Train 3 – 5 times per week
3 – 5 exercises per session
3 – 5 sets per exercise
3 – 5 reps per set
All great programs follow a set of guidelines that produce results in the goal they target. If you’re training for strength (if this blog is aimed at doing one thing its getting as many golfers as possible to strength train so if you’ve been reading it I hope you are) then take a look at any of the popular strength training programs or research into strength training you’ll find common consensus on most, if not at all of the guidelines above, so if you want strength gains you should be following these guidelines too!
Lets break this down a bit more…
I recommend you pick 1 or 2 compound moves – deadlift, squat, bench, chin-up, row, press, olympic lift variations, or med ball work, and follow that with lighter assistance or isolation exercises – scapular control, lateral and rotational movements, core work and single-leg exercises are my recommendations. A quick example workout that would work on a 3 or 4 day template would look something like this:
A. Clean High Pull or Med Ball Scoop Toss 3×3
B. Barbell Overhead Press 5×5
C. Back Squat 3×5
D1. Single-Arm Weighted Carry (or other core exercises) 5x5steps/ each leg
D2. Face-pull 3x1o
Research has shown strength improvements as a result of training anywhere from 60% of 1 rep max and upwards, however multiple sets of loads around 80% has most often been cited as most effective. This 80-85% number will usually equate to 3-5 reps for most people. Whilst one set does work for strength its not as effective, if you want to see serious strength gains you need more volume, and multiple sets is where it’s at! On the flip slide you don’t want to do too much volume that you exhaust the bodies ability to recover between sessions so there’s a balance to be struck here. Most trainers and textbooks will recommend somewhere are 12-25 reps as ideal for building strength, as you can see 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps fits in nicely.
There is a definite trend towards higher frequency training programs in strength and conditioning of late, with new research eluding to greater gains in maximal strength and hypertrophy with greater frequency of training sessions. Broadly this is something I favour as I have always found squatting 3 times a week to be more effective than squatting once a week (intuitively this just seems to make sense to me). The choice to train 3, 4 or 5 times a week will be based on you as an athlete, your recovery abilities and above all the time you have available to train – after all you’re not going to stick to a program that has you training 5 times a week if you only have time to train 3 times a week. The exact training in each session, the exercises, the volume, etc will depend on how many days you train.
If you train 3 times a week full body training is probably the best fit for most. When training 4 times a week the most common split is to go upper body/ lower body sessions twice a week. However I like to go with two upper body sessions, one lower body and one full body session. The reason for this is the upper body is more complex musculature system and in my experience often requires more volume, although ultimately this will depend on the individuals needs and preferences. Another nice way to break training is to have 2 days focused on lateral and rotational movements, and 2 focusing on traditional transverse movements i.e. squats and deadlifts, alla Mike Boyle.
A note on total volume: Total volume should remain the same weather you are doing a 3, 4 or 5 days. Consequently if you are training 3 days a week the volume you do each day would need to be higher than if you trained 5 days a week in order to keep total volume the same.
Progress these workouts in a linear manner (adding small weight increments to the bar each session) until you can no longer do so. At this point reduce the weight 10% and increase the volume (switch to 5×5 from 3×5 for example) and continue as before, when you stall at the higher volume, reduce the weight again and lower the volume significantly (3×3 from the 5×5 before) and continue to add weight to the bar. Another option when progress stops is simply to switch to an exercise that works the same muscles but in a slightly different manner i.e. switch from conventional deadlifts to sumo deadlifts, change to using a different grip width when pressing or change to a specialty bar squat or front squat. Continue to add weight in the same manner as before, switching to another exercise variation each time you stall.