Thursday, 3 December 2015

Weighted Carries

The introduction of weighted carries has added a number of positive knock on affects to many areas of my training. For something so simple the benefits are far reaching.
I was first introduced to these after a training session at a friends farm. He informed me that we would be doing a lift and carry workout. It sounded like fun. However, I could barely use my arms for days after! The workout consisted of the following:

  • Farmers walks with barrels
  • Overhead sandbag carries
  • Zercher carries with a heavy stone
  • Sled dragging

It doesn't look like much, but walking consistently for a period of time with heavy objects is a very honest workout! If you aren't in shape and if you aren't strong, you soon realise it!

Ever since I have continued to include farmers walks (if not more of the above) into my weekly workouts. These have improved:

  • My grip. I never use straps or chalk for any exercises, including deadlifts and heavy rows.
  • My posture. When walking with heavy weights, I try and maintain an upright posture. This gets you into good habits on a daily basis when you aren't holding weights!
  • A stronger lower back. Walking with resistance, especially with that resistance positioned at the front of your body (Zercher carries), forces your lower back to get stronger to keep you upright.
  • More muscle. My back muscles have strengthened and grown.
  • Better conditioning. Walking with weights gets you puffing! In response your fitness will improve.
  • They are fun! Sometimes doing the same weight training exercises indoors can get a little stale. Getting outside with some weights is a great way to mix up your training.

When should I do them?

For me personally, I add carries at the end of my workouts. But you can do them whenever you like. I currently do this twice a week but you could add a carry into every session if you prefer. Farmers walks are the best ones to start with. They are a very natural movement. Grab a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells, that you can just about carry by your side for 50 metres. Aim to do this 3-5 times with a minutes rest in between.

Be creative

We are lucky here at the sports centre, as the athletics track is just outside the gym. We often send clients or the pupils at the school for a lap of the track with weights in hand! But I've done weighted carries for up to a mile with Kettlebells through woodland. I've carried a heavy medicine ball or stone up and down hills. I even do farmers walks up and down the street. Whatever you choose, hold tight, work hard and feel the benefits!

Zercher Carry - use of an underhand grip.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Fitness Industry's 'Non-Secrets'

The fitness world is full of secrets. The secret to fatloss, the secret to building muscle, the superfood. People love a secret. Why? Because they hope there is a shortcut to success.

Ignore that and read these 'non-secrets':

Training should be challenging. You don't have to destroy yourself with every session but to bring about physical change you need to give your body a reason to transform. Being uncomfortable is a good thing both physically and mentally.

Realise that most people in good shape are prepared to go through some form of discomfort and deprivation. Get used to this and you'll stick with it long-term. In regards to the deprivation, I'm not simply talking about skipping junk food. I'm talking about getting to bed on time, missing events so you can train instead, having less downtime in front of the TV so you can do some mobility work, or to prep food for the next day. I've missed social events to train instead. If you want something then you've got to be prepared to go without.

There is no magic pill when it comes to nutrition. Introducing a "superfood" will not transform your life, nor will eating something unhealthy ruin all your progress. Everything in moderation is key but this is hard to sell. The press would find it difficult to write a story about this and instead they latch on to a specific subject. One week butter is bad, the next week it will solve all your problems. Eat natural foods 80% of the time and you'll do well!

Stop moaning. I'm like everyone. I moan about my genetics. The only person that can change that is me. Stop moaning and get working.

A good level of strength and fitness isn't built instantly. Unless you are that 1% who are naturally amazing then it's going to take time and patience. I've been training pretty much all my life and I still learn things about my body on a daily basis.

Everyone is an individual. What works for you won't work for me. Get sound advice but find your own way. Don't spend more hours reading about training than actually training. That's just you looking for a secret!

Enjoy the journey!


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Just show up!

The hardest part of a workout is often getting through the door. On certain days, it feels like a constant battle with that inner voice. "Don't go", " You've had a long day", "Why not go tomorrow?".
Now if you really don't feel like training, another rest day can actually be productive. Otherwise, don't give in to those voices!

