How Chef Tom Kerridge Transformed His Health | Fitness tips of the day

When you have as much on your plate as Tom Kerridge – six restaurants, an events business, a festival – finding time to train isn’t easy. But at 6am on a Wednesday at his local gym in Marlow, Kerridge is already in motion, limbering up for his first set of deadlifts.

As he works through glute bridges and hamstring stretches, he reflects on the progress he’s made. ‘I remember thinking 100kg was really fucking heavy,’ he says, of his early deadlift attempts. Now that’s his warm-up weight. His PB is 200kg.

Ten years ago, approaching his 40th birthday and worried about his health, Kerridge ‘went on a massive health journey’. He quit drinking (‘I used to have about 20 pints of lager every day’) and he started swimming a mile a day, ultimately losing more than a third of his bodyweight.

He tried other forms of cardio, too. ‘But I was never that interested in it,’ he says. ‘I’m not really built for running.’

He is built for powerlifting. His first intro to heavy lifting was barbell squats. Alongside trainer Dino Bonwick, he worked up to a personal best of 210kg. Getting there took a while, he says, ‘but I don’t mind things taking a long time. You could see incremental gains, and I enjoyed that process.’ Having a goal helped, too. ‘I like the competitiveness of numbers.’

Squat and deadlift mastered, his next focus is a PB on the barbell bench press, says Bonwick. ‘And I’m sure Tom will hit me with another goal when that’s done. He always wants something to attack.’

‘People think you need this perfect body to be in a gym. It couldn’t be further from the truth’

Nutrition is a trickier prospect. Kerridge tries to prioritise protein and moderate highly processed carbs, having initially lost weight on a low-carb plan. But it’s difficult when food is your life – and recipe development a core part of your work. ‘This week I had to try eight pies in one lunchtime,’ he says. ‘It’s amazing that this is my job, but it can be so counterproductive.’ As with most middle-aged men, he says, he finds health and fitness to be a balancing act. ‘You’re constantly juggling.’

Going heavy in the gym made it easier to give up alcohol, offering an outlet for stress on busy weeks. ‘I think a lot of people come to the gym to escape the reality of life.’ One of his favourite things about working with PT Bonwick is that it removes the temptation to check his phone between sets. ‘We never really talk about my work,’ Kerridge says. ‘We talk about what we’re lifting – or football or cars.’

For Kerridge, training does as much for his headspace as his strength and fitness. ‘People think you’ve got to have this perfect body to be in a gym,’ he says. ‘And it just couldn’t be further from the truth. There are just a load of people here on their own personal journeys.’

Raise Your Own Bar

Four tips that helped Kerridge unlock a new PB, according to his trainer Bonwick

Use Your Legs

For Kerridge, ‘screwing’ his feet into the floor by pushing heels out helped to create tension and ‘switch on’ his glutes. Then he’d focus on pressing the floor away with his legs, not just pulling the bar up.

Breathe Right

Kerridge wears a lifting belt just above his belly button, not too tight. He inhales deeply through his nose, feeling the belt tighten as he pushes his stomach out, then exhales as he lifts.

Buy New Shoes

Your running shoes won’t cut it. Kerridge wears Vivobarefoot shoes to lift, which offer better connection with the ground and ‘100% helped’ to build tension through his feet before lifting.

Carry On

Loaded carries are ‘a nice accessory to the deadlift’, says Bonwick, building functional strength and grip strength. Load up with two heavy kettlebells or dumbbells and march 40m. Rest and repeat.


Scarlett Wrench is the Senior Editor at Men’s Health UK.

With more than 12 years’ experience as a health and lifestyle editor, Scarlett has a keen interest in new science, emerging trends, mental well-being, and food and nutrition. For Men’s Health, she has carried out extensive research into areas such as wellness in the workplace, male body image, the paradoxes of modern masculinity, and mental health among school-age boys.

Her words have also appeared in Women’s Health, Runner’s World and The Sunday Times.

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