How Pro Golfers Stay Fit During Quarantine
Thu Apr 9, 2020 by TPI
With whispers of competitive golf returning in the next two months, we wanted to take a look at how professional golfers are maintaining their physical readiness while quarantined at home. Like most golfers, they can’t access their gyms, but are able to improvise. Here are a number of programs from professional golfers that represent a diversity in training environment and training objective.
Jon Rahm and his trainer Spencer Tatum put together a demonstration of their daily movement prep. Whether as a warm-up or a workout, he can do this anywhere with no equipment.
In general, we’re quick to celebrate athletes for improving strength, but don’t offer the same public praise for athletes who have improved mobility. Rahm is an excellent example of an athlete who has committed to improving how well he can move, not just how much weight he can move. When we met him as a teenager, his talent and power were very apparent, but so was his lack of flexibility. While his shorter backswing matched his physical capabilities, if his mobility regressed it would interfere with his swing. Thanks to consistent assessments and a great team around him, his movement quality has improved drastically.
Every golfer wants to copy Rory’s swing, but we think they should copy his training routine too. He recently posted a highlight of his at-home workout on Instagram that Golf.com compiled into a YouTube video below.
Obviously, most golfers don’t have the luxury of commercial-quality equipment in their bonus room, but they can learn a lot from watching how he trains. A few things to note:
Low Reps, High Effort: Most of his sets are in the 4 - 8 rep range, allowing him to maximize power while minimizing the onset of fatigue. There’s nothing wrong with challenging your fitness, but the workouts that leave you most exhausted are often the least productive for developing clubhead speed. So while Rory is a monster in the Peloton competitions, it’s not an expression of the athleticism which creates elite club head speed. If you’re conditioning, you’re probably not power training.
Power from the ground up: We’re just seeing a glimpse of his workout, not his complete program, but pay attention to how many movements require him to generate power with his core or lower body and transfer it to his arms or upper body. He’s not developing core strength from sit ups or lower body strength from leg extensions. Instead, he performs compound exercises that develop capacity in an athletic, functional movement.
Scaling the exercise: Make the workout fit the body, not the body fit the workout. What does that mean? Landmine presses instead of overhead presses to reduce the demand on shoulder mobility. Strongman flips vs power cleans to take pressure off the wrists.
Ben Crane shares some of his favorite at-home mobility techniques, including a few ELDOAs he performs daily.
Listen to him explain the “what” and the “why” behind these exercises. Though his program is designed by professionals, Ben demonstrates total ownership. Ben has battled back pain throughout his career which is caused by a notoriously tight thoracic spine and hips. Genetically, he wasn’t blessed with the overall mobility and tissue quality you’d associate with an elite rotational athlete (think Adam Scott, but the opposite). He’s had to work as hard as any golfer we’ve ever met to physically prepare himself for the rigor of a competitive schedule. His routine isn’t sexy and it’s not easy, but it’s a testament to the potential of consistency.
Want a movement challenge? Try to copy Justin Thomas here. This Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift with Rotation is much more difficult than it might look.
Exercise bands are one of the most effective home workout hacks and an extremely popular tool among pro golfers. @justinthomas34’s band not only provides some resistance, but also assistance by increasing core activation/stability which makes it easier to mobilize the t-spine. pic.twitter.com/gSpcKl0S1Y— TPI (@MyTPI) April 8, 2020
Notice how stable his standing leg is? An excellent demonstration of both mobility and stability. The band offers some resistance, but mostly serves as pattern assistance by creating activation in the core which helps mobilize the thoracic spine.
The hinge pattern is one of the most important patterns for a golfer to train. It’s why deadlifts are often a foundational exercise in a golf fitness program. It's one of the reasons why we have DOZENS of variations on our site.
One way to improve your golf game away from the course is to practice movement patterns. Charley Hoffman demonstrates his pelvic tilt here, one of the most important patterns we coach and screen.
Charley Hoffman demonstrating a simple drill @lgp_inc, Kayleigh Franklin and @blackburngolf taught him to find a neutral pelvic tilt.— TPI (@MyTPI) March 28, 2020
Not only does a neutral posture help core stability, it can improve power transfer too. pic.twitter.com/Fz0VW7RxbD
Charley is a really good example of a golfer who didn't just work to improve his movement capacity, but his movement quality. Look at his pelvic rotation below. By addressing underlying restrictions and practicing the pattern with Lance Gill and Kayleigh Franklin, he turned a hip hike into a hip rotation.
These Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats from I.K. are excellent options for golfers, especially those who are training at home.
Not only are they less demanding of mobility than traditional bilateral squats, they are easy to learn and easy to load. Pick up something heavy and give them a shot.
Hopefully this provides a good look at the diversity of training in professional golf. "What's the best exercise for golf?" is the most common question we're asked. The answer is always: it depends. Every athlete has unique physical capabilities, therefore every athlete should have a unique program. There's no magic solution in the gym. Just hard work.