The best thing you can do in this situation is to simply show up. I appreciate that this is easier said than done. However, try and break down your journey to the gym and the start of your workout, into small chunks.

Make sure you leave your kit in the car. Don't go home after work. You'll find other jobs you need to do, or the lure of the sofa may be too much! In a situation where you really don't fancy training, try not to think about the workout at hand. Get to the gym and get warmed-up. Don't focus on anything apart from this. Then move on to your first exercise. By this time, the hard work is done. You will no doubt be in full swing before you know it. If you are having an 'off day', simply adjust the intensity of your workout. You are better off doing a slightly easier workout and maintaining that habit of showing up. Remember, every session counts.

The same applies in the morning. This gets increasingly more difficult when it's dark. If you are planning to wake up early for a workout before the start of your day, it is very easy to hit the snooze button instead. This is when you have to be strong! Again, break it down into chunks. Get up, get ready, go, warm-up, train! Get everything prepped the night before. Not having to think too much is always a bonus in the morning, allowing you to concentrate on the job at hand.

See you in the gym :)

Monday, 19 October 2015

Try this

Here is a circuit training workout from a Personal Training session of mine:

1) 5 minute cardio warm-up.

2) Bodyweight warm-up of press-ups x 30 seconds, TRX Rows x 30 seconds and squats x 30 seconds (twice through).

3) The circuit was based around a pyramid of exercises, finishing back where we started:

500 Metre row at level 7
800 Metre run at 1% incline
30 Bodyweight walking lunges (15 per side and alternate)
20 Kettlebell two-handed shoulder presses (a weight you can just about manage 20 with)
15 Squat jumps
10 Sit-ups
15 Squat jumps
20 Kettlebell two-handed shoulder presses
30 Bodyweight walking lunges
800 Metre run at 1% incline
500 Metre row at level 7

Cool-down for 3-5 minutes with a slow walk followed by a stretch.
Time yourself in section 3. Then do this workout once a week for 4 weeks, looking to improve your time each week. Make sure your technique is good and you work hard!


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Consistency wins everytime

Here's a tip to be successful with any training programme. Be consistent. Choose a training routine that fits around you and your lifestyle.

For example, we have a goal in mind or we've had a break from the gym. We are motivated to train so we do as much as we can. Eventually we can’t keep up the pace and find it difficult to maintain this new routine with our busy schedules. We then stop.

Instead do less. Start slowly and gradually build up the amount of sessions you train as well as the intensity. This builds confidence and with this comes consistency. Being realistic and doing slightly less but on a regular basis, is a better option than burning out.

So when a celebrity publishes their 2-hour workout, that they do daily, don't strive to match this. They may not have children or work shifts. At the same time, they may have a 5-million dollar movie contract to get in shape for! This would drive any of us! But it's not long-term. We are all individuals and should train with a plan based around our needs.


My top 5 foods!

1) Eggs – One of the best sources of protein. A study once showed that those who ate eggs in the morning ate 20% less calories over the course of the day.

2) Salmon – Another great source of protein as well as plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids.

3) Avocados – More essential fats in these, alongside many other fantastic nutrients.

4) Nuts – A handful of nuts between meals keeps me sane, especially when blood sugar levels are dropping dangerously low!

5) Rice – A great source of carbohydrate pre or post exercise. Go for wholemeal or brown rice to increase your fibre intake.

Tuck in! Oli.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Nutrition Talks at the TSC

When it comes to improving your health, body and mind, exercise is only one part of the jigsaw. If you’re looking to lose some weight, gain some muscle or just improve your eating habits, then of course, nutrition plays a huge part.

The Tonbridge School Centre will be hosting a series on nutrition talks every Wednesday at 6.30pm throughout the month of May. The talks will last thirty minutes and will cover a range of different topics. The four talks are designed to complement each other and we would recommend attending all if possible.

