Pro golf is taking strength and fitness training seriously, with everyone from the top players to the tournament organizers looking at how best to optimize the time that golfers spend in the gym.
RSNG spoke to the strength and conditioning expert working inside the European Tour Performance Institute (EPTI) to discover the five simple things we can all do to maximize the impact of our training time, and boost our golf performance as a result. William Wayland of Powering-Through.com uses a science-based approach to delivering the gains that give European Tour pros a foundation of strength, which also translates to increased club head speed and drive distance.
Here are the things you need to do, for next-level body and golf gains:
STEP ONE: Build A Base Using scientific testing, as well as evidence from training golfers in the gym, the EPTI has pioneered the use of what they call the Probability of Performance Impact Pyramid.
At the base of the pyramid is the work you need to put in to build a resilient body. As a game, golf has an injury risk that accelerates the more you play, because 80% of golf injuries are Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI), usually from swinging the golf club.
The single most important component to improving skill is the availability of the golfer to practice. If you’re injury free then you’re able to put the practice hours in, and if you are injury resilient then you can frequently practice high speed swings. So, classic strength training in the gym, using resistance exercises should be your go to.
Spending too much time at the top of the pyramid creates an unbalanced structure and loses out on easier-to-achieve gains
STEP TWO: Club Head Speed The middle of the pyramid is where club head speed lives. Wayland’s own scientific studies have shown (see this RSNG article for more), this kind of training automatically increases club head speed, which in turn has a significant and direct impact on golfing performance.
STEP THREE: Technical Transfer Finally, at the top of the pyramid, is the transfer to technical ability. Simply put, if you increase your physical capacity, then this may transfer to more technical improvements in your golfing game, although it’s not as predictable or cut and dried. So don’t spend too much time at the top of the pyramid, or you will create an unbalanced structure and miss out on easier-to-achieve gains.
As Wayland himself points out: “As a result, we should focus on developing physical qualities, which will improve these areas in order of priority, and not overcomplicate training or become obsessed with achieving technical transfer.”
STEP FOUR: Be Adaptable The EPTI also teaches its golfers how to adapt to a lack of training facilities on tour. For instance a hotel gym may not have a squat rack or certain piece of equipment for a planned workout, but binning the whole session isn’t the way to go. “We encourage athletes to be pragmatic and creative when it comes to having a Plan B or Plan C workouts,” says Wayland. “It might not be optimal but they can be consistent if you are willing to be adaptable.”
This is transferable to your own training routine. The golden rule of strength and conditioning is that consistency pays off. So, if you are away from your base and the gym, then maintain your program by packing a bag of resistance bands for a lightweight, packable gym.
A progressive rehab and strengthening routine will work on your weak spot to bolster that joint and build up the muscles around it
STEP FIVE: The Bed To Barbell Approach If you play a sport of any kind then you’re going to get injured eventually, but the way you go about recovering from it will decide on whether you move on, or suffer persistent problems. “The Key approach with the ETPI is to encourage athletes, rather than seeking recurring physio treatment for a persistent issue. Perform a meaningful intervention that can offer potential long term solutions,” says Wayland.
For instance, got a sore back? Then yes, get it treated, but then go and start a progressive rehab and strengthening routine that works on your weak spot, bolstering that joint and building up the muscles around it so that it can better handle the forces of the golf swing.