Golf Fitness – Mental Benefits Of Training For Golf

With the Ryder Cup under way today, it got me thinking about all the performance elements that these great players possess. It obviously takes a lot of skill but also physical ability, mental focus / strength and confidence, all three of these are ‘bonus’ benefits from training!

The most obvious is the physical benefit, strong, explosive muscles in the right places will help you with many aspects of the game, distance, stability and control just to name a few. Along with all these benefits comes confidence, hitting towering drives past your playing partners / opponents gives you an edge over them, in match play I have seen first hand the effects of this kind of ‘intimidation’ my opponent starts to swing harder in an attempt to keep up and looses any rhythm! Also, having the stability and control when external factors are against you really helps your confidence grow, if the wind is howling yet you have built a solid, stable base and strength required to hit stinging punch shots, you feel like you can take on the world!

Other boosts to mentality and confidence come actually in the gym or at home, wherever you prefer to work out. It takes mental strength and resilience to keep pushing for progress in training sessions, something you build up as you initially start training. Getting that final rep on something like squats is a real mental battle, your body is telling you to stop but you know that for the best gains you have to dig deep and push harder! This has served me well on the golf course, many times things have seemed to be going against me, you may have had a stretch of bad holes or be down in a match, whatever it is it helps when you know you can dig deep for that extra something.

There is nothing that boosts confidence like feeling strong and powerful, if you are standing over the ball and you feel strong and like you have complete control over your swing, you can be unstoppable! I believe this is why Rory McIlroy loves to train for golf so much and we all know how good he can be! Another confidence booster is realising what you are actually capable of, when you are stuck at the bottom of a squat or a deadlift just wont budge, and you manage to tap into that something extra inside of you, you start to really believe in yourself. Believing in yourself is priceless in golf.

Forgive me if I sounded biased or overly passionate! I really do believe that specific golf training helps you in many aspects of your game, not just the physical. If you like the sound of all this but are new to working out then Check out my other posts here on great golf exercises, workouts and tips. In my last post I outlined a great home workout that strengthens your whole body and only requires a pair of dumbbells! I also offer a FREE bodyweight plyometric (don’t worry, its not too complex) workout when you subscribe to my newsletter which brings great golf exercises, workouts and tips straight to your inbox! Details are just below.

If you have any requests for topics to cover or specific exercises / workouts then leave a comment below or on social media and I will do my best to provide a post or answer to them all.

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Golf Workout Series – 4 Exercises For Powerful Legs

Ahh leg training… many a hard, painful session has been spent training legs. In my opinion your legs and glutes are the engine of your golf swing, the stronger and more powerful your legs are, the more explosive speed you can generate and generate it in a controlled manner.

I like to think of my legs as literally an engine, if you have relatively weak legs, let’s say a 1.2 litre engine, how do you expect to generate a huge amount of speed? That’s where golf specific training comes in, if you build those 1.2 litre legs up to some strong 3.5 litre V8’s then you are looking at some serious speed in your golf swing!

Equally, if you have a fast swing but don’t have stability in your legs then you have a WILD swing! Your legs are your only connection with the ground and they are the base of your swing, make it a stable one.

Here are 4 of my favourite exercises for strong powerful legs, they have helped me and my golf massively.

1. Squats

Some of you will be screaming “obviously!” But I can’t stress enough how good squats are for not only your legs but your core and posterior chain too! A barbell or any free-weight squat (like a goblet squat with a kettle bell or dumbbell) will build huge amounts of strength and will also help to strengthen the small stabilising muscles all throughout the legs, these are the ones that are usually missed when using machines as they are fixed in the plane of movement, a free-weight back squat is literally all on you and your body has to keep everything balanced. Another great benefit of the squat for golf is that it trains a good movement for the start of the down swing, so many powerful golfers have a slight ‘squat’ at the transition, Tiger and Rory for example. Now I’m not saying you should actively try to do this but the movement pattern of squats alone has helped me to keep my hips back in the downswing as I had a tendency to early extend and pull my butt in towards the ball. Give squats a go, even if you start with no weight at all to get the form down, you won’t regret it! I usually like to train the squat in a moderate rep range to get a good mix of strength and hypertrophy, around 5 – 8 reps for 3 – 5 sets.

2. Deadlift

Now, I have mentioned this in the Back training post in this same series, you can check that out here. And for good reason, the deadlift is one hell of an exercise! It will build total body strength, and it gets you really using the ground to generate power, as you literally have to lift from a dead stop. It targets mainly the hamstrings back and glutes. When performing the deadlift, always make sure to learn decent form before adding too much weight, it is one of the safer exercises in terms of going to heavy however, if it’s too heavy it’s not moving off the floor! You can perform variations on the deadlift, one of my favourites to bring a bit more hamstring into it is the stiff leg deadlift, where you perform a deadlift with a lighter weight, set up with a minimal bend in your knees and keep it the same angle throughout the whole movement so you aren’t using any ‘push’ from your quads. The deadlift is a movement I like to train heavy and rarely go above 5 reps but be warned that it is a hard lift to recover from so don’t push too hard close to playing an important round of golf or you may regret it!

