Guessing, Not Assessing
Not assessing your weaknesses and strengths is one of the worst things you can do during a training program. If you are going into a workout without a clear goal for the day, month, or even year then you are not getting the most out of your workouts. There are benefits to exercise for general health but if you really want to improve your golf game then you need to know the areas that need to be worked on. Having a professional take you through a TPI screen is a great place to start.
Improper technique may seem like an obvious fault to avoid, however, most people don’t even know their technique is wrong. Improper technique can lead to injuries or possibly feed into the muscular imbalances you are trying to correct. Working with a personal trainer is the best way to make sure your form is on point. Even if you don’t want to work with a personal trainer all the time, working with them for a few weeks for some guidance on form can be very beneficial.
Set and Rep Counts for Hypertrophy
In general, golfers shouldn’t want to put on a lot of muscle mass. When you add muscle mass, you run the risk of sacrificing mobility. For that reason, you should avoid the volume that is most likely to add muscle mass which is 10-15 reps for 4-8 sets. To improve muscle endurance we stay above 20 reps, for strength 6-8 reps, and for power less than 5 reps.
Focusing on “Beach Body” Muscles
Unfortunately having big guns and six-packs aren’t very useful for golf. If it's a coincidence that you get well-defined muscles from your training program, then great! But designing programs to focus on cosmetics and designing programs to focus on golf performance are two very different things.
Golf Specific Movements
Just because you are trying to make your golf game better doesn’t mean you should do a bunch of golf swing exercises. Rotary chop power is an important part of any program but it's a small part. Programs should be designed to make you a better athlete first, then you can get into sport-specific exercises.
Doing exercises on machines can be good for developing initial strength if you are really weak or if you are wanting to add muscle mass. Other than that, we should try to use mostly cables, bands, and other free weights. The benefits of using free weights is that it makes you stabilize your body and use the ground while performing the exercise, just like with your golf swing. If you are always sitting or lying on a bench while performing an exercise, that won’t help you learn those key functional traits.
Going Too Light
When I walk into the gym I see most people that are closer to doing nothing than actually working out. If you truly want to make strength or power gains you have to push it hard. You should be aiming for an intensity of 70-100% max effort. That is a lot harder to do than people realize. When I consult on golfer’s workouts programs this is the first change we make a majority of the time. **Only do what you are comfortable doing. But you should be trying to work towards the goal of increasing the intensity to that ideal range.
Everyone wants to jump straight into strength exercises because it is more glamorous than doing mobility exercises. However, when we go through assessments, we find a lot of mobility issues in most golfers. Mobility always needs to come first. If you lack the mobility and start strengthening around it, then you are either going to make that dysfunctional pattern worse or you are going to make it harder to get that mobility later on.
I see this more with playing rounds of golf than working out, but recovery is something that is looked over by most people. Although you may not feel physically exhausted after a round or two of golf it still takes its toll. You are performing an activity for hours that includes a lot of explosive movements and maintaining stability. That will put a lot of stress on muscles and over time they will break down. There are a lot of great tools to help with recovery but the best place to start is better nutrition, better hydration, and better sleep.