The Ideal Training Routine for You

I get asked all the time.  “How many days a week should I be working out?”

I also think that there are a lot of myths, or misconceptions in regard to what days you should and should not be training in the gym.  

So, to clear up those myths I want to make a few points and give you a better understanding of what type of training split and routine is best for you.  Ultimately, there is not one specific training routine that is better than any other.  It will all come down to what is best for you, and your development based on these two main focuses.

  1. Schedule 

This is the number one focus that you must have a firm grasp on before you figure your training routine.  Schedule has the greatest effect on recovery, therefore your schedule needs to come first when figuring a routine.

You need to figure how much you’re playing and practicing at the current moment.  An in-season training routine will be far more cut back than an off-season routine.  Training gets cut back in-season to compliment the added stress with higher volume of playing and practice time in-season.  Training needs to be able to compliment the demands of the season to not let chronic fatigue linger.

On the other hand, when the season comes to a close, it’s time to hit the gym.  Training kicks up in the off-season because the demands and stress from practice and competition are no more.  

  • Training Focus 

Training can be a very very broad term.  So, when it relates to a training routine split, and how many days a week you should or should not be training, you need to figure exactly what training is.

Training is a process of developing physical performances such as strength, power, speed and mobility.  So, the training umbrella term can be broken down into these three (strength, power and mobility) facets.  

Now each facet has a longer, or shorter, lasting recovery residual than another.  What this means is that you can train one area more or less often than another.  So, each area of training will look different from a recovery standpoint on how many days per week you can train it.

Mobility – Mobility exercises work your tissues to get you to move more freely about the joint.  These exercises are not very taxing at all (they may be a bit painful or tender) in terms of overall exertion.  Therefore, mobility can be trained every single day of the week without having to worry about negative consequences.

Strength – This is where it gets tricky because there’s different ways to go about strength training.  You can either work high volume with lighter weights, or lower volume with heavier weights.  The first protocol increases muscle size (hypertrophy) and will make you very very sore due to the high demands of repetition and volume.  This is because every time you lift against a resistance, you are actually damaging muscle fibers.  So, following a strength training workout, you have a bunch of damaged muscle fibers, but a day or two later they are all repaired bigger and stronger than before.  So, recovery is key with strength training.

High volume protocols are popular among body builders, and not so much for golfers.  Outside of a football lineman, hypertrophy strength training serves minimal purpose in athletic development.  Nonetheless, for those training hypertrophy, you should be training about 3-4 days per week, but not in two consecutive days.  My recommendation is to always include a rest day in between workouts, or train upper body one day and lower body the following to avoid excessive stress and fatigue.  The increase amount of recovery is needed to appropriately replenish damaged muscle fibers.  Without this recovery, you will be doing more harm than good.

High intensity strength training is more common among athletes.  This type of training is not much about gaining muscle size, but more for gaining muscle strength.  This type of training is far less taxing, in terms of recovery, and has minimal aftereffects of fatigue and soreness.  Low volume, high intensity strength training can be performed 4-5 days per week.  Again, I would suggest to not do the same movements in consecutive days, but to alternate movement patterns to optimize recovery.  Recovery here is necessary to allow the central nervous system and the muscular system to recover together as a whole.  Recovery works about 50/50 here, the CNS needs time to recharge, and the muscular system needs to repair damaged muscle fibers.

Long story short with strength training, it is ok to train heavy on consecutive days and in-season.  The effects are minimal, and the benefits are optimized in terms of athletic development.

Power – You should never be sore from training power.  Power training is all the central nervous system.  So, the fatigue from power training can kind of be a little sneaky.  Fatigue in the CNS comes when you’re not firing on all cylinders.  Like a racecar with a damaged motor.  On the outside you can’t necessarily see the damage, or you can’t feel it in the handling, but you certainly can tell when you go to mash the gas.

You have to allow yourself recovery with training power.  You may not see it or feel it, but after an intense power workout, or intense bouts of max effort speed, leaves your CNS shot.  You are now a V8 running on about 2 cylinders.  

So, you need to let yourself recharge.  Intense power training can be completed on back to back days, but certainly no more than just that.  I would suggest you limit your power development training to 4-5 days per week again here.

Knowing what we know now.  There are 4 main points I want to point out here.

  1. You can be training mobility every single day.  In-season or off-season.
  2. Avoid high volume training in-season.  Direct your training towards heavy strength and power training in-season 3-4 days. 
  3. Avoid training high volume strength and power at the same moment in time.  This will off-set results and tear you apart.
  4. You can (should) be doing heavy strength training year-round for 3-4 days

Now that you’ve gotten a quick lesson on what types of training you should be doing at certain moments of the year; you can also consider a few other thoughts.  

First, you need to be able to distinguish the difference between training every quality vs training specificity.  This means, you should not be doing hypertrophy work, heavy strength, and intense power training all at once.  As I mentioned above, this will off-set results.  Training across specific qualities like hypertrophy and power, confuses equilibrium in your body, and gives it no opportunity to adapt.  Instead, if you want to be powerful, train your low volume fast and powerful movements.  If you want got stronger, train low volume and high intensity strength work.  Don’t mix and match your training routines.

Next, consistency matters.  You cannot train hard all off-season and develop yourself into the total athlete, only to drop off completely when the in-season comes around.  I always like to say, “you’re either getting or you’re getting worse, you either use it or lose it.”  Spending any extended amount of time out of the weight room will set you back.  Don’t waste time playing catch-up next off-season when you could’ve still been training and developing in the gym through-out the in-season.

Lastly, you must know that recovery and rest are NOT the same.  Recovery is returning to a physical state of health or wellness.  You must encourage and optimize this through active movement, rolling, stretching, etc.  Rest is to cease work or activity in order to relax.  Two very very different things here.  So, on your off day, you cannot just do nothing, and expect that your systems will return in an optimized state.  You must be proactive about recovery and encourage it.

At the end of the day, you must choose a training routine that you know you can stick to.  But, making that decision comes with the appropriate knowledge of the training system.  So, you must design your routine around your schedule and your training focus.  With this in mind You must remain committed to consistency and recovery to optimize the results from your routine!