If you go back a decade or so, the mention of cardiovascular fitness and golf in the same sentence was relatively unheard of.
Since then, with the growth of the golf fitness industry, the benefits of cardiovascular fitness and the need to pursue this has been sold to golfers as a key to improving their game.
So what physical attributes do we require for golf?
Firstly we need muscular strength to perform the golf swing, and secondly cardiovascular fitness to walk the course (which is 6-7+ kilometres over an often undulating surface), albeit in a leisurely 5 hour or so time frame.
So as long as we are ‘fit’ enough to have adequate muscular recovery between shots and to maintain the level of mental concentration required for each shot, our cardiovascular fitness needs are really only mild to moderate.
Finding an additional 40 minutes per day 3-4 times per week just to focus on improving your cardiovascular fitness, on top of an already tight training schedule, might be a struggle. With this in mind it is much more efficient to combine your golf specific strength and mobility exercises with your cardiovascular program.
Try decreasing the rest period between exercise sets, increase your exercise intensity and add some short sharp aerobic intervals between sets, all with the aim of keeping your heart rate between 60-80% of your maximal training heart rate for the 40 minute session.
There are those of us who enjoy pure aerobic training and will therefore pursue it as a means of enjoyment and stress relief.
So what is the best form of exercise for golf? They all have their pros and cons.
Jogging and walking provide the important ‘ground reaction force’ and strengthen your legs and core, however as a golfer you already spend countless hours on your feet which puts increased stress through your knees. Cycling rests these joints from weight bearing stress however doesn’t necessarily do much for your glutes or core (with the exception of ‘out of the saddle’ riding).
Swimming has no ground reaction and may tighten you through your anterior chest, but can be great as a break from weight bearing exercise.
So exactly how much cardiovascular training you perform is dependent on what you are doing it for. If you are time poor, combine it with your strength and mobility training. If you need pure aerobic training for enjoyment and stress relief then make sure you factor in how it may affect your golf game on other levels.
Martin McInnes - GolfFit Physiotherapy
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