With the big weather shift this week it signifies that we are getting closer and closer to the end of the golf season and many people will be asking what they can do in the off season. One of the best things you can to work on your golf game, and general health, is incorporating a strength training program. Most people feel they need to work on flexibility because as we age we feel we lose flexibility and mobility, which is true. As we get older we feel tighter and stiffer. But as we age we need to work on maintaining muscle mass much more than we need to work on maintaining flexibility. In addition, it is very common to see tightness as a result of weakness. So you can actually improve mobility by working on strengthening. Some of the other benefits of strength training include:
- Enhances immune function
- Maintains muscle mass, despite aging
- Improves strength and power
- Builds bone density
- Enables us to more rapidly recover from injuries and correct muscle imbalances
There are literally books written on the benefits of strength training so I could go on and on about WHY you should incorporate strength training. But let’s say you are convinced, now what? Sometimes the hardest part of starting a strength program is just knowing what to do. So let’s make it as simple as possible to get started.
Assess, Don’t Guess
You will always hear me say an assessment is the first step when working towards any goal. Can you start a program without an assessment? Sure. But entering into a fitness program without an assessment will possibly lead to a less efficient program or even cause injuries. Easiest place to start with an assessment is our Level 1 TPI Screen. Based on those results you may be able to jump right into a program or further assessments, such as our Selective Functional Movement Assessment or our Strength and Power Assessments, may be needed to provide us with more information. These assessments help guide the program so you train safely and work on the areas that you truly need to work on.
Focus on Prime Movers
The prime mover exercises are legs (hip hinge and squat), push, and pull. These motions will produce the greatest bang for the buck and they are the fundamental movements for all other exercises. When we do our strength testing we test how much you can push, how much you can pull, and how much you can split squat.
Legs - Squat, lunge, split squat, step-ups, deadlift
Pull - Row, lat pulldown
Push - Chest Press
Again it’s about efficiency. Why do 2 or 3 exercises when you can get a similar result with just 1? Focusing on your prime movers should force you into doing a lot of multi-joint exercises. Single joint exercises, such as bicep curls or knee extensions, are fine if we have some weak areas that we really need to focus on. However, most of those exercises are not very functional for golf or even normal activities of daily living. A split squat, for example, is primarily working on hip and knee extension in a functional pattern. If you are doing an exercise and you find yourself only moving one joint during the movement, ask yourself if that exercise is necessary or how you can turn it into a multi-joint exercise.
One of the biggest areas I see people struggle with a strength program is not lifting heavy enough weights because of the fear of getting big. I promise, you are not going to get big and bulky by lifting weights a few times a week. It takes a tremendous amount of work to gain significant muscle mass. But the weight also has to be heavy enough to get the benefits of strength training. There are different parameters of sets and reps that will produce different results. Ideally, you want to stay in the strength category and as you advance you can get into the power category.
Minimum of 2 Days per Week
It really only takes 2 days a week to start making progress. If you can commit to 3-5+ days per week that is great and you will see results faster, but it's not necessary to start. Each workout should be around 30-60 minutes. The most common way to organize the workouts is to either do total body each day or split upper/lower body. The more days per week you workout the more you would need to have each workout be focused on a specific area.
Start and End with Movement
Always begin and end your workouts with a good warm-up and recovery. Warm-up includes functional movement patterns, foam rolling, and some exercises that get the heart rate up. Functional movement patterns can be doing the same prime mover exercises but with no or little weight. Recovery should include some stretching, mobility work, or foam rolling. Make sure to spend a good amount of time on each. Ideally you would want to spend about 5-10 minutes for each warm-up and cool down. With most of our workouts the warm-up and cooldown take just as long as the actual workout.
If you are looking for a pre-built program to get you started check out a few of our basic programs in our online store. You can also reach out to us directly if you are looking for a custom program. https://www.bridgeathletic.com/store/integrativehealthandsportsperformance-48659