Tiger Woods might be slowing down when it comes to the number of tournaments he contests but when it comes to his own personal fitness the sporting icon has never been more dedicated. Woods was forced to endure a seven-month lay-off from the PGA Tour after withdrawing from the third round of The Masters at Augusta National in April. He subsequently underwent a subtalar fusion on his right ankle that forced him to miss the majority of the season, including the Open Championship at Hoylake, where he had famously clinched the Claret Jug in 2006.
The 15-time major champion finally returned to action last month at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, before which he revealed that he no longer had pain in his fused ankle, but was feeling it elsewhere in his body.
Woods attributed his eventual return to not only the success of his operation but also the dedicated training regime he has continued to follow that has enabled him to keep competing in the world of elite golf despite the numerous serious injury setbacks he has endured over the years.
His basic routine includes stretching, core training, cardio sessions and weight training. The American will start his day with up to 40 minutes of stretches before his workout even properly starts. This is to improve the range of motion in his joints and make the blood flow in preparation for his exercises.
Flexibility training is also key to a tension-free golf swing, one of the most common causes of injuries in the sport. Once fully stretched, he will focus on core muscles. Not only does this allow him to strike the ball harder, but also helps to prevent further back problems.
Woods’ cardio session will either be running or on a bike. When running, he will either do a three-mile speed run or an endurance run of up to seven miles. A blend of the two is ideal for working both slow and fast-twitch muscle fibres.
His weight sessions can last for two to three hours but are used for a very specific purpose. Explaining the idea on his personal blog, he wrote: “The idea is to build the strength I need to crush a golf ball rather than develop big muscle volume.
“I lift sub-maximal weights at higher reps, sometimes 25 to 50, because I’m going for tone and endurance instead of bulk. Bodybuilders usually lift heavier weights in sets of six to 12 because they’re going for mass. Sometimes, I add plates to break up the routine and challenge myself, but I rarely lift a lot of weight.”
The mix of exercises Woods performs keeps his muscles guessing and can shock them into new growth, but instead of working to the point of pain, he works them to the point of failure.
He works all of his muscle groups but in particular focuses on his back, shoulders and legs. The latter is more important than perhaps first evident because the power from a golf swing starts with the lower body.
When it comes to diet, the PGA star is right on the money. For breakfast, he will typically eat an egg white veggie omelette. Lunch is usually salads, lean meats, seafood and vegetables. Carbohydrates are key for golfers and Woods gets most of his from fruits, vegetables, and sports drinks.
Following his surgery, Woods will have also been following a strict rehabilitation physiotherapy regime for his fused ankle. That he was unable to feel any pain in the affected area before returning to action in late November demonstrates how dedicated he has been to his recovery.
Woods will turn 48 on Saturday and as he prepares for next season he has already made it clear that he can only realistically expect to play in around a dozen events in 2024, targeting one a month.
But by maintaining the physical condition that he does, the legendary star can continue to defy his doubters for a few years more and who would bet against him finding a way to land another tour title if not a major?
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