My in-season programming follows two major rules:
1. Keep intensity fairly high whilst reducing volume in order to maintain strength.
2. Train for power in the 24-48 hours prior to a competitive round to ensure optimal power output and performance.
More detail on the rational and practicalities of the first point can be found in my previous article on in-season training. From here on out, this article will focus on the second point. I will state up front that what is detailed below is not meant to be a warm-up for golf but a workout, itself following a thorough warm-up, completed the day or two before a round.
So, how exactly does training for power ensure optimal power output and peak performance in the next days round?
Well it has to do with something called post-activation potentiation or PAP. PAP is a theory that purports that the contractile history of a muscle influences the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contractions. Fatiguing muscle contractions impair muscle performance, but non-fatiguing muscle contractions at high loads and/or with a brief duration enhance muscle performance. In other words, excitation of the nervous system produces an increase in contractile function due to a heavy load and/or high velocity stimulus.
In a recent study Tsoukous et al. researched the use of jump squats to create an increase in speed and explosive power over a 24-48 hour period in their study "Delayed Effects of a Low Volume, Power-Type Resistance Exercise Session on Explosive Performance."
The results of the study showed that “a low-volume, power-type training session results in delayed enhancement of explosive muscle performance, which is greatest 24 hour after the activity."
So, instead of resting the day or two before competition, it may be beneficial to perform a short, explosive workout.
In the study above, the researchers used the Jump Squat loaded to 40% 1RM. However, other studies have demonstrated the Trap Bar Jump improves performance of the lower-body musculature compared to the Barbell Squat Jump and that power production can be peaked at as low as 20% 1RM load.
Additionally, I’m not a huge fan of the barbell loaded on the back for most at the best of times and particularly not if you are then going to jump and land so as the force of the load will have to be directly absorbed by the neck and spine, hence I much prefer the trap bar, dumbbell or weighted vest jump options. You can even make use of deadlifts, front squats or bench presses against bands or chains and olympic lift derivatives such as the single-arm dumbbell snatch or barbell high pull.
Based on the findings of the studies I began experimenting with short power/ activation workouts prior to rounds of golf and the results have been pretty impressive. Since the initial experiments we have made some revisions to these workouts and now also include some glute, core and scapular activation work, some med-ball throws to improve rotational mechanics as well as a light-loaded trap bar (or two dumbbells held at the side) jump, for 3-4 sets or 3-5 reps with 3 minutes of rest between jumps to optimise power output for the round to come 24 and 48 hours after the session. The template for the entire workout can be seen below:
In short, put in the effort to gain muscle, strength, and explosive power in the off-season. When it comes time for important rounds and competitions, try low-volume explosive workouts the day or two beforehand. It could just give you the extra few yards, that give you the advantage, you need.
Lorenz, D. (2011). POSTACTIVATION POTENTIATION: AN INTRODUCTION. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 6(3), 234–240.
Tsoukos, A., Veligekas, P., Brown, L. E., Terzis, G., & Bogdanis, G. C. (2017). "Delayed effects of a low volume, power-type resistance exercise session on explosive performance." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001812.
Swinton, P. A., Stewart, A., Agouris, I., Keough, J. W., Lloyd, R. (2011). "A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(7), 2000-9.