Category Archives: Fitness

Fitness School

New types of fitness classes are opening all the time in gyms across Canada. Here are a few of the trendy, creative options you can enrol in today.

Calisthenics

One of the year’s most popular new fitness class trends is body weight training, according to a worldwide study by the American College of Sports Medicine. Also known as calisthenics, each class uses little to no equipment and instead incorporates activities such as jumping jacks and burpees.

“Calisthenics creates a good foundation as it focuses on the basics,” says Vahin Gounden, owner of a calisthenics gym. “Since your body will rely on its base level of strength, anyone—regardless of your level of fitness—can perform these workouts.” He says it promotes lean muscle mass while increasing mobility, flexibility, and endurance.

The explosive movements in each class require a short burst of intense power. Eat fruit and other nutrient-dense carbohydrates 90 minutes or more before class to boost your muscles’ glycogen levels. Creatine supplements are thought to improve workout performance when we’re doing quick, high intensity movements.

Boxing

Boxing classes help us improve our endurance, get toned, and burn up to 1,000 calories in a single session, says personal trainer Marisa Demos. Don’t let the fighting theme intimidate you. “Think of it as a cardio workout,” she suggests. “Most classes consist of you hitting the bag [with] jabs, hooks, and combos according to what the instructor says.”

Punching is hard work. To fuel what we do in the ring, take a page from professional boxers: eat complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal and quinoa, plus healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. Fish oil supplements may help reduce inflammation, muscle soreness, and stiffness after strenuous exercise.

 sand workouts

Outdoor beach weather is drawing to a close, but more gyms are letting us exercise indoors with a little sand between our toes. “Sand-based exercises [are] a more effective workout while remaining gentle on the joints,” says Minna Herskowitz, a personal trainer who owns a sandbox gym. She notes that sand’s soft, unstable surface and natural resistance force our muscles to work harder.

Any traditional workout can be done in a sandbox or beach fitness class. They’re especially popular with runners. “Sand makes it difficult to walk, so imagine how hard it is to perform a 40 yard [37 m] dash at full speed,” says Herskowitz. “If [athletes] can train on a surface that makes it harder to sprint, they will run that much faster on a stable surface like the track.”

Post-exercise recovery nutrition is key for endurance workouts such as running on sand. Focus on a meal or protein shake with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

Do more in less time

Fitness classes pack a lot of exercise into a small window of time, so even the busiest of us can reprioritize our own health. A two-year study found that having kids “significantly decreases physical activity in parents.” And even those of us without children find it challenging to make time for fitness: nearly half of all Canadians don’t get enough exercis

Yoga

A new twist on yoga is gaining popularity in Canada: aerial or anti-gravity yoga. “It takes yoga and yoga-inspired poses and suspends them in a hammock,” explains physical therapy doctor and registered yoga teacher Ariele Foster.

“It has a very athletic component to it. However, it can be tremendously therapeutic as well.” Plus, the hammock lets us play with backbends, handstands, and other poses we might not be able to do on the ground yet.

Yoga helps us build our flexibility. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements may also help us go deep into a pose by improving joint mobility for those of us with osteoarthritis symptoms.

Fitness Tips For a Stronger

Toss out those typical New Year’s exercise resolutions. Forget old, tired workout clichés. As we flip the pages of the calendar, our panel of influential fitness professionals explains why we should also flip the script on our exercise routines to make this our strongest, healthiest year eve

Make a life goal, not a fitness goal

“Is it hard,” asks Menachem Brodie, a certified strength and conditioning coach who has trained gold-medal athletes, “to make sacrifices to hit your fitness goals? Yes! But will you be more motivated? You bet your Tim Horton’s you will be!”

To unlock this type of motivation, dump traditional goals such as losing weight. They’re too ordinary to inspire us. “Stop seeing fitness goals as just items to check off,” Brodie says. “When our goals are something we care about, the path unfolds before us. Motivation to push through will be there!”

Go big or go home, literally. “Pick an activity that you’ve been wanting to do your whole life,” he says. “Hike up Everest. Kayak across the beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Go on a safari in Africa.”

