The Workout That Powers Justin Thomas
Thu Jul 30, 2015 by TPI
Of the golfers ranked in the top 20 in driving distance on the PGA Tour, Justin Thomas is a bit of an anomaly. Among the lanky frames of Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Charlie Beljan, is Justin Thomas, listed at 5'10" and 145 lbs. It seems as if it's impossible for Thomas to be shown on a broadcast without an announcer commenting on his dimunitive stature or his friendship with Jordan Spieth. While many viewers (and even some commentators) might assume Justin has a natural ability, we know he's worked hard to prepare his body to move.
When small guys can bomb it, we sports scientists get excited. Similar to our discussion with ESPN's Sports Science about Rory, Justin has to create his speed with an explosive hip turn and precise contact. The PGA Tour recently arranged for TPI Advisory Board member Dr. Rob Neal to analyze Justin's swing and physical characteristics on 3D. The results were fascinating:
Justin was born with an incredible amount of speed, but his power is also a product of working to improve his body and his movement patterns. While natural talent and genetic makeup is a huge factor, Justin doesn't just roll out of bed and start bombing it 300 yards.
Justin has been working with TPI Certified trainer Tyler Parsons since shortly after leaving Alabama. We asked Tyler and Justin to share a bit of their workout with us. In the following video, Tyler will introduce the exercise and explain why it's important while Justin demonstrates (this video was made on Tuesday of the Greenbrier):
Justin started working out in college, but the urgency to improve his mobility and movement quality was the result of an injury.
"I had some back injuries around the middle-end of my two years in college. I thought the issue was my back, but when I started therapy I realized it was caused by my hips being tight."
Sound familiar? Mike Boyle shared the same concept in his recent article for us. The lower back is often the victim of poor mobility in other areas.
Says Justin, "When I started doing exercises to improve my hip mobility, I noticed that not only has it helped with the pain, but gotten me more flexible and hitting it a lot farther."
Fitness hasn't always been a part of Justin's training. It was something he turned to out of necessity, not interest:
In high school I did nothing in the gym. I was thin as a rail, had zero muscle and no flexibility. That's what most likely caused those [back] injuries in college. At Alabama I did the work outs with the team 3 days a week when in school, but when I wasn't in school I did nothing. I just have never been one to enjoy it and was content with how my body felt and reacted on the course. After college, it was essential. I did minimal things on my own before having a meeting with Tyler and him giving me some great stuff to do. I have never been strong weight lifting wise, so it's mostly all flexibility, core strength, endurance, and band work. I didn't think it would make such a big difference, but my club head speed has gone up 6-10 mph in a year and a half, and ball speed is 5-12 mph faster on my great days.
In addition to continuing to work on his mobility and speed, Tyler Parsons is diligent about prescribing preventative exercises.
"We do exercises to maintain range of motion and prevent a couple of trouble areas from developing trigger points," says Parsons. "Certain areas on the posterior chain can sometimes be problems for golfers since the repetitve motion is only in one direction. This can be difficult to maintain if not addressed early on in a preventative manner. It's very important for Justin to be able to go into a tournament feeling 100% and knowing that his body will perform and stay constant through the weekend."
We love Thomas' story because it validates two things: 1) natural talent is important, but there aren't any prodigious athletes on Tour that got there on natural talent alone and 2) improving your body isn't limited to those of a specific age or stature. Everyone can move better.
There's a tendency to look at young guys and think they move well because they are "young." Not true. Most move well because they work at it— LanceGillPerformance (@LGP_Inc) July 19, 2015
Thomas is still seeking his first tournament win, but considering his work ethic and immense talent, we're confident that it's just around the corner. And maybe someday we'll start asking Jordan what it's like to be friends with Justin.
Justin Thomas is not friends with Jordan Spieth. Jordan Spieth is friends with Justin Thomas.— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) July 9, 2015