3. Dumbbell Lunges

Dumbbell lunges are my go-to exercise when I want to build stability, they are exceptional for it. If you have never performed them before then you will know exactly what I mean when you do! Dumbbell lunges are great for building solid legs, they are a nice mix of quad, hamstring and glutes and you get a good stimulation in the abs too! Sometimes I like to mix it up a bit and hold a kettlebell or dumbbell at my chest, this makes the exercise even more unstable, great for those small stabilising muscles. I like to hit these for a 3 – 4 sets of 12 – 15 and get a good pump and really fatigue the muscles.

4. Box Jumps

This is where the real explosiveness comes into play! One of my favourite plyometric exercises. Starting with a relatively low box and getting the sequencing correct, work your way up to a box you can comfortably jump 3 – 5 times per set, I like to perform at least 5 sets, then try to make incremental gains, small gains in this exercise relate to huge gains in explosive power! This is one of the best ways to train for power (strength / speed) and has a great carry over effect into golf, the best players in the world use the ground to really spring through the hitting area, creating huge amounts of speed in the process. This exercise will compliment the first 3 on this list really well, putting all that new strength and stability to good use.

There you have my 4 best exercises for supreme power inducing legs! you can perform all 4 in one workout or spread them out depending on how you like to train.


Check out my other posts here on great golf exercises, workouts and tips.


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Subscribe to my mailing list to get great golf exercises, workouts, tips and motivation directly to your inbox! Also when you subscribe, I kick things off with a completely FREE Plyometric Power Home Workout pdf for you to make some swing speed gains with straight away! Click here to subscribe and get ripping those drives!

Golf fitness – Staying motivated, knowing your weaknesses and todays workout.

I have a few topics to go over today, having a good round of golf at the weekend had me thinking about the work I had put in recently at the gym and in practice. It seems to have really paid of in terms of reaching my latest goals and I wanted to talk about motivation and knowing the areas you need to improve.

Motivation – Sometimes everyone looses motivation, it could be for anything but usually its for something we know we should do, like eating healthy or exercising. I had a slump in motivation for my training a month or so ago and found it hard to muster the effort to drag myself to the gym after work. It lasted a week or so, I managed to break out of my “funk” by doing 3 things:

  1. Taking the time to look back at all the goals I had set and achieved in the past.
  2. Focusing in on the recent goals I had set and how much progress I had already made towards them.
  3. Decided to take a week break from my current workout program and spent that time performing workouts I really enjoy, to get the love for training flowing again!

Sometimes everyone needs to take a step back and have a look at the overall picture, you may have had a bad workout or a bad round of golf but as long as the general trend line of your progress is upward then you know you are on the right track. Don’t be afraid to divert from a plan that you have laid out if it means you are more likely to workout consistently. All of those individual workouts add up to something great, incremental gains make big changes over time, I make sure to remind myself of that every time I feel the motivation slipping.

Knowing your weaknesses – Another area I struggled with for a while was setting goals that would actually help me, I would lie to myself about weaknesses I knew I had but didn’t want to bother addressing. Its more fun doing the stuff you are already good at, right? While that is very true, it generally doesn’t help you improve as much as you could, for example, say you are gifted with moderate distance, you thrash at the ball and it flies but you don’t have much control over your swing and you struggle with a painful back, now would it be better to perform only exercises that help you swing even faster? or would you be much better served building a stable base for  your swing and a solid core for control and to help with the back pain? I know which would help you more! You have to be honest with yourself about your weaknesses when setting goals or they aren’t going to help you in the long run and may even hinder you down the line!

Todays workout – Today was a day when I needed to do something in the gym that I found fun, something I knew I liked and that wouldn’t make me resent the gym! (just like I was talking about earlier!) I decided on a fan favourite chest and arm workout, doesn’t sound like a workout that would help golf but surprisingly, upper body strength actually helps a lot in the golf swing. It helps control the club and keep the arms and body working together. I decided that today would be focused on hypertrophy (muscle building) again, a favourite! I had a great workout and left the gym feeling revitalised and ready for whatever workout was coming my way next, which happens to be squats and deadlifts tomorrow, one of my more weakness oriented workouts. The “fun” workout has paid off in this way because I am ready to hit the gym and give it 100% tomorrow, if I had attempted squats and deadlifts today, they would have been half arsed to say the least!

Those are my ramblings for today!

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The Big Pay Off! A Full Weekend Of Playing Golf.

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Warming up for RD 1 of the weekend!

Training for golf is fun in of itself, it is however done for a specific reason. Maybe you want more distance (everyone wants more distance) maybe you want to build a solid core, whatever your goal, you should take time every now and again to sit back and appreciate your achievements. All too often we beat ourselves up (especially true on the course) and self criticism is a good thing, that’s how we make the change in the first place but appreciating the hard work you have put in and the outcome from that is a good step towards building consistent results.

 

Writing this on Sunday eve, I feel all golfed out! I played Saturday, practiced afterwards and then played Sunday too! I played very well, better on Sunday. I had one of the moments I just mentioned, I realised how far I had come in terms of building a solid core and stable base from which to swing, the fact that I could really lean on a shot when I needed too and stay in my swing nicely was a far cry from a few years back when a hard swing resulted in a wild flailing of the club towards the ball.

This is just a short post to say sometimes you need to smell the roses and appreciate what you have achieved…. not for too long though, we have lots more improving to do!

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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.