In August 2006 Ballyliffin Golf Club was the venue for the Interprovincial championships. For any non Irish reading this, the interprovincial championships is a team competition between the four provinces of Ireland. Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. I was playing for Leinster and a 17 year old kid called Rory McIlroy was playing for Ulster. It was here that i first noticed Rory’s interest in fitness. I had just finished a workout in the gym and bumped into Rory in the lobby. “I want to get myself some of those” he said pointing to my biceps. I don’t think they were that impressive back then! But that moment always stuck in my mind as I’ve watched Rory turn himself into an athlete. He has always had an interest in fitness and making himself stronger. With enthusiasm, its a lot easier to have dedication and he clearly has for strength training.
Earlier this week at his media conference at the PGA Championship Rory talked about how he has gained 3kg of muscle in 8 weeks and how much stronger and stable he has become.
Ive had a lot of questions about the topic this week which is the reason for this blog post!
What is Strength Training?
It is the process of effecting overload through the use of progressive resistance exercises with the aim of effecting positive force-time adaptations.
So why has Strength Training helped Rory become a better golfer? There are several reasons.
When Rory first turned pro he suffered with some minor back injuries. Back then he didn’t have the strength and stability to cope with the incredible amount of clubhead speed his golf swing produced. This was causing some dysfunction in his body leading to some pain and injury. He quickly addressed this and brought in Steve McGregor to design a programme to make him stronger in areas that needed stabilising such as glutes and abdominals. Since then he has had no back injuries. Building strong tissues- bone, muscle, tendon, ligament has enabled Rory to withstand the forces of gravity and the force of his golf swing.
Stabilisation of his neuromuscular system
Strength training involves both muscle and nerve adaptations. Strengthening the neuromuscular system results in a greater force and power output during a dynamic movement ( such as the golf swing) where speed is a key influence on the amount of force expressed. Rory is better prepared to perform his sport skills with a strong neuromuscular system.
Power and Force
Rory is ranked 3rd in driving distance on the PGA Tour this season at 310.3 yards. Last season he was 8th at 302.2. Interestingly in 2012 he was 5th at 310.1. He has certainly got his distance back this season and hitting it further than ever but more importantly he is hitting it straighter, leading him to hit more greens in regulation. Rory has been training quite a few years now and has a higher training age. This means he is much more specific with his strength training which is required for the enhancement of force and power. Being heavier but with lower body fat will help with this.
Leaner and meaner
Strength training burns calories and will reduce body fat levels with the help of a good diet. Increasing the proportion of lean tissue in the body will as a consequence burn more calories during exercise. Also being stronger, looking leaner and feeling fitter will give anybody a huge psychological boost.
Without doubt strength training has helped Rory McIlroy become the worlds best player. With three majors under his belt already, the sky is the limit to how many he could win in the next twenty years. Being in great shape will help him play for another 20-25 years at the highest level.
Rory is a great role model for young golfers. Not only is he an amazing golfer but also an extremely polite and likeable guy. Any up and coming champion should watch his press conferences and how well he speaks to the media.
Strength training can help to instil order and discipline to any young athletes lifestyle. Which Rory is clearly showing at present.