ASK GOLF FITNESS EXPERT CLAY GARLAND
(Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, Class-A PGA professional and author of "GOLF FITNESS FOR MEN.")
You can read past questions and answers after this intro. or by clicking here.
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Hello ISUCKATGOLF fans!!
I am a PGA Professional and TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor. I was brought on board to help everyone improve their game from the inside out.
I have been in the golf industry for the past 8 years and have had the opportunity to work at some really cool places. I’ve spent time at the Walt Disney World Resort, worked as a club rep for Taylor Made Golf, run tournaments in North and South Carolina with the Carolina’s Golf Association (CGA), served as a golf-intern coordinator at North Carolina State University, started a company called Global Golf Consultants, Inc., and most recently I wrote the book Golf Fitness FOR MEN. I guess you could say that if has to do with golf, at some point in my career I’ve done it. My first job when I was 16 was mowing a 27-hole golf course near my hometown of Canton, NC. Well, I guess “mowing” is a little glorified because technically I spent most of my days with a weed-eater in my hands. The best part about working on the grounds crew is being able to set the pin positions every morning!
I believe that teaching the game should not be limited to technical instruction. In my lessons I like to split it up into two parts: exercise and swing analysis. First, I work towards creating better stability and range of motion, then move onto the specifics of the golf swing. Being in better shape not only helps your game, but more importantly helps reduce your risk of injury so you can continue to play for years to come!
I’m looking forward to any and all questions you have for me so don’t be shy!
Clayton Garland is a Class-A member of the Professional Golfer’s Association of America, Titleist-Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, author of Golf Fitness FOR MEN, and Co-Founder of Global Golf Consultants, Inc. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University where he received his B.S. Degree with honors. He is currently pursuing his MBA at Campbell University. His book, Golf Fitness FOR MEN, approaches the game of golf and improvement from the aspect of improving health and fitness. The main components of the book include: strength, flexibility, mobility, stability, motivational factors, nutrition, and the cause and effect relationships between fitness and the golf swing. Clayton has worked with aspiring tour players and many students of the game. He works closely with medical professionals and golf swing instructors.
We're thrilled that Clay has agreed to join the ISUCKATGOLF team and know he can help us all get in better golfing shape and to "suck" a little less! Thanks Clay and Welcome aboard!
How to stay hydrated...more than just drinking water!
Weight Training. More Reps or More Weight For Better Golf?
Easy Wrists and Forearm Strengthening Exercise
Nutrition is the foundation from which all life begins. If you are able to conquer what you stuff in your pie-hole, you will get the results you are after. You can do 1,000 crunches per day, but you’re still going to have a belly if you continue to eat what you want, when you want. Does this mean you have to eat celery and drink water everyday? Absolutely not! In fact, go ahead a have a beer or two at the end of the day…you deserve it.
There is no secret to nutrition. Your body needs a certain amount of calories everyday to maintain its current state (stay the same weight). Eat more than you need and your body stores it in reserves called fat. It’s that simple. So what you have to be able to do is find out how many calories you need everyday, and shoot for a number that is lower. The easiest way to do this without a bunch of fancy calculations is this:
Your current body weight X 10 = the amount of calories you need to stay the same weight
So for example, if I weight 200 pounds, I would need 2,000 calories per day to stay the same weight as I am now (200 x 10= 2,000). Once you figure you have figured this number, you have a base line from which you can start.
If you think 2,000 sounds like a lot, think again. Most fast food combos will run you between 1,000 and 1,500 calories! That’s 75% of your daily calories in one stinkin’ meal! The best way to eat during the day is in small portions, but more frequently. Personally, I try to eat every three hours. I also aim for about 400 per meal which, considering I usually eat 6 meals per day, equates to about 2,400 calories per day.
One last point to get you started, a good rule to live by is this: if it didn’t exist 200 years ago, don’t eat it. Basically what this means is stay away from prepackaged foods and soda. Protein bars are a great way to get a meal in if you are busy or at work. I think they are a beautiful thing and I eat them like crazy. These protein bars should be the exception though, not the rule. Get your nutrition from lean meat, potatoes, rice, whole wheat breads, beans, nuts, and fruit. They pack a big nutritional punch and do not contain excess sodium and preservatives.
Much more to come so check back often!
