What can you achieve with a little time in the gym?

Personal trainer and fitness columnist Shawn O’Neil on the big benefits which can be unlocked by spending a little time working on your fitness

Having laid out in my last two columns how improving your fitness can increase distance and improve scores as well as prevent injuries, I now want to look at how you can start achieving results for a relatively small time commitment.

In terms of scoring, we know from my last column that tee-to-green performance accounts for around 70% of how well we score, and that distance plays a very large part in that (though it certainly isn’t everything).

If you spend an hour per week working on your fitness for eight weeks with the correct stimulus, you will increase mobility, strength and speed. Those increases may well be significant if you’re new to it.

Bearing that in mind, a relatively small time input, following the right programme of gym/home-based work, can significantly improve scores.

Now compare that to eight hours of hitting iron shots. I imagine that is a lot more relatable for a lot of you. How much better have you been getting from those eight hours of bashing balls?

In that same time, in the gym you could gain 4mph of swing speed, which equates to 10 yards of distance. Based on the stats from my last column, that lowers scores by an average of two strokes.

When we look at what we can do, I like to use equipment-free work at home where mobility is the primary target. I tend to see much quicker progression this way. It takes no longer than 10-15mins every couple of days and we tend to notice a difference in how the body feels in 2-3 weeks, with speed increases following.

Stability might take a little longer, but we see a similar progression curve over time.

Strength work isn’t quite as straightforward, but depending on variables such as how new you are to lifting, any dysfunctional movements, and variations in the learning curve, 8-12 weeks can be enough to begin seeing improvements.

Here are two examples of the kind of progressions I’ve seen over longer periods of time.

First, an 18-year-old female around 5ft 6ins tall and weighing 60kg, who after training for 2-3 hours per week over the course of two years increased clubhead speed from 82mph to 103mph – 9mph higher than LPGA average – and was pain-free.

Second, a male in his 60s training 5-8 hours per month over the course of 18 months between lockdowns, who increased clubhead speed from 78mph to 88mph – 13mph faster, or 30-35 yards longer, than the average for 60+ male golfers.

The body swings the golf club and training it in the right way, for a relatively small amount of time, can yield tremendous results and keep you playing injury-free.