Personal Trainer Zone: Q&A with Paul Burgess

This week we welcome Paul Burgess to the Personal Trainer Zone. Paul shares his expert knowledge on Clinical Nutrition and answers your FAQs.

1) What was your inspiration for beginning a career in the fitness industry and becoming a Personal Trainer?

From a young age I always had a passion for health and exercise. My main career though was as an investment adviser in the City of London. This paid great money but took its toll on my health and wellbeing.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that money isn’t everything and looked to do something that I was passionate about. I moved into becoming a nutritionist. Along with that came, almost as default, the personal trainer aspect of my business.

2) How many days a week do you recommend working out?

That totally depends on the person, what their goals are, what their current situation is, whether they have any health issues, injuries etc.

However, what I can say is that any movement on a daily basis is beneficial. Keeping active in some way will always pay dividends.

3) How long should you rest between workouts?

Pull Up | Personal Trainer Zone: Q&A with Paul Burgess | Nutrition | Training | Linked FitnessThis is an interesting question because, like all health related questions, the answer is normally, ‘it depends’. This is no exception.

The rest time between workouts is entirely dependent on the individual. Again, what are the goals, what kind of training block are they in? Are they training to compete in an event which may mean having an intense period of training for a short period of time? Are they just looking for some basic health benefits?

For the majority of people I think they overcomplicate their approach to physical training. The biggest bang for your buck will always come from using relatively heavy, compound movements like squat, deadlift, pull up, bench press etc.

Doing a good 4 sets of 5 reps will ensure strength and ability is kept at its optimum. If this is the type of training someone does then having a session every other day works well.

4) What is your favourite piece of equipment in the gym and why?

Personally I like the power rack.

It allows you to perform just about every compound movement with just a bar and some weight plates.

People do not use it enough in my opinion.

5) What do you recommend to eat before and after a gym session?

Once again, this all depends on the individual and their goals. It also depends on their type of diet and why they are choosing to follow a particular nutritional approach.

One size does not fit all. For someone following a high carb/low fat diet, it will be very different to someone following say a ketogenic diet.

Pre Workout Nutrition

Overall the key here it to look at fuelling the upcoming event or training session with your preferred fuel source and one that suits your needs.

So, let’s say you are about to complete a highly glycolyticly demanding CrossFit workout. You will perform better and find more value from using a reasonably fast releasing carbohydrate source about 90 minutes before you workout. Something like white potatoes works well here (so long as you do not have an issues digesting them).

But if you are looking to do a long bike ride at a lower intensity, then the carbohydrates may not be so beneficial. Potentially a little more fat might be a better option, or even no food at all in this case.

One thing people often do, is overestimate how much fuel they need, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. The intensity of the workout should dictate the amount needed but most people just do not train hard enough to warrant the amount of carbohydrates they think they need.

Unless you are really working at a very high intensity of 95-110% of your max heart rate, you may want to dial down the amount of carbohydrates you take in.

Post Workout Nutrition

Salmon | Personal Trainer Zone: Q&A with Paul Burgess | Nutrition | Training | Linked FitnessThe same goes for post workout. Many people say you must get a shake in you ASAP after you finish a workout to help recovery. Recovery from what? An hour in the gym chatting to your friends and taking selfies? Again people get fixated by all the nonsense that surrounds pre and post workout nutrition but forget that it’s the workout itself that they need to focus more on.

When working out, the benefit you get is from the adaptation to the workout stress you’ve put your body through. The training creates inflammation in your body which needs to be repaired to make the body bigger/stronger/more capable. The inflammation is the key to your progress, so the more inflammation you cause, the greater the gains long term.

If we accept that inflammation is the key, then eating as soon as possible after a session would actually lower the inflammatory response, especially if your chosen intake is a carbohydrate and protein based shake.

A shake will spike blood glucose and therefore instill an insulin response. This will start to lower the inflammation and hinder the actual adaptation process.

I am not a fan of whey shakes and do not recommend them to any of my clients. When we do intolerance tests on people we find that whey shakes come out pretty much on top as the worst kind of ‘food’ to eat.