GI, GL & The Truth About CHO (Carbohydrates)

What are low GI and high GI CHO? What is Glycaemic Load? Are there ‘bad’ and ‘good’ sources of CHO? Dan will guide you through and help you discover the truth about carbohydrates and answer any questions you have regarding your own personal CHO issues.

The Importance of Protein (Protein)

Protein is a vital macronutrient for anybody, but especially for people who exercise regularly. Simon and Oli will discuss what protein is composed of, why we need it and how much you should be consuming based on your personal goals.

Fat or Fiction (Fats)

Fat has suffered at the hands on the media for the past few decades and our personal trainers, Patrick and Emma intend to set the story straight. This highly important macronutrient is essential to bodily function and Patrick and Emma will discuss everything you need to know to leave yourself feeling informed and able to consume fat with confidence.

Meal Plans

The last talk will utilise all of the knowledge previously discussed and provide you with an overview of tips to help you with planning your meals. Simon and Oli will share planning tips and give you some healthy meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks too.


If you’re interested in broadening your knowledge in nutrition then please book yourself a spot in these talks. But please hurry as there is a limited number and there already filling up fast! To book and for other enquiries please contact the Reception Team - 01732 304111 /

We hope to see you there!
Image result for nutrition Good nutrition is fundamental to your progress

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Pros and Cons of Caffeine

It’s 6.00am on a Monday morning and everyone is getting ready for another long week at work… At this early hour a lot of individuals, me included, will go straight for some coffee, tea or another form of caffeine. We drink it from machines in the luxury of our homes or choose to spend a small fortunes on it in branded coffee shops, but is all this caffeine really good for us?

I have no personal vendetta against coffee and believe there’s a time and place for caffeine in all forms. I also happen to love the taste, especially coffee, and therefore also use it as a “pick me up” throughout the day. On a physical note caffeine has also been proven to boost sports performance, endurance and recovery times when training when consumed 30-60 minutes prior to exertion and can temporarily increase your metabolism, which is great when training for fat loss.

Over indulging in this black liquid is where I would urge caution however. Consuming >600mg caffeine a day (5 cups coffee +) will put a lot of stress onto some of your bodily functions/system. Your adrenal gland function will suffer and your cortisol levels (stress related hormone) will be left continuously high which is something you definitely don’t want in the long run. Caffeine also acts as a natural diuretic and drinking too much will lead to dehydration especially if training.

If you love your coffee and tea please don’t feel like you need to cut it out of your daily routine but aim to limit your intake to about 2-3 cups a day and remember these are not the only sources of caffeine, fizzy drinks (e.g. coca cola/red bull), sweets and chocolates, also contain caffeine.

Finally, try and avoid consuming any caffeine past 5pm as this can affect your quality of sleep.

Enjoy your next Monday morning better informed!

  • Black coffee (Instant)          - 60-10mg (Depends on serving)
  • Black coffee (Brewed)        - 100-400mg (Depends on serving)
  • Single shot of Espresso       - 75mg
  • Tea                                          - 30-50mg (Depends on serving and brew time)
  • Green tea                              - 25-50mg (Depends on serving and brew time)

Thanks for reading.

Image result for caffeine Coffee can help boost your performance

Saturday, 28 March 2015


Excess carbohydrate, especially from a sweet/simple source, will ultimately lead to an increase in body fat. Sugar in small doses will not cause any complications for the majority of individuals, however with modernisation of our food production techniques, you often find sugars hidden in foods where you might not normally expect them. This is primarily to extend shelf life and improve taste, however obvious side effects are that food can begin to possess a slightly addictive quality with real ‘sugar addicts’ experiencing strong cravings for certain foods at certain times. To avoid getting yourself in this position try to act on/follow the below points:


‘Diet’ foods – Foods that have had their overall/natural fat content reduced are often high in sugar so watch out when/if selecting ‘light’ options at the supermarket.

