It’s a scene that repeats itself almost every year…
You wake up on New Year’s Day, maybe a little sore and tired from the festivities you took part in the night before. You roll over, scroll through social media on your phone, and then you see it.
There’s an ad featuring a shredded spokesperson telling you now is the time to get off the couch and GET. IN. SHAPE!
Sure, it’s a nice sentiment, and maybe some of us sign up for that gym membership and get after it for a few weeks. The rest of us, however, might roll back over into bed and think only of what’s for breakfast.
The bottom line is it’s hard to get excited about—and stick to—a fitness plan.
Enter the ultimate motivator: your golf game.
Whether you’re searching for extra yards or just want to be more flexible and agile while chasing a little white ball out on the links, having a solid fitness regimen can aid you in your quest.
And whether it’s cliché or not, those shredded fitness buffs in those ads were on to something. The new year is a perfect time to develop a plan that will improve your overall health—with the added benefit of working to improve your golf game as well.
For those who might scoff at the notion of devoting time in the gym to improve your game, look no further than the professional golf ranks.
The PGA and European Tours are filled to the brim with explosive modern-day athletes. Sprinkled across their Instagram feeds are videos of them bombing drives off the tee on the range alongside posts of them working up a sweat in the gym. Fitness has become synonymous with golf at the highest level.
But don’t think you have to be a Tour-caliber player to reap the rewards found in the gym. We caught up with Rory to get his thoughts on three tips he’d recommend for golfers looking to improve their game by focusing on fitness, and here’s what he had to say.
1. STRETCH IT OUT
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or a gym membership to check off Rory’s No. 1 tip to improve your fitness and your golf game. He’s all about stretching before and after you begin your workouts, and you should be too.
Whether it’s spending 5-10 minutes on a mat stretching your major muscle groups or getting more technical with resistance bands or a foam roller, Rory is all about getting limber and loose.
“The golf swing is an unorthodox movement, so having good mobility is essential for staying injury free. When a golfer has good flexibility and mobility, only then should the focus turn to improving strength.”
— Rory McIlroy
2. COMPOUND INTEREST
There are certain exercises you build routines around that serve as the bedrock of a solid workout. For golfers like Rory, who generate an enormous amount of energy from the ground up, deadlifts are a staple.
A deadlift is essentially picking weight up off the floor to waist height and lowering it back to the ground. Of course, there’s more to it than that, and you should always perform this lift with strict form. It’s a compound exercise, which means you work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
“This exercise works all of the major muscle groups, lower and upper body,” he said. “A solid lower body is the foundation of a good swing and the source of all power.”
By doing deadlifts regularly, Rory is able to target his legs, back, shoulders and arms all in one exercise.
By building practical strength and embracing the deadlift, Rory is able to execute as one of the most explosive pound-for-pound players on the planet. It’s no surprise to see he led the Tour in driving distance, averaging over 319 yards off the tee in 2018.
Compound movements, like the deadlift, are a great way to maximise your time in the gym and build some serious strength.
3. DON’T FORGET THE CARDIO!
For those who prefer to walk over riding in a cart, nothing is worse than reaching the turn with minimal energy left in the tank for the back nine. By incorporating cardio into your fitness routine, that’ll be a thing of the past.
Cardio will help you build endurance and maintain the range of motion in your joints, and it’s a great way to help you maintain your weight by burning calories. It’s a win-win.
There are dozens of cardio options out there to choose from. You can keep it old school and hit the treadmill, take it easy on your knees on the elliptical machine, row, or even mix in high-intensity interval training (like sprints) to burn more fat.
Of all the options available, Rory’s cardio method of choice is stationary cycling.
“Cycling is great for the legs, easy on the knees, and also ideal for reading or watching television at the same time.”
— Rory McIlroy
Stretching, compound lifts, and cardio. Sounds simple enough, right?
So next time you find yourself in bed getting yelled at by a muscle-bound talking head, flip the script and move—your golf game will thank you for it.