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Fitness

Not to be outdone by Lexi Thompson, a ripped Rory McIlroy graces the cover of Men's Health Magazine

We at Golf Digest are very proud of our May fitness issue featuring Lexi Thompson on the cover. If you haven't checked out the extra photos or behind-the-scenes video of the LPGA Tour star boxing, you should. Oh, hey, here's another link for you to check out:

Photos: Lexi Thompson's Golf Digest fitness issue cover shoot

But apparently, Lexi isn't the only golfer appearing front and center in a health-focused publication. A ripped Rory McIlroy is the cover boy on this month's Men's Health. Here's a look:

And here's one of those other photos McIlroy is referring to:

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And here's a behind-the-scenes video he Instagrammed:

A video posted by Rory McIlroy (@rorymcilroy) on

The World No. 1's fitness has been in the spotlight a lot recently as he revs up for his first attempt at completing the career Grand Slam at the Masters. McIlroy appeared on the cover of Golf Digest's April issue as a chiseled statue, and two of his biggest sponsors, Nike and Bose, have created mini-documentaries detailing McIlroy's intense physical training.

McIlroy -- not Tiger Woods -- is the first golfer to be put on the cover of Men's Health. Now we'll see if all that work in the gym will lead to a first green jacket.

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Fitness

These GIFs of Rory working out show what a total beast he is

Rory McIlory has turned into a bona fide workout warrior since he first graced golf's world stage, and it's shown. He's shed fat and packed on muscle, and he's got four majors to show for it. But his journey wasn't always an easy one. It required a lot of time and effort, which Nike captures beautifully in this two minute long "training" video.

Rory says that when he decided to go to the gym more, he couldn't stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds, and couldn't hold a plank for more than 30 seconds.

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"Everybody has to start from somewhere. I started from the very beginning and I've worked my way up getting my body in my best position for what I do."

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"I've no ambitions to try and do squats of 500 pounds like some guys you see," Rory says, "but I'm strong enough to control the golf club the whole way through me swing and that's what I need to do."

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Working out more has also improved his posture, which was "terrible" when he first started, Rory says. "Standing up straight with your shoulders back and your chest out, it even just gives off an air of confidence."

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Rory says that now he actually enjoys going to the gym, so much so that he starts looking forward to it on the final holes of his round. Sometimes, his trainer will actually set him goals, so if he doesn't shoot a low enough score, he won't be allowed in the gym after his round.

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"I feel like getting in [the gym] gives me the best possible chance to go out on the golf course and perform to the best of my ability."

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Nike's full video:


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Fitness

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge: Super Hip Mobility

A reasonable range in hip mobility is critical to executing a powerful and efficient golf swing. The ability of the hips to move to an acceptable degree facilitates rotation, speed generation and the ultimate transfer of that energy to the golf ball at impact. Hips that are compromised can cause a litany of swing faults and injuries leading to pain and lousy golf shots.

Incorporating the exercise presented in the video below is a great way to activate your hips for better performance.

As you work to become more mobile, I'd also like you consider an adjustment in technique to help make you a better ball striker. At address, instead of keeping your feet perpendicular to the target line or only flaring your front foot outward, flare both feet evenly about 15-20 degrees.

Flaring the feet makes it easier to rotate both back and through allowing you to make up for some of the tightness you're actively trying to remedy. The player with tight hips will not only find it difficult to turn, but also a challenge to move within a reasonable axis throughout the swing. Flaring the toes creates a positive chain reaction from the ground up that helps the hips and shoulders move within their proper tilts.

As an added bonus to this story, click here for a video I filmed for Golf Digest on how this alternative foot placement and attitude can help your game.

Spend a little time paying attention to improving your hip action and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

BENEFITS
Increase Mobility
More Power
Better Shots


Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf
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Fitness

Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #34: Ultimate Power Circuit

There's a big difference between being "fit" and training for sport. I learned this years ago when I embarked on a training program with Athletes' Performance. Located in Phoenix Arizona, Athletes' Performance, now known as EXOS, is an off-season haven for the world's best athletes and others dedicated to wellness and a higher level of achievement. Their philosophy on performance has proven so effective, they've expanded their reach to corporate wellness, the military and beyond.

Before AP, fitness to me was doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats and anything that would help me cinch up my waistline. Just one day in their program, however, opened up a whole new world as to what it meant to train in a manner that served a purpose bigger than the human ego.

