Ryan S’s Blog
Over the past several decades, fitness in golf has been a highly debated topic. Until recently, fitness was viewed negatively on the golf community and was something you “never” should do. However, even though times are changing, people still critic the place of fitness and lifting within the golf community. Prime examples of this are Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Both of these elite golfers are known for their tremendous talent, as well as their love for fitness. Unfortunately, both golfers have had their fair share of injuries, which many blame lifting in the weight room as the main cause. However, that is not the case. Tiger was ahead of the time when it came to fitness and golf. He and his trainers did not have the knowledge we have now when it comes to the importance of posture and proper movement patterns. Rory’s injuries are not a result of lifting weights. His injuries are from improper movement patterns and poor technique when lifting weights. Not only did he have poor form, the exercises he was prescribed were not beneficial to his game or the sport of golf.
As a fitness professional, I can confidently say that all golfers need to lift weights. Why you may ask? Despite what many people think, golfers ARE athletes. Just like any other athlete, golfers need strength, power, mobility, stability and endurance to be competitive. Brooks Koepka is a prime example of this. The morning before the final round at the U.S. Open, his trainer posted a picture of him doing heavy incline bench press. You can imagine the buzz this picture creates around the golf community. His accomplishments show the golf community that you need to also work on your game off the course in weight room.
Lifting weights are not the only thing you need to focus on when it comes to the weight room. What’s the best way to train? I suggest you work with professionals in your area if you’re trying to be competitive and improve. But, if you don’t want to do that, here are a few tips. It is vitally important that your workouts focus on mobility, stability and strength. Depending on the time of year or your competition schedule, you should focus on different aspects of strength, power, and endurance. Mobility should always be a part of your routine all year round before and after your workouts. Remember it’s important to warm up and prepare your body for the workout ahead. Hopefully, some of this information helps you. But, whatever you do, remember golfers ARE athletes and because of that we need to train like athletes!
We are all looking to get the best results from our training. However, are we getting the best results if we don’t really know what we need to improve? This is where a movement screening comes in handy. The results from movement screening can help you program your training to improve and restore your physical limitations.Physical or movement limitations can lead to improper movement patterns, posture, and over time can lead to injury. Movement screenings are also a good tool to use when trying to establish the cause of pain or injury.
There are two reasons why I like to screen my clients. First reason being if I don’t know what to fix, I don’t know what to program. And if I don’t know what to program then I’m just guessing on what needs to be done to get the most out of my client’s training. For example, if one of my clients fails the tow touch test, it’s going to be hard for me to teach them movements that involve hinging the hips. This is because if they don’t know how to properly hinge their hips it will be hard for them to get in the proper position to preform the lift. The second reason I like to screen is for personal record keeping. What I mean by this is that sometimes in the gym it feels like we aren’t improving or making progress. However, improvement isn’t always amount lifted, weight loss or aesthetics. Knowing where we started from allows me to keep track of what we have improved on and what we have not. If you have never been screened I suggest you get screened just to see where you are and if there is anything you need to improve on!
This month’s exercise of the month is Landmind Squat Press.
This exercise is a great total body strength exercise. I like using this exercise with my athletes for two reasons:
- Its easier to keep a neutral spine angle
- Its a great exercise for creating explosiveness
Give it a try!
You ever feel locked up in your upper back or thoracic spine? This month’s mobility exercise is a great way to create more mobility in your upper back.
This exercise is called reachbacks (quadruped with external rotation). This exercise targets the upper body, chest, mid-back, shoulder, and t-spine to be exact. When performing this exercise make sure you try to remain stable throughout the entire range of motion. Go ahead and give a try!
This month’s exercise of the month is half kneeling step outs with rotation. Take a look!
This exercise is good for developing core and hip stability with rotation. When performing this exercise you are targeting the abs, glutes, core, hip flexors, hips and thoracic spine. It’s a great full body exercise. However the best part is the only equipment you need for this exercise is a golf club. Go ahead and give it a try!
