A Nutrition & Workout Guide: Better Golf, Fitness, & Health
The goal of this article is to help you shed fat, increase strength and muscle mass, and improve the function of your body. Achieving these things, with the help of proper nutrition and training, will have a huge effect on your golf potential, fitness and general health.
Poor Nutrition and Training
Let’s not beat around the bush; we are carrying too much fat. Today’s humans are for the most part, far fatter than we should be. There is no benefit to it, and there are well documented and significant health risks. For the vast majority of the population, there are two primary reasons for this state of affairs. A chronic over consumption of calories due to poor nutrition, and a chronic lack of physical activity. The demands of “normal” modern society set us up for this.
There are two very quick measurements we can use to assess whether you are likely carrying more fat than is ideal for health risks. These measurements can be used to determine if you need a nutrition and/or training change.
Body Mass Index
To calculate this simply divide your weight in lbs by your height squared and multiply by 703.
You can also use this BMI Calculator. It takes 5 seconds.
Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
Overweight = 25–29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater
Taken from HERE
The BMI is quite a good guide, unless you have a LOT of muscle mass. If you do, it may say you are “overweight”. This is one of the limitations, it doesn’t take into account fat mass vs muscle mass, but for the vast majority, it provides a good snapshot.
Simply take a tape measure and measure around the largest part of your mid section.
According to the National Health Service of the UK (NHS)
Regardless of your height or body mass index (BMI), you should try to lose weight if your waist is:
- 94cm (37in) or more for men
- 80cm (31.5in) or more for women
You’re at very high risk of some serious health conditions and should see a GP if your waist is:
- 102cm (40in) or more for men
- 88cm (34.5in) or more for women
Taken from HERE
Pro tip: Get yourself a smart scale which does a reasonably decent job of keeping track of your weight and body fat, and a perfect job of tracking your weight. I use the Renpho Smart Scale which syncs nicely with your phone making it easy to track changes over time and keep you accountable with your nutrition!
Nutrition without Muscle Mass
We’re weak and lacking muscle mass. Even with proper nutrition, without adequate stress, our muscles begin to shrivel in size, strength, and power. This happens once we hit approximately 25 to 30 years of age. The loss of muscle mass, strength, and power, is catastrophic for our physical function and health. There’s a huge amount we can do to reverse this at any age with the appropriate type of training (accompanied with proper nutrition, of course).
You won’t be able to generate anywhere near as much swing speed and distance will decline. Muscle strength is an essential part of the mobility to make a “full” golf swing too. It’s common to hear of senior golfers complain of their swings getting shorter. Stretching is not the answer. Getting stronger through the range of motion you’re trying to achieve is much more beneficial.
Muscle strength is essential for carrying out basic daily activities like getting up out of a chair or bed, climbing stairs and walking, picking up groceries or grandkids, and pretty much anything remotely active we do. People often don’t think about this until it becomes an issue.
Low levels of muscle mass have been identified as a causative factor in Metabolic Syndrome. From the Mayo Clinic “Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It is becoming increasingly common, and up to one third of US adults have it”
Lower Body Strength Test
10 reps of split squats on each leg should be a complete piece of cake. Ideally you should be able to hold a dumbbell that is 25%-50% of your body weight in each hand while doing so.
Upper Body Strength Test
5 PROPER Push-ups should be a complete piece of cake. 10 is a better number. A proper push up is when your body remains in a plank like position and moves as one piece throughout, and your shoulders are directly over your fingertips in the set up position….most people sag or pike at their mid section, and have their hands much too far out in front. The dowel on my spine in this video illustrates the idea of moving your body as “one piece”.
Pro tip: While a much more difficult feat of strength, the ability to perform one full hang pull up or chin up is a sign of great strength, and almost always, of good body composition. They are a litmus test, if you can do a pull up or chin up, you’re probably in great shape. Regardless of whether you can do one or not, I think building TOWARDS the ability to do one (or multiple) has nothing but benefits. Assisted pull ups or chin ups with elastic bands (demo in video), or the assisted pull up machines in gyms are great ways to work towards being able to do one with your body weight.
