The secret to longer drives, more accurate putts and more energy on the golf course is no secret: its resistance training. Despite the ever-growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of resistance training (also called strength training), many people resist (pun intentional). The reasons to avoid strength training are usually rooted in fear or lack of knowledge, while the reasons to engage in this type of training continue to accumulate. Here, we quickly explore the misinformation and then review how strength training can and will dramatically improve your golf game.
Myth number 1: Strength training will make me big and bulky.
This is a woman’s worst nightmare, but it’s not rooted in evidence. Images of sculpted, heavily-muscled female body builders have created a common misconception that these physiques are an inevitable consequence of lifting weights. This is false. Female body builders have devoted their lives to those physiques. In general, women simply don’t make enough testosterone to get big and bulky without significant deliberate effort. Even men who train for the express purpose of adding muscle struggle to do so. No one gets bulky by accident. Strength training for 45 minutes will increase athletic performance, it will not transform your appearance.
Myth number 2: Strength training won’t help for a sport like golf.
I have to be honest, I don’t even understand where this one comes from, but I’ve heard it. I’ve had people ask me about training for golf and they say things like, “so you do a lot of light weights and stretching, right?” Wrong. Well, sure, lots of stretching, but the basic principles of strength training hold true for any athlete, regardless of sport, age and ability.
Strength training can help with anything, from reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, to increasing libido.
It makes sense on the surface that strength training would improve your drive. Driving is a powerful movement, and strength begets power, but let’s explore how. Having a stable core is critical to a successful drive, to facilitate power transfer from the legs through the shoulders. Core exercises like planks will create this stability, but squatting and deadlifting will yield additional gains. Dynamic movement of the legs with a stable core closely resembles athletic movements like a golf swing.
What might be less obvious, is the potential strength training has to impact your short game. Strength training increases the connections between your nerves and muscles and enhances motor control. Furthermore, being stable in your stance, which comes from strong legs, good balance and a strong core, will lead to more consistent putting performance.
Lastly, strong muscles fatigue less easily. Submaximal movements like a golf swing or walking (so, golfing) fatigue muscles more or less depending on the percentage of maximum strength that movement represents. Increasing strength reduces the relative percentage of maximum strength of a given movement.
Perhaps the greatest thing about resistance training for performance is that fairly modest amounts of time and effort are required to elicit results. As mentioned above, two 45 minute weekly sessions are sufficient to improve performance. If resistance training is new to you, consider hiring a trainer to teach you a new workout routine. You should start to notice a difference in just a few workouts!