Rory McIlroy's Workout Helps Him
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Last updated August 19, 2016 (originally published September 24, 2012)
By  A. Turner, Featured Columnist

Rory McIlroy, who is currently ranked number one in the Official World
Golf Ranking , has a lot to be proud of. There’s that 40-yard drive he
made as a two year old in his home of Northern Ireland , that attractive
girlfriend, tennis player Caroline Wozniack, and the compliment from
professional golfer Jack Nicklaus that his swing shows the “most
natural motion in the game today.”   In addition to all of these positives
in McIlroy’s life, we can add another: progress in his own physical


Though McIlroy has since relinquished his World Number One crown to
Jordan Spieth and then Jason Day, he remains one of the Top 5 golfers
in world and a multiple Grand Slam winner.]

Just a few years ago, McIlroy had the physique of what MensHealth
calls a “skinny-soft golfer”:  while he clearly had athletic talents, he
also had a “paunch and jiggle.”   Since then, he has dropped his body
fat from 22 percent to 16 percent,  and stands at a fit 5 foot 10, 160
pounds.   What has McIlory changed to get himself from “skinny-soft”
to powerful, lean, and nearly unbeatable on the golf course?

While we can’t tell you how to get a girlfriend like Caroline Wozniaki--
now famously, his Ex-Girlfriend--- or how to become ranked number
one in the world of golf, we have looked into some of the commonly-
posted explanations for McIlroy's physical transformation, and
investigated the science behind the gossip.  Read on to see how
McIlroy does it, and what you can do to improve your fitness, too.

Golfers Need to Work Out, Too

Less than two years ago, Rory McIlroy teamed up with Dr. Steve
McGregor, a trainer from the UK, and since then he has spent more time
in the gym.  As the saying goes, if it good enough for Tiger, it's good
enough for thee! (Read more about
Tiger's workout routine.)

McGregor measured the muscle activation during McIlroy’s swing.  
They saw that some muscles were working just fine, and some needed
to work more.   Strengthening the muscles that needed it is partially
what has allowed McIlroy to make the statement, “I feel like I can hit it
harder without losing balance.  I just feel I don’t have to go after it as
much to get the length.”

We know that, from a recent photo, Rory McIlroy appears to be doing
super-heavy squat sets almost everyday. The amount of weight he's
power lifting appears to be between 350 and 400 pounds per squat.

The positive results from the work of Steve McGregor and Rory McIlroy
are confirmed by research conducted by Robin Callister and other
researchers at the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, Australia.   In
2011, the team searched electronic databases for studies on
conditioning programs and golf-related fitness.  Data from thirteen
relevant studies on conditioning programs that included machine
weights, free weights, medicine balls, and elastic bands, showed that
strength and conditioning programs “can have a positive effect on the
golf swing and fitness characteristics of golfers.”

McIlroy and his trainer, McGregor, have been working specifically on
balancing out McIlory’s strong right side with his weaker left, using
dumbbell presses, and squats.   While you may not be at a point in your
golfing (or exercising) career to get so specific, let the lesson be
learned: general physical fitness has a good chance of improving your
golf game.

Rory McIlroy Knows When It’s Bedtime  

Ask any athlete who’s serious about winning, and they’ll tell you:
parties are for after the competition, never before.  McIlroy has insisted
that to be a “top-class athlete,” one of the things you must do is “get
enough rest.”   Research from 2009 suggests that even one night of
inadequate sleep could throw off his game.

In 2009, Samuel Oliver with the School of Sport, Health and Exercise
Sciences at Bangor University in the UK , along with colleagues, tested
how sleep deprivation affected endurance performance on eleven
males.  The men completed two randomized trials that were separated
by seven days, one which included trials on the treadmill after normal
sleep, and the other after 30 hours of sleep deprivation.  Results
showed that less distance on the treadmill was covered when the men
did not get enough sleep, so that “one night of sleep deprivation
decreased endurance performance.”  Furthermore, participants’
perception of effort was altered, so that when they covered a shorter
distance after sleep deprivation, they thought it was equal to the longer
distance they had travelled with adequate sleep.

