What Goes Into a Golf Training Program?
I’m sure you have at least one golfing goal this year, whether it is to stop your slice, lower your handicap, hit the ball farther, or maybe hit more greens in regulation.
Maybe the goal is more related to such things as to play more golf, practice more, or have a better attitude on the course.
Whatever the goal is, I can guarantee that being more fit will help you attain your goal. I think it is obvious that golf fitness can help with the first set of goals, but what about the second set?
Being more fit will reduce the chance of injury, allow you to stay focused on the range, and even reduce stress during a round that causes you to get frustrated or angry with yourself.
I believe more and more people are seeing that fitness has a place in golf.
Don’t Choose Random Exercises
The biggest mistake you can make is to choose random exercises off the internet or out of a golf magazine.
That doesn’t make it right for you; I guess I need to add a disclaimer to those posts.
You need a golf fitness plan.
A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
An excellent golf training program is a sequence of phases or facets that should be followed to maximize the effects of a golf training program.
The golf training program facets are:
- Joint Stability
Before we explain each of the facets, I would like to offer you a free guide! The guide is called 11 Steps to a Successful Golf Fitness Program.
The steps I refer to are different than the facets in this article. Although a few of the steps are the same, such as assessment & corrections, they are at a different scale. The steps in the guide are to be included in each of the facets.
The guide is an easy to read 5-page pdf that contains tips to help you with your golf training program. To have the guide delivered to your inbox click the button below.
Why Facet and Not Phase or Steps
Many trainers refer to the portions of a fitness program as phases or steps. I prefer the word facet because they can exist in multiple planes at once, while phases and steps are usually linear or progressive.
In your golf training program, you can still be doing corrections for your shoulders while strengthening your core or legs. I also believe that you should be continuously assessing your movement patterns and therefore, you never leave that phase or progress beyond that step.
Without a doubt golf training programs progress but the progression doesn’t occur until a threshold, or a pre-determined goal is reached.
Gemstone facets refract light at critical angles that make the gem sparkle. The critical angle depends on the angle of the cut, the properties of the gemstone, or the angle the light hits each facet.
This is how I see a golf training program for individuals. There are many aspects to consider, such as nutrition, gym IQ, fitness level, and their goal. All of these factors change the critical angle of the progression in the golf training program. These progressive changes evolve throughout the duration of the program.
These are the reasons I call the each progression a facet.
Before any golf training program is developed it is important to do an assessment.
Ideally, this assessment is a physical screen to assess mobility, stability and movement. However, a swing assessment can also be used and followed up with some physical screens for further clarification.
I have discussed why assessments are necessary in the following article, 6 Reasons Why Help From a Golf Fitness Professional is Important.
The purpose of an assessment is to identify any physical limitations that are causing swing characteristics. Remember you can’t swing like a professional golfer until you can move like a professional golfer.
Physical limitations don’t allow you to place the club in the correct positions during the swing. That is why they need to be eliminated.
In a golf training program, limitations are called dysfunctions. For instance, if the assessment finds a lead hip internal rotation dysfunction most likely you have a hard time turning your hips toward the target during your follow through.
Eliminating the dysfunction will allow you rotate more freely during your follow through and increase your swing speed.
Without an assessment, it would be hard to tell why your hips aren’t rotating, it could be a myriad of issues.
If You’re Not Assessing, You’re Guessing.
The first facet of any golf training program is to assess your movement patterns. But it goes a step further, a good fitness professional is always assessing a client, when they walk into the gym, as they warm up, and as they go through their workout.
Assessment is a never ending process.
Once the assessment has identified limitations, they need to be corrected.
Never add strength to a dysfunction.
Loading weight or force onto a joint that doesn’t have its full range of motion is risky.
Risks include injury and possibly pain in adjacent joints that have to compensate for the reduced range of motion.
A prime golf example of pain in an adjacent joint is lower back pain. Often the cause of lower back pain at the end of the round is the lack of upper back or hip rotation. The force of the golf swing is transferred to the lower back when it has to rotate to compensate for the lack of rotation elsewhere.
The lack of flexibility is most often caused by a mobility issue. The muscle has become shorter (tight) because the associated joint lacks range of motion to lengthen (loosen) the muscle during normal movement.
Once mobility to the joint is restored, the associated muscles will gain their normal flexibility back.
Stability often thought of as strength, is the ability of muscles to hold joints (read Mobility and Stability Patterns as Related to Golf Fitness) in the correct positions during movement. Even though stability is technically the ability of a joint to remain in the correct location, to me it is a strength term.
An example of a stability dysfunction would be if you couldn’t hold your upper body stable while rotating your hips, or vice verse. It is important in the golf swing to separate movement in the upper and lower body. Not being able to hold your upper body still would be a stability issue and that would need to be corrected before adding any rotational exercises to the golf training program.
It is not necessary to correct all dysfunctions before moving on to the next facet. If you have shoulder limitations, you can move forward with the lower body pre-strength facet while still correcting shoulder dysfunctions.