Brodie remembers one client who had struggled to lose weight for years. “I asked her for a dream she had that would require some kind of fitness to accomplish,” he says. Brodie learned she wanted to climb South America’s Aconcagua, one of the world’s highest peaks. His client now had a life goal to shoot for, and getting fitter was necessary to reach it. For the first time in her life, she dropped the pounds, packed on lean muscle, and ended up hitting her 12-month fitness goals in just eight months.

“Don’t be afraid to dream,” says Brodie, “and don’t wait until you’re 100 percent ready—80 percent ready is more than enough. Get started!”

Brodie’s favourite exercise for 2017

Brodie loves hardstyle breathing. This abs exercise, popular with power athletes and martial artists, involves tightening our core and exhaling with forceful bursts. “Learning how to brace one’s core [and] recruit all of the core musculature goes a long way to keeping you healthy,” he says.

Focus on just one thing

We’ve identified our big adventure. Now break it down: if we want to be fit enough to hike BC’s West Coast Trail or surf in Hawaii, what must we do today to get there?

Gillian Mandich is a holistic health promoter at Ontario’s Western University. We reached her fresh off a media blitz on CTV’s The Social. Mandich recommends we pick just one habit at a time to improve. “The fastest route to failure is having too many new habits,” she explains. “You can eventually do them all; however, research is clear that you cannot successfully do them all at once. Choose one thing. Once that becomes a habit, begin a second goal.”

Our new activity should be something we’ve never tried before. “Getting out of our comfort zone allows opportunity for growth—both mental and physical,” she says. “The body responds to innovative, new movement patterns. If you’ve always wanted to try an obstacle course or an aerial yoga class, now is the perfect time.”

Taking her own advice, Mandich is experimenting with cryotherapy—exposure to extremely cold air. “It’s being used by athletes to reduce inflammation and enhance recovery,” says Mandich, noting that elite athletes such as Kobe Bryant make it a part of their workouts.

Mindset, not just muscle, matters

Mikayla Allen, a certified personal trainer in Toronto, says working out includes working from the inside out. “I’m all about mindset,” she says. “The secret to fitness success is to surround yourself with individuals who prioritize their own health and well-being.”

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” Allen explains. Studies show how we can embody the health, exercise, and eating habits of those around us.

There’s no need to ditch our friends. Simply be aware of how social groups influence us, and cultivate more fitness-positive social connections if necessary. Allen recommends joining a group exercise class, such as kickboxing. Group workouts motivate us more and help us meet like-minded people. In the New Year, Allen’s planning on doing choreographed jump-rope workshops. “The rope is an incredibly effective and efficient way to exercise,” she says.

Allen’s 2017 fitness forecast

Allen is excited by the buzz building around Pilates high-intensity interval training. It combines Pilates’ strengthening exercises with high-intensity interval training cardio.

Find your trigger

“Our struggles with being healthy are due to cultural habits,” says Ontario-based personal trainer, family therapist, and fitness author Tim Sitt. “This is decades of conditioning. The reality is we live in a sedentary context.”

Breaking free from our sedentary lifestyle means making exercise an all-day habit instead of it being relegated to a specific timeslot at the gym. “Incorporate healthy movement into your day with specific triggers,” says Sitt. Combining psychology with exercise, behavioural, and emotional triggers includes the following.

Sitt’s 2017 trend alert

“My favourite trend is natural movement,” says Sitt. “Looking at the evolutionary development of the body gives us clues about how to take care of our bodies.”

Winding down

If you’re exhausted after reading all of this, Ann Green shows us how rest and relaxation is an essential element of our fitness program. With a master’s in exercise science, Green was a world-competitive athlete for 15 years and is now the founder of a yoga studio in Barrie, Ontario.

“Why is nobody talking about rest?” asks Green. “Enjoy bursts of movement activity, then embrace the rest. There’s nothing indulgent about a nap. It’s a necessity.” Research reveals rest is actually one of the most important components of any workout routine. It’s during our downtime, not our gym time, that our bodies repair and get stronger.

