Progressive overload trumps specificity

Golf, in its most specific sense, relies on lateral and rotational power. Therefore golfers often place all their eggs in this basket. In some respects this is wise, specificity is, of course paramount.

However this is only the case if said specific means are continually improved upon a.k.a we use progressive overload, getting more efficient, moving faster or using more resistance in these exercises.

I believe it is a mistake to ignore sagittal strength and power development, as I have found sagittal plane exercises to be vital to driving continual improvement in rotational and, particularly, lateral modalities.

For example, lateral power development reaches a point of diminishing returns quite quickly. Lateral power movements are high skill, and single leg dominant. Single leg dominant power exercises are extremely hard to yield high outputs from. If the athlete is not well prepared in a force production, force reception, and a force transfer sense they will not be able to even produce medium outputs on these movements. Considering this, you can develop these force qualities more efficiently using bi-lateral sagittal plane measures first and continuing to use them alongside once lateral measures are introduced.



Single-leg jumps are hard to yield high power outputs from and a therefore best used alongside bi-lateral sagittal plane jumps to increase force output most efficiently over time. 


There has been some debate recently on the use of the bench press in golfers programs, with Jason Glass espousing golfers to ‘burn the bench’ and Lance Gill publishing this article on the TPI website. Whilst I completely understand the advantages of ground contact, core bracing and scapular function (I loveeee push-ups for the same reason, just ask anyone who I train) the simple fact of the matter is you cannot load these exercises with small, systematic increases, in order to drive progressive overload and continued improvement in force production qualities, as easily as you can with the bench press. Not to mention you can utilise progressive overload with the bench press exponentially.


Cable presses and push-ups definitely have their place but nothing can beat the bench press for ensuring progressive overload.


This is also one of the (many) issues I have with many of the ‘golf specific’ exercises in which cables or bands are pulled into various positions mimicking positions found in the golf swing (see picture below). Aside from these exercises potentially messing with the motor patterns of your swing and the direction of resistance not matching the swing so the muscles being used and manner of contraction not matching the golf swing anyway, these exercises simply do not allow the systematic use of progressive overload as you will quickly lose the ability to increase resistance.


In the context of professional/competitive golfers, we must understand that the competitive golf season is a long one, whilst amateurs (and quite a few pros!), typically don’t have a lot of exposure to physical preparation for golf. Therefore, it is safe to say that most golfers live executing movements on the furthest end of the general-to-specific continuum.

The largest portion of their workload should, therefore, be dedicated to work that falls on the other (general) end of that continuum. This is most easily identified as sagittal maximal strength training type modalities.

General strength training has tremendous carry over to golf, but it is the furthest removed means of preparation from the actual task(s) of their sport. It is so effective because it is largely under-trained in the golf population. To my mind general strength training should therefore typically make up at least 70% of the workload for the golfer.


For more on common myths in golf fitness why not take a look at our e-book, the 5 biggest myths & facts of golf fitness here. All you have to do is pop in your e-mail address and it’s completely free. As always thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!


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