Over the past year, I have focused my training on improving my game on the course. Why you may ask? There are two main reasons why I chose to do this. The first reason is actually simple. I wanted to improve my game on the course, and I’m a firm believer that begins in the gym. The second reason is I wanted to train as I have my clients train. For me, it’s the best way to understand the pros and cons of certain exercises and programs. In fact, it allows me to be a better coach, for I understand how those exercises and programs affect the game on the course. By experiencing it first hand, it enables me to put together programs that I know work for my clients and in turn help them achieve the best results. Saying that, how has my game improved from the gym? My movement, mobility, and power have greatly improved, allowing me to play the game how I want when I need it.
How has my movement improved? My movement patterns used to be affected by my poor posture, especially throughout the individual movements. Now, a large majority of my workouts begin with dynamic warm-ups, which are focused on posture and golf specific movements. Focusing on these movements before I train has helped me to improve my posture. In turn, this has helped me with my posture and body movements during my workouts and golf game. As a result of improved movement patterns, in addition to extra time working on mobility before and after exercises, I have seen great improvement in my mobility. This increased mobility has improved my ability to swing without limitations and to control my movements throughout my swing painlessly and with ease.
After improving my movement patterns and mobility, I began too shift my focus on developing more power that was specific to golf. The most effective way for me to do this was by adding plyometric and rotational work into my workouts. By adding plyometrics to my programs, I was able to add the power to my game like I wanted.
Hopefully by reading this, you can now realize how work in the weight room will improve your skills on the course. My suggestion for building an effective program is that you build it around 3 main things, and they are movement patterns, mobility and power. I feel that these three things are important in helping your game get to the next level.
Last month, I started an article about the importance of warming up properly before a round of golf. So, let’s review what we talked about in the last post. How many of you walk up to the tee, grab your club and just hit the ball, as the player in the video below?
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’d bet a fair amount of money that the majority of you reading this are guilty. I know I am. But, why is it important we warm up properly? Golf is a rotary ballistic sport and puts a tremendous amount of force on the body. Not only is it important to warm up and prepare our body for the physical demands of golf, the right warm up before you play can improve your ball striking ability, smash factor, and driving distance. Not warming up properly will not only hurt our performance, but there is a good chance it could lead to injury, which no golfer wants.
Now, you see why its important to warm up. But, how do we do it? It’s simple. I like to break my warm ups into three parts; putting, easy chipping, and stretch/full swings. The first two steps are straight forward. But, what are the best stretches to do before performing full swings on the practice facility. It’s important we target all the muscles used during a golf swing. Here are a list of stretches that I feel prepare your body for the physical demands of golf.
2. Arm Circles (Both Ways)
3. Shoulder Stretch
4. Forearm and Wrist Stretch
5. Pelvic Tilt
6. Upper Body Rotation
7. Lower Body Rotation
8. Toe Touch
9. Hamstring/Calf Stretch
10. Squat to Overhead
Next time, you’re at the course, make sure that you try this warmup before your start your round and reap the benefits as shown below. Im not guaranteeing you will be a tour pro like this golfer, but I bet you perform better and play better.
The exercise of the month for March are squats. Why squats you may ask? Squats are a fundamental exercise that everyone needs to be doing. They help in building a strong lower body and help golfers establish a stable base in their swing. Squats target almost everything in the lower body; glutes, hamstrings, hips, knees and quads. The best part about squats is the variety of ways in which they can be preformed. For the majority of my clients, I have them perform goblet squats, box squats and front squats. Here are a few videos of my clients squatting.
Try to add squats into your program this month and get the most out of your training.
Lately, I have been asked many questions regarding certain mobility exercises and stretches. So, I decided to start a monthly mobility blog. This month’s mobility exercise is called 90/90. This exercise is great in helping to increase the internal and external rotation of the hips. It’s not the most comfortable exercise, but it’s very effective.
So, how does it work? Get in the position the pictures below are showing.
Your front and back leg should be at a 90 degree angle, hence the name. Lean forward till you feel a stretch in the glute of your lead leg. Then, move back up slowly and lean forward again. By doing this, we are working on external rotation. Now, for internal rotation. Staying in the same position, turn your body to your back foot and then lean slightly down on your foot until you feel a stretch.
Then, slowly come back up to your original position and do it again. After completing both sides, go ahead and switch your legs around and repeat the process.
