Golf superstar Rory McIlroy has won four major tournament championships in the past five years, but before his rise to the top, the 25-year-old hardly ever lifted weights.
“I wasn’t really big into the gym,” McIlroy recounts in a video recently released by Nike. “I couldn’t stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds, and I couldn’t hold a Plank for more than 30 seconds.”
A few years ago, when his back started giving him trouble, McIlroy sought help from swing coach Michael Bannon and exercise physiologist Dr. Steve McGregor. Together they developed a strength training plan that transformed McIlroy’s body in a way that supported his golf game.
“I have no ambitions to squat 500 pounds like some guys you see,” McIlroy says. “I’m strong enough to control the golf club the whole way through my swing, and that’s basically what I need to do.”
OK, McIlroy isn’t out to be a strongman, but the Nike video shows that the golfer is plenty strong. He performs Trap Bar Deadlifts with more than 200 pounds, Renegade Rows (a combination of a Push-Up and a One-Arm Dumbbell Row), and Lateral Medicine Ball Tosses while balancing atop a physioball. McIlroy consistently trains five to six times per week throughout the year, and he doesn’t stop during tournament competitions.
McIlroy recalls, “At the British Open last year, [my trainer] said, ‘OK, if you shoot 67 or lower today, you can go into the gym for a little bit.’ So that gave me a little goal to get into the gym after my round.”
McIlroy says his strength work has helped him mentally as well as physically. Ultimately, he hopes his training regimen will prolong his career.
“My posture was terrible when I started,” he says. “To have better posture, to stand up straight with your shoulders back and your chest out, it even just gives off the air of confidence.”
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McIlroy’s video is the first of a series of athlete training features that Nike plans on publishing this year.