For many of us, the the cold weather is on its way and the sticks are being pretty much packed up for the winter. It’s a sad time of year, knowing that the sunny days may be few and far between with little hope of getting back out on the links anytime soon.
But this doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. In fact, most of the better players I work with actually look forward to this time of year for several reasons.
- They are ready for a break after a long season.
- Their body needs some time to rest and recover.
- They know how beneficial their off-season is to the success of their performance next year.
- It gives them time to get the body in order and work on any changes they need to make.
Developing a training program can be very complicated. In fact, I would venture to say that the average person has know idea how detailed and well thought out a professional athletes training program can be (which may include everything from measuring their brain activity and heart rate before each workout to see what kind of training they should do that day, to having sensors on the barbells to know how fast each rep was performed to determine power output).
These details can make or break a training program with the highest level athletes, but in most cases, I find these complicated tactics to be way too much info for the average person. And in my experience, when things get too complicated, confusion sets in.
Sometimes simplification can create the most effective plan of attack, which is what I want to do for you today.
Before going any further, I have to throw in a quick disclaimer here. If you are serious about becoming a golfer at the highest level (collegiate and above) this website will provide you with some of the best information, but WILL NOT get you where you want to go! If you are truly SERIOUS, I suggest you find someone that can work specifically with you and your needs to create a plan for success. (But, of course, keep reading the website!)
Now, with that being said and keeping in mind the the intent of simplifying things for you, here is the “formula” for the greatest off-season you’ve ever had:
Rest –> Recuperate –> Rebuild –> Refocus
Ok, I guess it’s not really a “formula” per se, but the word “formula” is way cooer than “steps” or “progression” so that’s what I’m going with. Nonetheless, in this article I will briefly break down each of these for you. In future articles, I will expand even more on each one to give some more in depth suggestions and specific exercises to help you along.
As a golfer, the fall and winter months are typically going to be the best time to get some real work done in the gym. Since most of us have some sort of seasonal changes, the weather forces us inside after a long and grueling season. For many of you, that season has involved lots of tournaments, for others just lots of rounds of golf. Either way, the body is ready for a little rest.
The term “rest” is used loosely here, but I don’t want you to think of “rest” as inactivity. What I mean here is for you to take a break from the clubs, and even the weights. If you’ve really had a very active season and have been doing some training throughout, take a break. If you’re constantly thinking about golf, working out for golf, and reading about golf, STOP.
I usually encourage my players that have been on the road to take a few weeks out of the gym. Go do some other kind of physical activities to mix it up if you choose. Some suggestions might be hiking, swimming (indoors for most), yoga, whatever. Just nothing too intense that will stress out the body.
And probably the most important piece in the “rest” phase (and actually in all phases) is to literally get some rest. In other words get some SLEEP.
It is a proven fact that sleep is a major contributor to our level of performance, muscle development, brain power, decision making, and overall health. Nothing helps the body recover more than sleep. Do whatever you have to do to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
The term “recuperate,” in my mind means to “heal, rejuvenate, correct, get back to normal.” After a season of breaking down your body, and primarily swinging in one direction, the body is usually a little banged up and out of whack.
After taking a little break to chill out and let the body settle down, it’s time to start working. This doesn’t mean you have to jump right into the gym to hit the weights, though. In fact, I suggest you still hold off for a week or 2 to work on correcting some of the issues that you’ve created over the season.
If you have any nagging injuries or pains, now is the time to get them checked out by your doc, therapist, chiro, etc.
If a medical practitioner is not needed, then this usually means working on some basic mobility/flexibility exercises as well as some stabilization work to make sure everything is moving properly and the muscles are activating the way you want them to.
Some of the biggest issues I usually see are;
- Hamstring tightness
- Poor hip rotation
- Poor trunk rotation
- Hip flexor tightness
- Bad shoulder posture and Range of Motion
- imbalances between the left and right sides
If you know what your issues are, start working on them. If you don’t, then it’s time to find someone that can assess you and figure them out. (Again, I will have a couple of follow up articles that will go into a little more detail and give you some direction).
Now is the fun part. Getting back in the gym to work on your strength deficits and some of the things that you naturally lost over the course of the season. This is when you can focus on lifting some weight, and adding some mass (if needed) or cutting some fat.
Depending on how your year went, you may need to bulk up a bit, or “de-bulk,” if you know what I mean. Either way, know what your short and long term goals are in the gym, so you can start chipping away at them.
- Lower Reps are geared more toward power and strength (3-6 reps/set)
- Mid-Range Reps are geared more toward increasing mass (6-12 reps/set)
- High Range Reps are geared more toward muscle endurance and fat loss (12-20 reps/set)
As a side note, don’t be afraid of the lower rep, heavier weights. In many situations (if you are healthy and have good movement) these schemes are going to be more beneficial in the off season as golf is more of a quick burst, power driven sport, not an endurance sport.
Now, in theory, once you have cleaned up most if not all of your movement issues and flexibility hiccups, and started to balance out the body with your strengthening program, it’s time to start thinking about next season. If you truly have made the progress that you wanted in the mobility and strength areas, now you can start thinking about power and speed.
But if those other areas are still of a concern, there is no sense moving forward to a lot of power and explosive type exercises. Think of it this way, if your bike had a crooked rim or loose nut holding your back wheel on, would you want to take it on an all terrain downhill sprint? Probably not, you’d be worried that that sucker would wobble and fall off, causing certain injury, right?
Same thing in with your body. If the the parts aren’t moving right or aren’t stable enough to support necessary function, you probably shouldn’t throw it into overdrive. Keep working on fixing stuff and balancing yourself out with the strength and flexibility work. It may not be as sexy, but it’ll be better in the long run.
Now is also the time to start practicing again. Maybe that’s just hitting in a net to get some reps in or finding a place to chip and putt, but start dusting off some of those clubs before your first member guest or opening day.
Next Season Starts Today
As in most aspects of life, having a plan of attack will get you were you want to be much faster and easier. Don’t fall into the trap of hibernating this winter and finally getting into the gym next march when you realize you’ll be swinging the clubs soon.
Start now. You’ll thank me next year when you are 3 months ahead of your buddies (and likely 10 yards longer off the tee!)
p.s. Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you made it all the way to the end here, I know you are pretty serious about getting better. I’m here to help. If you have a question, or a suggestion for something you’d like covered in a future article, just ask in the comments below.