In order for us to play our best we have to prepare.
And the bigger the opportunity, the more preparation that’s required.
The best way for us to prepare for competition is to practice.
The more hours we can spend practicing, the more prepared we will be for when it matters.
So where do our workouts fit in?
Our workouts are not “the event”.
Our workouts are not even practice.
However, our workouts are vitally important.
If organized correctly, our workouts give us the OPPORTUNITY to practice more and the CAPACITY to be as productive as possible while we practice.
Too many people are wasting their capacity in the gym by doing unproductive workouts.
It’s a missed opportunity.
I’ve trained hundreds of Olympic and professional athletes.
I can help you become better at golf because I’ll show you the training secrets of these world-class athletes.
As I’m sure you can appreciate, world-class athletes train much differently than other people and the reason for that is rather simple.
The fundamentals of fitness have created a culture focused on reaching exhaustion or repetitions as the primary driver for athletic improvement.
In reality and backed by science, what matters is training for perfect movement patterns, not fatigue patterns.
When you train to exhaustion your body compensates and the result is overdeveloped muscles that create imbalances in your body.
Those imbalances lead to movement inefficiencies that use up a lot of your capacity and can lead to injury.
So we want to use our time in the gym to develop a foundation of perfect movement patterns because that’s how we increase our capacity and improve our performance.
So how do we do that?
The human body is essentially a machine.
And the human machine is designed to move a certain way.
Although individual muscles do dominate, it takes a group of muscles (referred to as a synergy) to cause a specific movement.
And every muscle in that synergy has a specific role.
They act as an agonist, antagonist, synergist, or stabilizer.
Agonists are muscles that are prime movers – they dominate a specific movement.
For example, the gluteus maximus is the prime mover for hip extension.
Antagonists are also prime movers, but they act in direct opposition to agonists.
The agonists and antagonists switch roles depending on the movement – flexion or extension.
For example, the hip flexor is the antagonist to the gluteus maximus and vice versa.
Synergists are muscles that help prime movers.
For example, the hamstrings and erector spinae are synergists to the gluteus maximus during hip extension.
Stabilizers support or stabilize the body while prime movers and synergists perform the movements.
For example, the deep core muscles stabilize the pelvis while the prime movers and synergists perform functional movements.
So, a primary focus of our workouts should be to reinforce these synergies – to make sure that each muscle is acting in its correct role.
That is, prime movers are the prime movers.
Syngersists are the synergists.
And stabilizers are the stabilizers.
By practicing perfect movement patterns, these synergies become more fluid and automated.
This, in turn, will not only fill our body with capacity (giving us the opportunity to practice more) it will also make our practice more productive by carrying over into our swing sequence and making are swing more efficient.
Unfortunately, many of us are walking around with what’s called synergistic dominance.
Synergistic dominance leads to movement inefficiencies, instability, inflammation and injury.
It’s also a swing killer and our workouts need to address it, however, they rarely do and in fact most workouts actually reinforce it.
What is synergistic dominance?
Synergistic dominance occurs when the synergists compensate for a prime mover – essentially the synergists become the prime mover because the prime mover has been inhibited.
For example, the hamstrings and erector spinae become the dominant hip extensors because the gluteus maximus is inhibited.
Everytime we have an inhibited prime mover, we will end up with synergistic dominance.
How does synergistic dominance develop?
Generally speaking, when a muscle becomes too short it becomes overactive
Whenever you have an overactive muscle on one side of a joint, there will be an underactive muscle on the other side of that joint, usually the antagonist.
Remember that an antagonist is a prime mover and what happens when prime movers become underactive?
The synergists will have to step-up and do more – synergistic dominance.
Why does synergistic dominance happen?
Simply, it has to.
When you have bad posture, muscles will shorten, antagonists will be inhibited, and synergists will have to step-up.
Think of synergists like the 3 interns you had to hire when your company cut your top producer because her salary was too high.
