Many golfers have heard that exercise (specifically strength training) can be bad for your golf game. To say that’s untrue would be an understatement. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (such as a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running). In addition to that, it’s also recommended that strength training exercises are done for all major muscle groups at least 2 times per week. In general, it is recommended that you aim for approximately 30 minutes of physical activity per day, and that’s just in order to maintain your health and well being. It is possible that those numbers will all have to be increased depending on your goals.
In the past, most golfers did not associate fitness with playing a direct role in improving their golf game. Luckily, things have changed in recent years, however, there are still a lot of misconceptions. One question that we often get is “so is it just like a lot of stretching and core work?”. The simple answer is no. Of course, mobility and core strength is a portion of each one of our programs, but we can’t forget about making sure we hit the minimum requirements of physical activity as well. The reason that strength training is recommended is – as the name suggests – to improve strength. However, many people fear that getting “too strong” will ruin their golf game. There is no such thing as getting “too strong”. The biggest concern that people have is that they won’t be able to move the same way once they start packing on muscle. If you ask anyone that has ever tried to “pack on muscle”, it’s not an easy task. It takes a ridiculous amount of training and absolutely perfect eating. Lifting heavy weights 2 times a week will not make it tough for you to move, provided that you have a well rounded program that also includes mobility work. That means that for every “pushing” exercise you do, you should also include the opposing “pulling” exercise. You should also try to work through a variety of different types of movements, such as: Push and Pull (both horizontal and vertical), Level Change (squat), Gait (lunge or agility), Hip Hinge (deadlift variations), and Rotation.
In addition to helping you get stronger, basic strength training exercises can help your body learn how to move better. Learning how to properly execute a pushup, row, squat, or deadlift will not only increase your strength, but will teach you to have much more awareness of where your body is in space (proprioception) and help you understand how to make your body move properly in different ways. This is an often overlooked, but very important piece to helping make you a better golfer. The more awareness you have of your body, will increase your potential to learn new movements in the golf swing. The more awareness you have, the higher the likelihood of being able to close the gap of “feel vs real”. Additionally, the stronger and more conditioned you are, the greater the likelihood you will maintain a high level of play throughout the round. We have all experienced a solid stretch of 13 or 14 holes, only to get tired and fall apart down the stretch. In that case, physically preparing your body for 18 holes of golf can help you finish your round just as much as grooving a solid golf swing.
So let’s take a look at what an appropriate exercise program would look like for the average golfer. Everyone is different, but here is a sample program that we have used in the past and have found works very well:
Monday: Strength training, including some basic pushing, pulling, and lower body exercises. Some corrective exercise to target areas found to be needing attention during the physical screen. Some light power exercises, and some minor motor pattern (golf swing) learning.
Tuesday: Strength training focused on learning new movement patterns in the golf swing. A combination of exercises that activate the correct muscles, facilitate a proper movement, then resist the proper movement so your body can learn to correctly execute the new motion.
Wednesday: Light activity such as an active stretching/recovery day or some cardio. This would also be a great day to take the new movement patterns that you worked on and try to recreate similar feelings in your actual golf swing.
Thursday: Strength training similar to Monday, with the main difference being a focus on different muscle groups.
Friday: Stability and Mobility work. Yoga or Pilates is an excellent option, although a variety of active stretches and static holds can also be extremely effective.
Weekend: Play golf and try to stay active. The goal is to spend approximately 30 minutes a day being active, so a round of golf should make that very doable.
Please note, this is just a sample program, but it is an excellent template to not only get the most out of your golf game, but it will also improve your energy levels as well as your overall health and well-being.