How many of you walk up to the tee, grab your club, take a few swings and then just let it rip? I’d bet a fair amount of money that the majority of you reading this are guilty. I know I am. But, why is it important we warm up properly? As I have mentioned in previous articles, golf is a rotary ballistic sport and puts a tremendous amount of force on the body. After reading this statement, hopefully, the majority of you do not need any further explanation. However, I’m sure a few of you will. Just like warming up before we train, it is important to warm up and prepare our body for the physical demands of golf. Not warming up properly will not only hurt our performance, but there is a good chance it could lead to injury. Just arrive a few minutes earlier than normal and do some light stretching and see how much it benefits you. Early next month, I will be writing the second part of this blog, which will contain a short warm-up that will benefit every golfer.
The exercise of the month for February is Dead Bugs. For those of you that have been following my recent articles, hopefully you can see by now how important posture is. Dead Bugs are a great exercise to help strength your core and help you in creating a more neutral posture. It is also a great exercise for working on your motor control and coordination.
How do you perform a proper dead bug? First, start off lying on your back with your legs and arms up in the air as the picture shows.
Second, pull your rib cage down and allow your lower back to be in contact with the floor. Then, you’re going to move your opposite arm and leg away from your body as the picture shows.
Try and do two to three sets of fifteen to twenty reps.
Last weekend, the entire NBS team and I, had an amazing opportunity to attend the Elitefts Sports Performance Summit at Ohio State University. It was a once in the lifetime opportunity to have all of those brilliant minds together in one place. At the summit, we were lucky enough to learn from some of the best strength coaches, nutritionists and chiropractors in the country. We learned about everything from strength training, nutrition and movement evaluation. All the information learned will benefit my clients, as well as me as a coach. On the ride home, I had some time to reflect on what I learned and how I am going to apply that knowledge to my training style and philosophies.
What did I learn?
- Never stop learning. It is important that you never stop learning or trying to improve. You must continue to seek knowledge and experience. This not only benefits you as a professional, but also benefits your athletes and clients.
- Not everything goes according to plan. As a strength coach, it is your job to have an organized plan for every client, no matter his or hers goals. We plan out stretching, mobility, weight training, nutrition, etc. However, it is important to understand that not everything goes as planned. No matter what the reason is, it’s important that we are able to adapt to our athlete’s training at a moments notice. There is no reason to stick to the plan if it’s not benefiting your athlete.
- There is no quick fix. You’ve heard of the saying, “slow and steady wins the race?” The same holds true when training an athlete. It is our job as strength coaches to ensure that our athletes understand and perform basic movement patterns properly and efficiently before jumping into anything complex. If we move to quickly and do not ensure that the athlete has proper mechanics, all we will be doing is promoting bad movement patterns that could lead to an injury.
- Take what you learn and learn how to apply it. It is important to take information you learn and apply it to your clients. Sometimes this requires you to think outside of the box. Not every training program is going to work for every client. Sometimes, you may not agree with the entire training program, but want to use only some of the program. Other times, you may like the basic ideas and principles of a program, but not the specific exercises. These types of situations and thinking are what enable you to teach as a coach and then in turn help you to grow.
Hopefully, this article gave some insight into what I learned this past weekend. To me, this information can help any career, not just mine. Just remember, it’s important that you never stop learning, go with the flow, realize there is no quick fix, and learn how to apply the new knowledge you’ve learned. If you do those four things, you’re started on the right path!
The golf season is just around the corner. Weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. It’s important that you start preparing your body for the long season ahead. How should you do that? There are 3 things you can do to make sure you are going to be prepared for those long and hot summer rounds.
- Start strength training
- Frequency: 2-3 times per week.
- Work on strengthening all of the muscles used in the golf swing. Training only 2-3 days per week I would do a full body workout each day.
- Focus on form and muscle contractions, not weight.
- Stay on top of your cardio
- Frequency: 2-3 times per week.
- Types of Cardio: Walking, running, sprints, sled drags, prowler pushes
- Work on your mobility
- Frequency: Everyday
- It’s important you work on your mobility everyday. When warming up at the gym, sitting around at the house, before a round, after a round. Whenever, it doesn’t matter where you do it just make sure you do it!
Best part about working on your strength training, cardio, and mobility is that they can all be done in one place. So you really have no excuse! Get in the gym and start your season off right before you step on the tee box this year.
