INTERVIEW - Sam Pepys (Strength & Conditioning Coach)

Sam is a Strength and Conditioning Coach for coaches, athletes and professional footballers. He is also Founder of Sam Pepys Performance, an online coaching and mentoring global brand.

Since leaving Crystal Palace, he has worked with Premier League players and England internationals and continues to help with the development of academy players and physical preparation of first team players.

Sam is also our Founder’s brother and together they have worked with athletes in supporting both their training and nutrition.


He talks to Georgie about training professional athletes and footballers, what makes a good online fitness programme and why strength and conditioning is not a fad, but central to reducing injury and getting fitter quicker.

Thank you so much for joining us!

Growing up, we spent every moment we could outside playing sport. How did this evolve into training premier league and international footballers?

Absolutely! Sport played such a pivotal role in our upbringing. After a very short (and rather unsuccessful) attempt to play football at a reasonably high level, I set my sights on being involved in the sport in a different capacity. In my early days as a PT, I decided I wanted to work for a Premier League club, and after a rather impromptu conversation with a fulham player at the time, off I went to Beckenham for an interview with the Head of Sports Science at CPFC. The rest is history…as they say.

Your online business is oversubscribed and I can vouch for the efficacy of the programmes, but how easy and effective is it to train people online and any red flags to look out for when looking for a programme?

Some of our best results are achieved in the online space. We now have a team of highly experienced coaches, all who have experience in an array of sports at professional level. In addition to having the right people in the right seats, we have a proven system when it comes to the provision of our three performance pillars (training, nutrition and recovery). The personnel matched with a proven system helps provide the gateway for results. In a world where the majority of the industry have turned to online coaching, it’s worth shopping around and doing your due diligence - experience, credibility, results and also the message of the brand goes along way in determining whether the fit will be right or not.

So when you are not training others, how do you keep so fit?

Exercise is an integral part of my daily and weekly routine, whether I’m preparing for an event or just looking to keep in shape. The rewards that I get stretch far beyond the conventional physiological benefits, but also psychological and social. My time in the gym is sacred to me, deemed as very much “my time.” Whether preparing for a competition (it’s been a minute) or not, I’m a big advocate of having structure to my training week, ranging from the nuts and bolts of the program to when the session will be done - scheduled in the diary. When it’s written down, it is more likely to be adhered to!

You have competed in various guises over the years from fitness modelling to triathlons and other competitions (rowing championships and functional fitness), what are the benefits of training with a purpose at any level?

By setting goals, it can give more meaning and purpose to training. With our athletes and executives, we establish SMART goals. SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus and motivation to achieve a specific goal. By encouraging someone to define their objectives and establish a completion date, it can dramatically improve their ability to reach their goal. Without a clear and definitive framework to what exactly is going to be achieved, how it’s going to be achieved and when it’s going to be achieved, it has been proven to a hugely ineffective way of achieving an overall outcome.

Strength & conditioning is something I have really embraced over the last 10 years and I’m probably the fittest and strongest I’ve ever been, can you tell us why it is an important part of any fitness regime?

Strength and conditioning involves a wide range of methods, and disciplines designed to address a number of structural (mobility and stability), and physical areas, such as strength, power, speed and endurance. When implemented correctly, the benefits range from improving joint mobility & stability to muscular strength, endurance and cardiovascular health. Other associated benefits are general coordination and peripheral skills, as well as mental clarity and fortitude.

If you could train anyone, who would that be?

Jimmy Carr

“Swimming is good for you, especially if you’re drowning. Not only do you get a cardiovascular workout, but you also don’t die.”.

What are your plans for Sam Pepys Performance?

Over the past year, we’ve grown the team and expanded our services globally to athletes and executives around the world. I’ve got a few more spots to fill within the team, but our overarching aim is to continue growing our reach, and provision to athletes and executives allowing them to reach a new level of high performance. We’re also in the process of establishing a player pathway for younger players, helping guide them from early academy through to professional football.

I talk to people a lot about proactive recovery before, during and after activities that can put stress on the body, which can include exercise. There is a lot of conflicting advice, but what do you do before and after training to optimise recovery and performance and can you give some key broad brush tips?

Before - nutrition and recovery go hand in hand, in fact, the nutrition falls under the recovery umbrella, but we tend to split to the significance of each entity. Nutrition plays a key role in both fuelling and recovery. Ensuring that you fuel correctly before you train can vastly improve output during the session. While protein can be consumed before and/or after, the overall amount throughout the day is considered to be more important than obsessing too much about timings.

After - to help with the recovery process, diet and passive rest, more importantly sleep, are fundamental. From a nutritional standpoint both protein and carbs play a crucial in the repair process. The addition of fruits and vegetables (five a day), can also help provide valuable vitamins and minerals to further promote the recovery process. Sleep is undeniably the most important component within the recovery protocol, with both overall quantity and quality contributing towards a more recovered state. During sleep, the body replenishes energy stores, and sends oxygen and nutrients to the muscles to helpregenerate cells. Without adequate sleep, the recovery debt can amount, influencing hormonal state, and key markers, such as resting heart rate (RHR), heart rate variability (HRV) and overall recovery.

I believe Rebound should be part everyone’s weekly health and wellness plan to optimise recovery when going out. What do you do on a daily/ weekly basis to keep your lifestyle balanced?

1) Training - taking regular exercise (3-5 times per week) combining strength training and aerobic development. Nutrition - having a balanced diet - limiting foods that are highly processed and refined, and highly sweetened as well as trans and saturated.
Sleep - I’m big on sleep…in case you haven’t noticed yet. If there’s one area, aside from nutrition, that I really try to put as many of my eggs in, it would be sleep. A good night’s sleep (7-9 hours per night) provides invaluable time for the body to adjust to the physical, neurological and emotional stressors that they may experience throughout the day.

2) Psychological Learning - it comes in all forms - physical, emotional, social etc. Personal development is a lifelong process. After all, life is one big learning curve. Being an entrepreneur, the onus is very much on the business owner at all times. I’ve always found self development to be an invaluable way of assessing current skillset and qualities. The very notion of self critiquing can help reaffirm strengths, but also identify weaknesses that could be influencing the growth of the business. It can help reframe the approach to certain challenges, but also allows one to stay motivated to improve skills and continue striving to move the business forwards.

What makes you tick when you are not training others or yourself?

Family & friends - spending time with loved ones.

Travel - Gigi and I love travelling - visiting new countries and exploring the wonderful world that we live in.

Food - a real passion of mine - now married into an Italian family - like a pig in s*%t.

Golf - my third love.

How would you like 2024 to be remembered?

A year filled with fun, new experiences and success.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Got a few….

    • You’re only as good as your last session - serve as if every one is your last.
    • Focus time and energy on tasks that you can control - not on ones you can’t.
    • Spend time focusing on you. The more you prioritise your time, the more you’ll be able to prioritise their time.

Well thank you so much, that was super interesting, but just before you go:

Tickets you want to get for 2024?

      • Champions league final/
      • Olympics

3 Favourite places to eat in London?

    • Gola/
    • Hardwood Arms
    • Los Mochis
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