Powered Fitness Edge

A wide receiver wide open to something new

One of Whalen’s go-to vegan staples is coconut water, which he drinks before, during, and after exercise. “I’ll often mix other things with it, like spirulina or lemon juice,” he says. “Spirulina adds amino acids, and lemon juice is alkalizing.”“A healthy plant-based diet has had an extremely positive effect on my athletic performance and overall health,” says Griff Whalen, a wide receiver who’s played for the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. “I’ve become stronger, leaner, and faster, all critical for my career. I feel much less soreness in my joints and tendons, feel like I can breathe easier while training or competing, and feel more recovered the next day.”

This NFL athlete has convinced many people to give veganism a try, including his teammates. “My biggest recommendation is to educate yourself … and find some great resources,” Whalen says, since the switch can be quite a change. “Have someone help you make a plan … so you can be successful.”

Plants for the goldi

Rebecca Soni has won dozens of medals at the world’s top international swimming competitions, including three Olympic gold medals. She switched to a plant-based diet simply to try something new. “I thought it would be a fun challenge,” she says. The positive results were more than she’d imagined

“The breakthrough was realizing how sluggish animal foods made me, and especially the effect of dairy on my allergies,” she says. “When I dropped the allergy meds I’d been taking for 15 years, I knew I was onto something good!

“I just feel better. My mood is lighter. I’m more ready to take on anything. I feel I can go for longer, whether it’s a run, a swim, or anything else. I recover faster—soreness is much less intense and passes quickly. And I have a growing respect and connection to all people and living beings.”

Soni starts every morning with a vegan smoothie, adding superfoods such as hemp and chlorella. “The most important is the greens,” she notes, such as spinach and chard. “Blended greens are much easier to digest than simply munching on them.”

Soni says the top worry she hears from people is about having to give up cheese. “I was a cheese lover in my past too,” she laughs. “Focus on what you have to look forward to, not what you’re missing out on.”

A swell ideaOlympics.

“I’ve been vegan for three years now,” says Blanco. She made the jump after watching Forks Over Knives and similar documentaries on traditional Western diets.

“Prior to being vegan, I ate a lot of dairy products that made me fatigued,” she recalls. “Cutting the dairy helped with my energy levels. I feel lean and toned from a plant-based diet.”

Blanco has become an advocate for a vegan lifestyle, doing ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and appearing in documentaries, such as the sequel to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cowspiracy (2014). “I’m [a huge fan] of the team that produces the documentaries, so for me it was a no-brainer to be involved,” she says. “I want [viewers] to take away that eating a plant-based diet will benefit your health.”

A lean, green fighting machine

Heavyweight boxer Cam F. Awesome—a four-time USA Boxing national champion and self-proclaimed peanut butter addict—did a vegan challenge when he lost a bet. He hated the first few weeks as he went through junk

food withdrawals, but then he began feeling better and turned the challenge into a lifestyle.

“Since becoming vegan, I’ve learned how to realize what my body needs,” says Awesome. “My goal is to change what a ‘vegan’ is considered. You can be vegan and cool and strong.”

While many of us may think being plant based is an all-or-nothing switch, Awesome sees no problem easing into it. “I’m 100-percent vegan,” he says, “and I understand that not everyone wants to make that commitment. If you just eat plant-based once a week, you can be one-seventh healthier!”

 

Isometric Exercises

What Is Isometrics?
Isometric exercise is your body’s answer to the question, “What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?” The answer is that your muscles will get stronger without actually moving. If you’ve been doing your homework and reading up on strength training, then you already know that your muscles gain strength when you challenge them to produce more force than they’re used to. This is typically done by forcing them to move against resistance or weight, like when you do a bicep curl while holding a dumbbell. As you gradually increase the weight or resistance, the muscle responds by getting stronger.

But muscles don’t actually have to move this added weight in order to get stronger. If the resistance is so high that they can’t make it move, they can still get stronger just by trying. There are three ways a muscle can contract to produce force (and eventually build strength):

  • concentric contraction occurs when a muscle is contracting while getting shorter. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, when lifting a dumbbell up during a bicep curl.
  • An eccentric contraction occurs when a muscle is contracting while getting longer. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, when lowering a dumbbell back down during a bicep curl.
  • An isometric contraction occurs when a muscle contracts without changing its length or causing any movement of the bones to which it is attached. The best example of this is pushing against a wall, or pulling up on a window that is stuck. This is the contraction your biceps do, for example, if you were to pauseanywhere along the lifting or lowering phase of a bicep curl—your muscles are working without shortening or lengthening.

