Cardio and Golf – Why you should be doing it!

In most non-gofer’s eyes, golf is a ‘sport’ for overweight, middle-aged business men. What isn’t realised is that to truly play good golf, you do actually need at least a base level of fitness and conditioning. Looking at the tour, golfers nowadays really are athletes. And there’s good reason for it, strength and power help with distance and core strength and stability help build a solid swing. cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance are often neglected however and I think they are just as important.

I think that almost all golfers know the feeling of loosing concentration late on in a round, most would put it down to the ‘mental’ side of the game needing some work. It is much more closely linked with fitness however, when you are physically tiring it’s a huge challenge to stay focused. Not to mention make solid repeatable swings. 

The good thing about training for cardiovascular fitness is the sheer amount of exercise choice out there, you can literally do almost anything active. I personally used running just because I really enjoyed it but you could use cycling, swimming, any of the cardio machines at the gym, or other sports that you enjoy like football for example. You can also vary the way you train;

High intensity interval training – short bursts of high effort followed by short rest periods and repeated for a set amount of cycles.

Low intensity steady state training – as it says in the name, steady state, so no high effort periods and no rest periods, just a constant effort.

Whatever exercises you choose and however you choose to train them, you will greatly benefit from it. Feeling fresh through a full 18 holes, physically and mentally is garanteed to help your scores!

4 Power Exercises For Golf You Need to Start Doing Today!

So many golfers ask me the same thing “how can I gain distance” usually they are just talking about their driver but the benefit of more power is felt throughout the bag, I mean, who wouldn’t rather hit an 8 iron from 150 yards as apposed to a 6 iron? And a solid drive that gets you inside that 150 yard marker more regularly will definitely help with scoring!  My usual response is that my power has come not from the driving range but from the gym, training designed specifically with power in mind. Here are my top 4 excercises to get you really crushing those drives!

1. Squats


Already I can imagine you wincing! If you play any sport where power and stability are needed and you don’t squat, you are missing out big time. Squats build complete lower body and posterior chain (back, glutes and hamstrings) strength and stability and they effectively train your core. If you look at the longest hitters in the world they all have a ‘squatting’ motion in their downswing which allows them to store huge power from the ground which they explode through impact. Practice your squats and you will have the same feeling. 

2. Push Press


A push press is basically a barbell over-head press where you get the rest of your body involved, a slight bend in the knees and exploding the bar above your head. Not only does this effectively train all three parts of the deltoid (shoulder) and your triceps but it builds full body explosive power! Building power from the ground up, sound familiar? Swing instructors tell you this all the time ‘start from the ground up’ well this builds serious power output literally from the ground up to the bar above your head. A no brainer when trying to gain those precious yards!
3. Deadlift


The deadlift effectively trains your whole body. It’s a tough lift which should be performed with good form. This helps you generate power because it is a heavy lift which starts from a dead stop, literally a ‘dead’ lift! When you can lift a decent amount of weight from this stationary position you will have built some serious power producing muscles and motor patterns. Remember that power comes from your ability to use the ground effectively, in the deadlift if you don’t use the ground effectively, the bar simply won’t budge! Get deadlifting, go as heavy as possible with good form.

4. Box Jumps


Box jumps are the best way to multiply all that strength that you have built with the previous exercises into some seriously explosive power. Learning how to thrust your own body as powerfully as possible away from the ground will allow you to really explode through impact and use every ounce of that power you stored on the downswing. Start off low with these and when you have the correct sequencing build up to higher and higher boxes.

That’s it, my top 4 excercises you need to start doing if you are serious about increasing your yardages. All these movements build the main components to added club head speed; power, strength, stability and explosiveness! Add  them to your existing workouts or simply perform all 4 together in a workout for some serious gains! 

Check out my new E-book over at methodgolf.co.uk it covers golf workouts and exercises to aid performance. It gives you the knowledge to build your own solid, golf specific workouts tailored to your needs or try the ready designed workouts in the book!

Finding Your ‘Natural’ Golf Shot

Some of you will be shouting at me ‘I know my natural shot and I don’t like it one bit!’ Hold on and hear me out. I was exactly the same, I had a high draw which loved to turn into a hook and was ridiculously hard to keep under the wind. I continuously fought it and got unbelievably frustrated! One day, after one of the scrappiest rounds where I just tried everything not to hit that high draw (listening to myself now I can see how stupid that sounds) I decided that enough was enough and would spend as long as necessary on the range to learn a cut shot. What actually ended up happening that afternoon on the range was far more productive.

