Thought golf was all about putting a little white ball in a hole? Think again. There is a lot of clanging and banging time needed in the gym. World number two Rory McIlroy certainly didn’t grow up in a gym atmosphere, but he has changed his tune.
“I wasn’t really big into going to the gym and I couldn’t stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds. I couldn’t hold a plank for more than 30 seconds,” McIlroy says in the workout video. “Everyone has to start somewhere. I started at the very beginning, and I’ve worked my way up. Getting my body in the best shape for what I do, which is ultimately to go out and play golf.”
And boy can he play. If McIlroy wins the Masters this week, he will become only the sixth man in history to win the career grand slam in golf (Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship).
We looped in our former deputy editor, Matt Tuthill, to give us his take on McIlroy’s routine. First of all, here is a breakdown of the exercises that the Irish golfer does during the workout:
0:15 Standing bird dog (for mobility)
0:21 Arm circles (to warm up shoulder joints)
0:24 Exercise bike (general warmup)
0:28 Dynamic stretch (for posterior chain)
0:37 Hex bar deadlift
0:59 Box jump
1:04 Swiss ball dumbbell pullover
1:15 Pushup to hand walk to renegade row
1:40 Kneeling swiss ball core rotation and chest pass drill
Now, have a look at the man in action:
Here is Tuthill’s take on the workout, including his analysis that one of the moves in McIlroy’s routine is a no-no:
“As a whole, the program looks sound. Rory talks a lot about how much he enjoys his training and has seen an improvement. That’s probably the most important part—that the athlete buys into the program.
“That said, the destabilized core rotation drill at the end of the video is out of place. A lot of those destabilized exercises have been debunked through study. The idea behind these moves was that a destabilized surface like a Swiss or BOSU ball would engage more stabilizing muscle fibers in the core. The term ‘functional’ training was born out of that philosophy, and it’s a misnomer. A destabilized exercise might engage your stabilizers, but it doesn’t do it as effectively as just picking up a heavier weight.
“Mark Rippetoe probably said it best: ‘Functional training is an exercise method that places the balance problem ahead of the force-production problem.’ In layman’s terms, Rory would be better off if he just tried to get stronger.
“Finally, you always want to think about the risk-reward ratio of every exercise you do, and the risk in this case is far greater than the reward. I don’t think any athlete should kneel on a Swiss ball while having medicine balls thrown at him, let alone an athlete worth millions. Unless Rory needs to swing a golf club from that position, it’s silly—all flash with little to show for it. You’d get the same core training benefits from doing that drill while standing on the ground, and probably with better carryover to the game of golf.”