Overspeed training is the hot, ‘relatively’ new training aid that promises to deliver faster club head speeds. As many golfers are finding out, in the drive for more distance, being stronger and having more muscle on tap to generate force is only part of the picture when it comes to increasing your club head speed.
But, as pro strength and conditioning coach Dimi Lulov knows, any new piece of training equipment is only as good as the program you use it with…
The Concept of Overspeed Training As any athlete knows, while muscle gives you strength, it does not necessarily give you speed. Doing workouts with weights will definitely improve your strength, and there is good evidence that having a stronger lower body correlates to increased club head speeds (read this RSNG article to find out how.)
But if you want to maximize your potential for speed, then you also need to train the central nervous system so that the mind-body connection is firing as swiftly as it can. So, the theory goes that by replicating the golf swing with a weighted club, and emphasizing speed of movement, rather worrying about hitting the ball, will do just that.
Speed sticks aren't the answer – but they are a great side dish to the answer!
How Speed Sticks Get It Right For anyone thinking that weighted club golf training aids are a bit of a fad, think again, says golf strength and conditioning coach Dimi Lulov: “I personally like speed sticks,” he tells me. “I think they're just a very easy, low-barrier entry for anyone to get into speed training. They're weighted and they allow you to do overspeed training.”
While Lulov doesn’t use them specifically in his training sessions, he has seen evidence that they work: “I can say that all my clients who have previously used speed sticks have seen good results… It's something that I prescribe to people outside of my sessions, if they want to use them.”
What you definitely shouldn’t do is view speed sticks as a one-stop solution for increased club-head speed. “It's one of those things that doesn't harm, but it's always the side dish to a well rounded strength training programme. Speed sticks aren't the answer, but they are a great side dish to the answer!”
How Weighted Club-Style Workouts Get It Wrong Having sung the praises of speed sticks and weighted clubs, it’s time to take them down a peg or two. After reviewing a selection of weighted club and speed stick-style workouts online (including some official manufacturer’s drills), I started to have my doubts about the high volume of reps involved…
The ‘target’ of this kind of speed training isn’t the muscles themselves, so much as the central nervous system (CNS), and the connection between those muscles and the brain. And when athletes train the CNS for speed, they don’t tend to hammer it with big volumes of reps and sets. But that’s exactly what most weighted club drills posted online will tell you to do. So, what gives?
That's where it goes downhill – any sort weighted club speed sessions, those aren’t done with many reps or sets – it should all be low reps
“That's where unfortunately, it sort of goes downhill, in my opinion,” says Lulov. “Any sort of power output stuff, any sort of weighted club speed sessions, those aren’t done with many reps or sets – it should all be low reps.” This makes sense, and is entirely non-controversial when you look at how speed and power output is trained in athletics, and in sports with much more accumulated sports science knowledge than golf.
If an athlete is doing a max strength session they will go heavy with the weights but generate more force and speed by doing fewer reps and sets than in the standard, gym-based muscle-building workouts. The same goes for speed-developing plyometric workouts that involve fast, dynamic moves, like jumps – the reps and sets are low, in the 2-5 reps range.
As with all strength and conditioning workouts, weighted club and speed stick drills have a specific purpose – they convert the additional muscle you’ve already built in the gym, into speed and power output. You can’t do a single workout or drill that hits both of those goals. That’s just not how the body works.
“As with everything to do with training – and golf training – a lot of people think more is better. But simply having the right things in the right places is better,” says Lulov.
Why You Don’t Even Need A Speed Stick* So, the good news is that you don’t need to invest lots of time hammering out endless speed stick or weighted-club reps. But what is the best approach? And can you gain the benefits of overspeed training even if you don’t have specialized equipment?
Yes, says Lulov: “The easiest way is to go to a driving range, get your driver out, and place four balls on a slightly higher tee. Don't even look where the ball goes, and just swing the golf club as hard as possible.”
This, in a nutshell, is overspeed training, which will absolutely develop your central nervous system and its role in increasing club head speed, by generating higher speeds and greater power output. And, as Lulov points out, this will also develop your ability to produce power through the ground, during the specific movement of the golf swing.
What’s the best way to organize this golf-club overspeed drill? “You should hit one ball, take a few seconds off and then go again. But like any other power set, you don’t do 20 reps. if we look at maximum output, realistically, you can only put two, three or four reps in before your output decreases [and the work becomes unproductive].”If you're on the range five times a week, then do overspeed two or three times a week, max and just sets of four reps
If you're on the range five times a week, then do overspeed two or three times a week, max and just sets of four reps
You can work overspeed into your normal driving range routine, and the beauty of it is that it takes a negligible amount of additional time. “If you're on the range five times a week, then do overspeed two or three times a week, max. I think with any sort of speed training or power training people always overdo it in terms of reps and sets.”
“So that's my best piece of advice. If you go to the range, I'd say two or three times max a week, just sets of four.” If this seems low to you, don’t worry – just pay very close attention to those reps, making sure you put your absolute maximum efforts into them.
Think like a 100m sprinter, says Lulov: “If I was to tell you to sprint as fast as you can, for 20 meters, you could probably do three sprints, and then anything after that your time slowly decreases. So with any sort of speed training, we think the same thing; just low reps, keep it effective, enhance the central nervous system, and then move on from there.”
WHAT NEXT? One piece of equipment that can help you to train your body for golf is the TRK or any other suspension trainer – find out how with Trevor ‘TX’ Anderson in this RSNG article.