Tiger Woods, as you might have heard, has a bad back.
Well, there are people within the golfing community who believe that Woods’ bad back can be attributed to excessive weight training. By adding so much bulk, the theory goes, Woods has lost flexibility, which is crucial for a golfer.
Thus, the age-old debate: What’s more important for an athlete? Strength or flexibility?
“Obviously you need both, but there’s a lot of confusion,” renowned trainer Tim Grover said on The MoJo Show. “Athletes only really need to be flexible (for the) range of motion (in) their particular sport, so trying to have (an individual) go into a range of motion that isn’t really necessary for their sport isn’t really going to benefit them. But as you do get older, your body has a tendency to get out of balance, especially in sports.”
“You take Tiger for example. He’s been swinging the same way over and over again. Maybe a few modifications, but he always swings right-handed. He doesn’t swing left-handed. So obviously when you continue to do that, over time the body has a tendency to become out of balance and certain things are gong to wear out quicker than others, especially with the force and velocity he was able to hit the ball with previously.”
Woods is known for his workout tenacity. He has trained with the Navy SEALs and was at the forefront of bringing fitness and weight-training to golf.
But lifting too much weight can be an issue.
“It’s more the type of the weight-lifting you’re doing,” said Grover, who has trained Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, among other world-class athletes. “Obviously as you get older and as you start to have more miles on your body, no matter what sport it is – golf, tennis, ping pong, basketball, baseball – there has to be adjustments that need to be made, and those adjustments have to (be) more rest and recovery. Your intensity level can still go up, but your frequency level of how often you weight train has to go down, and rest and recovery becomes more important.”
Woods obviously has a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibers, but as he gets older, they won’t work quite as well as they used to. In fact, they’ve already started to become less efficient and effective. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Woods to redefine himself a bit.
“Can you get it back to where you were in your early 20s? No,” Grover said. “But no matter what age you are, you can (make) improvement or slow the process down.”
It’s amazing to think that weight-training among athletes is a fairly recent phenomenon, relatively speaking. Conditioning used to be all cardio; the only way to get in shape was to run – regardless of sport. Now, however, weight-training is an integral part of athletic success.
“The athletes are bigger, faster and stronger, and in order to prevent those injuries, you have to (work your muscles),” Grover said. “But one of the key components that people miss out on is they don’t strengthen the muscles that don’t show through their jerseys. You need to work your ankles. You need to work your wrists. Everyone looks at glutes. You need to work what’s underneath the glutes. All the muscles that don’t show are the ones that are actually going to keep you injury-free and keep you playing at a much longer and higher level.”