. I would start by spending a week tracking your food intake in order to have an understanding of how much food you’re consuming on a daily basis. You can be surprised by how much food you can consume without actually realising the total amount of calories you end up totalling. I would recommend finding your baseline again, so your maintenance calories would be your initial task and then work from there. Start with your calories as high as you possible can in a deficit of course, then make minor adjustments accordingly. Begin cautiously with 100 calorie drops at a time and include cardio if necessary.
- Know your WHY! Understand why you want to lose weight. I get people coming to me saying they want to lose weight but the big question is why do they want to lose that weight. Is it to improve self-confidence? For wedding photos? Health reasons? Once you know your why and the reasons for wanting to lose weight you will find that this will help massively with your intrinsic motivation. It can become de-motivating when you are just solely focused on a weight and the scale stops moving in the direction that you want. Know your WHY, have a plan and execute it.
- Sustainability and Consistency, I could give you the best training and nutrition plan for fat loss but if it’s not sustainable and you are not consistent with the plan then it won’t work. Fat loss is a long journey for most and setting yourself up to win with a plan that you can see yourself doing 6 months from now is vital to keeping yourself in shape year round. Once you’ve got a plan, make sure you execute it consistently and make sure you allow time for change.
What does the future hold for Tom Cocker?
Currently, I am still at university so my focus is split between university and personal training at the moment. Once I have graduated I will be looking to go full time with my personal training and hopefully from there keep helping as many people as possible with their training goals. I may possibly decide to do a masters degree in strength and conditioning or exercise nutrition, but I’m still yet to decide on this.
So, where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
- Website: TomCockerFitness.co.uk
- Facebook: @TomCockerFitness