Gone were the days of sitting on a machine pushing or pulling with an isolated motion. At AP it was all about strength, explosive power, mobility and endurance. Each day was filled with a systematically crafted series of stretches, jumps, chops, twists and bursts that primed and conditioned the body to serve the purpose of winning!

One of my favorite exercises for golf is the lateral med ball throw demonstrated in this week's challenge video (see video below). Not only does it connect with the motion of a powerful golf swing, it's a great anaerobic exercise that really pumps up your heart rate.

The next time you hit the gym, think about what it means to truly train for a better performance and you can count this week's challenge as complete.

BENEFITS
Explosive Power
Anaerobic Exercise
Better Golf



Jeff Ritter is the CEO/Founder of MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow him on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Instruction

We can all learn a thing or two from Gary Player

By Keely Levins

loop-gary-player-dvd-set-300.jpgGary Player's new DVD set -- Gary Player: A Game for Life Instruction Series -- aims to help you improve your golf game. It's secondary purpose, however, is to essentially shame you into working out more given that the 78-year-old Player remains more fit than the vast majority of golfers playing the game at any age.

The box set ($100, agameforlife.com) targets three different areas: sand play, scoring (which covers short game and putting) and life (covering diet and fitness). A concept repeated throughout the series is "turn three shots into two." Often, the best way to do this is with your short game. Working off the stat that 70 to 75 percent of shots in golf are from 100 yards and in, Player spends extended time on different shots you need in and around the green.

He's not overly technical with his instruction ideas, and effective follows his explanations up with how to apply his thoughts and techniques to the average golfer's game.

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Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday: Sleep better, play better

By Ron Kaspriske

maar04-ron-kaspriske-sleep.jpgDo you know if working out right before bedtime is a good idea? Or how long a nap should be? If you snore, does that mean you have a chronic sleep disorder? And do you know why you sometimes wake up groggy even after getting eight hours of rest? Because most of us do it every day of our lives, sleep health is often ignored or taken for granted. But golfers might want to rethink the importance of quality sleep. A recent study indicated better sack time can lower your handicap significantly. Imagine going from a 14 to single digits just by getting better sleep. For the May issue of @golfdigestmag, I wrote an FAQ on everything golfers need to know about sleep. If you want the answer to any of the above questions and more information on how sleep improves your golf scores, click on this link:
Will more sack time lower your handicap?

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


(Illustration by Peter Arkle) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: A fix for those fat and thin shots

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Note how Gary Woodland's right shoulder moves down toward the ball.

By Ron Kaspriske

A simple way to explain how the upper body should rotate during the swing is to imagine you've got your head inside a life-preserver ring that is resting on your shoulders as you set up to the golf ball. When you turn back and through during the swing, the life preserver would be tilted, with the part of the circle closest to the ball lower than the part of the preserver that's behind your head. The amount of that tilt varies depending on the length of the club you're using.

If you're hitting the ground behind the ball (a fat shot) or making contact with it on the bottom portion of the clubhead (a thin shot), there's a good chance you're not maintaining the tilt of that life preserver, says golf instructor Jeff Ritter (@mttgolf), who runs the Make the Turn Performance center at Poppy Hills Golf Club in Pebble Beach. On the practice range, Ritter suggests two drills. The first is to move your left shoulder down toward the ball during the backswing. Then, once you become comfortable with that, work on the second half of the swing by moving the right shoulder toward the ball during the downswing. The lower body should rotate toward the target ahead of this shoulder move. You'll eventually want to blend these two drills into one fluid motion. And pay attention to your weight and body orientation, he says. You don't want your weight moving too far into your toes or heels.

Related: Watch Make The Turn video series with Jeff Ritter


If you're struggling with these moves, the problem might be weak oblique muscles. The obliques are part of the core-muscle family and reside of the sides of your torso. They are key to thoracic (mid spine) rotation and, if they are weak, you'll struggle to turn back and through with the proper tilt of your upper body.

To train them, first work on improving their stability. Side planks are great.
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Hold this position for as long as you can. Just make sure your arm stays stacked under your shoulder joint when you do them and don't let your body sag at the hips. Remember to do both sides. If you're able to hold the plank easily for over a minute, you're ready for a more advanced exercise that helps train the correct upper body tilt and rotation while improving lower-body stability. This one comes from PGA Tour trainer Joey Diosalvi (@coachjoeyd).

