Trevor Immelman Training for Balance

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By Steve Gomen with David Herman
 
During this off season, GFM met up with Trevor Immelman and his golf performance coach, David Herman, for a few questions about Trevor achieving his boyhood dream of winning the 2008 Masters. We also got an exclusive inside look at a workout routine that Trevor uses to keep his body in perfect golf shape, and the routine he will use to prepare himself for 2009 season and to defend the Masters.
 
What we found was a confident, athletic golfer who has dedicated the longevity of his career to continuous improvement of his physical and mental golf fitness.
 
Trevor feels that he has fully digested his win at Augusta last spring and is now basically working on ways to improve. His current challenge is to bring out his best golf more times in a season. In winning his first major, his confidence has reached a new level. I definitely feel more confident. I have proved to myself that if I play my best, I can beat the best. I now fully believe that I can win the biggest tournaments.
 
Leading up to this years Masters, Trevor has worked hard in the off-season in a training program consistent with building and maintaining legs, upper body and core strength. He has no worries about his preparedness for this year, and recalled his physical challenges the prior year. After two physical setbacks in 2007 ' a stomach virus resulting in significant weight loss, and major surgery in December ' his dedicated approach to fitness enabled him to come to form and win the Masters. I found how important it is to have a trainer as good as Dave, who knows how to prepare an athlete in strength and nutrition.
 
Though he wants to feel physically strong in 2009 and for the Masters, Trevor will tweak his routine during the tournament season by using lighter weights, simple core stabilization and more elastic stretching. The focus will be on staying pain free, loose and limber for tournament play, and not lifting heavier weights, which would cause too much stiffness.
 
Trevor further elaborated on the critical importance of overall fitness to an extended career in professional golf. Golf is such a different animal than other sports when it comes to training. With other sports such as football or baseball you are lucky to have a 10-year window, so you have got to hit it with your maximum training. In the sport of golf, your training is more centered on preventing injuries and adding longevity to your game and your career; a sport where you want to play competitively until you are 50 or 60. You just need to be fit enough to play 72 holes, never loose concentration, never get tired, and enable your body and muscles to support your swing, all in an effort to avoid injury. Its a little different balance than any other sport, and thats how Dave and I got onto this angle for golf-specific conditioning and the work-out we are going to show you today.
 
As we discussed strengths and weaknesses in Trevors golf swing, he explained that one of his strongest assets creates one of his greatest weaknesses from a technical standpoint. I have very strong hips, glutes and legs. Thats why I can create a lot of speed and hit the ball so far, particularly for such a small guy. Technically, this hinders him because his hips move very fast. Consequently, he concentrates on his rhythm while on the golf course to balance his strength training in the gym.
 
And what does Gary Player ' Trevors life-long mentor ' have to say about all of this? If you recall, Mr. Player had some very inspirational words for Trevor the night before his final round at the 2008 Masters, and regularly stays in touch with Trevor. During their last conversation, Mr. Player explained how he is working on some new conditioning techniques that he felt he needed for his aging and changing body. Trevor finds it fascinating and inspiring that at age 72, Player still looks for ways to improve. It just shows what a positive attitude he has. We are always talking about golf fitness, and discussing conditioning techniques and stuff. He always gives me a slap in the abs just to see how I am doing.
 

Trevor's Golf-Specific Workout Anyone Can Do

Core & Core Stabilization Defined:
 
The main muscles involved in core stabilization are deep muscles such as the transverse abdominus, the multifidus and the muscles of the pelvic floor. When engaged, the transverse abdominus creates a protective barrier around your spine. Its the deep lower abdominal muscle you work if you pull in your belly button toward your stomach while exhaling the air in the diaphragm. The multifidus is a muscle that lies along your spine from your neck to your pelvis, with short fibers connecting one bone (vertebra) of the spine to other vertebrae near it. The muscles of the pelvic floor are most noticeable when you squeeze to keep yourself from urinating.
 
