The Biggest Mistake You’re Making In The Gym: Part 1 – Golf Gym, NYC


Let’s suppose for a moment that you are one of those golfers (like Jordan Spieth above)  that understands the relationship between fitness and your ability to play golf to the best of your ability. Let’s just say….

So if you are going to the gym you want to optimize the time you spend there and derive the most benefit you can from it, right? Of course, you do. You’re a successful person who has little time to waste. Then the first thing you need to ask yourself is:

What benefits would you like to see from the work you are putting in and the time you spend there? 

If you’re there because you want your exercise to help you with your golf game then you need to know what physical qualities YOU need to improve upon in order to play golf better. This means YOU need to know which physical qualities are necessary to be a good golfer. With me so far?

The physical qualities that better golfers have are: 

  • flexibility
  • mobility
  • stability
  • balance
  • strength
  • power
  • cardio-respiratory efficiency

Think of each of these physical qualities as buckets. How would you know which of these buckets you need to fill?

Assess and Address


The best way to know which of your buckets needs filling is to assess and prioritize. And the best way to assess what YOUR physical needs are is to have someone who understands how to measure them with a screening process.  That’s essentially what a screen does. It tells the screener what it is you can or cannot do. Whether or not you have any physical limitations that are adversely affecting your golf swing. And when it comes to being fit for golf, those screens are measured and compared to what “better golfers” can do.

Check out this great video of Me and My Golf along with TPI Co-Founder Dave Philips going through some of the physical screens. 

Mistake #1: You Have No Plan

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Benjamin Franklin saying, “If you fail to plan you are planning to fail,” and another wonderful quote by the brilliant Zig Ziglar, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

FACT: The average amateur golfer does not have the knowledge of how to put together a complete training program nor are they familiar with all the elements that are required for their success.

For your exercise program to be successful you first have to start with the end result in mind. Where do YOU want to go? Then find out where you are physically in relationship to that end result and then reverse engineer a plan that will take you there. 

Most people that venture into a gym on their own go with the thought of changing their appearance, not their performance. And with improving their appearance as the primary objective they tend to gravitate towards one or both of the following types of exercise: 

1) Strength training

2) Condition (or as you would say, “cardio”)

But as you can see from the list above there’s much more to fitness than building muscle and pumping blood. You still have 5 more buckets to fill in order to have all the physical qualities that are necessary to play great golf. 

And from what I’ve seen, you’re doing a pretty poor job of filling those 2 buckets.

Mistake #2: You’re Filling The Wrong Buckets and With The Wrong Things

As important as strength and cardiovascular fitness are go golf and overall health & fitness, it’s typically not what’s holding the average amateur back from playing better golf. Most amateurs need help with flexibilitymobilitystability, balance, and the ability to disassociate. All critical skills for power, consistent and injury-free golf! 

“Until you can get into a position until you can move joints (hips and shoulders) the way they need to be moved, it will be difficult if not impossible to enhance your power. If we look at most people that struggle with GOLF, it is because they lack mobility”_ Michael Boyle

So if you’re not working on your ability to get into position to perform a mechanically correct golf swing you’re probably spending your time filling the wrong bucket. 

Mistake #3: Never Jog!

If you are putting your time into the cardio bucket you’re probably wasting it by being inefficient.

Go into any corporate gym and you will literally see rows and rows of treadmills and recumbent bicycles. Why are they there? It sells memberships!

The fact is that the reason people gravitate to doing slow, steady-state walking or jogging on a treadmill or for that matter, easy pedaling on a bicycle – is because IT’S EASY and the alternative, interval training, IS HARD!

Chase Discomfort

People like what’s comfortable but to change your level of fitness you need to get uncomfortable. Get comfortable with discomfort! 

Check out these words of wisdom from Ed Mylett’s 10 Rules of Success. Especially #6 – Chase Discomfort.

“The comfortable road will never lead you to be the person you were destined to be.” _Ed Mylett

Below are a few of the problems associated with jogging on a treadmill or any other form of steady-state, low-intensity cardio exercise.

  • Walking and jogging can be categorized as low-intensity aerobic-based cardiovascular exercise (by aerobic I mean it gets you moving but it doesn’t get you out of breath). If you are already walking the golf course you are already getting enough low-level heart rate stimulation. You do not need any more. It’s an inefficient use of your time.
  • What you’re not getting is any amount of high-intensity stimulus and that’s what you need!
  • Golf is a power sport. One of the elements of power is speed. If you run slow – you’ll be slow. You are progressively changing your muscle fiber type from fast to slow. Your conditioning program is taking away from the speed component of golf. Change your program.
  • Jogging is an incomplete motor pattern. It’s a little faster than walking, but a lot slower than sprinting. Less than a run or a sprint and you have incomplete hip flexion and hip extension, which over the long-term makes you tighter, creates movement dysfunction, and done long enough, will lead to injury. We want to move as close to a sprint pattern as possible. So in between jogging and sprinting is running. And when I say running I mean running at a tempo that looks more like sprinting and less like jogging. You’ll know it when you see it.

