Fitness and Travel (Or at Least What I’m Doing With My Professional Golfers)
I’ve been fortunate to have been a *mildly* successful professional golfer (eight wins in about 8 seasons). This on the heels of a (I’ll say it) slightly more successful collegiate career (lowest single season scoring average in Rice University history), which also followed an acceptable junior golf career. I also now work with a handful of professional golfers, a good number of collegiate golfers and about a half dozen very competitive junior golfers. So please hear me when I say no one, NO ONE, in any of those categories works out at maximum intensity every day, every week out of the year. The goal of every workout is absolutely not to end up in a pile of sweat.
Tournament golf is too physically demanding to also add super intense workouts during the week. If you’ve ever worn a whoop band or fitness tracker, you know just how demanding a round of golf is, even riding in a cart. It’s physically brutal.
So, the question becomes, what should we do about fitness while traveling and competing?
I know what the books say, but in this case I’ll be speaking from experience, both as a player and as a coach, and it will vary slightly from the perfectly sculpted periodization model our favorite manuals love to throw at us. Both player and coach know that trying to get into the gym to progress the workouts you just did at home won’t happen. It’s not a matter of will power, believe me, my resolve was high, and I train athletes who have even more in the tank.
It’s just too demanding to travel to a golf tournament, play a practice round or two, play the first round with a 7am tee time, go to the range after to iron out the kinks, and then get to the gym late in the afternoon before you have to tee it up again the next day. By the end of the first round, (still early in the week mind you), you have spent (typically) about 20 hours at the golf course, all on your feet, all swinging a club, burning mental energy, focusing, visualizing, fretting, breathing, relaxing and everything that happens every time you hit a ball. (Let’s not pretend smoking one doesn’t elicit images of donning the green jacket, and sniping one doesn’t make one shudder at the thought of being poor and homeless. That’s stress.)
Therefore, for my athletes I view what we‘re doing in three different categories: building season, maintenance season, and then tournament time, which I count as a further paired-down version of maintenance season.
Building season is what it sounds like: workouts designed to increase our capacity: strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness/recovery etc. Maintenance season is similar, and workouts keep most of the same exercises, they just rarely provide too many new stimuluses or heavier weights (helping us to avoid new and excessive soreness). But even status quo workouts have proven too much when a player is on the road and in the heat of battle.
Thus we’ve developed what I call “Micro Workouts”. They’re shorter workouts designed for two purposes specifically: activation and maint...if I type that word one more time I’m gonna lose it... and really just making sure the muscles get used.
Really, the biggest shift becomes how frequently we do them. During building and maintenance (which really is just in-season but at home), we try to hit a good solid three+ workouts a week, typically 45 min-1 hour, but when we are on the road, I ask my players to try and workout every day for about 10 minutes. The Micro Workout will usually include about 2-3 mobility exercises, a core/stability exercise or two, and then perhaps a dynamic movement as well, depending on what each player needs or we’ve been working on. (A sample workout for you to try is at the bottom of this post).
Ultimately, the gains are not found in maximal intensity, they are found in consistency. The Micro Workout was developed for that specific reason, to gain consistency. Whenever an athlete stays consistent on the road, they come home a little fresher, a little more ready to tackle the first workout back, and a little more quick to push the needle slightly higher. It’s less about the current week, and more about the future.
It’s really the only way to actually grow. It’s also a lot easier to manage than trying to always be pushing. If you’ve wondered how to get more consistent, this is one way that I’ve found. Life happens, it gets busy, but shaving down the time commitment and trying to get it in every day has been a game changer, for my athletes, but even for my “regular” clients. One of my business execs does his exercises with coffee every morning and, not surprisingly, he’s had the most dramatic improvement out of anyone in a short amount of time.
This is the way.
Disclaimer: (As usual, don’t undertake a fitness regimen unless cleared by your doctor for physical activity, and also assessed by a fitness professional to know whether or not something is in need of focusing on or avoiding to prevent injury)
Links to exercises:
Hip circles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GkMHnDL3ds
Adductor Rock Back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipbkXjWra2Q
Bodyweight Squat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJpeBeyH3aI
Skater Jump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVAa1_r9PaM
Side plank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0IEU2uvg34
Behind the back press (can use golf club): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j172WUrTobE
Adductor Split: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0lJUYE2qDs