All these muscles, and muscles closer to the surface, help with core stabilization and posture, and will also help you to move more efficiently. These closer to the surface muscles include the thoracic area of the upper back, musculature of lower back and multiple gluteus muscles. Musculature connected to the pelvic that also help to stabilize the body include quads/lateral I-t bands, adductors and hip flexors. Core stabilization strengthens the body and helps you learn to use the inner muscles that create a strong, protective and balanced center linking the upper and lower body, which is optimum for golf.

Trevor Immelman-who is actually a great study of golf-specific fitness himself-used the aid of his sports performance coach, David Herman, to assemble an awesome workout routine that practically anyone can safely do on their own.
 
David has worked with Trevor Immelman ' one of the Tours most fitness-dedicated athletes ' for quite some time perfecting golf-specific exercises. And this one is one of the best routines we have seen. It encompasses all of the important aspects of the golf swing for more strength, speed and, most importantly, longevity.
 
Knowing that training for golf is unique from any other sport, they formulated a routine that promotes being 100 percent balanced during the swing. Trevor assured us that when you play a downhill lie, you will notice a difference in your stability. David and Trevor wanted a core stabilization program that was consistent with building and maintaining leg, upper body and core strength, all aspects that promote an automatically balanced swing as well as a reduced risk of injury. What they came up with is a whole upper body and leg program that is preformed while keeping the core muscles engaged and firing throughout the entire workout.
 
This routine we outlined for you is an abbreviated version of a more intensive work-out that lasts up to 90 minutes for Trevor. Or, based on time limitations to balance his professional and personal life, he will divide it into two, 45-minute sessions. But for purposes of this routine designed for you, 30 minutes is all that is necessary to get through the exercises. Dave suggests a 10 minute cool down walk and light stretching to keep your muscles loose and long.
 
Plan to only maximize the weights to a degree where you can continue to focus on keeping your core engaged. This makes the routine very safe for any healthy golfer. This program is all about minimizing the risk of injury to your back, both in the gym and on the course, explained Dave.
 
You should begin this routine by starting with lighter weights, building yourself up as you strengthen your core muscles. Even though this routine may appear like there isnt much to it, it involves an immense amount of strengthening to the hundreds of tiny muscles that stabilize the center of your body, not to mention the strength you will add to your upper body and legs. If you have not already participated in a program that conditions your core muscles, be sure to step into this lightly. Expect some instability and wobble with your body in the beginning. As you improve your strength, you will notice that your stabilization skills will improve automatically for better body control. This stabilization process is the result of strengthened muscles that are needed to create a more balanced and safe swing, which, of course, means more distance, lower scores and added longevity to your game!

Trevor's Workout

Equipment you will need:
Ankle Bands
Looped Resistance Band
Stability Ball
Yoga Brick
Bosu Ball
Medicine Ball
Pilates Ring (optional)

As you begin this workout, it is important to understand exactly what core stabilization is (see inset), and to re-emphasize the necessity to keep your center (core) engaged like a vacuum around your spine to keep the pelvis in a neutral and safe position throughout each exercise.
 
If you are not regularly doing this type of training program, or suffering
with lower back injury issues, always consult your physician, physical
therapist or personal trainer before starting this exercise routine.
 

 

WARM'UP
Do a 10-20 minute warm up using a treadmill, stationary bike or
elliptical machine. Follow with a light stretching routine or a dynamic stretching routine with a loop resistance band if possible.
 

#1: ABDOMINAL STABILIZATION ON BALL

Using a resistance band (either with a partner or by simply attaching it to something stable) perform abdominal crunches focusing on rolling from a horizontal to a vertical position, and hold. Follow this holding movement with a set of short, rapid repetitions. Be sure to make a small exhale with each repetition.
 
>> 2 sets, holding for 15 seconds at the top each time.
>> One set 10 full-range crunches at a quick pace.


