Golf Fitness: Endurance and Injury Prevention

December 12, 2010

While these two topics may not be as sexy as “power,” I believe they are two of the most important goals anyone exercising for golf should keep in mind.  You can have all the power in the world, but if you can only hit 3 or 4 drives at 90% power before your swing starts to fall apart, what’s the point?  Also, if you throw your knee out while swinging at 90% power, you’re not likely going to see much benefit from packing on all that muscle, are you? (Unless you’re TW, but let’s face it, if you are, you probably aren’t reading this).  Let’s get right into it, shall we?


Depending on your particular goals, I recommend incorporating various amounts of EACH of the following:

1) Cardio! – yeah, I know, I hate it too.  The key here is to maximize two things: duration and intensity.  For a golfer, it is more important to max out duration for our particular goals.  Whether you want to be able to walk 18 without being sore the next morning, or (like JK and myself) walk 36-45 and be able to play the same amount the next day, you must work your heart.  If you haven’t done much of this in a while, walk before you run.  Like golf, cardio can be just as much a mental challenge as a physical challenge.  You have to believe you can finish the distance/time that you have in mind.  Try starting with a number you feel you can easily achieve and push yourself from there.  One of my biggest problems when I started working out was trying to do too much too quickly and getting discouraged from failure.  Prevent these kinds of silly mistakes by keeping your expectations in line with your abilities.  (Funny how that translates in to the golf game).  My personal favorites include jumping rope (I try for 20 minutes), swimming, and the row machine.  I have bad knees, so it’s difficult for me to run much further than 1.5 miles without severe knee pain.  The key here is to push yourself to your body’s limit, not beyond.

2) Weight lifting – follow the same regimen you feel comfortable with as described in Golf Fitness: Power, but now lower the weight and max out the number of reps that you perform.  You can even add a set and really decrease the weight.  This will essentially become another cardio workout if you really get into it.  For example, rather than going at 80% of your max, drop to 35-40% and do 2.5 to 3 times the number of reps.  This will engage your heart and work on toning your muscles by increasing the exposure to the load.  Also, experiment with decreasing the amount of time between sets.  This will effectively increase your cardio output as well.  It is important to stay safe when working out at an increased pace.  Take care with weights and equipment for your sake and others in the gym.  Also, be sure to stay well hydrated when trying anything new with weights.  Cardio+weights is a serious combination that will work your body in new and different ways!

3) Carry your bag!  This might seem like a no brainer, but one good way to increase your ability to walk 18 and carry your clubs might be just that!  If you’re really gung ho, try adding a few water bottles or a couple dozen extra balls to increase the load.  I try to avoid this particular method of increasing endurance because I’d rather enjoy the golf, but if you play enough to where this is not an issue for you, go ahead and give it a shot!

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention, for golfers, is really a combination of strength and flexibility.  Increasing your strength will allow you to go at the ball harder because your muscles have the ability to control your body more effectively.  Part of this though, must be flexibility because in order for your muscles to have any room to move, your body must be flexible enough to create room.  Try a few of the following:

1) Basic stretching – While I’d normally take the time to write out a full stretching routine for you, there’s no point reinventing the wheel.  Virtual Fitness Trainer has outlined a solid basic stretching routine.  Take the parts that work for you and work on the areas where you feel most tight.  Golfers should focus on the trunk, hips, and shoulders in particular.

2)  Yoga and Hot Yoga – I personally have yet to try either of these techniques (JK, please chime in).  The flexibility benefits of these activities is obvious.  I would not recommend trying either of these without a trained professional.  Hot yoga in particular can lead to injuries if you are not careful.  Chances are, if you’re considering trying out Yoga, there’s a studio nearby with someone far more knowledgeable than either of us.  Give them a call!

3) Warm up before your round – This is easily the best way to avoid injury, particularly when playing in cold weather.  Do some of your favorite basic stretches on the range and hit a small bucket before your round.  If you have knee problems, warm up your knees, if you have back problems, stretch out your back.  The easiest way to avoid injury is to focus on the parts of your body that you know are prone to injury.  Listen to what your body is telling you and don’t push it beyond its limits.

4)  Stay Hydrated!  Part of maintaining flexibility is keeping your fluid levels up.  You may notice that you cramp more quickly when you haven’t had enough water in a given day.  A noted dietitian recommends drinking enough water to have two completely clear urinations per day.  This is an easy way to keep track and is generic to each individual person, so I tend to use it as well.  I also recommend avoiding replacing water with sports drinks.  While they do provide electrolytes (critical for staying hydrated), they also tend to contain more sugar and carbs than are necessary for golfers.  Stick to water on the course and use the sports drinks prior to your cardio program.

Please add your own personal warm up routine or cardio program below!  One great way to keep your workout interesting is mixing things up and getting new ideas from your friends.

One Response to “Golf Fitness: Endurance and Injury Prevention”

  1. JK Says:

    Regarding hot yoga, I found it (and still do find it) to be extremely helpful. I understand the concern on over-doing it, but that concern exists with any workout routine. Don’t work too much weight, to stretch too far, don’t run too far, etc. No matter what you do, you stand the risk of damaging yourself (either through injury or through misplaced energy) by overworking your body. However, the benefits of hot yoga cannot be denied. It not only helps you stretch (the heat provides some added flexibility), but it also peps up your circulatory system by allowing increased cardiovascular response. I highly recommend the Bikram Yoga series.

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