Monthly Archives: May 2017

Boxing for fitness

Boxing for fitness is not only a great workout, it’s also a lot of fun. There’s no need to step into a boxing gym to get a great sweat going; your own living room or backyard will suffice. This at-home boxing workout can be done with very little equipment.

Twist

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands by your face, making two fists.
  2. Engage your core and twist from side to side, keeping your feet planted into the floor and twisting from your waist

Boxer’s Skip

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms by your side.
  2. Imagine you’re holding a jump rope (or if you have one, use it). Skip from side to side (like a slalom skier) as you jump rope.

Side to Side Lunge

  1. Stand with feet as wide apart as possible, toes facing forward.
  2. Reach one arm to your opposite foot—trying to touch your foot.
  3. Bend the knee on the side you’re reaching toward.

Arm Circles Forward

  1. Stand with feet together, arms out to your sides and parallel to the ground.
  2. Make large circles forward.

Arm Circles Backward

Stand with feet together, arms out to your sides and parallel to the ground,Make large circles backward.

Rear Lunge

  1. Standing with both feet together, reach one leg behind you and bend your knee toward the ground.
  2. Step back, and then reverse your legs.
  3. Reach arms over your head as you bend down.

Workout

You will need two sets of dumbbells, one heavier and one lighter. Weights do not need to be extremely heavy; you’re looking for tone, not intense strength. You may also like to use a mat for floor work.

Do 1 set of each exercise; after completing them all, repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times.

Punching

Alternate arms for each punch— 30 seconds on each arm,Do 1 cycle, and then repeat.

Stance for punching:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then step forward with left foot; place right foot at 45 degree angle.
  2. Place weight on the balls of your feet, knees slightly bent, fists at cheekbone level.
  3. Jab—punch forward with a slight turn of the hips—for 2 minutes.
  4. Uppercut—push upward and slightly across with your arm, with a turn of your hips—for 2 minutes.
  5. Cross—push from your rear hand across your body—for 2 minutes.

Goblet Squad

  1. Hold a heavier dumbbell in front of your chest, feet a little wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping core tight, slowly sit back in a squat position.
  3. Squeeze your gluteals and stand back up.
  4. Repeat.

Chest Press

  1. If you have a bench, lie flat; otherwise lie on the floor.
  2. Place dumbbells in hands and reach arms up with hands parallel to your chest.
  3. With palms facing forward, slowly drop your elbows toward the floor—don’t go past your chest.
  4. Reach back up and repeat.

Crunches

  1. Lie on your back with hands cradling your head; relax your head and neck.
  2. With feet on the floor, engage your core and slowly lift up about 3 in (7.5 cm) from the ground.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly release.
  4. Repeat.

Muscles worked: abs

Barbell Deadlifts

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand; stand up tall with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keeping core tight and legs straight, slowly bend forward without rounding your back—hinging from your hips.
  3. Let your arms hang in front of you.
  4. Slowly come back to standing, maintaining your posture.
  5. Repeat.

Push-ups

  1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees, with hands underneath your chest (the wider you go, the easier the exercise).
  2. Keeping back flat and core engaged, slowly lower yourself toward the floor, keeping your eyes down.
  3. Slowly bring yourself back to starting.
  4. Repeat.

Standing Shoulder Press

  1. Stand with feet parallel, hands by your shoulders holding a dumbbell in each, palms forward.
  2. Engage core and push hands up and together, over your head.
  3. Release down slowly back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat.

Burpees

  1. Stand tall with arms over your head.
  2. Squat down and put your hands on the floor, then jump your feet back behind you.
  3. Stay strong through your core, then jump your feet back toward your hands.
  4. Jump up straight with your arms over your head.
  5. Repeat.

Pillars Of Golf Strength

Strength 

Strength is the most misunderstood and under-appreciated physical quality for golfers in my opinion. The main reasons for this are Tiger Wood’s injury woes, misinformation spread by golf media and instructors, and the common dogma that strength training is dangerous. It is extremely frustrating when people with no qualification or expertise in an area spread their mis/uninformed opinion to millions of people. This has meant that convincing clients the benefits of getting stronger is sometimes an uphill battle.

Increasing the force production that can be attained in a movement is largely determined by two factors. One of these is neural factors, in very simple terms the quality of the signal sent from the brain to the relevant muscles to produce the requested movement. This entails improving synchronisation of the involved muscle groups, and increasing the recruitment of the fibres (especially fast twitch/type 2x) in those muscle groups. It is through these neural improvements that enable significant increases in muscular strength and power, without increases in muscular size. Why can someone like Justin Thomas at 5’10 and 145lbs/65kg swing the driver at 118 mph on his fastest efforts? A large reason is neural efficiency. He must be good at recruiting all of his available muscle fibre, and I bet he has a decent proportion of fast twitch fibres. Thankfully this ability is highly trainable.