My advice is to not eat for at least an hour after training and then eat something solid which includes a PRO inflammatory Omega 6 fat. This will increase the inflammation further, not to reduce it. A meal of chicken thigh, vegetables and avocado would work well for this.

6 hours later (or the next day), I would advise a meal high in Omega 3 anti inflammatory fats to help reduce the inflammation and get you ready for the next days workout. A meal of salmon, asparagus and walnuts would work well here.

6) What is your top piece of nutritional advice for weight loss?

Use a nutritional plan that you can stick to and that makes you feel good. There’s no point being told to eat a certain way if you just cannot stick to it. You will soon give in and be back to square one

I work with my clients to find a good nutritional plan that serves them from a nutrient dense perspective and allows them to optimise their hormones so that they feel satisfied rather than hungry, while allowing their body to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose.

Everyone is individual and it really is ‘different strokes for different folks’ when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

7) What is the most common injury you see with your clients and what advice can you offer for prevention?

Back injuries are the most common issues I see in people. Generally it comes from people being too tight in their hips, glutes and hamstrings.

Regular foam rolling, stretching and massage is usually all it takes to keep people injury free and mobile.

8) How do you develop individualised training plans for your clients?

Personal Trainer Zone: Q&A with Paul Burgess | Nutrition | Training | Linked FitnessMy approach is rather long winded I’m afraid. I begin with a comprehensive questionnaire looking at a clients’ past and current circumstances as well as their goals, health issues and injuries. From there I do  a physical assessment to see what someone is actually capable of.

Many people cannot squat properly or have very restricted overhead mobility so even before a training programme can be put into place, we need to work on getting them to be able to move in the correct way.

Depending on their level of commitment and how many days a week they are prepared to put into improving their situation, this may takes many weeks or even months just to get them to a place where they can train safely.

Once we are in a position to start more focussed training, I then look at not only what would be ideally beneficial to the client but also what kind of thing they enjoy the most.

It’s similar to the diet, if they do not like the type of training then they will not adhere to it, eventually give up, and it will all be a bit of a wasted exercise, so to speak!

9) What is nutritional testing and how can it help you achieve your fitness goals?

Nutritional testing comes in many forms. Personally I like to have a comprehensive blood analysis done with all my clients along with a food intolerance test.

These two reports will tell me exactly what is going on ‘under the hood’. This will allow me to prescribe a nutritional plan that will help support any underlying issues the client may have.

100% of people can improve their health and once we know what needs improving, it is much easier for us to develop a bespoke nutrition plan which address the shortfalls.

Re-testing 8-12 weeks later then allows us to visually see the improvements we are making. This is very motivational for anyone and really helps when it comes to people sticking to the plan.

10) What are the main services that you offer to your clients?

Our services are mainly comprehensive blood, food intolerance, and DNA testing. This enables us to fully asses and then implement the most beneficial nutritional plan for our clients to reach their goals as quickly as possible.

Most nutrition companies rely on using symptoms alone to assess clients. However, we feel knowing someone’s biochemistry is vital in making the most accurate approach to their health and fitness.

We have many G.P.’s as clients and even they agree that the tests we do, which are not done on the NHS, are the most useful and accurate they have seen because they go into such depth and detail.

The results can be seen on the testimonial videos on my website. They are certainly worth a look if you have a spare few minutes!


About Paul Burgess

Personal Trainer Zone: Q&A with Paul Burgess | Nutrition | Training | Linked FitnessPaul is a lifelong fitness enthusiast whose passion for health and fitness has taken priority since his mid teens.

In his early 30’s he trained in MMA and became a highly respected competitor and teacher to aspiring title contenders.

In his mid 30’s he turned his passion for fitness into his full time career and became a nutritionist and personal trainer gaining Diploma’s in Clinical Nutrition, Personal Training and Anti Ageing.

His motivation is to be the best he can be for his age and to show clients that being over 50 is no reason not to be fit, healthy and look good!

To find out more about Paul, check out his website Athletic Fitness & Nutrition 

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