To lift or not to lift? Olympic Lifting for golf

By Nigel Tilley 4 years ago
Home  /  Assessment and Rehabilitation  /  To lift or not to lift? Olympic Lifting for golf

There is no straight forward ‘Yes or No’ answer I’m afraid. It is commonplace in the press these days to see and hear stories of the world’s best players such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods lifting heavy weights. There is clearly a trend over the last 30 years whereby the world’s best golfers have become more powerful, more explosive and are hitting the ball harder, with more force and further. These golfers are now seen as athletes and their training reflects that. They spend nearly as much time becoming a better golfer without a club in their hands as they do on the golf course and practice range.

However everyone is an individual and therefore has specific needs, limitations, abilities and requirements unique to them. This also includes things such as any current & previous injuries, their level of fitness, the equipment/facilities available to them and both their health and fitness aims. The type, style and intensity of training you use should therefore reflect that.

Golf is a unique sport with many components and ways that you can improve your game. We like to ensure a variety of exercise styles and techniques are incorporated into a golfers physical preparation. Olympic lifting is one option, but it is only one aspect and is only appropriate for certain individuals.

Put simply Olympic lifting involves structured lifts that move a weight quickly and both require and develop the ability to generate power. The movements involved are often complex, requiring good technique, mobility, control and strength. They require a long amount of time to develop the technique and ability to do the moves safely and effectively. There is a risk-reward with this type of training and it is often felt that with professional golfers (as well as amateur golfers and the general public) only a small amount may be suitable, capable and benefit from doing the full spectrum of lifts through the stages of:

However there are some that are and the benefit this type of training has in improving their power, speed, ground force development and explosive triple extension (a term for the movement that happens at the ankle, knees and hips as seen from top of backswing to impact and follow through)

Olympic lifting involves fast movements. A lot of sporting activities happen within 200ms and golf is similar to this. Olympic lifting is training someone to build power at a greater speed with control at the end point of acceleration. This is a vital for golfers. For golfers using Olympic lifting the lifting speed should be explosive and use low number of sets (6-8) and reps (2-5 per set).

The percentage of high-level golfers that are suitable and safe to work through the whole spectrum of Olympic lifting in reality is actually be relatively small though. Determining if Olympic lifting is suitable for you is where a skilled coach / trainer will be crucial. It is much more common, safer and more appropriate to use certain components of Olympic lifting with the golfers we work with. This enables them to still benefit from the power and strength effects and developing the triple extension movement patterns from this type of training, which carry over well to the golf swing.

By using components of traditional Olympic lifting and adapting it we can challenge players in other planes of motion and utilize pieces of equipment that are often much easier to obtain and transport as we travel across the globe with the European Tour. Kettlebells, dumbbells, weighted balls, smaller bars and resistance bands are just some of types of equipment you could use. This can also allow us to work asymmetrically and work on rotational control and power generation as well. The emphasis on eccentric phase of lifts gives us deceleration control that is important in the golf swing. Remember it is as important in the golf swing to both be able create a force as to control it!

Having a good foundation of movement quality, strength and control to perform the lifts safely and with the right technique are key components in the decision to allow someone to begin and progress through the stages of Olympic lifts. Where we often see problems and high risk in using Olympic lifting with golfers is when someone hasn’t developed that good basic foundation to build from.

Whether or not a player moves onto the full range of Olympic lifts or not our programs work on developing these foundations as a framework for all of the different types of training that they may wish to use and be exposed. The ultimate underlying aim of a training program is for a player to become strong, stable and robust. This should maximize their golf game and minimize potential injury risks both in training and playing golf.

If you want to start on the road to becoming a better, stronger golfer why not arrange to visit our European tour Performance Institutes in Terre Blanche, France or Jumeirah estates in Dubai. Alternatively find a qualified Chartered Physiotherapist or UKSCA (United Kingdom Strength & Conditioning Association) trained professional to help you create and develop a tailored program suitable for you.

  Assessment and Rehabilitation, Performance, Strength & Conditioning