The Evolution of Golf Fitness
Golf fitness as evolved over the past few years. It was once thought that golfers should not work out, as if they were not high end athletes. Fitness slowly picked up steam due to players like Tiger Woods and Gary Player who spent time improving their bodies’ performance to help their golf game. Now, it is widely accepted that golfers are tremendous athletes who put a lot of strain on their body due to a strenuous, unidirectional movement. Almost every PGA Tour player has a trainer or physical therapist on their team to help keep them at their performance peak. How does this relate to your game? I am here to clear that up for you.
Walk Before You Run
Tour players do not wake up one day and jump into a program. They go through physical screenings performed by a certified and knowledgeable coach. I emphasize this because, if at all possible, you should find someone in your area to take you through a screen to know exactly where to start.
Here is a break down of the progression.
Step 1: Rehab – Undoing the Damage
A program starts with “rehab” work. Rehab is designed to make the muscles do their job correctly. When muscles do not do their job you can develop trigger points – tight and uncomfortable muscle knots surrounded by fascia – or you won’t use them during the swing which can result in swing faults. This is another reason that screening and rehab are essential: without them you may be trying to fix a swing issue that your body won’t allow you to fix.
The majority of people must start with these prescribed stretches, muscle activations, and movements to get the body back into proper working order. We must undo all the bad you do during the day, like sitting at a computer with bad posture, slumped shoulders, deactivating the glutes, straining the neck, shortening the hip flexors…. need I go on? Not to fear, it is all fixable with hard work and a proper program. I spend the majority of my time working with clients on these exact same things. In fact, for those who are familiar with my YouTube Channel, the majority of those videos are to fix these very problems.
Step 2: Golf Movements & Weights
Once you are moving correctly we can progress to adding in weights. This does not mean we are going to be doing isolated movements like bicep curls or heavy bench press. We will add weights for resistance to the movements that we want to program into the body: golf movements! This is where the chops, lifts, upper body stabilization with lower body movements, squat and turns come into play.
This is where golf fitness starts to make more sense and become more enjoyable. Keep in mind we do not have to go with extremely heavy weights. We are trying to use the correct weight for each player without having a break down of muscle chains. Each muscle must do its job and carry its weight, no pun intended, so it does not recruit another muscle to help.
This is golf performance at its best! A lot of what I do with Justin Thomas is exactly this. Any given week he has his resistance bands and it is up to me to know what is needed to help keep him firing correctly. At his high club head speed, a lot of torque is put on the body. If one muscle group breaks down it can lead to serious issues quickly.
Step 3: Get Fast!
Finally, we are onto what few players get to spend a lot of time working on, power. While this what I am known for, I think one of the reasons I am good at developing other players’ power is that I carefully walk them through the needed steps to get there. There are no short cuts to power, especially if you want to prevent injury. When you arrive at this stage though, get ready to work very hard. Here we focus on quick, explosive movements like power cleans. The body is working properly, so we can load it up and ask everything to fire at full capacity. I also do a lot of training with players swinging clubs at different times in their workouts, and watching for the proper muscle activation body firing through, and slowing down.
Intrigued? Start Here
How do you get started? Make sure your body is working properly, that everything is firing and in working order. Then it builds to adding in light weights for stability and muscle activation. Finally, we move quickly and forcefully to build up club head speed and protect the body.