If you doubted that you could get hench with functional training, where real-world movements are promoted above repetitive gym machine or barbell moves, then Tom Kemp’s appearance on the November 2019 cover of UK Men’s Health should change your mind.
Here, the Farm Fitness outdoor training programme founder reveals exclusively to RSNG the ingredients for a powerful, functionally fit body…
RSNG Explain your training philosophy to us?
TOM KEMP, FARM FITNESS FOUNDER ‘Our training philosophy is based on ‘Low skill, high yield and scalable movements’ which are performed at high intensity in team based trackable blocks.’
‘We offer an alchemic blend of modified strongman, functional bodybuilding, calisthenics and blistering cardio efforts – all carefully programmed to be accessible for all fitness levels, with the added twist of giving gym goers and outdoor, rural shake-up.’
RSNG Why is Farm Fitness a fresh approach to functional training?
TK ‘Our focus on a team-based format creates an environment where seemingly ‘intimidating’ exercises become more accessible to your average person through a culture of teamwork and camaraderie.’
‘We often see people go from timid field mouse to hungry wolf in the space of a 6-minute block! The coaching itself focuses on applicable regressions where each exercise is, as it says on the tin, ‘regressed’ to suit a person’s ability.’
‘As we’ve grown more sedentary we risk injury or worse to perform tasks that our ancestors breezed through’
RSNG Did you think there might be this big appetite for the kind of training you do, before you founded Farm Fitness?
TK ‘Definitely. There’s still a lingering stigma that strongman-style training and even functional training is preserved for the ‘ultra-strong or fit’ and that you must ‘get fit first’ before you can even try this sort of thing.’
‘We have lots of people telling us that they would love to give our style of training a go, but that they weren’t ready for it yet. We set out to create an environment where this ideology is defused and people from all walks of life would feel comfortable pushing their limits.’
RSNG What single, essential thing to all-round strength do you think mainstream gyms are missing out on right now?
TK ‘Progressive intensity. Many people train hard, but without clear and concise metrics to monitor and so it’s very hard to gauge real improvements. We monitor a variety of factors to ensure that everyone is making marginal gains, across the board consistently.’
RSNG Given that most of us are working in sedentary jobs, do you think there’s a danger we can physically forget how to move in space and lose real-world strength?
TK ‘Most definitely, use it or lose it! Everyday tasks that were once commonplace are now completely foreign to some people given the rise in desk-based profession. This is not only a shame but in many ways alarming.’
‘Sometimes life throws things at us that we are, in essence, built for, but as we’ve grown more sedentary we risk injury or worse to perform tasks that our ancestors breezed through.’
‘A pragmatic, functional approach to exercise selection, programming exercises with the most ‘real world carryover’, will have your everyday chores and activities starting to feel a lot easier!’
‘Unstable and awkward to handle, sandbags offer real world strength benefits you just don’t get with dumbbells’
RSNG What’s your personal favourite piece of farm fitness equipment and why?
TK ‘The Sandbag! It’s the most versatile training tool on the market, you can take your workout anywhere, fill it to your desired weight and perform whole body workouts.’
‘Moving quickly through sandbag movements turns what looks like a strength piece on paper, into a lung searing condition effort. Unstable and awkward to handle, sandbags offer real world strength benefits you just don’t get with dumbbells.’
RSNG What’s been your personally most satisfying body goal to achieve and how did you do it?
TK ‘I am currently Men’s Health’s November 2019 edition cover model which has always been a life training goal of mine. I’ve been consistent with my training for over 12 years continually tracking progress, training hard and keeping a close eye on my nutrition and general health and wellbeing so it was an honour to see it pay off in such as way.’
RSNG One thing that I never see much of in gyms is intensity – is intensity something you focus on in Farm Fitness and how can we get it right in our own workouts?
TK ‘Right behind sustainability and enjoyability, intensity is one of the most important factors at the farm, by keeping track of your work and work rate, you can be sure that to push harder and harder each session in order to see improvements. Eventually this will ENSURE intensity.’
RSNG What three tips would you give to a gym-goer looking to get more functionally strong?
TK ‘1. Don’t just train with barbells and fixed machines, engineer yourself into something that’s designed to lift ANYTHING, lifting d-balls and sandbags will not only provide a very difficult challenge and stimulus compared to a barbell, but one that may never be the same twice.’
‘2. We think of ‘Farm Strong’ as training that incorporates loaded carries; for example Farmers Walks, Overhead Carries, Sandbag Bear Hugs etc. These are all age-old tests of fortitude that will challenge you from your feet to the exhausted fibres in your shoulders.’
‘3. Heavy weights and awkward lifts take a toll on the body, so do yours a favour and injury proof your muscles with plenty of mobility moves, before, during and after your ‘harder’ training.’
RSNG What about nutrition? How do you make sure you get the right nutrients for recovery and growth?
TK ‘Fuelling your training and recovery with quality nutrition is essential for continual progress and to perform to the best of your ability. A focus on high quality protein, unrefined carbohydrates and healthy fats from whole foods as often as possible will ensure that you’re providing the right fuel to keep your machine running.’
‘It’s important to remember that sustainability is key and that it’s the 20% ‘fun’ food, that keeps the 80% maintainable.’
WHAT NEXT? Tom Kemp has challenged RSNG’s readers to do the following Farm Fitness-style workout that you can do in the gym:
40 metre Carry between each round.
Find out more at Farm Fitness
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.
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