Ever wonder why you always stretch, but never seem to get any more flexible? It seems like a pretty simple concept right? Stretch your muscles to increase range of motion and flexibility right? Wrong! There is much more to increasing your range of motion and flexibility than bending over and touching your toes. Stretching a muscle that is cold does little good. This is because the muscle will contract back to its tightened state quickly after the stretch.
In order to get the most out of your stretching routine, you must first warm up your body’s core temperature. How do you do this? Light exercises that do not require high intensity. Some examples might include:
- pushups while resting on your knees
- swinging your arms in big circles
- squats with no weight
- curling light weight
- dead lifts with no weight
- jog in place
Performing 10-12 repetitions of each of these exercises should help to increase your core temperature and get your muscles warmed up. Now that your core temperature is raised, your muscles will be less resistant to contracting back after you finish stretching. This will also allow you to stretch the muscle fibers further with a reduced risk on injury.
When stretching, the best way I’ve found to maximize your time is to hold each position for 12 seconds, relax for 3 seconds, then immediately hold the stretch again for another 12 seconds. This process does not allow the muscle enough time to begin to contract and helps to elongate the muscle even further. A few last tips that will help keep you injury-free:
- Never stretch to the point of pain- stretch until you feel strong resistance and then hold.
- Slowly come out of the stretch. Putting a muscle on a strong stretch and then immediately releasing tension can lead to a pulled muscle.
- Breathe during the stretch- holding your breath reduces blood flow and oxygen.
Follow these basics of stretching and you are well on your way to increased flexibility!
Whether you workout or not, whey protein powder should be a staple in your nutrition. Americans do not get enough protein in their diets, (among many other things) and the easiest way to do that is to toss down a protein shake. Powders come in a variety of flavors and forms. All my experience with countless brands and flavors has led me to the conclusion that chocolate or vanilla is the best bet for good taste. Whey protein is a milk-based protein and is quickly absorbed by your body, making it ideal for breakfast and after workouts.
Keep in mind that if you are lactose intolerant, you should not use traditional whey protein. As I mentioned earlier, whey protein is milk-derived. There are a few companies that make fast-absorbing proteins for those who choose not to consume dairy products or are lactose intolerant (which is no small percentage of the population surprisingly).
Personally I use 100 percent Whey Gold Standard Protein because it is good quality, and it tastes great. Protein works like fiber in that it helps to keep you feeling full without sugars and refined carbohydrates. Another word of advice, make sure you do not mistake whey protein for weight-gainer. Some labels can be misleading, so always check the nutritional facts on the back of the container. What you need to look for is a protein with two hundred calories or fewer, low carbohydrates (five to ten grams), and at least twenty grams of protein per serving.
It comes with the territory that increases in muscle will lead to increases in strength. The focus of your training should be on the latter, strength. It’s far easier to better yourself in the gym if you focus on getting stronger, not bigger. A common misconception is that lifting heavy weights is for power-lifters and bodybuilders…..wrong. Stressing and taxing a muscle is the only way to gain strength. The muscle must break down in order to get results. After a hard workout, your body signals to itself that in order to adapt, it must rebuild the muscle bigger and stronger. So what are some good exercises for building strength? COMPOUND EXERCISES!
Compound exercises are those that work more than one muscle group at one time. Great examples of these exercises include: squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, pushups, and clean-and-presses. These exercises should be the foundation of any good training routine. They should not be performed every time you workout; once per week is fine. Make sure to use proper form, especially with squats and deadlifts. Proper form would be knees bent, shoulders back, head up, and slow controlled motions.
When training to play better golf, it’s better to perform higher reps than lower. Remember we are not trying to bulk up. For example: performing 3 sets of 5 repetitions should be performed only if you are trying to bulk up. Higher reps such as, 3 sets of 12 are better suited for gains in strength without the large muscle mass. A good sample workout would be as follows:
- Pushups- 3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Bench Press- 3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Clean-and-Press- 3 sets of 12 repetitions
- Pull-ups/Assisted Pull-ups- 3 sets of 12
- Twisting Crunches- 3 sets until failure
Note that most people are not able to perform many pull-ups if any at all. In this case it is fine to an assisted pull-up machine. You will notice that for crunches I used the term “failure”. This means that you perform twisting crunches until it burns too much to continue, i.e. muscle failure.
