Golfer Rory McIlroy burst onto the world competitive golf scene in 2007, racking up wins and big bucks at an age when most young men are doing anything but. And he did so despite a body composition that was, shall we say, non-athletic, and a number of other great physical warning signs.
“I wasn’t much of a gym fan,” McIlroy recalled in a 2014 Nike ad. “I couldn’t stay on one leg for more than 10 seconds. I couldn’t hold a plank for more than 30 seconds. ” Combine that with his admittedly “terrible” posture, and any coach worthy of his clipboard would likely see an injury waiting to happen, especially in combination with McIlroy’s violent golf swing.
Rory McIlroy and Nike Training present:
Watch the video – 2:09
So what did the young Irishman do? He walked into the gym and transformed. His results seem to speak for themselves – 19 professional wins, $ 150 million in prize money, all by the age of 26 – but he has faced a constant stream of criticism since taking the turn and got in shape.
Here’s the latest shot at McIlroy from behind the mic, courtesy of Golf Channel Analyst Brandel Chamblee:
“When I see the things he does in the gym, I think about what happened to Tiger Woods… and it gives me a bit of concern when I see the heavy lifting Rory is doing in the gym.”
It’s easy to roll your eyes at a statement like this and say, “Strong is always better, duh,” but let’s give Mr. Chamblee the benefit of the doubt and unwrap it a bit.
What happened to Tiger Woods
For years, Tiger Woods was short, although definitely athletic, and he was very successful on the golf course. Like, the best anyone has ever had.
Then he started hurting himself all the time. He also started showing up at tournaments that looked more like free security than your standard golfer. Were the two related? Many were eager to say it, stating that Woods was tight, bulky, and too strong for his own good.
So let’s imagine the torque that Tiger’s dynamic swing puts on his body. If you’ve ever seen it swing – and you’ve seen it, because we’ve all seen it – then you know it’s a lot. Now take into account that he made this movement almost exclusively in one sense, from infancy. Remember, he appeared on the Mike Douglas show at the age of 3 and could shoot a respectable 48 with nine holes at that age. He is 40 years old now and has been a professional golfer since his teenage years. Even by careful calculations, he has probably swung the golf club several million times in his life.
Honestly, it’s amazing that his eyes and toes are always pointing in the same direction. Criticizing him for having back pain is like blaming a gladiator’s training for being stabbed in the back in the arena. Tiger’s weight training regimen was designed to balance his body and save it a lifetime of golf swing damage, not to blindly add stress or build muscle mass on its own.
The fact that he ultimately lost the battle – and apparently suffers from almost constant pain as he enters his fifth decade of life – is not an indictment for strength training. . It is an indictment of steadfast devotion to individual sports and a call for more complete athletics.
Smart coaches, not just talkative commentators, know this. Almost all sports cause some form of extreme repetition of movement, often with considerable force. Athletes and their coaches have understood this and have implemented strength training protocols to correct these imbalances and provide sport specific benefits.
So what was Rory doing, anyway?
Hearing his critics describe him, you’d think McIlroy entered the CrossFit Games. But the truth? He was “caught” doing squats. Here is his workout described by selfie:
- Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps, 225 pounds
- Squat: 3 sets of 3 reps, 265 pounds
He was also pictured lifting a similar amount and doing easy sets with 225 using the trap bar. In the Nike video, you can also see him doing push-ups, renegade rows, and spinning medicine ball work.
None of this indicates that someone is trying to get into powerlifting. It’s not weight training either – and McIlroy quickly noted that he still only weighs 165 pounds. It’s really telling of someone who has simply done the work of developing healthy body composition and building strong legs, hips, and core. All of these muscles are an integral part of the golf swing and of being a healthy, functioning athlete and human being.
Honestly, this training protocol and the one captured in the video are more likely to help extend McIlroy’s career than to shorten it. Having a solid foundation of muscle mass and stronger spinal stabilizers – a perk that squats and deadlift variations certainly offer – helps prevent injury build-up by performing the same explosive twisting motion of, say, a few million. of times.
The bottom line
Of course, we can all refer to someone who hurts it – someone who grows fat and simultaneously begins to suffer an endless series of injuries, large and small. Are the two related? Sometimes. And sometimes that person was going to get hurt somehow.
Each of us can also probably refer to someone who got fit and strong and saw their back pain go away, saw their quality of life skyrocket, and felt and performed better than they did. never would have imagined. McIlroy has a long way to go, but the success he achieved in his early years says more than Chamblee ever could.
“It’s a necessity. It’s what I have to do,” McIlroy says in the Nike video. “And I feel like coming in here gives me the best possible chance to get out on the golf course and play to the best of my ability.”
He won the benefit of the doubt. It is repetition, unbalanced, that causes damage. That, and open your mouth when you don’t have anything informal to say.