The second factor that nobody seems to like to talk about for golfers is muscle size. Bigger muscle fibres have potential to be stronger muscle fibres, and stronger muscle fibres have the potential to produce more force. This is critical because club head speed is the expression of force production in the golf swing. The golf swing is an explosive powerful move, which our physical preparation should reflect.

For older golfers the loss in muscle strength and muscle size due to biological aging is the primary reason why people don’t hit the ball as far as they get older. The good news is that there is an abundance of research proving that with appropriate exercise and diet interventions this decline can be hugely delayed and reduced. In addition, depending on your current training level, physical qualities can actually be improved as we age. I have worked with golfers in their 70’s who have made huge increases in strength, power, distance, and everyday function. I’m sure many of the people reading this have too. Please do not let your age discourage you from engaging in strength training. If you get some professional guidance it is one of the best investments you can make for golf and health in general.

Motor Control 

Motor control is the ability to carry out the movement you intend to do. Motor control is an issue when you have the required physical qualities for a movement available to you, but find it difficult to access and coordinate them to produce it.

An analogy often used to explain this, is that motor control is like the driver in a race car. You can have an excellent car with great acceleration, horsepower, brakes etc, but without a competent driver you will never get to see the car operate at its full potential. This is similar with how humans work for optimal performance. Someone can have a great frame and leverages, lots of speed, power, strength, mobility, etc. but without the ability to funnel these into coordinated movements that match their intentions, they will never operate at their best.

The pelvic tilt test in the TPI screen is an excellent examination of motor control. Most people have the necessary physical qualities available to perform the movement, but find they cannot replicate the movement you have just demonstrated and explained to them. Interestingly once you teach them how the movement feels by going through some regressions they can usually do it no problem. When someone can perform a move that minutes earlier seemed impossible, it’s a good sign that the brain has played the most important role in the change. The athlete has not changed much physically in those couple of minutes.  The progressions outlined in TPI Fitness Level 2 are excellent for this.

Motor control is extremely important for golfers (and other athletes). Having higher levels of motor control makes it much easier to follow cues from your swing instructor on the range, making technical change more achievable. The same holds true for your physical training. When an athlete understands and owns their movement, increases in physical qualities like speed, power, strength, always improve much faster. Good news all round.

Stability & Balance 

My definition of stability is the ability maintain a position when a force is trying to disrupt it. Balance and lower body stability are similar and I often don’t differentiate between the two. There is more to stability than maintaining balance on our feet however. It’s very important that we look at the pelvis/trunk. For golfers, pelvis/trunk stability is mainly about controlling pelvic tilt, pelvic rotation, and torso rotation (see motor control).

Our bodies centre of mass (COM) is located around our hips. If we cannot maintain stability at our COM it makes generating maximum power and efficiency very difficult. Ideally, a golfer can use their trunk to transfer power from their lower body to the upper body, and eventually into hands, club and ball. When someone is lacking pelvis/trunk stability we often see “power leaks”. Kids are common victims of a lack of pelvis/trunk stability, often due to the rate they are growing. This makes controlling the COM much more difficult. Their limbs are often capable of producing more power than their pelvis or trunk can stabilise. Due to this, large improvements in strength and power can be seen in kids from working on pelvis and trunk stability. It gives them a chance to use and control the raw materials that are already present.

This is returning to motor control slightly but another important element of pelvis/trunk stability is allowing us to get maximum contribution from the desired muscle groups, and reducing injury potential. If a golfer does not have the strength to control and transfer force through their trunk, they may have a tendency to fall into excessive anterior or posterior pelvic tilt during the swing.  When this occurs they will not be able to use their gluteal and abdominal muscles optimally, and put more stress on the lower back. This is disadvantageous for power production, and injury prevention.

Golfer Can Learn To Fitness

Justin Rose is a major champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist and a stalwart in international team competition.  This you probably know.  What you might not know is that he’s an absolute beast in the gym.  While Dustin and Rory and Jason probably get more attention for their workouts, Justin is another pro that golfers should model their approach to physical preparation after.

Justin works with Justin Buckthorp, a London-based strength coach who trains numerous pro golfers, including Chris Wood and Charley Hull.  Smart trainers usually create smart (and strong) clients.  The Justin’s are no exception.  Justin Rose recently sat down with Dr. Ara Suppiah on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive to discuss the importance of fitness, nutrition and warm-up.

Justin has battled back pain since his days as an elite amatuer.  In his appearance on Morning Drive, he talked to Dr. Ara about how he’s addressed his back issues through strength training.

To be clear, pain is not normal or accepatable in golf.  If you’re in pain, get assessed/treated/stronger ASAP.  However, like any sport, injuries happen in golf and the gym is sometimes unfairly presented as the cause of pain or injury in professional golfers.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The VAST majority of golfers aren’t in pain more BECAUSE of the gym.