The exercise of the month for February is the deadlift. Deadlifting is an important element to any strength-training program whether you’re just starting out or following an advanced program. It’s a great full body exercise because it engages both the upper and lower body. In fact, it also shocks your nervous system and improves total body coordination. Furthermore, the deadlift is especially important for golfers of any level. Why you may ask? When performing a deadlift, you are using multiple joints and strengthening many of the muscles used in the golf swing. One of the major components involved in the deadlift is the ability to hinge your hips, which also plays a crucial role in golf. By strengthening the muscles involved in deadlifting you will be able to create more power in the golf swing. Here is a video of one of my athletes performing a deadlift from blocks:
Best part about deadlifting is that everyone can do them. So you have no excuse not try it this month!
In my last article, I discussed the two different types of posture, S-Posture and C-Posture, and how important posture is to the game of golf. Recapping, posture is crucial in every shot you are attempting to hit. However, what part of the body plays the leading role in keeping our posture on point during the actual golf swing? If you guessed your elbows, you’re completely wrong. The answer you were looking for is the pelvis.
Why is the pelvis so important for golf performance? The pelvis plays an important role in keeping a neutral spine at address and throughout the swing. Pelvis movement is required in order to create an efficient swing for each golfer. The pelvis connects the upper body to the lower back providing stability and balance, which allows us to create more power with each swing. What does creating more power allow us to do? It allows us to hit the ball farther, which is something almost every golfer desires to do.
There are several muscle imbalances that can affect improper pelvic movement and positioning. The major causes are tight hamstrings, tight or overactive lower back muscles, tight hip flexors, weak or inactive core muscles and glutes. If you read my previous article on posture, you would recognize that all of these muscle imbalances are also problems when it comes to proper posture. However, the hips and glutes play a primary role in keeping proper and healthy pelvis movement. Tight hips cause a world of problems and injuries for golfers. Tight hips in many cases can result in knee pain, low back pain, foot problems and sciatic nerve pain. Many of these injuries can result in a golfer needing to take time off, if he or she is not careful or refuses to do anything to correct the issue. Weak glutes can also contribute to many of the same problems, as tight hips. However, weak glutes are also the cause of two major swing characteristics that golfers don’t want, early extension and loss of posture.
What is the best way to check the condition of your pelvis? If you’re looking for a test you can do at home, perform the pelvic tilt test. It’s very simple. Get in golf position and tilt your pelvis out and try to tilt your pelvis back underneath you. Here is an example:
If you have smooth movement in both directions with no pain or shake-n-bake, you’re in good shape. If you experience pain, especially in your lower back, or have little to no control, you have some work to do. I suggest you find a local TPI certified professional to help you figure out what is exactly going on. As you can see from everything I’ve talked about in this article, your pelvis plays a very crucial part in golf performance. So, make sure that your body is ready for everything golf throws at it, for every golfer knows you really have no idea what’s going to happen on the course.
Not only is good posture important in everyday life, but it also plays a vital role in the golf swing. In a perfect world, we would all exhibit a neutral spine position 24/7. However, due to jobs, stress, injury, and just day-to-day activities, we all lack the perfect posture that our moms tried to instill in us during childhood. Unfortunately, poor posture can translate into our golf game by interfering with the golf setup. These two posture flaws are known as S posture and C posture.
S-Posture is excessive curvature of the lower back, and is the number 1 cause of lower back pain in golfers.
It can occur in golf posture or in everyday standing position. During the TPI screening, we test for S posture during the Pelvic Tilt Test and the Glute Bridge Test. This excessive curvature of the lower back puts high stress on muscles in the lower back and inhibits abdominal muscles. This lack of activation in the core can cause a golfer to have unwanted swing characteristics, such as loss of posture or reverse spine angle. These series of events puts your lower body out of position in the downswing.
In most cases, S posture is caused by Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS). LCS is caused by a series of muscle imbalances that can lead to major injury. The muscle imbalances typically occur with four parts of the body: glutes, hip flexors, abdominals, and lower back. Often we see a client suffering from Lower Crossed Syndrome that has tight hip flexors, a tight lower back, weak glutes and weak abdominals. How do we correct LCS? In order to reverse LCS, we need to loosen the lower back and hip flexors while strengthening the glutes and core.
