Working Out

My Fitness Programme

Cardio Training

As a former swimmer, my cardiovascular fitness has generally always been above average. Although it has dropped since I stopped swim training, I still work hard on maintaining my fitness and stamina. Golf is a sport that requires the player to perform at their best, both physically and mentally, for long periods of time (often over 5 hours). The reason that golfers tend to perform better in the opening two rounds of tournaments compared to the final two rounds is that their bodies and minds are able to maximize performance in the early stages, but as fatigue sets in over the weekend, particularly on the Sunday, the body and mind can no longer function to the best of its ability, and mistakes inevitably creep in.

People argue the case that players such as John Daly and Mark Calcavecchia have had excellent careers even though they look to be in a poor physical condition, and the obvious response is that these players have achieved success despite their lack of fitness, not because of it. One only needs to look at the physical shape of the world’s best players, namely Tiger Woods, Camilo Villegas, Dustin Johnson and now even Rory McIlroy to see the physical advantage they have over guys such as Daly or Calc.

I am used to very repetitive training with swimming, so cardio training is easier for me than it is for others. I spend a lot of time on the treadmill or bike, setting time targets or distance targets to keep myself motivated. Recently I have ventured into outdoor running, which I do regularly with a teammate of mine. The circuit we run takes only 20 minutes, but having a partner assures that we push each other to our max on every run.

Strength Training

When Tiger Woods burst on the scene over a decade ago, he revolutionized the game of golf with his unheard of physical training regime. No longer would golf be a game for couch potatoes; the golfer suddenly became the “athlete”. To keep up with my peers, I have been strength training for over 4 years and my golf game has certainly seen improvements as a direct result of that. Having a stable core allows me to minimize loose movements during my swing, and by developing the strength in my legs and arms I am able to hit the ball considerably further than I used to.

When I am in peak training (winter time), I will alternate workouts between muscle groups to give them a couple days rest in between. It’s important for the muscles to have a day or two of recovery before lifting again to avoid injury. An typical training week would be something like this:

Monday – Back, lats, traps, biceps

Tuesday – Chest, triceps

Wednesday – Legs, glutes

Thursday – Off

Friday – Repeat cycle

Onto each of those workouts I will usually add 15 minutes of core and a further 15 minutes stretching at the end to loosen off. I will also switch up my lifting by mixing heavy sessions with low reps, with light sessions and high reps. I also enjoy circuit training and will often just do 2 or 3 15 minute circuits some days to improve my speed and endurance. It’s important to mix it up in the gym to keep muscles guessing and also to add the element of fun. There’s nothing worse than getting into a boring routine and waking up in the morning with no motivation to do the same things all over again.

Stretching

One of the attributes that has made players such as Tiger Woods, Gary Player, and Sam Snead as great as they are is their incredible flexibility. Tiger, particularly, is blessed with a massive range of movement and is able to complete a shoulder turn well over 90 degrees. At one stage, Tiger actually had concerns that his shoulders were becoming too loose and worked harder in the gym to tighten them up. Now we are seeing Rory McIlroy begin to dominate the game, and he is surely one of the most flexible players on tour, with a coil perhaps even bigger than Tiger’s. Being flexible is also important for longevity in the game; players such as Tom Watson or Fred Couples are able to make full, fluid swings despite being well past their prime.

After 10 years of competitive swim training, my upper body and shoulder muscles in particular have always been extremely tight. One of the benefits of having a tight upper body is a short, compact, consistent swing that delivers a lot of power at impact. However, my restricted turn makes it difficult for me to get the club into the positions that I want it, and for those reasons stretching is my current priority when it comes to physical training. I will continue my current cardio and weightlifting programme, but incorporate stretching exercises into every session. I’m sure in time I’ll be supple enough to achieve my technical goals.