If you really think that you can bounce back to full performance after a
night out, think again: even the young champion McIlroy knows to
obey the rules of bedtime.  

A Strong Physique Needs Tender Loving Care  

Sometimes a little romance can jump start our ambition.  It seems that
McIlroy has spent some time on the tennis courts, watching his
sweetheart train.  He reports that the experience “sort of made me
realize that I could probably work harder, and gave me a little bit more
motivation to go in the gym and hit more balls. It’s definitely paid off.”

McIlory’s not the only one getting a love boost.  Earlier this year, in
2012, Kelly Robinson and Jessica Cameron with the Department of
Psychology  at the University of Manitoba,  looked into how romantic
relationships influences the self-esteem of those involved.  Using "actor-
partner interdependence model analyses" they sampled over 500
heterosexual dating couples.  Results showed that lower self-esteem
individuals -- and their partners -- reported lower satisfaction and
commitment to the relationship than individuals with higher self-
esteem.  The authors suggest that the self-esteem levels of both
partners combine to "predict relationship quality."

Most of us have experienced, unfortunately, how a crummy relationship
can make the rest of life rather, well, crummy: but now we know the
opposite is true, too.  Finding a partner with good self-esteem (and
perhaps a good workout ethic) could improve our own lives, including
perhaps even our golf game.

Don’t Work Out to Look Good: Work Out to Feel Good

Of course McIlory wants to win: but all of the attention his new
physique is attracting can’t be bad, either.  McIlroy notes that when
you get into shape, "People start to compliment you -- 'Oh, you're
looking good.’ Which is obviously good for your self-esteem."   Perhaps
that feel-good glow could be reason enough to hit the gym.

In July of this year, 2012, Jennifer Wilson with Rutgers University and
colleagues , published a study that analyzed how the motive for
exercise influenced the health and fitness levels of men in the military.
114 men in active duty completed surveys assessing reasons for
exercise, and scores on the mighty Air Force Fitness Test.  Data
revealed “a relation between intrinsic motives for exercise and quantity
of exercise,” so that “men in the military who exercise because of their
military obligation are less likely to score high on the Air Force Fitness
Test,” than those who are motivated by health benefits.

Working out because you feel like you have to could be the beginning
of a long, rocky relationship with exercise: but working out because
you know it will make you feel good could be the beginning of a
happier, more confident you and a better golf game.

Eat Your Broccoli – and Cook It Right!

McIlory has coupled his time at the gym with a healthy diet, consisting
largely, he reports, of chicken and broccoli.   If his success gets you
curious enough about broccoli that you want to start eating it, too,
remember: there's broccoli, and then there's broccoli.  According to
recent research, the way that we cook our broccoli could be as
important as to whether or not we eat broccoli.

If it's hard for you to eat broccoli, what you're about to read might
make it a little bit harder -- at first.  Broccoli is a source of what is
known, unfortunately, as bile acid.  Bile acids are a type of steroid that
are made in the liver from cholesterol, which eventually bind with other
acids in the body and are reabsorbed.  Bile acids help to absorb dietary
fat from our intestines, which is how cholesterol is synthesized -- thus,
the process of "bile binding" is believed to help lower cholesterol.   

In April of this year, 2012, Talwinder Kahlon and other experts with
the Western Regional Research Center form the United States
Department of Agriculture in Albany  conducted a study in response to
these benefits of bile acid binding, which in addition to lowering
cholesterol may include reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.  
They found that sauté cooking had "the most health promoting
potential" for broccoli (this also goes for mustard greens, kale, cabbage
and green bell pepper).  Collard greens, on the other hand, are better
for us in terms of bile acid binding when steamed.

Just goes to show: sometimes eating green isn't enough -- we also
have to know how to cook the stuff.

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