Fruit juices – These are filled with natural sugars and in most cases have had all the fibre/beneficial part of the fruit removed. Some companies will even add extra sugar to the juice to make it even sweeter still.

Instant foods – Instant porridges, ‘quick’ convenient lunches and ready meals are often filled with added sugar.

Breakfast cereals/bars – These are frequently filled with sugar, even the mueslis and granolas, so you have to be extra careful when making your selections. Look at the ingredients list and choose options that packed with natural whole ingredients.


With these simple steps you can hopefully lower your personal sugar intake, reducing your cravings in the long run and feel lot healthier/happier in yourself.


 Image result for sugar
 Keep sugar consumption under control




Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Five Exercises for a Stronger Core

Five Exercises for a Stronger Core


One of the main requests we get from clients, Members and Boys is that they want to strengthen their core and improve body composition in the abdominal area. The abdominal area, or core, has three main muscular groups; the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis and obliques. Stereotypically men set themselves the goal of achieving a chiselled midsection with females preferring to generally flatten their stomach. These five exercises will kick start your quest for a stronger better looking core. 


1.       Squats


Whether you squat using your own bodyweight or with weights you’re going to strengthen your core. There are many variations of squat: Barbell Back Squat, Bulgarian Split Squat Dumbbell Goblet Squat etc. but whatever option you choose you’ll be sure to be working your core.


2.       Standing Overhead Press


The overhead press, or military press, is predominately a shoulder exercise however, when performed correctly with the right tempo your core will definitely be ‘firing on all cylinders’. Holding a barbell with a shoulder width grip, press the bar from just above your chest directly up above your head. Press hard and fully lock out your elbows at the top of the movement. On the way down ensure the return is slow (2-3 seconds), pause at the bottom and then repeat for desired rep range. Trust me, if you can press challenging loads above your head you will have a ‘rock solid’ core.


3.       Farmer’s Walk


You’re probably looking at this and thinking, what on earth is a farmer’s walk!? It’s actually quite a simple yet tough exercise.  You can perform the farmers walk with dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates or anything else reasonably heavy. The simplest way to describe the farmers walk is to imagine you were carrying two heavy shopping bags back home (one in each hand). Keep your shoulders fixed and retracted back together with a nice tight core throughout the walk. Walk slowly for a certain distance or time and repeat this 3-5 times. Your traps (upper back) shoulders, forearms and core will certainly feel it afterwards!


4.       Pull-Ups


Pull-ups are the ‘king’ of all bodyweight exercises. If you can pull-up your own bodyweight several times with good technique you are bound to have a strong core. There are several width and grip variations: narrow (palms facing you), neutral and wide (palms facing away). Try mixing your grip up to engage as many muscles in your back and arms as possible. Keep the decent of the pull-up controlled (2-3 seconds) and be sure to fully extend your arms at the bottom before driving up pinching shoulders down at the top. An assisted pull-up machine will let you perform the above if you cannot manage pure bodyweight pull-ups.


5.       Jack-Knives


You can perform jack-knives on a fit-ball or using the TRX suspension bands. The exercise will involve holding a press-up position throughout whilst placing your shoe laces on the top of a fit-ball or in the bands of a TRX. From this position you slowly bring your knees in to your chest, keeping your hips up, and then return to the start position.


If you would like any of the gym team to show you any of these core strengthening exercises please do not hesitate to ask. I hope you will start implementing some of these exercises in your current programme. Along with a sound nutrition plan, consistent training and appropriate rest you really will start to see that desired midsection start to emerge in no time at all!


Thank you for reading.




.Image result for pull ups
     Pull-Ups are great for building a stronger core

Thursday, 29 January 2015


High Intensity Interval Training

Whenever someone asks me what is the best way to get fitter and burn fat quickly? I’ll always respond with high intensity interval training (HIIT). Anyone can try HIIT training as you need very minimal equipment to get going so it works well in the gym or outside. HIIT also only requires you to work for a 10-20 minute period and you will still definitely feel like you’ve worked hard!