Your Plan for Improvement
You cannot do anything about the physical shape you are in at this moment. That has been decided by your behavior over the last number of years and decades. Regardless of your current age or fitness level, you can improve. Start looking forward, rather than saying it’s too late, or you have too far to go. I guarantee you someone out there in a far worse off predicament than you has made great progress. It won’t happen by accident though, you have to start! I hope the framework below can serve as a useful guide.
If you’ve been carrying excess bodyfat for a long time I’m gong to tell you something that you do not want to hear. You should spend some time tracking your calorie intake with the free MyFitnessPal App. It is extremely easy to use, doesn’t take long, and can literally be life changing. Most people tend to eat the same foods and meals fairly consistently and once you have weighed out your meals and entered them once you can save them which makes it very quick for future tracking. Even if you only do this for 2-4 weeks you will be amazed at what you learn. Calories are everywhere, and they add up fast.
In general, people vastly overestimate how many calories they burn off during exercise, and vastly underestimate how many than consume from food.
To break free from the shackles of restrictive diets, here are the real principles you need to follow for fat loss and muscle retention (or maybe even muscle gain) whilst doing so.
1. You must be in a calorie deficit. This is how any “diet” or strategy of eating that results in fat loss works.
2. You must consume enough protein and perform enough resistance training whilst in a calorie deficit to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. A good guide for protein intake is to try and get 0.5 to 0.7 grams of protein per lb of body weight per day. Why is this important?
When in a calorie deficit, which is essential for fat loss, our body is in a catabolic or “break down” state. As touched on earlier, losing muscle mass is catastrophic, especially as we age, so we want to limit this as much as possible. Sufficient protein, and sufficient resistance training are how we do this.
Let’s break your improvement plan down into two elements, nutrition and exercise.
I am not anything close to a nutritionist, but I have talked to many nutrition experts, and try to stay up to date with the consensus from the scientific community. I’ve also been exposed to thousands of clients over the past decade who have been trying to lose fat and get in better shape. Here is my analysis and advice
- Track your calories & protein with My Fitness Pal: After you provide your current weight and goal weight the app will give you a daily calorie guide. Hit 0.5-0.7g per lb of bodyweight in protein, and arrange the rest of your calorie intake so you stay within your calorie guide for the day. Don’t worry about their default “goal ranges” on the app. Hit your calorie goal and your protein goal. That’s it for starters. There is lots of wiggle room for carbohydrates and fat. Don’t completely eliminate either, while still hitting your protein and calorie goal.
- Ogranisation: Make a grocery list, prepare your meals. Stick to your own prepared meals most of the time. Eating out for lunches and dinner regularly is a sure way to lose control over your calorie intake. (I’m not saying never eat out). Preparing meals in advance is easy, cost effective, and goes a long way in keeping you in shape and consistent with your nutrition. Every single person I know who is lean / in good shape thinks in advance about meals. They are not obsessive or overly restrictive, but they have a plan.
- Focus on protein, fruits, and vegetables: We know protein is vital for maintaining muscle mass while in a calorie deficit, and to hit the 0.5 to 0.7g per day goal, you will probably need to make a conscious effort to increase your protein. Protein rich foods are also great for controlling hunger, which is a massive plus. Finding ways to manage hunger while staying in a calorie deficit is essential for long term adherence. Vegetables and fruit are very healthy, and can be eaten in large quantities without racking up a lot of calories. Again, this can be very useful for hunger control. Carbohydrates and fats will naturally find their way into your diet when focusing primarily on protein and fruits & vegetables. You will see this in your MyFitnessPal log. It is common to find you reduce your carbohydrate intake from things like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, and sugar to hit your protein and calorie goal. Again, I am not saying to completely eliminate, but look at reducing your carbohydrate intake, to facilitate and increased protein intake while staying in a calorie deficit. Our carbohydrate needs are quite low if we aren’t performing strenuous activity, and the recommended daily intake of carbohydrate from governing body’s is usually way too high to make any sense. For example, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 225 – 325 grams of carbohydrate per day. As a frame of reference, one slice of bread has 15 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 cup of cooked pasta is 45 grams of carbohydrate. Don’t be afraid to bring carbohydrate down a little bit, and boost up your protein. This will likely reduce calories, and may also reduce hunger. (Your food tracking will tell you many grams of protein and carbohydrate you consume in a day).