As the range session began I decided to just embrace my ‘natural’ swing to find out what I was up against. I took dead aim at the 150 yard marker and hit 10 balls with no swing thoughts whatsoever, I didn’t fight a single thing in my swing. I made sure to loosen my arms and hands and just go with it. what I found was that every single shot was a high draw and landed around 10 – 12 yards left of the marker. I was astounded and decided to hit more, ball after ball landed predictably left of the target, some were slightly further left and some were slightly straighter but they all nestled in a bunch no wider than 5 yards. I suddenly thought to myself ‘why have I been fighting this!’ 

It was a real eye opener, when I had no swing thoughts and embraced what came naturally I could hit a solid repeatable shot, the route of all my poor shots was fighting that natural swing! My pre round warmup now consists of hitting around 10 – 15 balls with no swing thoughts other than ‘relax’ and making a mental note of the amount of draw. 

The very next round I played after that afternoon on the range was the best for at least 6 months. I didn’t fight a single swing and hit some great shots. From then on I loved my natural shot. My advice to you is to love yours too, work out your natural shape in the same way I did and play with it, just for one round, I promise you will hit your targets much more often. In my opinion it’s the best route to consistency.

Love your natural swing and have a great day!

Explosive Workouts For A Powerful Swing

Today at the gym, I decided on my topic for this post, workouts designed to increase your strength and power! I mean, who doesn’t want a powerful golf swing?! It’s a fun topic, I love giving it a good ‘bash’. I’ve been blessed with height and long arms, a huge bonus when trying to increase club head speed. Even so, I have drastically increased my power and club head speed through clever workouts in the past couple of years and now I regularly bash it out there well over 300 yards, a serious help on long par 4s and reaching par 5s in 2 shots. One other bonus, not always factored is the ability to have shorter clubs into greens, if you can gain a club of difference over a period of time and go from hitting a 6iron from 150 yards to a 7iron you will usually find your greens in regulation will increase too!

Now, with so many benefits you must be thinking ‘yes, I will take some!’ But here comes the kicker, it takes some dedication and hard work to achieve. You don’t have to be a member at a gym, there are home workouts that achieve great results too. For now I will discuss workouts at the gym but stay with me as the info in this post applies to home workouts too, I will write a dedicated post for home workouts in the near future

The main aim of your workouts.

The main aim of these workouts is to move a moderately heavy weight as quickly as possible on the concentric portion (the actual lifting of a weight) what this does is stimulate fast twitch muscle fibres (for muscle growth) and train your motor units to fire more effectively (increase strength and power). The explosive movements should be compound exercises meaning the exercise should be multi-joint (e.g. Squat uses hips, knees and to an extent ankles) this means the exercises will train multiple muscles in one movement and are the best for improving neural efficiency (the amount of muscles recruited by signals from the brain and the speed that those muscles can be recruited)

Now we have got the complex stuff out of the way lets get down to the fun bit, actually performing some exercises and forming workouts! This will be a brief intro to actual workouts and I will do a more Indepth article of specific workouts. My training philosophy is that full body workouts work best for me, you may feel otherwise and that’s completely fine, it’s personal preference how often you train and full body allows you to train more frequently. In a basic full body workout I would include:

Some kind of squat and/or deadlift

Some kind of shoulder exercise

Some kind of upper back exercise

Another pushing exercise for chest

Some arm work just for fun! 

An example workout of mine:

Each set you should find the 10th rep quite challenging and if you did 1 or 2 more you would fail.

Barbell squat – 3 sets of 10 reps

Barbell over head press – 3 sets of 10 reps

Barbell bent over row – 3 sets of 10 reps

Bench press – 3 sets of 10 reps

Dumbbell curl – 3 sets of 15 reps

I would perform this same workout 2-3 times a week (with at least one day between for recovery)

One of the most important things to strive for is to progress in terms of the weight used in each exercise, whenever you feel confident that you can, add weight. Small incriments work best. I will go into more complex methods of progression in later posts.

This basic template will build full body strength and power! Guaranteed to help your golf swing feel more tight and powerful.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YOgl8trsjFk
Above is a link to snippets of my latest workout, sorry for the poor editing and quality, I will be putting more effort into YouTube in the coming months.

Have a go at this workout or put the principles outlined here into your own plan, you won’t regret it….and may even have a few eagle puts!

Keep getting stronger and have a great day!

Do You Need a Golf Lesson?

So do you? If I was to ask you to determine if you need a lesson or not, what would you say? And what would you base your answer on? Most average golfers would respond with ‘yes’ and ‘because I hit *insert bad shot and I can’t hit *insert good shot’ What most average golfers seem to think is that because they can’t hit a towering 300 yard drive with a hint of draw, they need a lesson.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I believe in having golf lessons, they should be a critical part of every golfers improvement plans (some natural talent excluded e.g. Bubba!) but I feel people think of them in the wrong way. If I asked you to hit a target say 150 yards away, and you have a ‘natural’ (I will tell you my take on natural in just a mo!) fade but take dead aim and miss on the right (right handed golfer) then you might say you need a lesson to iron out that miss, in my eyes however you should simply aim for that ‘natural’ fade and hit target way more consistently instead of fighting it. The best golfers in the world play to their natural strengths, why shouldn’t you?

