Cardio Training for Golfers: Here’s a few thoughts of why it’s important.
I have to confess that I have previously overlooked the importance of cardio-respiratory fitness/training for golf. Cardio-respiratory training could basically be training the circulatory system and respiratory system to better transport Oxygen around the body and remove waist products during exercise. Therefore, an exercise which challenges these systems could be classed as cardio-repiratory training. So, we are not necessarily talking about a slow jog on the treadmill or pedalling way for 45mins on a recombinant bike. Cardio-respiratory can involve a lot more.
You might think that walking around a golf course doesn’t appear to be very challenging, even on a particularly hilly course. And you would probably be right! It only requires about 50-60% of your maximum hear rate for most, not matter the type of corse (hilly or flat).
So, why is cardio important to have in a golf fitness programme?
Improve Recovery – Improving transportation of Oxygen and the removal of waste products (as mentioned above) can only be helpful during and after a 4-hour round of golf, session in the gym or after completing daily chores. From weekend warriors to pro golfers, recovery is essential for optimal performance week in, week out.
Reduce Stress/Relax – Cardio-respiratory exercise (or exercise in general) can be great to reduce stress and to help take your mind off other life stressors whether you’re a tour pro or weekend warrior.
Increased Energy Levels – A good baseline of cardio-respiratory fitness can help improve energy to complete day to day tasks. Thats right, we have to look past performance of swinging a golf club in a competition and consider all other factors which get you to that point, in peak condition! Many demands week after week require energy (for elite golfers) and to cope with the demands of a work week and to then play your best at the weekend (for the average golfer).
Practise/Competition and Fatigue – Hitting ball after ball on the driving range requires a different energy system compared to hitting one shot every 5-10minutes when on a golf course. Additionally, for those golfers who compete in competitions with more than one round, you can be performing multiple rounds in one day and even up to or more than four rounds in four days. Enough energy to maintain concentration and offset fatigue throughout practise sessions and throughout the duration of a competition/tournament is essential.
Burn Calories and Reduce Fat Mass – Many golfers would be happy to lose a few pounds and cardio-respiratory training can be great to help achieve this.
Furthermore, reduced weight (or to be more specific, reduced fat mass) makes tasks easier to perform and require less energy. For example, heavier individuals expend more energy (i.e. burn more calories) when walking a round of golf compared to those who weigh less.
Here’s some recommendations and examples of what you could do to improve your cardio-respiratory fitness to help improve your golf or just help to lose a few pounds.
Firstly, I am not a big fan of performing long periods of cardio-respiratory training to help improve golf performance. Especially when you can achieve cardio-repiratory benefits from using resistance training. This way, you can get a lot more ‘bang for you buck’ within the same time frame (or less sometimes).
If however, you are very unconditioned or a beginner who might struggle with exercise technique and performing general resistance training exercises, you will not gain the same cardio-respiratory benefit from resistance training as you would from ‘traditional cardio’ (i.e. running, cycling, rowing, swimming). Therefore, in an example like this, I would recommend using the treadmill, cross trainer or rowing machine, for example, for no linger than about 30minutes.
However, for those who can perform resistance training exercises with good form, HERE’s a video of me showing you some ideas of how to include cardio-respiratory training into your golf fitness programme. For more information about the exercise options in the videos and how they might improve your golf performance (especially compared to traditional cardio), click HERE.