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  • Writer's pictureErika Wescott

Do You Train Like a Bodybuilder or a Golf Athlete?

Bodybuilding, popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the '70s, has been a staple in gyms for decades and is still widely practiced today.


While many golfers adopt bodybuilding-style training, it might not be the optimal approach to enhancing your performance on the course.


Can it help? It can.


Is it the best way to train if your goal is winning a club championship? No, it’s not.


However, since both are exercise programs, there are notable differences and several similarities.


The Differences:


Primary Goal:

- Golfer: Enhance physical attributes that improve golf performance, such as mobility, strength, power, balance, speed, and coordination.

- Bodybuilder: Maximize muscle hypertrophy and achieve a well-defined, aesthetic physique.


Exercise Selection:

Golfer: Incorporate exercises that improve overall performance, including compound movements and sport-specific drills to enhance functional strength and mimic the demands of the swing.

Bodybuilder: Emphasize isolation exercises to target specific muscle groups, aiming for fullness and symmetry.


Training Volume:

- Golfer: Focus on variable training volume depending on the season, with higher volume in the off-season and lower volume in-season.

- Bodybuilder: High-volume training with multiple reps and sets, taking muscles close to failure to induce muscle hypertrophy.


Intensity and Rest:

- Golfer: Involve varying intensity throughout the workout, starting with low-intensity mobility work and progressing to high-intensity power and strength training. Total body workouts with rest days in between maximize speed gains.

- Bodybuilder: Moderate intensity for each set, taking the muscle close to failure for maximum growth. Body split training with minimal rest days.


Workout Structure:

- Golfer: Total body workouts are the most effective. Workouts include mobility, strength, power, conditioning, and sport-specific drills.

- Bodybuilder: Body part split training - Chest Day, Back Day, Leg Day (maybe), focusing mainly on muscle hypertrophy.


The Similarities:


Weight Training:

Both methods incorporate weight training, but the focus differs. A golf athlete aims for functional strength, while a bodybuilder lifts weights to increase size, not necessarily strength.


Flexibility and Mobility:

Contrary to a common misconception, bodybuilders need flexibility for posing. Golfers obviously need mobility for the golf swing. A large muscle can still be elastic and flexible, until it becomes so big the soft tissue from one muscle interferes with the movement - very rare, only happens with high level bodybuilders.


Nutrition:

Proper nutrition is crucial for golfers, bodybuilders, and everyone. For bodybuilders, nutrition is mandatory to achieve their desired physique. Golfers and athletes, in general, experience a significant increase in performance with proper nutrition.


While training like a bodybuilder is certainly acceptable in the gym, it's crucial to understand that it might not be optimal for game improvement in golf.


Some argue that movements done by bodybuilders are "foundational" or "functional." These include exercises like lunges, squats, hinges, pushes, pulls, and rotations—essential for athletes but not necessarily for maximum muscle hypertrophy, the primary goal of bodybuilders.


Choose your goal and then select the program and training style that aligns with your desired outcome. If you're a golfer, my Lift Heavy, Swing Fast program is designed for just you.

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