A solid golfer is one that can repeat their swing over and over especially in pressure situations, that sounds like a lot to ask when a golfer is constantly wrestling with their ‘natural’ motion. This golfer would be much better served honing their ‘natural’ swing and producing predictable, repeatable shots. When this kind of game is built, taking it to the course and playing well is much easier to achieve.

Golf lessons should be used to learn and check fundamentals e.g. ball position, posture, grip etc. and I believe that regular ‘check ups’ are a very good thing especially for building consistency. Lessons are also great when a clear technical issue is preventing you from hitting certain shots e.g. ‘casting’ the club and preventing you from hitting low shots into the wind. Now you might be saying ‘hold on a sec, you just said to practice your ‘natural’ swing!’ well, these kind of lessons are best served in the off season, giving you the time to practice and ingrain any drastic changes to your swing so that it becomes your ‘natural’ motion! That’s what your ‘natural’ swing is, what you have built through repetition and practice. For the majority of the golf season I would stick mainly to the ‘check up’ lessons and build them around solid practice plans which focus on improving your scores not changing your swing, wait for the cold rainy days to do that!

In summary, golf lessons are great, get them! With the caveat of getting the right type at the right time to maximise your potential for improvement!

Play to your strengths and have a great day!

Golf Workouts – The Basics

This is just a quick overview of the basics of how workouts designed with golf in mind can really assist you in becoming a better golfer.

I love the gym, I would go even if I didn’t play golf. I know some of you will be instantly put off from reading this just hearing the word ‘gym’ and I get it, its not for everyone. This post isn’t about turning everyone into gym ‘bunnies’ (I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that’s  a valid phrase nowadays!) I just want to highlight the benefit to your game from training your body to be better in all the areas required for golf. Going to the gym is not necessary, working out at home is perfectly good and in some cases far more convenient, I have worked out at home in the past and still do when time is short.

What areas can you improve in relation to golf? 

For starters, everyone’s favourite… power! Power is made up of 2 components, 1 – Strength and 2 – Speed. Power is the speed at which strength can be applied, so to train for power you must train both components. A good example for a powerful lower body would be to build up some strength with barbell / dumbbell / bodyweight squats and then to convert that to power through box jumps or standing long jumps.

Next we have stability, a key to consistency in my eyes. Stability can be a secondary benefit of training for strength and that is a great place to start, I advocate dedicating some time to training for stability directly however. To build stability you want to focus on your core and small ‘stabiliser’ muscles (the key is in the name!) a good example for core training would be any kind of rotational abdominal exercise like a cable / band wood chop (basically holding a cable or band with straight arms in front of your chest and rotating) or performing push-ups with your feet on an exercise ball for added instability to get your whole body working.

Endurance is the next big factor to improve, playing and scoring well is difficult to maintain if you are flagging mid way through the back 9. The word ‘endurance’ normally brings images of marathon runners and tour de France cyclists to mind but we don’t need that ridiculously high level of fitness for golf and general health. In training for endurance there are a few ways to go about it, you can build cardiovascular (CV) endurance and muscular endurance, CV endurance would be built by slowly increasing variables like time / distance / effort / speed in anything from walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing etc. the list is almost endless. Muscular endurance can be built by performing more strength type exercises but for higher repetitions, say 15+. if you can add reps over time this means your strength is increasing slightly but more beneficially in this rep range your endurance is heightened, this can be beneficial on the course because you don’t want the muscles controlling your swing to tire out before the end of the round leading to inconsistency in both direction and distance.

There are many other factors that exercise can help with in relation to golf, this is just a basic overview of why I think it is a great tool when looking to improve your game. I will be working on some great new content which will outline detailed workouts for the gym and home and specific exercises with instructions and tutorials so subscribe to this blog to stay posted!

Keep improving and have a great day!

Cleaning cars and ‘swinging’ in the rain

The weather has been pretty hit and miss the last few days here in the south of England, I took this quick snap as I was leaving the course this afternoon after a windy overcast day.image

I checked the forecast and it was due to stay overcast with chances of sun! My car needed a bit of TLC due to the fact it is high gloss black and the recent weather had left it looking far from showroom condition! I was then on a mission to clean, polish and wax my car all while the temperature allowed (too hot and polish and wax are a real nightmare) needless to say I only got half way through the shampoo and it started to pour! a few ‘f’ words were thrown around before I settled and changed my goal to just getting the shampoo done and rinsed and I would be happy….for now!