 

#2: CHEST-ALTERNATING DUMBBELL

Place an ankle band around the lower legs, which will help engage the lateral muscles of the upper legs, while also engaging the glutes/buttucks and abdominal muscles. Lay with your shoulder blades centered on the stability ball and focus again on engaging your abdominal muscles to maintain a bridge position. Alternate single arm chest presses (as pictured). Light weights are recommended to start with because this exercise is about concentrating on keeping your core muscles engaged throughout the exercise with proper technique.
 
Each arm is fully extended and retracted before switching to the opposite arm. You should feel the center of your body slightly shifting side to side while performing the exercise.
 
>> 30 repetitions (15 repetitions each arm).
>> Repeat exercise 1-2 times.


 

#3: STANDING SINGLE LEG SHOULDER PRESS

As with the entire exercise routine, it is important to keep the core engaged throughout the exercise, particularly with this one. As you engage the center of your body, keep the spine straight and a neutral pelvic position before lifting the weight above your head. Place an ankle band around the lower legs, which will help engage the lateral muscles of the upper legs and hips. Stand with one leg on the floor (or on a yoga brick for added difficulty) and be sure to keep your supporting leg slightly bent. Begin with dumbbell weight elevated in shoulder press position. Press the dumbbell slowly up and down while maintaining a strong stable core, balancing on one leg. Use light to medium weight so that you can focus on core stabilization throughout the exercise.
 
>> 1 set of 12 repetitions on each leg.
>> Repeat 1 time.


 

#4: PLANK EXERCISE WITH ENHANCED STABILIZATION

This exercise can be preformed with varying levels of difficulty (as pictured) for more intensity. Trevor describes it as a killer of an exercise for the golfer. You can begin this exercise by simply starting with the elbows and feet directly on the floor, working toward the more advanced levels that enhance the firing of your core stabilization muscles. Make your best effort to hold a plank position and be careful not to let your neck drop down too much. Focus on something in front of you and remember to breath as you hold the position.
 
>> 2 sets of 20 seconds, gradually building to duration of one minute.
>> Advance to Level 2 using the Bosu ball.
>> For Level 3, use a yoga brick below your toes to add additional instability opposing the Bosu ball.
>> For Level 4 add the medicine ball below your feet.


 

#5: CORE BRIDGE ON BALL WITH LEG EXTENSION

Lay with your shoulder blades centered on the stability ball and focus again on engaging your abdominal muscles to maintain a bridge position. Exhale while focusing on a strong, stable and centered position. Slowly extend your right leg and hold for a 3 second count while taking small, short breaths, holding single leg balanced position. Release leg slowly to floor. Re-stabilize the core and switch to left leg for a 3- second count. Use caution because this exercise is more difficult than it appears. It may take a few workouts to get your body under control.
 
>> Start with 3 repetitions on each leg, and hold the leg extension for 3 seconds.
>> Build to 5 repetitions on each leg, holding each leg extended for a 5- second count.


 

#6: DUAL/SINGLE LEG HAMSTRING CURL

Lie on your back and begin in a bridge position with legs straight and heels of your feet placed on top of the stability ball. Roll the ball toward your buttocks until your feet are flush against the ball, then slowly return to the starting position. With this exercise, you can add two levels of intensity, and one variation using a single leg (as pictured).
 
>> Start with 8 repetitions and build to 15 repetitions.
>> Level 2 ' Add weight with a disk or medicine ball (as pictured).
>> Single Leg ' Us.


 

#7: CORE ROTATION WITH STABILIZATION

This exercise is a basic core rotation movement that Dave has modified to increase core stability and recruit fast twitch muscle fiber in the abdominal and oblique muscles. It can be performed with just the looped resistance band for a good rotation exercise, however, you can greatly intensify the effectiveness of the exercise for all of the core muscles by adding the ankle band and Pilates ring. Step into the position and rotate the shoulders and chest until they are centered with your hips, then hold for 15 seconds.
 
>> Repeat 1-2 times on each side(hold for 15 seconds).
>> Add the ankle band to engage the lower body.
>> Add the Pilates ring to engage more of the upper body.


 

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