The benefits to HIIT are:

-          Increased fat metabolism.

-          Short term increase to your metabolic rate. (You’ll burn calories after you’ve finished)

-          Increases in human growth hormones (HGH) responsible for metabolism regulation and the ageing process.

Not only do you get these benefits when you regularly perform HIIT but it will also make you a lot fitter. Research has shown that doing HIIT increases muscle oxidative capacity by almost 50%, increases glycogen storage by 20% whilst improving cycle endurance capacity by 100%.  The University of Nebraska found that thirty second intervals were better for building endurance and aerobic capacity than intervals lasting three minutes. Therefore short intense interval training is an effective proven way to quickly build fitness.

It is tough though as you’re working above your aerobic threshold for extended periods of time and I would not recommend it to a complete beginner.

Example HIIT Workout

If you want to do it in a gym then find a treadmill, bike, cross trainer etc. and set your total time limit. If you haven’t done HIIT before start with about 10 minutes. This total time will comprise of 30 seconds “rest time”: 30 seconds “work” time. During your work time you need to focus on hitting a percentage heart rate of at least 80-90% of your maximum and during your rest time you need to focus on recovering to get ready for the next interval. If you feel you need more time to recover in between intervals then increase your rest time and decrease your work time slightly and vice versa. That’s the beauty of HIIT training you can play around with the work rest ratio until it suits you. Remember the whole point of HIIT is that you’re working above your aerobic threshold during the work times; you should be breathless and building up lactic acid in your muscles so don’t be afraid to work hard. You can also do this outside following the exact same principles as above obviously you will be limited to bodyweight exercises like running, burpees or cycling presuming you own a bike.

I hope you can incorporate HIIT into your training programme. Whether you’re looking to get fitter, faster or stronger it will definitely be of benefit. Start by doing it once or twice a week at the start or at the end of your session and if you need any more assistance or guidance please feel free to ask a member of the gym team to show you!

Thank you for reading,


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Habits & Goals

Habits & Goals
It’s that time again when people start setting themselves goals and resolutions for the upcoming year… Why not take a second, read my blog post and hopefully you’ll be a lot more likely to achieve some of your aspirations this time round.
Typical New Year resolutions:
  • Lose weight.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Train more regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
These are all perfectly good goals, they’re realistic, they’re achievable so why are the majority not achieved? Firstly, they’re too broad. If there’s no plan of action inevitably after a few weeks you may lose track. One way to increase your chance of success is to begin by implicating good habits prior to working on a goal. These small stepping stones will help with overall progress and make the larger end goal more achievable.
For example: If your goal is “eat healthily” compile a list of all of the ‘smaller’ habitual changes you need to make in order for you to achieve this:
  • Eat at least one to two pieces of fruit a day.
  • Eat at least one to two vegetables a day.
  • Drink more water/cut out juices and fizzy drinks.
  • Eat at least two portions of oily fish a week.
  • Increase your quality protein intake. (Chicken, Beef, Eggs, Salmon, Brazil Nuts etc.)
  • Replace starchy carbohydrates with complex varieties. (White Bread à Brown Rice etc.)
Now these are just a handful of points you can implement every day which will ultimately move you closer towards your end goal. More importantly when you create your list the points should be specific to your lifestyle. Hopefully you’ll start consistently achieving these smaller points and it will become second nature to you.
Finally, don’t give up! Just because you’re not seeing progress on whatever your goal may be it doesn’t mean you’re not working hard for it. Some goals are short term and some are long term. Think of the small habitual changes as laying the foundations to achieve long term success. You need to determine your long term and short term goals then, break them down, plan them out, improve your habits and finally you can begin to put a time frame on the project.
I’m personally planning my goals for the 2015 now, breaking them down and seeing whether they are short term or long term. For any more advice and help on goal setting, why not arrange a free consultation with one of our qualified personal trainers.
Thank you for reading.
Simon Passey -