Compare the body position of the joggers to the sprinter. There is no comparison other than they are both moving forward!

  • The slower you go and the longer you run the greater your risk of injury.
  • The injury rate amongst those who “jog” is between 50% – 65%.
  • “You can’t run to get fit, you need to be fit to run.” –Diane Lee, Physical Therapist

Treadmill Drawbacks

  • There is a lack of true hip extension which undertrains the glutes and overuses the hamstrings.
  • The treadmill is not running- it’s suspended running. So you are not pushing yourself AWAY from something, e.g. the ground – you are being pulled along by a belt. This has a very different effect on the body than ground-based running.

What About Weight Loss?

  • When it comes to weight loss most people tend to focus on traditional cardio workouts, like jogging on a treadmill. This is typically not going to have any major impact on your waist size. Part of the problem is that steady-state cardio is among the least effective forms of exercise when it comes to weight loss. You are only burning calories while you’re moving, but not at rest. 
  • Steady-state caloric deficits take hours and hours of movement. You can accomplish the same caloric deficit effect with interval training in a fraction of the time. The reason for this is because E.P.O.C. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC, informally called afterburn) is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity. In other words, it takes your body longer to restore itself to its normal, resting level of metabolic function (homeostasis) after periods of intense exercise.
  • Excessive amounts of steady-state aerobic exercise also produce excessive amounts of stress hormones (cortisol) which catabolizes muscle tissue and ages the body at a more rapid rate due to the release of free radicals into the blood.
Healthy Hormones 
  • With age, your body chemistry changes, and many of those changes make it increasingly difficult to lose weight. For example, around the age of 30, your human growth hormones (HGH) level begins to drop off, and HGH helps with both fat metabolism and muscle building.
  • The good news is that you can counteract this chain of events, provided you make and maintain the appropriate lifestyle changes. Choosing your exercise wisely is perhaps the most efficient way to bolster your body’s capacity to function optimally as you get older, and this includes maintaining healthy hormone levels.
  • Many people fail to realize that exercise can have a pronounced effect on your hormone production, naturally raising sex hormones and HGH, for example, which can have a more or less direct bearing on weight management. So Instead of doing that steady-state stuff opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

What Is Interval Training?

  • Interval training is incredibly simple. It’s alternating periods or work with periods of rest (the complicated part is figuring out how to do it and what to do it on).

Benefits Of Interval Training

  • Studies show that interval training is superior to steady state for conditioning and weight loss. (Many studies have confirmed that exercising in shorter bursts with rest periods in between – burns more fat than exercising continuously for an entire session.
  • It takes far less time.
  • There is far less chance of injury.
  • One thing we know from a scientific standpoint is that interval training develops aerobic capacity (conditioning) better than aerobic (steady state) training. It doesn’t really make logical sense but it’s a fact. So the fastest way to improve cardiovascular efficiency is with interval training.

How Do You Know If You’re Working Hard Enough? 

  • The easiest and least scientific way to know if you’ve pushed yourself hard enough is by using what’s known as the Ventilatory Threshold. Essentially meaning you’re out of breath! If you have difficulty formingsentences without panting, you’ve reached it.
  • If you work hard you get out of breath and your legs hurt, that’s about it – don’t be so concerned about the science, just work hard.

“Short distances preserve running mechanics while brief recovery times produce the same AEROBIC benefits as distance runs.” _ Gary Winckler University of Ill Women’s Track Coach

Brett’s Bottom Line: 

  • Avoid the first mistake of not having a plan by hiring a qualified coach who can assess what your needs are and put the appropriate plan together to help you reach your goals.
  • Know your priorities. Fill the right bucket with the right stuff.
  • If you are going to put time into the cardio bucket do something useful! Ditch the slow stuff. Train slow – Be slow. You want to swing fast you need to move fast.
  • Interval training is superior to steady-state training in every way. It will improve your cardiovascular fitness better than steady-state work and will reduce body fat better than steady-state work. It takes less time and there’s less of a chance of injury. If you want results, interval train.
  • So your “cardio” needs to be more interval based and very little of it needs to be steady state or aerobic oriented. It’s not what people want to do but it’s what works.
  • It’s gotta be hard – if you don’t run/move fast enough you won’t get the benefit you need to get.