The days of golfers being portrayed as weak and unathletic are over. Golfers everywhere are hitting the gym in the quest for a healthier lifestyle and more distance off the tee. I've talked about the Five Pillars of Golf Fitness before, but here they are again:
Building strength is paramount for golfers of all skill levels. Getting a stronger upper and lower body has been shown to increase CHS by 1.5-6.3 MPH in the research. So yes, strength is important for golfers. A common misconception is that golfers will pack on muscle mass or lose flexbility/mobility once starting a strength program, negatively effecting their game. Although a basic strength routine may give you some muscle soreness (DOMS), you most likely won't get stiffer by performing a quality strengthening program.
How Strength Relates to Speed
My favorite analogy to describe this concept is that of a car. In order to go fast, a car needs a big engine with lots of horsepower. It also needs a smooth transmission and large brakes in order to stop. Strength training is attempting to build a bigger engine in your car to increase your horsepower.
Strength training is focused on utilizing muscles to produce the most amount of force possible. Speed and power are typically described as "Rate of Force Development," referring to how quickly we can develop the maximal amount of force.
Enabling a golfer to produce maximal amounts of force through strength training will unlock the potential to create speed and power.
Speed and power also need to be trained specifically in order to see the most beneficial effect. A well designed golf fitness program should address all of these qualities.
Golfers should consider a few key principles when it comes to building strength:
Training volume refers to how much work you performed during a training session. Training volume is often calcuated by multiplying the number of sets, reps, and weight lifted (Sets x reps x weight).
Golfers who are new to strength training may benefit from less training volume. The reason being is their training age is relatively low, so even a lesser amount of training stimulus can have a large effect.
Golfers who have more training experience may benefit from a higher training volume. These golfers may be able to tolerate longer, more intense training sessions.
Periodization essentially refers to how your strength training program changes over time. There are many ways to progress the difficulty of a strength training workout. For example, we can add more weight to the lift, increase the number of sets or reps, change the tempo, change the exercise... the list goes on.
Over time, your body will adapt to the current strength training routine. In order to maximize progress, the training program will need to change to promote further adaptations after a certain period of time. Golfers who are new to strength training should consider taking more time before switching up the program. This will help them to learn the movement patterns and give them more time to build strength.
Progressive Overload describes the gradual increase in stress upon the body during a strength training routine. Since the body will adapt to the stress applied to it, we need to gradually increase that amount of stress over time.
For example, if one of our goals is to squat 100 pounds and we can currently squat 10 pounds, you need to progressively squat more weight over the course of a strength training program. Maybe the next session you squat 15 pounds and the following week you're able to squat 20 pounds. You are applying the principle of progressive overload!
A well designed and periodized strength training program accounts for the above principles in order to maximize the potential to gain strength while maintaining flexibility and mobility.
Strength training is crucial for golfers looking to increase their CHS. Once beginning a strength training program, it is reasonable to start seeing gains in strength and speed in around 4-6 weeks. Making meaningful progress takes time, so try to make strength training a consistent part of your routine!
Want to learn more? Click here and start a 6-week program on how to maximize speed and distance, plus accuracy and control.