Where You Should Concentrate Your Efforts
Of all facets, the assessment and corrections are the most important. Being able to move correctly will give you more bang for the buck than any other facet in the process. In a close third comes core strength.
So concentrate on getting yourself assessed and having an exercise correction program developed for your limitations.
Joint Stability Facet
In this golf training program facet, it is time to prepare the body to lift some weight.
But we don’t want to jump right into it. We need to prepare your joints, ligaments, and tendons for the work to come.
Exercises will focus on putting the joints in the proper position to resist movement under load.
This facet is fairly short, 6 to 10 workouts with a lot of variety to the exercises.
You will also work on core muscles by doing anti-rotational exercises.
This group of exercises is fast paced and more like circuits used in CrossFit.
Time to lift some weights, or at least, pull on some resistance bands.
The purpose of this facet is obvious, it is time to gain some strength and lean muscle mass.
Don’t think of body builder physiques, you will never look like that.
It cracks me up when people, especially women, say that they don’t want to lift weights and bulk up.
Do you know how much work and dedication it takes to gain muscle like that?
Think athletic looking more like Gary Woodland than Lou Ferrigno.
The exercises in this facet are the standard weight lifting types, the push, pulls, and lifts (assuming your shoulders are corrected) with your feet on the ground.
Yes, these exercises can be done with resistance bands, but I would rather see you lift iron. Progression comes much faster using iron, and the lifting movements need to be more precise, which is what you want.
The strength facet in your golf training program will start light and move to heavy loads.
The purpose is to build healthy lean muscle, especially the quads, glutes, and lats. This facet will also work the core without having to do any core specific exercises.
Time to reduce some of the load and work on moving weights with some speed. This is a gradual decline and many of the exercises are the same as in the strength facet but the purpose is to start moving the weights faster.
Ideally, we add in light Olympic style lifts to start building quick multi-joint movement patterns. But this will depend on your gym IQ and facilities. That said, clean & jerks can be done with broomsticks if necessary.
Some of the power type exercises are also introduced in this facet, such as med ball slams, projectile exercises, and box jumps. All with light weights to get the body use to moving mass with speed.
Little to no rotation exercises are included in this facet, that will be added later.
This facet you will concentrate on moving mass with speed. Whether that mass is a medicine ball, your own body, or weights.
Lighter weights work better as you can move them faster.
Besides weights, one day a week you should do sprints. Find a soccer pitch or football field and run as fast as you can starting in quarter field increments. So the first week or two you will sprint 1/4 of the field as fast as you can run, then walk back. Do this for 15 or 20 minutes. Add distance as time progresses, and increase the time to 30 minutes once you are running farther.
The exercises in this facet are diverse and fun. They should include some Olympic lifts, med ball slams, med ball throws, golf swings, med ball throws with rotation, cable or resistance band rotations, deadlifts, pushups, pullups, power lunges, 180 and 360 box jumps, add in kneeling variations, etc.
All of the exercises should be done with speed while keeping proper form. Always keep proper form, that is very important.
This might piss some people off, but I tell it like I see it.
I hear fairly frequently that people don’t want to train during the golf season.
I don’t get it, why not?
Afraid of getting hurt? Not enough time? It will hurt your game?
That is a bunch of crap. Even the players on the PGA Tour train during the season and they risk millions of dollars if they get hurt.
It is either an excuse or dogma that is left over from the last century.
I would agree that you might not want to lift heavy a week or two before a tournament, but other than that get to it.
In-season training is the perfect time to work on additional corrections and speed.
Think about it, golf is a one-sided sport. You need to be assessing and doing corrections during the season to stop imbalances that form due to the golf swing.
As far as time, workouts can be as short as 15-20 minutes. Don’t tell me you can’t get two or three workouts in during the week.
You’re not going to hurt your game. Don’t talk yourself out of working out during the golf season.
Stop making excuses and work on your fitness during the season.
If you need advice give me a call and we can develop a program for you during the golf season and you will be all the better for it.
Golf training programs are dynamic and ever-evolving.
Programs don’t progress in a linear fashion, but more like light refracting in a faceted gemstone, you bounce from facet to facet depending on the input of assessments and corrections. Sometimes going backward makes more sense than moving forward.
The ultimate plan should be to progress through the program to improve your overall fitness all the while assessing and fixing imbalances and corrections as they appear.
The main takeaway should be to assess your movement patterns continuously. Always work on corrections to improve your range of motion and fix imbalances that will pop-up.
You will find that fixing the dysfunctions will improve your game more than you can believe. Adding strength and power certainly helps, but without doing corrections first extra strength and power can be detrimental to your game. The keys are identified dysfunctions,
The keys are identified dysfunctions and correcting them.
Once range of motion has improved add strength to the body and then train to increase power by increasing speed.
As you can see, it isn’t easy to develop a program because it is alway evolving, forever changing. That is why it is important to consult with a fitness professional.
I’m not saying it isn’t impossible to develop a program yourself, but you will get better results if you consult with a professional.
For more information on golf training programs download my Free guide below.