A question I am often asked is how and why is stretching important? This is a great question and one to which few know the real answer because the answer is two-fold. All muscle in the body is wrapped in what is called fascia. The fascia is a sheath of connective tissue that supports and binds muscles and organs of the human body. The fascia is necessary for muscle protection but can hinder muscle growth and flexibility because it can restrict a muscles ability to grow and lengthen. That’s not to say that a muscle can’t grow if it is not stretched, but it certainly helps. If you’re like me, any advantage you can get over the other guy, you’ll gladly take! So the next question is inevitably, how do I work to loosen the fascia and maximize my stretching and weight-training efforts? Good question, and thanks for asking. Stretching is not the only way, but it is the most effective way to help release the fascia’s death grip on your muscles. The secret is stretching at the right time! Timing is everything. The best time to stretch and expand the fascia is right after your workout. The reason that stretching directly after a workout is ideal is because the muscles are already warmed up from the workout, and more blood is flowing into your muscles. Stretching while your muscles are in this state can help increase the pressure on the fascia, thus creating room for those toothpicks to grow and stretch!
Here are a few stretches that focus on the major golf muscles:
Lower Back Extension
Pull Up -Hang Bar
Seated Glute Pull
In the spirit of helping others with the economic crunch, I thought I'd provide some "cheap workout" moves for those who have recently cut their gym memberships. Just because you don't have fancy equipment doesn't mean you can't get a great and effective workout! Make no mistake, these moves can wear you out. These workouts are great for golfers looking to increase the strength and flexibility of their muscles, and the explosiveness of their golf swing.
When performing this exercise, make sure the box is no more than knee-high. Any higher and you can run the risk of falling over the box and that will put an end to your workout pretty quick. Stand flat-footed on the ground, bend your knees and explode up and forward onto the box. Make sure you don't skip up onto the box. This defeats the purpose! Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
Box High Steps
When performing this exercise, start with one foot on the box and one foot flat on the ground. Using the leg that is up on the box, thrust yourself upwards and kick your opposite knee toward the ceiling. This will do two things: fire the fast-twitch muscles of your legs while stretching your hips and quads. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps for each leg.
When performing this exercise, start with ankles crossed on a box or chair at a height that puts you about parallel to the ground. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps every other day to increase your upper body strength needed for longer drives.
The day before a big event it is really important to take it easy at the gym. Light weight and moderate cardio is a good call as it will stimulate blood flow and keep you conditioned without leaving you sore. Drink a few glasses of water the night before to make sure your body is properly hydrated. Waiting until the first tee to start hydrating is too late and your mental focus will suffer. Stretching before going to bed will actually help you sleep better. Stretching helps reduce stress and increases blood flow. The morning before a big event, avoid eating anything that contains a lot of fiber. Starchy foods in the morning are a good idea (banana's, muffins, cereal, or bacon and eggs). Try to get some protein in with your meal as well. While on the course, stick to protein and meal replacement bars that pack a lot of nutrition, but will not weigh you down.
see also Golf Nutrition by Susan Hill
Rules of Hydration
You hear commentators talking about it on every broadcast. It makes up a majority of the game and has nothing to do with the club you are holding in your hands. The most challenging part of the game takes place between your ears. Being able to harness the power of your brain and focus on the shot at hand is paramount in taking your game to the next level. One factor in being able to retain your focus is staying properly hydrated before and during your round. The human body is made up of nearly 70% water. When you participate in a sport or are out in the heat, your body begins to release water to the surface of the skin in an effort to cool you down. This water evaporates, which causes the cooling process. However, this water is gone once it evaporates. It is critical to maintain proper fluid intake in order to keep your brain and other organs functioning at a high level.
Rules To Stay Hydrated:
• Drink 16oz of water or sports drink before bed, the day before your round
• Drink 12oz of water or sports drink every 4 holes
• If you drink beer or soda, DO NOT include that in your fluid intake calculations
• Eat at the turn- nothing heavy- just a powerbar or half of a sandwich to keep water from flushing from your system too quickly.
Wrists and Forearms
Strength and flexibility in the wrists and forearms are an important part of your golf swing. Keeping these areas strong and flexible serves many purposes. They reduce the risk of injury, help generate clubhead speed and stability, maintain clubface angle in tough lies, and manipulate ball flight patterns. When lifting weights, strong wrists and forearms allow you to support more weight for a longer period of time, increasing muscles growth in other areas of the body.
