I decided a long time ago to treat golf as a sport and full-time profession. When I'm not playing in a tournament, I train from two to 10 hours a day. I'm always trying to improve my conditioning so I can be a better golfer and athlete. Luckily, I like to work out, so training never feels like a chore.
My basic routine includes stretching, core exercises, cardio and weight training. I can spend as much as seven hours on the golf course hitting balls. My trainer, Keith Kleven, designed a great program that keeps my upper and lower body in perfect balance and builds my endurance. Our training sessions are intense and require solid focus. Here's a look at my typical routine.
Cardio is fundamental to my training program. I start off the day with a run or a bike ride. If it's a running day, I either do a three-mile speed run or an endurance run of up to seven miles.
I enjoy the tempo of cardio; it's peaceful and a good way to get focused for the rest of the workout. Of course, cardio also builds endurance and helps deliver oxygen to the muscles, which gets me ready for two-to-three hours of weights.
My weight-training program is designed for balance, control and endurance. I lift to enhance my entire body because golf requires upper and lower symmetry. I also develop my right and left sides equally because it improves how I strike the ball.
The idea is to build the strength I need to crush a golf ball rather than develop big muscle volume. I lift sub-maximal weights at higher reps, sometimes 25 to 50, because I'm going for tone and endurance instead of bulk. Bodybuilders usually lift heavier weights in sets of six to 12 because they're going for mass. Sometimes, I add plates to break up the routine and challenge myself, but I rarely lift a lot of weight.
My program works all of my muscle groups, but there are a few areas that need extra focus. Golfers are always hunched over, so it's important to strengthen the back and shoulders to support good posture. Legs are the platform for every swing, so my goal is to create a strong power base.
To keep things interesting, I use a mix of weights, resistance and isometric training. If you keep your muscles guessing, it makes them work harder. Whatever I'm doing, I'm careful not to overstress my muscles. I push to the point of muscle failure, not pain.
Core and flexibility training
Flexibility training is a major component of my regimen. My trainer uses different systems to maintain the flexibility I need to be able to release a powerful swing. I stretch up to 40 minutes before each workout. Then I work on my muscles and joints - from my spine to my toes -- to create balance and freedom of movement.
For golfers, core strength is just as important as flexibility. Core muscles help control movement and transfer energy from the center of the body out to the limbs, which can obviously impact how well you strike the ball. My core training builds overall strength and flexibility and helps me maintain an ideal state of posture and symmetry.
My workouts are intense and long, but I listen to my body to avoid injury. I know when I can push it and when I need to back off a bit. I don't have time for injuries, so I train hard but smart. A well-rounded program with lots of variety helps me avoid burnout and maintain a high level of conditioning.