The importance of being in shape as a golfer in the modern era is paramount, and Justin Thomas embodies this. Still just on the younger side of 30, Thomas has two majors to his name – the PGA Championship in 2017 and 2022 – plus 15 other tournament wins, and spent five weeks as world number one in 2018.
Fitness, and especially keeping his core in prime condition, is key to Thomas’s ongoing success, as he reveals to RSNG.com…
RSNG With the modern era of golf being full of athletes, how much harder do you have to work at your fitness now to stay on top of your game?
JUSTIN THOMAS, PGA TOUR SUPERSTAR “I wouldn’t say that it’s harder now, because I am more than used to the workouts, the fitness demands and dietary elements. It’s just a regular part of my routine.
“I think if you put a golfer from the 1970s or 80s through this they would struggle with the conditioning element.
“In fact, if you had asked me a few years ago, then maybe I wouldn’t have found this so easy, but the push to keep up with the rest of the players on the Tour means it becomes second nature to competitors in the sport. You don’t really have a choice – evolve or die!
“I’ve been a growing enthusiast of the workouts and I know what they have done for me and how much they have enabled me to stay in contention with the best players in the world. As with anything in life, when you see results, you see a really firm reason to keep going.”
RSNG You’ve really jacked your body up over the last few years – how has that impacted your game?
JUSTIN THOMAS “Well, I work on the proviso that building my body up makes me more able to hit a ball with more strength behind it – although good technique and a defined, solid swing is still the most vital part.
“Being fit, strong and healthy means you are a bit less susceptible to injury, too, so it works on both sides. And solid stamina allows you to play more consistently for longer.
“The confidence that comes with feeling and looking good can’t be ignored, either!”
RSNG But it’s not all about lifting heavier weights, is it?
JUSTIN THOMAS “Oh no – just because your biceps are bigger, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to add more yardage to your drives. You’ve got to be doing the right things at the right times.
“Also, most of the mechanics of a golf swing are more about the flexibility, stability and balance; strength in your upper body isn’t going to help with a lot of that.
“A lot of my clubhead speed begins at the core – I will drive off from the middle and only at the last point on the downswing does upper body strength really begin to impact connection speed.”
A lot of the exercise routines that I do benefit more than one part of the body at the same time
RSNG Do you concentrate on one area of your body at a time?
JUSTIN THOMAS “No – mostly a lot of the exercise routines that I do are focused on benefitting more than one part of the body at the same time.
“When I am working the core, which is one of my favorite things to do, I’ll usually also be strengthening the chest muscles, as well as back and arms, and sometimes also the legs.”
RSNG How important is the warm-up and what would you typically incorporate?
JUSTIN THOMAS “There’s no point in just going right into the main exercises without activating the right muscles beforehand – you’re going to cause yourself some damage.
“So, some work on the glutes and hips first before anything else, and then independent exercises to fire everything up in preparation for the main routines I’ll be doing.
“There’s no point putting everything in on those and having less energy to move on with. You’ve got to give your body a warning, so it knows what to expect.”
You are never too far from a gym and I will need a good reason not to go
RSNG Does your routine and schedule change much when you are in-between events?
JUSTIN THOMAS “It’s more a case of how many times I will get to the gym or do home workouts.
“No two weeks are the same during the season so I will allow myself some leeway if I am traveling a lot, for instance.
“Ultimately, you are never too far from a gym, and I am quite hard on myself. I will need a good reason not to go; maybe tiredness, or if I am nursing an injury – a slight pull – that I might need an extra day or so to recover from.
“My regular physio is someone I speak to most days. He’s on tour with us and his guidance is crucial. Certainly, I feel the most important work I do with him is the pre-round stuff, where he will make sure I am fully activated half an hour before I go out to play. Warm-downs are also really important.”
Justin Thomas’s Core Workout The following session will power-up your core. If you are doing these exercises for the first time then seek form advice from a PT, to help avoid injury. Pick three of these moves to do at first, and then build up to doing the whole workout over time – it’s Justin Thomas’s pro athlete workout, after all! Allow 2-3 minutes rest between each exercise.
Swiss Ball Crunch Sets: 2 Reps:15-20 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Medicine Ball Rotational Throw Sets: 3 Reps: 8-10 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Resistance Band Reverse Crunch Sets: 2 Reps: 15-20 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Dumbbell Split Squat Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Resistance Band Woodchop Sets:2 Reps:15-20 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Mountain Climber On Sliders Sets: 2 Reps:15-20 Rest: 30-45 seconds
Dumbbell Reverse Lunge Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 Rest: 30-45 seconds
WHAT NEXT? Want to know what strength and conditioning advice the European Tour gives its pros? Hear it straight from a strength and conditioning expert working inside the European Tour Performance Institute (EPTI), William Wayland, in this RSNG.com article.