- Drinking calories is making your mission harder: Try to limit your drinks to ones that do not have calories. Of course it is fine to break this on occasion, but nobody lean is drinking high calorie dessert coffees, fizzy drinks, or alcohol in large quantities regularly. Go for low / zero calorie options.
I do not include smoothies / shakes in this category as they may be a meal replacement / snack.
- Hunger is OK: Most of us have become conditioned to eating very frequently. If we are used to eating every 3 hours, and we miss a meal, our body might tell us “we are hungry” but the reality is we are fine. You just feel hungry because you are so used to eating very frequently. Gradually extending the times between meals, is a great way to reduce our “need” for snacks, and cut down our calories. Just like we can get conditioned to feel like we need food very frequently, we can condition ourselves to gradually go more time without feeling hungry. It’s very hard to control your calorie intake if you’re eating every 2 hours or grazing non stop. Is this what Intermittent Fasting is? Intermittent fasting is a fancy name for skipping breakfast and not eating after dinner. If this is suitable and sustainable for you, and reduces your calories to where they need to be, fantastic.
- Develop a mindful attitude towards eating: Sometimes we eat things without even really registering that we are eating it. We see, we eat, and that’s it. The item we ate may have done nothing for our hunger or nutrition, but it certainly did add calories.
Before you consume something it can be worth asking yourself the question
“Why am I eating this?”. If it’s outside of your planned meals you will probably have a hard time justifying it!
All exercise is good for us, and I don’t like the idea of discouraging anyone from any type of exercise they enjoy. When we consider that most people have limited workout time, and want to get as much benefit as possible for “general health and fitness”, how they look, feel, and golf performance, the key elements are easy to see.
Nothing can match well programmed, full body, progressive resistance training. Resistance training means working your muscles against some form of load which makes moving harder! Most people refer to this as “lifting” or weight training. Resistance training can be done with just our body weight, resistance bands, free weights, machines, and just about any type of implement that provides “resistance” you can think of. It is a travesty that resistance training is not more popular. 3 short sessions per week is life changing.
A well thought out resistance training program can simultaneously improve:
-Muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle power
-Burn lots of calories to aid in fat loss
What is a well thought out resistance training plan for people interested in the benefits I mentioned above? I have spent the last 10 years writing training programs for clients in person, and online.
I advise 3 resistance training sessions in your weekly plan. I generally prescribe workouts with three different sections.
1) Mobility / Dynamic Warm-Up – 10 mins
2) Power & Speed – 10-15 mins
3) Strength – 20-30 mins
This makes up a 40-55 minute “ideal session” and is it what nearly all of the workouts on the Fit For Golf App are based on. Some people understandably do not have time for this and that is fine. Huge benefits can be made with 10-15 minutes, as long as it’s done extremely consistently.
Here is an example of the type of things that I would put in an “ideal workout” for someone trying to get as much benefit as possible for general health and fitness, how they look and feel, and transfer to golf.
Literally thousands of people have gone through the programs I have created on the Fit For Golf App, and the results speak for themselves. Lower body fat, increased strength and mobility, less aches and pains, increases swing speed, and lower scores.
You can check these Testimonials.
It starts with some basic movement control & mobility exercises, then moves to power with the jumping and throwing, and then finishes with some lifting.
The medicine ball I am using is 10lbs, and it is a little bit heavier than I would like. I usually use 8lbs. These exercises can be simulated with bands if you cannot throw medicine balls. The lifting exercises are best done for 3-5 sets of 3-8 very difficult reps. There are many substitutes for these exercises too.