Now you have to work twice as hard to keep them on task, you’re less efficient because of it, and the 3 interns are ready to burn out because they can’t handle it.
In the short term it’s saving the company money, but in the long term it can only lead to disaster.
Your body works in the same way.
Your body has found a compensatory pattern that is allowing you to maintain normal daily function, but is inefficient, hurts your swing mechanics, and increases the wear on your joints and connective tissue eventually leading to pain and injury.
Low back pain anyone?
Break The Vicious Cycle
Knowing all this, how do we now develop perfect movement patterns if our body is obliged to compensate due to imbalances?
We need to bring balance back into the body and retrain each muscle within a synergy to do its job.
Prime movers need to be the dominant muscles.
Synergists need to help the prime movers but not take over.
And stabilizers need to be able to stabilize – can you believe that overactive syngersists also inhibit our stabilizers, for example the latissimus dorsi and external obliques can become synergistically dominant to our deep core stabilizers, which absolutely destroys our swing.
4 easy steps to developing perfect movement patterns.
We first calm down the overactive muscles and there are different ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways is by using a foam roller to apply pressure to trigger points.
Trigger points are the tender spots in the overactive muscles.
So we go through the body and use a foam roller on these trigger points.
Some muscles are more problematic for others when it comes to golf and we focus on these muscles.
So what does the foam roller do?
A lot of people do it and don’t really know why – they probably have some sort understanding that it’s to relax their tight muscles.
But I’m going to geek-out here and explain the science.
First of all, when you foam roll don’t actually roll – once you find the most tender spot, stay on that spot.
Rolling back and forth will initiate pain receptors within the muscle making it more painful – and it’s already painful enough.
Rolling back and forth may also cause you to tense up, which could actually lead to more dysfunction.
So, again, what does the foam roller do?
The foam roller applies pressure to the muscle and that pressure activates mechanoreceptors inside the muscle, which initiates a reflex causing the muscle to relax.
When we foam roll a given muscle, we survey the entire muscle with the foam roller looking for the most tender spot.
The most tender spot is the spot with most adhesions and it’s those adhesions we are targeting.
The body recognizes dysfunction as an injury and initiates a response and part of that response is the development of adhesions – so the first step of every tune-up is to break up adhesions.
OK, so we’ve gone through the body and we’ve used the foam roller on overactive muscles.
So our overactive muscles are now relaxed, they’ve calmed down.
We can now stretch those muscles to return them to optimal length – because remember overactive muscles are too short.
And we only stretch the short and overactive muscles.
If we stretch long and underactive active muscles we will reinforce dysfunction, which is clearly a bad thing.
So we have addressed the short and overactive muscles – we’ve returned them to optimal length – it’s now time to target the underactive muscles and we do that by what’s referred to as isolated activation.
It’s important to point out that underactive muscles are too long – by activating them we can increase their activity and make them shorter.
We use specialized techniques to activate or wake-up the underactive muscles and ONLY the underactive muscles because every muscle we commonly use an activation technique for will have overactive synergists we must inhibit.
I know this sounds very complicated, fortunately there are only 10 muscles that are generally addressed using isolated activation techniques, and I won’t go through the list but these guys are identified in the scientific literature.
Once the appropriate muscles have been activated, the last step of developing perfect movement patterns is through the use of integrated dynamic movement, that is, full body movement with perfect technique and no compensating.
Collectively, integration techniques increase your capacity by improving your coordination and movement efficiency.
We choose exercises that reinforce perfect movement patterns and we don’t allow the body to compensate.
And we stop training to exhaustion.
We stop once we can no longer perform the movement with perfect technique.
Below is a video that you can follow along to that address some of the imbalances associated with low back pain in golfers.
This video includes techniques to inhibit and lengthen short and overactive muscles associated with low back pain.
Note: Some muscles are long and overactive – these muscles we only inhibit.
Do this routine 2-3 times then email me with any questions you have
In good health,