Dr. Rose discussed this in a recent response to criticism of Rory’s workout regimen.  When we assessed Rory at TPI as a teenager, we saw elite hip speed (720°/second), an enormous separation of upper body and lower body (66°), but underdeveloped strength.  Above-average mobility and below-average strength is a common combination in younger golfers, but it’s also a dangerous combination.  The work Rory and Justin are doing in the gym is aimed at improving these deficiencies.

This process of first evaluating golfers and then developing a plan to improve is core to the TPI philosophy.  Whether the TPI screen we teach in Level 1 or the Power Screen we teach in the advanced Power seminars, our aim is to help professionals understand individual athletes better before developing their program.

In another segment for Morning Drive, Justin demonstrated a few exercises from his warm-up.  We’ve tried to hammer home the importance of doing some sort of body-prep before playing a round (if you’ve missed this, start here).  For most amatuers, a 10 minute pre-round body prep offers the most efficient path to improvement.

“How many times do we see amateur golfers only starting to play well on the back nine because they’ve just started loosening up,” says Justin.  “Maybe we can cheat that with just 5 – 10 minutes before you go to the range.”

“Everything I do pre-round is based on a pyramid of mobility, stability, strength and power.  You can’t have strength and power without the underlying blocks.”

Golf Fitness

I Have To Mimic The Golf Swing In The Gym To Get “Golf Fit”” Your workout doesn’t have to look or feel “golfish” to benefit your golf game. “Many keen golfers, recognising the need to strengthen the body to improve their golf game, hit the gym with their golf swing in mind. Generally the go to piece of equipment is the cable machine to perform some kind of weighted golf swing. “Golfish” exercises can be detrimental to your swing, despite the best intentions. You will have competing motor demands. Basically, in your attempt to replicate the swing, your brain files that information in the golf swing folder. After performing numerous altered swing patterns in the gym, these habits will cross over into your swing, impacting your mechanics. With the additional weight attached, you may sacrifice technique and stability in an attempt to mould that sought after swing position, in the process making unnecessary compensations. The best way to enhance the body to optimize performance is to develop sufficient stability, mobility and strength in a holistic manner, focussing on improving human movement quality such as squatting, lunging, hip hinging, pulling and pushing. When you become proficient in these movements, that movement literacy will carry over into you being able to meet the physical demands of the swing.

Here’s Gray Cook explaining why exercises like Half-Kneeling Chops are terrific for golf despite not looking like the golf swing.

 Weight Training Will Make Me Too Stiff For Golf!

In fact, it has been proven that strength training improves mobility, anaerobic power and strength (Fatouros et al,2005). Not only that, but they found that performing strengthening exercises at a higher intensity, elicited a higher response, and subjects kept these gains for much longer than a lower intensity program. This correlates highly with myth number one as these patients were elderly too. Since when did being stronger become a negative thing?  Morton et al, (2011) showed that a full range strength program was as beneficial to flexibility as a stretching program. Good strength training should be complimented with mobility and core work. If you can move better through greater ranges of motion and you can lift heavier weights without any pain, why in the world would you want to stop?

Weighted Clubs To Warm Up Before A Round

Many amateur golfers warm up on the first tee by using two irons together, and making several swings. There are much more productive ways to better prepare your body for the swing. In actual fact, studies have shown that swinging with weighted clubs can reduce your initial club head speed by up to 30%! By taking a weighted club, you are swinging it lower than your normal club head speed. By swinging slowly, you are effectively telling your brain that this is the speed you are supposed to swing the club. The brain accepts this information and uses that as your new club head speed. Many golfers aren’t capable of making an unimpeded swing with one club in their hands, and are reluctant to swing too hard in the early going in case of injury. If risking injury in the early going is the main concern, why would you make your first few swings with a heavier implement? If anything it should be the other way around.

Static Stretching Is The “Best” Way To Loosen Up

Those times are long gone! To paraphrase the late Mel Siff, the term “warm-up” should probably be replaced by “pre-activity preparation.”  If you are still applying static stretch and hold prior to your round or even in the gym, thinking it will benefit your golf, you are sorely mistaken. Numerous studies have shown that static stretching prior to a round of golf actually DECREASES your ability to produce power! Not only that, Fowles et al. (2000) proved that your strength is also reduced by up to 28% immediately after a stretch, and by 9% up to an hour later.  A study conducted by Jack Wells and Ben Langdown suggested that banded exercises were the most effective for power production in golf. Lastly, if you’re tight in a particular area, you need to ask yourself why you’re tight. As Nick Buchan from Stronger Golf so eloquently put it-“A muscle is tight because it’s protecting a perceived instability, compensating for another area, or is guarding against a perceived threat.” In essence, by stretching the tight muscle, you could be treating the symptom, not the cause of the problem. For the record, the most beneficial way to prepare the body for the swing is through a series of dynamic movements, often incorporating mild resistance such as resistance bands.