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  • Writer's pictureJared

Top 5 Mistakes Golfers Make in the Gym

Updated: Jan 1

Golf fitness has increased in popularity over the past decade and it is now the norm among the majority of golfers on the PGA tour. It has also become more common among amateur golfers who go to the gym in hopes of it improving their performance and health on the course. Today's post is directed at the golfers who are currently going to gym and some of the common things I see neglected in traditional training programs or self guided programs. I realize that most amateur golfers are not training to be professional athletes, however, if golf is part of the reason you are going to the gym this will help make sure you are getting the most carry over from the gym to the golf course.

1. Only training in the sagittal plane: This is by far the most common mistake in most training

programs. The sagittal plane involves forward and backward motions such as walking, squatting, deadlifts, leg extensions, leg curls, bench press, shoulder press, bicep curls, crunches and most other traditional movements in the gym.

There is nothing wrong with doing these movements and they do have great value in a training program. The problem arises when then training only consists of movements in this plane of motion. Sports occur in multiple planes of motion including the frontal plane (side to side motions) and the transverse plane (rotational movements). Golf especially involves a lot of rotational movement. Not performing exercises in these other planes of motion can definitely limit the carry over from the gym to the course. There a variety of exercises with free weights, cables, bands, medicine balls and Proteus Motion that can all be used to train in these other planes of motion. Incorporating some form of these in addition to the other exercises mentioned above would be very beneficial for golfers.


2. Not training for speed and power: This is the second most common quality neglected by most golfers (especially adults). Most training programs involve some form or cardiovascular

activity (running, biking, walking on a treadmill, etc). Most also involve some strength training involving machines, body weight, free weights, bands, etc. Some may do some form of stretching or mobility work. I encounter very few who do any form or speed or power training. Training speed and power is especially important as we get older. Starting at around age 40 speed and power will start to drop off at a rapid rate in comparison to strength, muscle size and muscle endurance. This is due to in large part to a decrease in number and size and of fast twitch muscle fibers. These fibers play a significant role in our ability to do fast athletic motions such as jump, sprint, throw a ball or swing a golf club fast. The use it or lose it principle definitely applies to your speed and power and if you don't incorporate some form of training targeting these fast twitch muscle fibers expect an inevitable drop in speed and distance. Beyond golf performance muscle power also plays a crucial role in health as you age in things such as getting up from a chair or catching yourself from falling.


*With this being said there needs to be a build up/ramp up phase to some of these types of training for safety reasons and this type of training can involve several different things to make sure it is a safe option for you. If you haven't sprinted in 10 years going out and running sprints at max effort is recipe for a muscle strain or tear.


3. Not training their weaknesses: most of the time people like to practice and do what they are good at. In golf good putters tend to enjoy practicing putting and do it frequently in comparison to poor putters. For myself, driver tends to be a strong suit of my golf game and I could hit drivers for hours as I love it. However, working on my wedge play and short game is not as enjoyable to me and something I have to force myself to do as it is a definite weakness to my scoring. For most people this also applies in the gym, especially if you are following your own program. I see it often where really flexible people enjoy stretching and Yoga and do more of that even though it's not their biggest area of need. In comparison, I will see some people who are really strong and focus more of their efforts on pursuing more strength and size versus some of the other qualities mentioned such as speed/power/mobility and others. This is is not to say that it's wrong to continue to work at and pursue the things you enjoy and are good at. However, many times people have other areas of 'low hanging fruit' that will have a greater impact on their golf performance that needs some attention as well. Taking some portion of your workout to address these other qualities will be beneficial for health and performance on or off the course.


4. Trying to mimic the golf swing in the gym: A common mistake I will see is golfers trying to mimic the golf swing in the gym using bands or cable machines. It would seem to make sense, but often is a waste of time. By applying resistance to the golf swing it changes how the body and muscles function compared to the actual swing and typically creates very little carry over the golf swing. In addition these attempts at mimicking the golf swing also are not able to be loaded to the point of creating any adaptation or change in physical capacity. You are better off focusing the golf specific work swinging an actual golf club or one of the speed training systems such as the Stack System or SuperSpeed Golf. Golf specific training in the gym is not about mimicking the golf swing, it's about causing adaptations in the body that are beneficial for golf.


5. Not matching the intent of exercises with the desired adaptation:

This applies to any move in the gym, but especially to some of the speed and power training mentioned above. In the gym there are different physical adaptations you can train for such as strength, speed, power, endurance, size and more. Your sets, reps and intent of the exercise will have a significant impact on you achieving your desired adaptation. In the case of trying to develop more speed or power golfers may do exercises such as jumping to develop lower body power or medicine ball throws or slams to develop upper body or rotational power. You could assume that just performing the exercise you will achieve your desired outcome. However, there is more to it than that. For example, lets say you want to develop rotational power and decide to do some medicine ball throws. You grab a medicine ball and do a set of 20 reps throwing or slamming the ball. The desired goal of this movement is to create power. In order to achieve this you have to move fast with max intent. Unfortunately the body will not be able to achieve this over the course of 20 reps as your body will fatigue and get progressively slower over the course of the set. You will naturally begin to slow down and no longer be training for power. Sets of 3-5 reps are often times indicated for this type of training to ensure you are training for power. In addition you cannot have the feeling of going through the motions with these types of exercises. You need to try to throw the ball with max intent and speed. 50% effort on med ball throws will essentially be a waste of time and will not achieve your desired result.


Summary

A lot of golfers spend little to no time in the gym so getting into any type of routine and just getting moving is a great start for most, even if it isn't 'golf specific'. However, if you have been going to the gym for a while and not seeing your desired results on the course this post may provide some possible explanations why as well as identify some things to incorporate into your programs to get even better results and spend your time more efficiently in the gym.

 

Hopefully this post provides a little insight into golf fitness and what golfers should be focusing on in their training. If you are currently going to the gym but not experiencing the improvements you would like/expect reach out and can help discuss a plan that makes sense for you. You can contact me at jared@jaredbicklept.com








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