Aerobic Exercise and Golf Performance

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It's quite common to see recommendations for golf fitness programs to include significant levels of long, slow distance aerobic exercise (LSD).An example of LSD would be getting on a treadmill and walking for an extended period of time such as 30 minutes or more.  From a performance perspective and a golf fitness perspective (remember we're talking about a specific type of fitness), this couldn?t be more wrong.

 

The recommendation of aerobic activity to improve golf performance comes from a GENERAL fitness perspective where fitness qualities of strength and endurance are included in the same program in an effort to provide a balance of physical qualities.  When preparing a golfer for the specific demands of playing golf, training the aerobic system provides minimal to no benefit in performance.

 

Why?

 

Because the primary energy systems utilized in playing golf are not aerobic?  They are anaerobic.

 

Here?s a quickie explanation of what I mean.

 

There are 3 primary energy systems that the body will use to produce energy at all times:

 

  • The aerobic system which provides energy for activities lasting longer than 2 minutes
  • The glycolytic system which provides energy for activities lasting from 30 seconds to 2 minutes
  • The ATP-CP system which is a quick energy source providing energy for activities lasting up to 30 seconds

 

Each system is functioning at all times with one producing most of the energy depending on the demands of the activity you are performing.

 

The aerobic system is the primary system utilized when the demands of the activity can be met by the body?s energy producing processes that use oxygen.  For instance, as you sit here reading you are using primarily the aerobic system.  If you sit, stand, walk, run, bike, row, swim, or do any repetitive activity long enough, your energy demands will be met primarily by the aerobic system.  Consider that if an activity lasts for more than 2 minutes, the aerobic system will progressively become the predominant energy supplier.

 

While playing golf, the aerobic system is able to meet a large portion of the demands of standing and walking (assuming you don't take a cart).  Training the aerobic system will certainly improve your ability to produce energy aerobically.  However, if you?re already able to meet the aerobic demands of golf, training the aerobic system to be more efficient will not contribute to improved performance on the golf course.

 

Don?t believe me?

 

Check out some of the most successful professionals on the Nationwide, PGA, and Champions tours.  Many of them have the aerobic fitness of the every day couch potato, but they?re still able to perform on the golf course at very high levels.

 

Why? 

 

Because the aerobic energy demands of playing golf are so low that they are easily met by what many would consider are unfit individuals.

 

Now, many of you may be thinking, But a round will last as much as 4 hours, and I?m definitely tired after a round.  Won?t aerobic training help me with that??

 

No.

 

Why?  Because it?s not a limitation in your aerobic system's abilities to supply energy that?s causing the fatigue.  Most of the fatigue comes from the fact that you've been standing for such a long time.  Ask any bartender, waitress, or checkout girl at Wal-Mart if they get tired at the end of their shift.  You bet they do.  Is it because they lack aerobic fitness.  Of course not.  It?s because they?ve been standing for such a long time.

 

If you still don't believe me, go to the movie theatre and watch to movies back to back, but instead of sitting, stand the entire time.  I think you?ll get what I mean.

 

So if aerobic training doesn?t benefit golf performance, what type of training does?

 

Well, let?s look at the game of golf.

 

You have a swing that lasts less than 2 seconds = ATP-CP System

 

You have to walk a couple hundred yards at any one time = Glycolytic system and the Aerobic system.

 

Keeping in mind that most, if not all, of the demands on aerobic energy production are met already, your focus shifts to the short-term energy producing systems.

 

The Glycolytic System

The ATP-CP Systems

 

These are the same energy systems that you?ll find that baseball players, sprinters, weightlifters, shot putters, discus throwers, javelin throwers, and high jumpers emphasize. 

 

All of these activities require short bursts of activities followed by periods of periods of very low level activity or rest. 

 

Now, I?m sure this will cause an uproar among many fitness enthusiasts and so-called golf fitness experts who regularly prescribe aerobic training to their clients.

 

I?m okay with that.

 

I won?t deny that there are health-related benefits to performing aerobic activity.  You?ll also get the same benefits from expending a lot of calories.  So in essence, to be healthy, it doesn?t matter what type of activity you do, just that you expend a lot of calories.

 

A study that compared health markers between longshoremen and their sedentary counter parts, showed that the longshoremen were measured as being healthier.  The longshoremen didn?t have the greatest health-related habits.  Many were drinkers and smokers with poor diets.  When all parameters were examined to determine why the longshoremen were healthier than the comparison group, researchers found that they expended about 10,000 more calories per week.  Keep in mind that this wasn?t aerobic activity in nature.  It was a lot (and I mean a lot) of heavy pushing and pulling every day of the week.

 

So is there anyone that may benefit from aerobic exercise to improve golf performance?

 

Maybe.

 

If you find that you get winded, such that walking from shot to shot and hole to hole requires that you stop because you are breathing so hard and need to catch your breath, you may benefit.

 

If you do choose to perform some type of training to improve your aerobic system, I suggest that you utilize what is called Interval Training.  Interval training has been shown to improve your aerobic system function faster AND promote greater fat loss in a shorter period of time in comparison to LSD.  That?s a nice extra benefit.

 

Interval Training is a form of training where you will exercise intensely for a short period of time (30-60 seconds) followed by a period of lower level exercise or rest.

 

Strength training is inherently a form of interval training.  You perform a strength training exercise for a period of time based on the number of repetitions, followed by a rest period.

 

You can also perform this same method of training by running, biking, swimming, or any other form of continuous activity.

 

Here?s what an Interval Training session may look like for running. 

 

For the purposes of understanding how hard to work during an interval, we?ll use a rating scale called a Rating of Perceived Exertion.  If you were to assign a value of 10 to your maximal effort for running and a value of 1 for the easiest level of effort which may be walking, you?ll alternate periods of running and walking as follows.

 

Perform a 5-10 minute dynamic warm-up (see Your Golf Fitness Coach?s Video Library 1.0 for an example)

Run at a level of effort of 9/10 for 30 seconds

Walk for 90 seconds

Repeat the alternating cycle of run/walk for 3-6 rounds depending on your fitness level

Follow with a cool down of lower level activity or some flexibility work.

 

You can work this into your program 1 to 3 times per week depending on your needs and desires.  The greater your caloric expenditure and intensity of work during the week, the fewer times you?ll want to perform intensive intervals.  Too much high intensity work will reduce your ability to perform highly skilled activities like a golf swing.


Credit to www.yourgolffitnesscoach.com



Submitted by DMorgan on Sat, 07/22/2006 - 4:32pm.

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