Just recently I was on a weekend “Ryder Cup” trip with a bunch of my college buddies; 23 of them to be exact. So as you can imagine, the weekend wasn’t the epitome of health and fitness.
But in between the expected beers and bar food (yes even us fitness professionals let loose every now and then to enjoy a few wobbly pops and a burger and fries!), I was having a conversation with a very good friend of mine about his golf fitness program.
This friend (we’ll call him JP, which is not his real name, simply to protect him from ridicule from the rest of my buddies that we’re on this trip!) has gotten hooked on golf over the last few years. He’s probably close to a 10 Handicap and explained that he very much wants his workouts to benefit his golf game.
So naturally, I asked, “what do your workouts look like now?”
His answer kind of shocked me.
When JP began explaining to me the basics of his program, I looked at him and compassionately responded with “Really? Are you shi***** me?”
(Remember, we are really good friends on a golf trip hanging out at the bar around midnight after 27 holes of golf. My apologies, but I’m pretty sure that was my real response.)
The reason I was so shocked is that he gave me a response that is almost stereotypical for a golfer. It’s the same answer that many of my new clients have given me, which I have to correct right from the start. It kind of surprised me that a guy like this, who is 36, in good shape, and has an athletic background, was this misinformed.
So what was his answer?
He told me . . .
“I’m definitely a ‘reps’ guy. I usually stay around the 15 reps mark with lighter weights because I’m not looking to get big . . .”
“Most of my lower body exercises are done with body weight only, because I don’t want to hurt myself . . . In fact I don’t do much for my legs at all . . .”
“I feel like it’s really important to work my arms and chest before I go out and play . . .”
WRONG, WRONG, and WRONG.
Each of these previous statements made me cringe a little. If you read them and thought “what’s wrong with those? That’s what I do,” then I’m really glad you’re here.
All 3 of those are common mistakes that the average golfer makes. In fact, they are almost the opposite of what most of my programs consist of.
JP, if you’re reading this, you know I love you and you are one of my best friends. So I hope you don’t mind me sharing this conversation. In fact, we should all thank JP, because his responses made me realize that there really is a need for this website and our podcast (check out the podcast here).
In fact, it’s this exact misguided information that inspired me to write the book that I am finishing up called “The Guide to a Bogey Proof Workout: The 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in Your Golf Fitness Program”. (Edit: The book has been published, you can find it here!)
If a guy like JP, who is fit, athletic, and reads a lot in the golf department hasn’t figured out that these philosophies are not the best course of action to really improve your strength, fitness and power for your golf game, then there must be a lot more guys out there that need some guidance.
Naturally, after I explained to JP that I would make some changes to his program if I were working with him, he wanted to know what he should do.
Our conversation went on a little too long to recap all of it here, but the cliff notes version of my comments are as follows . . .
- “[If I were you, I would focus more on your legs than anything. Most golfers neglect their legs and the fact that the legs are the powerhouse of the swing . . .
- I would change up the reps. Don’t always do 15. While that’s alright sometimes, you’re not going to build a lot of strength if you’re always doing 15 reps. Change it up. Sometimes I have my clients do as little as 3-6 reps depending on what we are trying to do with the current program . . .
- There is very little need to do any biceps and triceps work for a golf program. If you’re doing other good pushing and pulling exercises (ie. Dumbbell presses, pull-ups, etc) you will work your biceps and triceps plenty. You should only work them when you want to show off your arms at the pool!]”
Of course, after these comments, he was a little disappointed and confused. He thought he was doing all of the right things, and here I was telling him he was doing it all wrong.
Call me a jerk, but I was just trying to help.
And unfortunately, that wasn’t the time or place to go into detail on a real program and what exercises he could be doing to really make a difference in his game.
Golf Fitness Fundamentals to Get You Started Right
When I got home from the weekend, I got to thinking that you are probably a lot like JP. You have good intentions of getting in better shape for your golf game, but may not have been given good information.
And like JP, it may not be convenient for you to find and make an appointment with an experienced fitness professional that can give you a personalized program.
But, that’s why you’re here right? Absolutely.
And just like I feel as though it’s my obligation to JP to provide him with the right info to get him started in the right direction, I feel the same obligation to you.
In order to do that let’s look at some fundamentals that you can implement into your golf fitness program right away. These are all things that I think about when creating a program for a new client.
- First things first, think injury prevention. If you get hurt exercising, you have defeated the whole purpose of your workout. Always weight the risk factors of the exercises you choose to include.
- Always have a plan written out; don’t wing it.
- Work the pushing and pulling motions for both the upper body and lower body. Balance is key.
- Always include some exercises for the upper back, shoulders, and rotator cuff somewhere in your weekly program, these are often neglected.
- All of your exercises should be done through full range of motion (ROM) to promote both strength and flexibility.
- Every exercise needs to be done with perfect posture.
- Don’t be afraid to use some real weight, safely of course.
I could go on with many more “fundamentals,” but I don’t want to overwhelm you. If you follow these, you’re golf fitness program will already be better than 90% of the people you see in the gym.
Don’t fall into the trap that the exercises of your golf fitness program have to look like a golf swing or are simply flexibility exercises.
The main focus should be on moving through your motions properly and building a strong foundation of strength, coordination, and control in all areas. All of this will improve your posture, balance, and power, making you a more consistent and durable golfer.
Remember, this is simply a beginner’s list to get you started. I am working on a much more detailed book that will be out soon explaining how to avoid common mistakes that you might be making, so be on the look out for when it becomes available.
Let me know if this article was helpful and if you have any follow-up questions from the info above. Let’s get you on the right track.
Cheers! And thanks for reading.