Luckily, these muscles do not call for heavy weight lifting. One great way to build forearm and wrist strength is to simply palm a basketball. Grip a basketball with you hand and hold it upside down as long as you can. Perform 5 or 6 repetitions of this for each arm. For those with smaller hands, use a women's or youth basketball (28.5"). Another way to build strength is to hold a barbell in your hands and rotate your hands back and forth (imagine turning the handle of a motorcycle).Do these 2 or 3 times a week and you'll have stronger hands and wrists and should definately see improvement in your golf game.
Having strong back muscles are what allow you to keep a proper spine angle during the swing. They also help with posture. It's very important to use a full range of motion when working out your back. Pull-ups are a great way to work the entire length of the back. If you can not perform a pull-up, most gym's have assisted pull-up machines. The lower back takes a lot of stress during the course of a round so strengthening this area is critical to longevity. The best exercise I know of is the hyper extension. Almost all gyms have this simple device that brace your lower body as you raise and lower your torso. These two exercises should be the foundation of your back workouts.
PAST QUESTIONS FOR CLAY
I read a lot of websites that say doing low reps around 2-4 is best for sports like golf because they develop the fast twitch muscle fibers more than the aerobic ones when doing reps of 12 or more. Can you explain what a good middle ground would be? I was thinking like 8 reps. Also i read somewhere about preparing mentally cause even if you have a high percentage of fast twitch if you try to hard then they dont work properly. it seems to be true cause occasionally when im not trying to drive the ball 500 mils i will actually hit it around 300 yds. When im trying to kill it, i hit it around 240. Anything you could tell me would be great and i appreciate you taking the time.
Thanks for the question, it's a good one. In order to work fast-twitch muscle fibers you have to perform quick explosive movements. While lifting heavy heavy weight for only 2-4 reps will help recruit more muscles fibers in order to lift the weight, it will not be fast-twitch specific. It is correct that the fast-twitch muscles of the body help in the golf swing. The swing is a quick explosive movement, so your best bet is to mimic that in the weight room. Quick explosive movements with a lot of weight can lead to injury so stick with body weight when performing these exercises. Exercises of this type would include squat jumps, push-ups (thrust yourself off the ground), and box jumps. When you perform normal lifting routines, the best way to go is to perform drop reps of 10,8,6,4,10. This will mean you progressively add weight as you lower the reps. The last set, perform a set of 10 with the weight you started with. Hope this helps!
Clayton Garland, PGA, C.G.F.I.
ng. High Rep
I have been trying to figure this out for a while now. I understand that bulk isn't important in golf due to the fact it might inhibit motion. But i read on some websites that to achieve maximum strength with out bulk that the person should do exercises at a high % of the person's one rep maximum, with short repetitions, done with a long rest in between. Each rep should be done slow.
I am just curious what is right, is lifting heavier weights at lower reps
(1-5) versus moderate reps at (10-12)
The answer to the question is BOTH! The majority of your workouts should contain exercises that challenge your balance and stability. Your normal lifting cycle should stay in the rep range of 10-15 per set. However, your body will adapt to a certain training style over time and you will plateau. Once per week, train with the high weight/low rep strategy to shock your muscles and help eliminate the plateau effect.
Thanks for the question!
I am 62 years old and in what I think is pretty good shape for my age. In the past two months I have developed a problem. I am left handed, and as I turn away from the ball, my right shoulder is freezing up and limiting my rotation. I do not encounter the problem unless I am attempting a golf swing. From what I read, I am guessing I may have a rotator cuff problem. If so, could you recommend some exercises to fix the problem?
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Thank you for the question and your problem is not uncommon. A colleague of mine made this short video, technically for volleyball but it is perfect for what you need to do. All you’ll need is a resistance band. Start with the lower resistance and use stronger ones as you become more comfortable. Also make sure to stretch your shoulder as often as possible buy pulling it across your body.
Recommended stretches and exercises for Volleyball that also work for Golfers
Recommended Rotator Cuff Exercises
Good 20 minute all around exercise routine for Golfers
CHECK BACK SOON FOR MORE GREAT GOLF FITNESS TIPS BY CLAY!
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