Unlike S posture, C posture deals with a C shaped curve occurring from the tailbone to the shoulders.
This posture can limit a golfer’s thoracic spine mobility. As a result, it reduces the player’s ability to rotate in the backswing, which is something we never want. This posture can sometimes be fixed by tweaking the golfers setup, but in the majority of cases it is due to a muscle imbalances. The muscle imbalances that occur in C posture are referred to as Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS). Upper Crossed Syndrome is due to tight muscles in the pecs, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and weak muscles in the serratus anterior, neck, and lower trapezius. We can test for this during the Overhead Deep Squat test, Lat Test, and Toe Touch Test.
Hopefully now you can see how important posture is in the golf swing. It is important that you get together with a TPI professional to make sure your golf game is the best that it can be. The majority of the time the only way to address these muscle imbalances causing the bad posture is by addressing these limitations in the gym or with a TPI certified professional.
I decided to start a monthly blog series on exercises that will not only improve your overall strength, but also your game. This month’s “exercise of the month” is a Farmer’s Carry.
What is a Farmer’s Carry? The easiest way to explain this exercise is to pick up something heavy and walk with it. When performing a Farmer’s Carry, I normally use anything from kettlebells, dumbbells, sandbags, hexbars and Farmer’s Carry handles. Sounds pretty easy, right? I dare you to try it and figure out that answer for yourself! Here’s an example:
How does a Farmer’s Carry help? A Farmer’s Carry is a great exercise for strength and overall total body coordination, which is important in any sport or just daily life. I like to program Farmer’s Carry for my golfers because it helps improve grip strength and core stability. These two components, grip strength and core stability, play a major role in developing an efficient swing. However, core stability plays the leading role. Without core stability, we are unable to control our torso while rotating. Last time I checked, this is an ability every golfer needs in order to be efficient. Which is exactly why Farmer’s Carry should be present in every golfer’s program, for it requires you to engage the core throughout the entire exercise. Go out and give them a try!
In the past, strength training in golf has been a highly debated topic. However, times are changing. Strength training is important in every sport, even in golf. That’s right, I said it! Proper strength training, on a regular basis, will help prepare a golfer for the physical demands put on their body, reduce risk of injury (lower back pain) and increase force production (ability to hit it further). When I say strength training, I’m not talking about becoming a elite bodybuilder, or even an elite power lifter like NBS’ own Christian Anto.
In fact, strength training in golf involves entirely different components. Why is that? Unlike bodybuilding and power lifting, golf is a rotary ballistic sport. Tremendous stress is put on the muscles and joints with each swing, specifically in the shoulders, lower back and hips. It’s important that your strength-training program focuses on these particular muscle groups. Also, important to remember, depending on where you are at in the season, (pre, during, post), your training program will vary and the goals you are trying to achieve will change.
How do you implement a strength training program that will reflect your golf game? Work with a professional that can design a strength training program for your specific needs. Why is this important? Your body works in a series of mobile and stable joints. There is not one specific way to swing a club. However, there is one efficient way for every individual to swing the club regardless of your swing. The best way for any golfer to figure out what his or her individual needs is to work with a TPI certified professional.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of traveling to New Orleans and learn from some of the best at TPI (Titleist Performance Institute). The goal of TPI is to show golfers how the body relates to the golf swing. As TPI professionals, it’s our job to prepare the body for the physical demands of golf and to ensure the swing is efficient for each individual person.
How is this done? We accomplish these goals by what is called the Body Swing Connection. In short, The Body Swing Connection consists of 16 physical screens that allow you to identify physical limitations affecting the golfer’s ability for an efficient swing and how to get them back on track and prevent them from any injury. Once the physical limitations are established, your TPI professional can begin the process of correcting them. As professionals, we don’t always know what is causing the limitation, but through a series of exercises we can start to see the actions needed to correct them. For example, if an athlete fails the glutebridge test, I will then take them through a series of exercises to see if there is an activation problem or just a lack of muscle strength. This allows me to then create a program to get the athlete on track in accomplishing their goals. So, if you’re a golfer trying to better your game, a golfer trying to hit it further or just a golfer trying to get rid of lower back pain, I suggest you go out and find a TPI certified professional to help you, especially with the off-season approaching!