Why Include Isometrics
There are several very good reasons to include isometric contractions in your strength training program. For one thing, real life situations often require the ability to hold yourself in a certain position—carrying several bags of groceries, squatting down to scrub a floor, holding a baby in your arms—and isometrics is a good way to train your muscles to get better at handling those specific positions. For another, isometric training usually involves exerting maximum force, which will activate and train all of the available muscle fibers and lead to more significant improvements in strength in less time.

But perhaps the most significant benefit for many people is that isometric training can literally be done anywhere, without any special equipment at all. All you need is about 10 seconds to do a single, effective isometric exercise, and you can probably do it without anyone noticing you’re actually exercising.

Let’s say, for example, that your day is just too busy for you to break out the dumbbells and do several sets of bicep curls. If you can find 10 seconds, a couple of times during the day, to press your palms together as hard as you can, you can still exercise your arm muscles effectively. If you can sit in a chair with your abs engaged (tightened) and your feet held just slightly off the floor, you’re giving those core muscles a good workout. If that’s too easy for you, just push down on your knees with your hands while trying not to let your feet touch the floor. To work those upper back and neck muscles, clasp your hands behind your neck, elbows wide, and push your head back while trying to push it forward with your hands. With a little creativity, you can think of ways to use one muscle or limb to oppose the opposite one (or find some immovable object in your environment to push or pull against), so that you can give most of your muscles a good isometric workout. As long you exert as much force as you can for at least 10 seconds for each exercise, you’ll get the training benefit.

Adding Isometrics to Your Program
Supplementing your concentric and eccentric strength training exercises with some isometric exercises is ideal. In addition to using isometrics when you don’t have time to do anything else, as described earlier, you can also add them into your regular routine, to make sure you’re really working your muscles to the point of maximum overload.

There are many ways to do this. For example, you can easily turn a regular exercise into an isometric one by simply pausing and holding, somewhere along the range of movement, for a few seconds. In general, it will be harder and result in greater benefit when you hold closer to the very top of the lifting phase or the very bottom of the lowering phase (without actually getting there).

It’s also good to vary the holding point from workout to workout in order to maintain strength through the whole range of motion.
You can also use isometrics to involve additional muscles in some regular exercises too. For example, if you’re doing a plank exercise to strengthen your core muscles, try adding a few isometrics to engage your upper body. Instead of keeping your elbows straight and locked, bend them just slightly and try to hold that position. That will give your arm and shoulder muscles something to do, along with your core muscles.

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.

 

Techniques To Improve Grip Strength

How To Train The Grip

Traditional isolation exercises people often think of as grip work, wrist curls for example, aren’t all that effective. What really gets your grip strong is doing compound movements with significant load where the implement is held in such a way your grip is the limiting factor.

With more programming and movement variations geared towards improving grip strength in coordination with peak tension and stability throughout the pillar (shoulders, hips and core functioning together), we not only ensure greater carryover to athletic performance but also that building strength is not only adding poundage to the bar, but is maintaining proper biomechanics, and movement function. This is because making grip the limiting factor limits load, which would otherwise be moved with heavy compensation patterns and loss of positional authority at the spine, pelvis, shoulders and hips.

“For the golfers purposes training should provide the opportunity to strengthen movement patterns, improve injury resilience and enhance central nervous system function”

Thick Grips

Below is Rafa Cabrera Bello hitting some thick grip RDL’s (he’s MacGyvered a thick grip by wrapping a towel around a standard barbell) to improve his grip strength. This variation provides all the same benefits as the double overhand deadlift just amped up thanks to the larger circumference of the bar.

You can also use fat gripz that attach easily to any barbell or dumbbell therefore allowing you to do a greater variety of movements

Deadlift With A Double Overhand Grip

Whilst the mixed grip is incredibly popular on powerlifting platforms, as it reduces the grip strength requirements and allows more load to be lifted, for the golfers purposes the mixed grip is a missed opportunity to develop grip strength as well as increasing the risk of injury and pain in the elbow and biceps tendon. It also means less co-contraction and stability throughout the forearms, shoulders, core and hips is developed.

