By James Smith
With participation in Golf seemingly on the rise and with a keen interest myself, I thought I would provide some of my views in which weight training can help with your golf game.
Before we start, let me lay out my credentials. I have a club handicap of 12 (mainly due to limited participation in club tournaments and matches due to work commitments) but regularly play to 8 or lower.
I’m also a competitive u90kg Strongman, meaning I compete with the aim to prove myself against the strongest men in the country that weigh 90kg or less. As anyone I’ve played with will attest to, my golf strength’s lay mainly in the distance I can hit the golf ball (when it goes straight!) I do have aspirations of getting down to as close to a scratch handicap as possible but with my business in the position it is currently, this may have to wait a few more years.
I have trained many clients with a keen interest in golf but one of the most relative is one of the professionals at Sandford Springs, Ben Curtis. Here’s what he had to say:
“After working with James for only a couple of weeks, I noticed a marked improvement in my posture and flexibility. This enabled me to reduce some lower back fatigue which tends to creep in sometimes later in my round but most pleasingly, seemed to add a couple of yards to my longer clubs, most noticeably with my driver”.
I believe there is a huge correlation between the weights room and improving performance and predominately driving distance on the golf course. I could trawl through the internet and tell you what Tiger Woods supposedly benches or what Lee Westwood can curl etc but truth is, there is not a ton of reliable information and I believe there are a lot of fallacies behind gym work for golfers.
One of the main problems is that it’s possible to be a fantastic golfer with no gym experience. Does this mean that it’s not relevant? Does it also mean that with a little extra performance orientated training it couldn’t make you a better golfer?
The core is a force transducer, not producer which means it’s not capable of producing much of it’s own force. The core helps to transfer force from the upper body to lower body or visa versa. Therefore twists, sit ups, squatting on one leg whilst doing bicep curls (some of the videos you can find on YouTube are ridiculous) and anything else in between will not create enough adaption for you to hit a golf ball with more power.
Mark Coles (of M10 Performance) put up a great video recently, which explained about how there are a ton of myths surrounding ‘the core’. These are especially true within the game of golf and constantly perpetuated amongst well known magazines and enthusiasts alike.
Here are some the thing’s that I think that are most important for golf.
1. Flexibility and posture
“If you don’t use it, you will lose it my friend”. Wise words spoken from Ido Portal, world renowned movement coach. Although some of his teaching’s don’t apply specifically to golf, the basis behind his words still hold true.
I get to play with a lot of different people, one of the main thing I notice is that the general shot of choice tends to be a fade (or slice…!). Technical coaching aside (there are far better people than me to analyse your golf game) one of the main problems tends to be flexibility of the shoulder. With most peoples posture (due to habits of every day life) we see a common position of:
– Forward head
– Rounded shoulders
– Weak upper and lower back
– Tight abdominals
These will all contribute to limited movement when drawing the golf club back. Without careful assessment it’s impossible to design a bespoke stretching and weights programme but listed at the bottom are a few basic exercises that can help everyone. Basic premise; stretch what is tight, strengthen what is weak.
The most important muscle for power?
Back in 2008, I was lucky enough to study under Strength Coach and former Olympic Luge athlete, Andre Benoit. He was a keen golfer and explained that the most important muscle to improve golf performance is the Lats (Lattisimus Dorsi), the large back muscle that essentially connects the upper and lower extremity.
Even if you disagree about how important a role a particular muscle group may play, I’m not sure many would disagree that generally being stronger and having a more effiicient central nervous system would harm your performance in any way. Instead of doing 2 x 1 hour sessions per week based around your core, why not include some larger compound lifts to focus on getting stronger. Chin ups/Pull ups, varying forms of rows, Deadlifts etc.
12 Week Programme
Below is a basic programme designed to fit the initial needs of most golfers. It lists exercises that are easy to find and perform along with the sets, reps, tempo (speed at which they should be performed) and rest periods. If you don’t know how to perform an exercise or would like more help understanding the structure, please email email@example.com.
Weeks 1-3 (Structural Phase 1)
A1 One Arm DB Row, Neutral Grip (4 x 10-12, 2012, 60s)
A2 Flat DB Flyes, Ext Rot Hands (4 x 10-12, 2210, 60s)
B1 Seated Row to Neck, Cable Rope Attachment (3 x 12-15, 2011, 45s)
B2 Seated DB External Rotation (3 x 10-12, 3010, 45s)
C1 Bent Over Trap 3 (3 x 10-12, 3011, 45s)
C2 Flat Powell Raise (3 x 10-12, 3010, 45s)
Weeks 4-6 (Structural Phase 2)
A1 One Arm DB Row, Pronated Grip (4 x 7-9, 2012, 60s)
A2 Decline DB Flyes, Ext Rot Hands (4 x 7-9, 2210, 60s)
B1 Seated Row to Nose, Cable Rope Attachment (3 x 10-12, 2011, 45s)
B2 Seated DB External Rotation (3 x 8-10, 3010, 45s)
C1 Bent Over Trap 3 (3 x 6-8, 3011, 45s)
C2 Flat Powell Raise (3 x 6-8, 3010, 45s)
Weeks 7-9 (Functional Hypertrophy)
A1 Neutral, Mid-Grip Chin Up (6 x 2-4, 3111, 90s)
A2 Flat Neutral DB Press (6 x 4-5, 3111, 90s)
B Supinated Mid-Grip Lat Pulldown (4 x 6-8, 4010, 75s)
C1 Cable External Rotation, Low Elbow ( 3 x 8-10, 4010, 45s)
C2 Bi-Lateral Bent Over Trap 3 (3 x 8-10, 3011, 45s)
Weeks 10-12 (Relative Strength)
A1 Pronated, Mid-Grip Pull Up (8 x 2-3, 5010, 100s)
A2 30′ Incline Neutral DB Press (8 x 2-3, 5010, 100s)
B Pronated Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown (4 x 5-7, 4010, 75s)
C1 Cable External Rotation, Low Elbow ( 3 x 6-8, 4010, 45s)
C2 Bi-Lateral Bent Over Trap 3 (3 x 6-8, 3011, 45s)
A capable Personal Trainer should be easily able to talk you through this basic routine and demonstrate any exercises you are unsure of. This programme should help to improve your shoulder health and posture dramatically, as well as increasing your overall strength, especially of your lats.
Hopefully this article has been of some help or at very least has been thought provoking and challenged your current beliefs in relation to what can be achieved by linking gym performance and your swing. For any more information regarding this article or training in general, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.