The truth about training for golf

Most you reading this will probably already realise the power of being a better athlete and how conditioning can have huge benefits to your game……but we all know people who say it doesn’t help and you are wasting your time, more harm than good bla bla bla. So hopefully this article will give you some extra FACTS and well-reasoned opinions to counter their guess work.

Firstly, before we even think of golf, we have evolved as humans needing movement to keep our bodies functioning well. Bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments all need loading for them to remain strong and healthy. So, for health purposes we should be doing some sort exercise anyway. Now let’s look at golf as exercise. Fresh air, mileage on the legs, walking up hills, carrying stuff, all things that are great for you, albeit buggy’s and electric trolleys are on a mission to diminish this. However, swinging a golf club isn’t backed by 100,000 generations of natural selection, so unlike the other items listed, it doesn’t come pre-programmed in our DNA and isn’t natural to us. Our nearest movement is throwing and the golf swing is an adaptation of that so we need to adapt slightly by being stronger and more flexible in certain areas. Modern lifestyle and living means that we are losing some of our natural athleticism, so our training programmes need to at least restore this. This is flexibility work, strength balancing, activating muscles and postural work, exactly where the (shameless plug warning) Mechanical Advantage System starts.
There are two classifications to the training sessions I have to the way I train myself and my clients and this is how I think everyone should approach their conditioning. Step 1, become functionally better, stage 2, train like you are preparing for post-apocalyptic survival. I’ll expand in another article.
If you are training for golf performance then there’s a good chance you want to excel at the game. We all know the fact that the further you hit it and keep it in play, then the probability is you will shoot lower scores. Distance is a direct result of impact characteristics and if you are hitting it out of the middle with good launch numbers, then to hit it further you need to hit it harder…….more club head speed.
Speed is straight forward principle to train for. You need to train in this simple cycle

Correct dysfunction……..Get stronger………Get faster………Start again

Correct dysfunction

The first thing is a tense or spasmodic muscle, no matter how big it is, has less contractile tissue available and therefore is a weaker, slower muscle than a relaxed one. To give an example, I read a book by a well-known sprint coach who had a very successful sprinter that used steroids( was only successful until he got caught). One of the side effects of the steroids the athlete was taking caused muscles to get tight, so they stopped using them for a couple of weeks because it slowed them down. This shows the benefits of having relaxed muscles outweighs the benefits of performance enhancing drugs. Muscles that are balanced and work in synergy with the rest of the body are less likely to become tight and tense and that’s how you should build your corrective programme. You can’t guess this, you need to be assessed or assessing yourself.


Get Stronger

It used to be that a few golfers on tour trained most didn’t, but it used to be less competitive. Now almost every one of them is conditioned because there is such a pool of talent that it is more a less survival of the fittest. I don’t know any of the new generation that don’t train. But even the ones that are not lean are strong. Look a Patrick Reed, he’s not shredded like Camillo Villagas but he looks very strong. And thankfully golf is a sport where a little body fat isn’t so destructive to performance but unfortunately weakness is. Even the great players of the past such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Nick Faldo are all strong looking golfers.
Strong is not only a step away from injury and contributing factor to consistency but also an important step towards your optimum performance.

Get faster

We have to be functional and strong before we start moving quicker otherwise we are going to spend a lot of the time in the woods because we can’t control our swing and we increase our chances of getting injured because we can’t control our body.
This is the ultimate drill to improve your club head speed and is most effective build upon great conditioning foundations
Go the range and hit the ball as hard as you can. Ok, not rocket science but be aware that the central nervous system (CNS) works hard when hitting a ball and it fatigues quickly and CNS stimulation is where we will gain over competitors. Hit your shots in something like 10 sets of 3 hits. And then give your CNS up to 3 minutes’ rest between sets. Now we are approaching this like a sprinter or an Olympic lifter would approach his work. Make sure you warm up first. And make sure that you are functionally efficient and strong before trying this. Your game won’t improve when you are out with a torn rotator cuff muscle. Don’t worry about solid connection, just swing flat out with the best attempt of your normal technique. The body will adapt and become more coordinated at higher speeds.

Start again……but from better foundations

This is simply because if we have been training, we may have created imbalance and tension. Our lifestyles may have also influenced our function. So to go back and get everything rebalanced is a good thing. Allowing us to get stronger again before getting faster again and not interrupting the cycle by getting injured.

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