Days in Between Workouts
This will depend a little bit on your goals. I’m assuming you already do some practice and speed work during the week. These are good days for that. Outside of those, something as simple as walking will work well. Any other type of cardio activity you like will also fit in here nicely. Before any type of workout or practice session I recommend 5-10 mins of dynamic mobility work which will serve well as a warm-up and improve your mobility in the long run.
Here’s an example of what a typical week may look like:
Mon – Workout 1 (like the workout in the video)
Tue – Some sort of activity that is not lifting (I either go for a long walk, or sprint and throw med balls at the park)
Wed – Workout 2
Thu – Some sort of activity that is not lifting (I either walk, or sprint and throw med balls at the park)
Fri – Workout 3
Sat & Sun – Just be active, and hopefully walk the golf course. Make up for a missed session during the week if necessary.
Here is an example of one of the sprinting and throwing sessions I do on days in between lifting. If you haven’t sprinted in a long time, use the first 10-12 times you do this workout to build up from 60-90% running speed. If you try to sprint full speed without having sprinted in years, there’s a good chance you will pull a hamstring.
1️⃣ Sprint x 50 yards (walk back)
2️⃣ Scoop Toss x 5
3️⃣ Transition Slam x 5 each side
4️⃣ Ballistic Push-Up w/Pulse x 5
Focus on power, don’t do a set gassed. Take about 30-60 seconds between every exercise. The walk back from the sprint should be slow, and take some extra time to get full power back before starting the med ball work. Ball is 8lbs. Warm-up thoroughly 1st.
These types of sessions are a fantastic way to maintain our fast twitch fibers, which are essential for creating power in the golf swing, and “keeping us young”. The loss of fast twitch fiber size, number, and function is one of the reasons people lose so much athleticism with age. Thankfully, with targeted training we can hugely alter this decline. I’ve seen many clients get stronger, faster, and more mobile in their 70’s and 80’s.
General Nutrition and Training Advice
Stop making excuses. You can find 10 minutes a day to train your body, and something as simple as this will make all the difference in the world.
If you’re really interested in developing high levels of physical function there are no shortcuts. You must make physical training a non negotiable part of your schedule. If you cannot or will not do this, that is up to you, but there’s no way of getting around it. You need to train pretty strenuously, very consistently, for very long periods of time. When you stop, gradually you will start to lose what you have developed, so consistency is key.
If you’re interested in being very lean and healthy, you absolutely must put planning and organisation into your food / drink intake. Calories are everywhere, and they are winning. You need to be proactive in your approach to nutrition. The beauty of this is that once you have figured out your calorie needs, and gotten a handle on what you need to do to meet these needs on a daily basis, you will see there is plenty of room for flexibility and indulgence from time to time.
In my opinion the point of taking extreme ownership of your physical function and nutrition is that it gives you the freedom to do what you want physically, and enjoy whatever food and drink you want (occasionally).
It’s time to separate your emotions from your physical condition as best you can. Imagine you were just hired as the CEO of your health and fitness. You need to get some objective baseline you can use to monitor progress. You need to find out what exactly you are putting into your body by tracking calories (not forever). Workouts need to become as automatic a part of your life as brushing your teeth. No amount of excuses is the same as doing the work or not gorging on the junk food in front of the TV. You don’t need to kill yourself every workout, but you absolutely do need to set aside some time pretty much everyday to train, and just try to be active in general.
There’s no doubting it’s a big commitment, but the alternative is not one I think anyone really wants, they just let happen.
Hopefully the information in this article can be used as a template to get you on the right track. It’s up to you to develop the mindset and habits to keep going. Forever.
If you are interested in a comprehensive resource to guide you through your physical training, check out the Fit For Golf App. You can get a one month trial for just $6 with the code FFGTRIAL.
There are simple to follow workouts for people of all ages, fitness levels, and standard of golfer. They can be done from home or at the gym, and you can find out everything you need to know here:
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