This got me thinking about the way I approach rounds of golf when the conditions are not ideal for scoring. everyone has great aspirations when the sun is shining and the breeze is calm but many people continue such high hopes when things take a turn for the worse and get into a spiral of frustration when things don’t pan out that way. Playing golf in rain and/or high winds is an art in itself and it stems from managing expectation and staying in control. You may not be putting for birdie on every hole but when you realise that is to be expected, missing a green or two becomes less of a perceived problem.

The key to bad weather golf is to play percentages, if you have a much better chance of hitting the fairway with a club other than your driver, go for it. if you have to lay up to a good position on a par 4 with your second shot due to strong wind, do it. The more you can expect to be challenged the better and you will find that your scores wont reflect the weather anymore, we all know a golfer or 2 that seem to thrive when the weather turns, they obviously enjoy the fact that it unravels most golfers and leaves the door wide open for a solid round to look exceptional. Try to be that golfer!

Some of my most enjoyable rounds have come when an elemental challenge has arisen. Next time you find yourself playing in bad conditions try to stay calm and lower your expectations to the basics and you might just surprise yourself.

The gym, the range and the course.

Sounds like a Narnia book, don’t you think?

I’m sat writing this just about to head to the gym, lower body day today. The dreaded ‘leg day’ as known to most gym bros for good reason, its hard work spending an hour squatting and deadlifting (I like to throw in some fun stuff like back and bicep training at the end to sweeten the deal!) but in my opinion it is the most beneficial workout of the week for my golf game. Big and strong glutes, quads and hamstrings, not to mention the smaller muscles of the hips and lower back all contribute to a solid and powerful swing. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying if you don’t go to the gym you wont have a solid swing but it definitely helps most of the best players in the world and plenty of aspiring amateurs to build powerful swings. I will go into more detail on workouts and exercises for golf soon.

The range/practice area and the golf course. People seem to get confused as to what should be done at each. Ask anyone and they will tell you the range is for practice  and the course is where you play, what most people then proceed to do is beat 50 balls with a 7 iron and 50 balls with their driver. Then they head over to the course where they take endless practice swings and spend more time thinking about their mechanics than the actual shot/situation they are facing. Most miss the point that the driving range and practice area is partly for ingraining mechanics and mostly for acquiring the skills you want to take to the course to improve scores. Equally people forget that the course is where you use the skills and mechanics you have practiced to hopefully put together the best round you are capable of on any given day.

I have been guilty of this in the past, I mean who doesn’t love getting in a grove at the range with a driver/iron and just pumping out great strikes over and over? The reason that wont help in a practical sense is that on the golf course you get one chance to choose the correct shot and execute that shot (unless your friends are really generous with mulligans!) so when practicing for the golf course you must get good at being in that situation.

A good example is chipping, if you are on the course, if you take 3 to get down you can’t drop your ball back where it was and tell your playing partners you are capable of getting up and down you just need a few goes. you have to get good at having one chance at a shot, my favourite way to practice chipping is to take one ball and play a set amount of ‘up and down holes’ usually 9 or 18. I will play each ‘hole’ as a par 2 and have one attempt at the chip and putt, ill tally my score to par and my aim is to be level par at the end, a tough ask I know but it gets you in the same situation you face on the course.

Bear this in mind next time you practice, make it as close to actually playing as you can and your score card and handicap will thank you for it.

First of many!

My first official blog post! Hmm what to say….. Thursday, September 1st, 10:27pm.

‘No golf was played today, many thoughts on the next practice session were formulated though, a full out attack on the wedges which served me so poorly the last time. Driver performed well however, a return to form of sorts. Still working on the low cut shot and the dart accurate wedges!’

Theses are just some of the thoughts that rush through my mind on a daily basis, most of them are just born from wishing I was playing or practicing instead of the regular 9-5 nonsense that just seems to get in the way! Occasionally however a fully realised and helpful ‘mini eureka’ of sorts will come my way, it could be an unexpected new understanding of something previously cloudy in my mind or a perfect practice routine to try that will surely improve my ‘up and down’ percentages.

For a few years now I have kept a notebook full of these ‘thoughts’ mainly because I was fed up of forgetting them! Most recently I use the notes section in my phone for ease. When I look back on these notes I see a general trend that started with super complex practice routines and workouts ‘guaranteed’ to gain me yards! The latest few months of notes have been completely the opposite, basic, essential and efficiency have been the key points and that’s kind of my point in this post, sometimes you can get the most effective practice when you ‘cut the crap’ and get back to the basics of what will actually improve your game! If it takes you 15 7 irons until you are satisfied with the outcome then you are practicing wrong, unless of course you just want to be good at hitting 7 irons at the range with no consequence.

In the next post I will go deeper into how I practice and what works for me so you might be able to apply some of the tips to your practice sessions.