I thought this would be a great topic to take on today, especially since we had a special guest in our office today tackling this very issue and I am traveling to my first event of the year as well.
You’ve been on track this entire off season with workouts, getting stronger and feeling great. But now the start of the season hits and all the sudden doing that intense strength workout that is usually scheduled for Wednesday just doesn’t seem feasible since you tee off Thursday morning.
This is one of the most talked about and debated topics in our office. What’s the right call? Can you really keep up the exercise intensity while playing tournament golf, or do you need to alter the plan? Or, should workouts stop completely? Well, the answer I am going to give you today is based more off of my personal experiences. I have handled this problem differently almost every year and can at least say one thing for sure, stopping workouts because of tournaments is not the answer!
That leaves us with a what more a question of intensity and proper programming during the competitive season.
Quick story, a mini tour player we have worked with over the years came in our office injured several months back. He had just started playing more tournament golf and had been on the road for 3 weeks playing almost everyday. He came home and only had 2 days off before playing his next event. This guy happens to work with another trainer and during those 2 days off, they hit the gym hard! He found himself in our office in a panic after that with back pain not sure if he could play the following day. This is a guy who had spent the entire winter working out, what went wrong?
It’s so important to remember that when golfers begin to play more golf, although you still want to provide a challenge, the changes going on in the body have to be considered. There is not way for a body swinging in one direction at speeds over 100mph will stay the same. When workouts slow down and swinging increases, this small imbalances that are always present in a pattern overload athlete begin to grow. If a golfer spends three weeks playing non stop (plus traveling!) and not doing any exercises to help offset the changes, there body will be different. And when you add a small window before the next event into the picture, there is no reason to be loading and going crazy in the gym! You are just asking for an injury. Instead, it is the perfect time to do re assessment and find out where the changes occurred and begin attacking them. Plus, the athlete would most likely need recovery time anyway and at this point, water and sleep will probably serve them better.
As you can see, figuring out how to fit exercise into tournament season can be a complicated rubix cube of planning, listening to the body and adapting to each situation.
I happen to be one of those individuals that plays best with a little soreness. This is due to the stability problems I am constantly working on. I need to know where the limits of my motions are in order to feel more connected. So if I rest too many days prior to an event, trouble starts. Instead, I do a moderately hard workout two days before the event to get the muscles fired up, and then follow that up with a 20 minute mini workout on the days I’m playing. However, my last hardcore workout before a tournament is usually 10 days prior.
This is just me though, and I have spent years trying to figure out the proper recipe. Most of the clients I work with fall more into a mobility category so their focus in the weeks leading up to a tournament is more on reinforcing movement. We will not necessarily work on increasing mobility though because I want them to feel confident in the amount they have. If we get too aggressive in changing their movement too close to the event, their nervous system may not have time to catch up and a tin cup situation may happen. Remember the unfolded lawn chair?
Here is my suggestion to you on how to go about figuring out what will work best. First, sit down and write out your tournament schedule, preferably on a monthly calendar so you can see the entire month at a glance. Then start adding in anything else that will effect your time like work, vacation, etc. If you have been on a strength based program over the winter (hopefully one that still included mobility/stability work), plan on tapering out of it about 2 weeks from the first event. That doesn’t mean you put the weights away until after tournament season. What it means is that you need to look for windows of time. You know your body best and how you recover. And, there are ways to continue using kettlebells, weights and barbells while in season, just not maxing out every week! You are looking for stretches of time to increase intensity back up, even if it’s just for a few days. You can use the 10 days out rule to figure out when the last hard workout occurs.
In those 10 days leading up, you are reinforcing movement patterns, continuing to activate the body with primal patterns like squats, lunges, rotation, anti-rotation, crawling, rolling, skipping. I also like to push my lungs a bit doing some interval training. And if you are familiar with the Tom House series of exercises, I make sure those happen everyday, especially when golf increases. They are a great way to fight off imbalances getting too out of control!
This will be a subject we continue to address this month on Monday Rehab, if you have an specific questions, let me know and I will make sure to include them!
I’m headed to bed early, resting up for my tournament on Wednesday!