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Rotate your upper body in both directions while maintaining your balance. Strive to do two sets of five turns in each direction and then switch leg positions to improve muscular symmetry.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.


Gary Woodland: Photo by Stephen Szurlej


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Gear & Equipment

A potential pain reliever for golfers with ailing backs

By Stephen Hennessey

Seeing Tiger Woods grimace the past few weeks on the PGA Tour is a reminder of how difficult it is to play golf with an ailing back. Serola Biomechanics, a company that has worked with chiropractors and pregnant women, thinks it can help everyday golfers cope with their discomfort.

The Sacroiliac Belt seeks to give support and improve the function of the sacroiliac joint (where the sacrum meets the pelvis), a common source of lower back pain. The belt ($41) was invented 23 years ago, but the company is only now targeting golfers.

NewStuff-Serola-belt.jpgHaving worn it since January to address my nagging back pain, I've felt a difference. It can be worn over or under your clothing but should be placed low around the hips, as opposed to over your waist. For more information, go to serola.net.

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Health & Fitness

The best golf-fitness items from the PGA Merchandise Show

By Stephen Hennessey

ORLANDO -- Amid the hundreds of booths at the PGA Merchandise Show, selling everything you can think of to golfers, are legitimate fitness items that could help your game.

We walked the floor at the Orange County Convention Center this week to find the three best golf-fitness items at the show this year for our weekly Fitness Friday feature. Here they are:

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1. Perform Better's VibraRoll: You've likely seen a foam roller before, but the VibraRoll (above) comes with a vibrating capability designed to improve blood circulation, range of motion and flexibility. The vibrations aim to break up trigger points in target areas to help soft-tissue release and recovery. At 18 inches long and six inches around, the VibraRoll ($84.95) is easily portable on the road. Perform Better has a number of new, lightweight products designed for the traveling golfer.

fitness-friday-activ8r-roll.jpgSome other Perform Better products worth looking at: The Activ8r (left)--a small, contoured product that you can freeze for a cold-compress treatment. It's designed to help release stiffness in hard to reach places and increase range of motion. And the Tiger Tail--a rolling self-massage bar that helps sore muscles recover quicker. For more: performbetter.com.


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2. Serola Biomechanical Belt: For 24 years, physical therapists, sports-medicine trainers and chiropractors have been using the Serola Sacroiliac Belt in their treatments. This is the first year Serola Biomechanics is making a push in golf. The belt is built to help alleviate back pain by providing relief to the sacroiliac joint, located in the lower back below your hip bone but above where your leg starts. If you have lower-back pain, your SI joint might be the cause. This belt helps stabilize the joint and the muscles surrounding it, allowing better circulation and normal functionality of the muscles. I wore one of the belts all day on Wednesday at the Show. As someone with nagging back pain, it helped provide some relief to the lower back. You attach it below your belt underneath your clothes so it's not visible. For more: serola.net.

fitness-friday-activmotionbar.jpg3. ActivMotion Bar: With movable weights inside a fitness bar, ActivMotion (left) is unlike other fitness items at the PGA Show. Invented by a recent exercise-science graduate from Central Michigan, Derek Mikulski, the bar comes in weights ranging from six to 18 pounds, starting at $120. Mikulski discovered that an internal, unstable load of movable weights do more to work an athlete's core while doing exercises with the ActivMotion Bar. He says your core muscles are forced to activate to control the momentum of the weights. Mikulski and his partner, Dave Davis, a TPI-certified golf coach from Michigan, have developed a five-minute workout designed to be an easy, pre-round warmup. A great way to prep the muscles essential to the golf swing so you're ready for the first tee. For more: ActivMotionBar.com.

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Gear & Equipment

GolfTEC program keeps you sharp in winter

By Luke Kerr-Dineen

Was your New Year's Resolution to improve your game during the winter months, only to have the plan foiled by the recent deep freeze that blanketed much of the country? Well, don't let the polar vortex get you down, contend the folks at GolfTEC. The network of game-improvement centers is running a Training Camp program starting this month at its 165 locations in the U.S. and Canada geared to recreational players who are trying to stay sharp before the weather warms up. The program uses GolfTEC's indoor video and motion measurement devices as part of a introductory swing evaluation. Instructors follow up with a series of 10 individualized lessons that incorporates 18 hours of video-based practice work. Players' equipment needs can also be addressed via GolfTEC's custom-fitting process. Consider it a down payment on the money you'll win off your buddies this spring while they're still shaking off their rust.

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