Functional Strength And Power Training For The Senior Golfer
Thu Nov 16, 2017 by Brett Cohen
The sport of golf provides challenges for golfers of all age groups, but there are special challenges for the over 50 golfer. After age 50 strength and power performance can diminish significantly.
A typical aging adult will lose 30% of their muscle mass and maximal strength from ages 40 - 70. But as significant as these changes are, it’s important to recognize that they can be minimized through the scientific application of functional strength and power training exercises.
The declines in muscular strength are primarily attributed to the loss of muscle mass that is part of the aging process (this is known as sarcopenia), which is Greek for 'poverty of flesh'.
Physically inactive people can lose between 3% and 5% of their muscle mass each decade after 30. This percentage rises even higher after age 70!
But we can treat sarcopenia. We know the best anti-aging medicine for muscle loss is strength training. The more muscle mass you have, the greater your potential to hit the ball farther.
Functional Strength Training
While any type of strength training will help to preserve muscle mass. Single-joint movements that isolate specific muscle groups are categorized as “non-functional.”
For strength training program to be truly functional, the majority of the exercises need to be done in an unsupported, three dimensional environment that requires the brain to coordinate muscles into patterns of movement.
Muscles are morons, it’s movement that matters.
I select strength training exercises for all my clients based on the following movement patterns or combination thereof:
- gait (walk, jog, stride, run, sprint).
Here are some of my favorites demonstrated by my most senior client. The man I coached to do the exercises in the enclosed videos started training with me at age 80 and at the time these videos were filmed had traveled around the sun 82 times and is still going strong.
Kettlebell Turkish Get-up
Kettlebell Goblet Squat
Dumbbell Lateral Lunge & Return
Split Stance Single Arm Cable Push
Strength training is important for the over 50 golfer, but to maximize function and prevent disability as we age we need to train power!
As we age, muscle power declines faster than muscle strength. The loss of fast-twitch fibers has an impact on the muscles ability to generate the necessary force for specific tasks (like swinging a golf club). Power has more of an effect on functional ability that strength. Power training will help maximize function and prevent disability in aging adults.
Two of my favorite power exercises for the over 50 golfer are:
The Box Jump:
Obviously, a number of older athletes won't be able to safely perform box jumps, much less to mention advanced variations. That doesn't mean they can't train power by improving their ability to create vertical force. TPI Certified trainer Pam Owens recently outlined popular exercises that can be regressed to accomodate senior golfers in her TPI article "5 Training Strategies To Increase Vertical Thrust Without Leaving The Ground." As with any exercise, appropriate programming requires a mastery of foundational movements.
The Short Sprint:
In order for your brain to move your body into the coordinated, consistent and powerful motions that are required of golf, the muscles have to have the right blend of flexibility, endurance, strength and power. That means that the exercises you choose must train the body to perform in coordinated sequences of movement.
If you are over 50 and want to continue to do the things you NEED to do, LIKE to do, and WANT to do, and enjoy doing them, then it’s imperative to follow a well planned exercise program that includes functional strength and power. Older athletes that strive to maintain or even improve upon the performance they achieved at younger ages can still accomplish amazing things.
""At age 78 I wanted to reach my fitness limits so I could bring my golf game back to where it was 10 years ago. After 3 months of training I have already begun to shoot my age. I shot a 75, 77, and 78 twice. This has been my goal going back 2 years!""
- Hank C., NYC
Don’t let your age become your cage.
Brett Cohen is TPI Level 3 Certified, a C.H.E.K Institute Golf Performance Specialist, a Functional Aging Institute-Functional Aging Specialist and National Academy of Sports Medicine-Senior Fitness Specialist. He is the founder of NY Golf Fitness Guru, based in New York City. www.nygolffitnessguru.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter-@Brettthegolfguy, Instagram-NY Golf Fitness Guru, Facebook-NY Golf Fitness Guru