Note: At certain points in time, depending on your goals and injury history it maybe worthwhile to deadlift with a mixed grip, this is fine, but be sure to alternate your grip around each set

 Kettlebell Bottoms-Up Presses

Turning the kettlebell upside down and pressing whilst keeping the bell straight up requires grip strength a plenty, as well as scapular stability and huge amounts of co-contraction between the forearm, shoulder, upper back musculature and core. In fact, those with elbow or shoulder pain when pressing will often find this pain free as it turns on secondary stabilizer muscles so much.

Towel Grip Rows And Pull-Ups

Whilst the grip is taxed phenomenally these variations also place a huge emphasis on shoulder and scapular stability thanks to the unstable/ flexible nature of the towel.

Gym

Some people think that golf is more of an endurance sport and that we need to train our golfers like endurance athletes. This could not be further from the truth. To hit a golf ball the golfer needs to fire muscles in the correct order at maximal velocity.  Golfers actually share much more in common with a sprinter than a marathoner.  A sprinter operates at maximum intensity, relying on powerful, coordinated contractions.  Much more similar to golf than steady state cardio.  Sure you walk between shots, but being a great walker isn’t what differentiates great golfers from their competition.  Power is one of the key factors that set better golfers apart and, it turns out, power pays.  The most powerful golfers in the world use more fast twitch muscle fibers than the average golfer. Fast twitch muscle fibers can be trained using sprinting and ballistic training techniques.

Search “jogging” in the exercise section of the TPI site.  Of the thousands of exercises in the database, none involve jogging.

Now search sprinting.  Dozens of exercises, from shuttles to skips, that involve sprinting.

Most avid golfers already have fairly capable endurance systems.  Golfers walk between four and six miles during an average round so their aerobic cardio needs are being met just by playing golf and don’t require additional sessions.

Training Like A Sprinter

Interval training has been proven to reduce fat, increase cardiovascular capacity while increasing speed and power. Using a training method called HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) can help your golfer accomplish all their cardio needs while enhancing their ability to fire more fast twitch muscle fibers in their golf swing. HIIT training involves short bursts of 90-100% intensity exercise followed by full recovery.  It’s something that TPI instructor Dr. Mark Smith covers in detail during advanced TPI Fitness seminars, especially Level 3.  Generally speaking, your work to rest ratio should be in the area of 15 second to 1 minute of work followed by 30 sec to 2 minutes of rest. (1:2 Work: Rest).  If you were to add up all the work done in a week you goal should be around 10 minutes of high intensity interval training.

PGA TOUR joined Patrick Rodgers and his trainer Dr. Troy Van Biezen in the gym and broadcast it on Facebook Live during the week of the Memorial.  Check out his workout.

Skipping Challenge

One of my favorite HIIT workouts is skipping.  Skipping could be one of the best exercises ever invented in the history of mankind. I’m not one for making bold statements so I won’t go over the top on this one, but, simply put, skipping could be the cure for diabetes, cancer, delayed onset loneliness and the plague. Okay so now you know I like skipping but why, Jay?

Skipping is a self limiting exercise which means that you will stop skipping once you are fatigued or you lose your form. This makes it a pretty safe activity for all ages and income brackets. Skipping elevates the heart rate and can be used as a HIIT or using different tempo and cadence it can be performed for longer more moderate cardio bouts. It is fantastic for developing timing, rhythm, athleticism, agility and coordination. Skipping can also enhance power outputs in jumpers or any athlete using their legs as a source of power. It is plyometric in nature and can help you develop cannon ball calves that look like 4 litre jugs of milk hanging from your knees.

I like to add 30sec to 1min skipping bouts in my circuits or any time in a session I am looking to crank up the heart rate. I developed a Skipping Challenge for my athletes to encourage them to skip as fast as they can while developing various skipping skills.  The challenge is to perform the following sequence of skips as fast as you can. The 30 Second Skipping Club is a very small group of super star skipping phenoms that have completed the entire sequence in under 30 sec. Want to be a part of this elite group? Video tape your Skipping Challenge and post it on your social media with #30SecSkipClub #BeatTheCoach