Name - Leo G
Age - 31
Height - 6ft 1
Weight - 208 lbs
Location - Maryland
Client Status - Online
Profession - Doctor
Lifestyle - Quite sedentary outside of long work hours
Strong junior and college golfer; played NCAA Division I college golf (2008-2012) with one individual win and 3 NCAA regional finals. Represented the Puerto Rico national team on multiple occasions.
Gave up playing competitive golf after college to focus full time on medical school and had almost 5 years of barely any exercise or golf. When Leo returned to the game in early 2020 with a significantly weaker, tighter body he found that he had lost distance and consistency. Below is a summary of Leo's thoughts on the technical aspects of his golf swing as it related to his physical limitations:
"I have always had an upper body driven swing. I don't know how to use my legs and my hips efficiently. Primarily because I am very quad dominant and my glutes and posterior chain have always been essentially shut off from studying and sitting during the past years. I have limited internal hip rotation and limited extension at the hip so my hips don't turn efficiently during impact and downswing.
Combine this with very weak glutes and poor hip extension and I am essentially stuck with my legs and hips. I rely on my upper body and my hands to produce most of my force at impact and to "save" shots. This makes my lower back take a huge load as i follow through with my upper body and my legs and hip stay behind.
I would like to develop the physical attributes to be able to use my legs and hip rotation to move back and through to not put strain on my back. Also by doing this, I would not have to put that much pressure in my arms and upper body to create power; I will be moving using my legs, glutes, hips, core to move the club. (big muscles)."
Leo's swing before starting the golf fitness program
Leo's desire was to re-build his body to handle playing competitive amateur golf again and as such, his specific goals were:
- Pain free golf
- Lose weight (20 lbs)
- Improve posture
- Increase general flexibility
- Increase driver carry from 265 to 290
- Improve endurance to compete in multi day tournaments
Age 18-23: Strength training in college
Age 24-29: Occasional walk on the beach but basically nothing
Age 30-present: Pilates
Apartment complex gym; stationary bike, treadmill, dual cable stack machine, kettlebells, dumbbells, benches, swiss balls, medicine balls and various resistance bands and self massage tools.
4 x 60 minutes for strength per week
3 x 30 mins for mobility and posture per week
Initial Golf Fitness Assessment
Leo’s initial video assessment identified some very obvious areas for improvement, many of which matched his own assessment of his physical limitations as they related to his golf swing. Below are Leo’s scores from the assessment, along with the specific areas highlighted for improvement within each testing category.
Basic Strength - 30%
- lower body (glutes)
- upper body
- core (obliques and back extensors)
Stability - 72%
- shoulder girdle
- hip stabilisation
Mobility - 74%
- shoulder internal rotation
- thoracic rotation
- lumbar extension and lateral flexion
- left hip external rotation, right hip internal rotation, left hip flexion
- right ankle dorsi flexion
Movement Patterns - 62%
- glute activation
- scapula control
- pelvic rotation through impact
Posture - 80%
- forward head and shoulders
Bodyweight - 50%
- 208 lbs (goal of 188lbs)
Driver Carry Distance - 65%
- 265 (goal of 290)
Leo's Initial Program
Because of Leo's history of back pain and level of deconditioning I was quite conservative with his initial programs, focusing on building basic strength and stability in the key muscle groups that help stabilise the lower spine; glutes, abdominals, back extensors, hamstrings and quadriceps. I also wrote a specific back mobility program that would help regain range of motion lost from the sedentary lifestyle.
Strength workout from Leo's first program
Back mobility workout from Leo's first program
Selection of exercises from Leo's first program (click top right to see the playlist)
Progression 1 - Assessment and Program 3
A couple of months into the program and Leo was tracking well at this point. He had made solid progress in all of the assessment categories, lost 10 lbs and was seeing the benefits in his game, here's Leo again with one of his detailed updates:
"I went to the range last Sunday and I was hitting the ball very very well, I feel so much freedom from my lower body now. Since my hip is clearing better I don't roll over my ankle that much and I don't pull the ball. I can stay at the ball of my foot and clear the hips---> I am hitting it waaay straighter. Also, it is so cool to be able to hit wedge shots using my legs and upper body instead of having to rely so much with my hands/arms. I hit 85 balls and chipped for 1 hr without pain! At night I was maybe feeling the lower back 2/10, if that. Huge improvement from July, where I could barely hit 50 balls without feeling my back."
I was now confident to start increasing the complexity of exercises and upping the weekly training load. See below for the weekly workout split and some examples of the training sessions and exercises included in program 3:
- Lower Body Strength x 2 per week
- Upper Body Strength x 2 per week
- Back Mobility x 2 per week
- Posture and Movement Patterns x 2 per week
Lower Body workout from Leo's third program
Upper Body Strength workout from Leo's third program
Selection of exercises from Leo's third program (click top right to see the playlist)
Progression 2 - Assessment and Program 6
6 months in and Leo continued to demonstrate progress, by this point coming close to completing all of the assessment benchmarks and seeming very happy with the progress:
"I have great news - this weekend I played 36 holes walking 18 Saturday, 18 Sunday and I was able to finish without back pain! And on Monday I did not feel like an old man! In fact my last drive on 18 on Sunday was one of my best of the weekend. I have also increased my driving distance (it also helps that the ground is a little firmer, and is getting close to summer and the sun is out!), I average 292 yds this weekend, huge increase compared to prior. My swing has changed quite a lot the last 9 months going from a dormant not doing anything for 5 years to having a great fitness routine. I am very happy!"
As Leo was clearly stronger and more confident with his training, we moved on to an all body workout focus and started to include some power exercises to his training program to target the goal of increasing driver distance:
- All Body Strength and Power x 3 per week (2 seperate sessions)
- Back Mobility x 2 per week
- Posture and Movement Patterns x 2 per week
Selection of exercises from Leo's 6th program (click top right to see the playlist)
Leo has made some amazing progress from his initial starting point and has achieved his goals despite a very busy work schedule which sometimes prevented him from completing 100% of his training program. See below for his current assessment scores, driver swing comparison video and, as ever, an enthusiastic update of his current status:
"Everything is going well! I weighed myself the other day 187. 5 lbs!! I feel amazing, the last time I weighed that was in college at 22! I don't feel like an old grandfather anymore haha. I started practicing more this month and the back is not hurting, I am able to do 3 straight days of 100/balls + 1 hour short game/wedge work. I have been progressing it little by little and my back feels very good so far. Played a couple times this month, will try to combine the practicing with playing more often and see how the body responds. So far, hitting the ball average 305 with a proper fitted driver/ball. I have to get properly fitted and change my iron shafts from S300 to X shaft like I used to in college"
Comparison graph of Leo's golf fitness results from first assessment to last assessment. The wider the data points in the graph, the better the score.
Leo's swing before and after the 6 month golf fitness program