Interview with Kirk Adams MS TPI F2 CSCS RKC CFSC FRCms
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in the fitness and performance training business?
I played sports from a very early age growing up. When I got to college and I wasn't good enough to play anymore, I was looking for a way to stay involved with athletics and contribute to the success of a team. As a junior at Penn State, I interned with the strength and conditioning staff and immediately fell in love with the field. I worked as a strength and conditioning coach at Penn State for 14 years. Almost exactly 6 years ago, I moved to New York City to work at Golf & Body NYC and focus my education and training on the sport of golf. About 4 months ago, I began a new chapter of my career at Equinox.
2. When did your interest in working with golfers get sparked?
I started playing golf with my dad when I was very young. I took lessons, enjoyed watching the game on TV and played on my high school team. When I started working at Penn State, I was fortunate that the men's and women's golf team trained out of the weight room that I was assigned to. It was exciting to work with athletes who played a game that I had played for so long, and could continue to play, at such a high level. About 6 year ago, I had the opportunity to work at a brand new facility in New York City, learn from golf, fitness and medical professionals that had played and coached players at the highest level, and focus all of my time and education on the game. Since then, I have learned a tremendous amount about the game and how to work with players at many different levels. I enjoy talking to players about the many different areas that are needed to be successful in this game and how to work on them.
3. What levels of golfers do you work with and what differences do you see if any with working with different skill levels and age groups?
At Equinox, I currently work with mostly PGA Tour aged amateur players, although I am working to expand that clientele base as we speak. Over my career, I have worked with every one from PGA Tour professionals to beginners, men and women, juniors to seniors. With each group, it is important to assess what areas of fitness need the most improvement for that player - mobility, strength, power and endurance. In general, women and juniors score high in mobility but could see their game improve with increases in strength and power. Men are more likely to be strong enough to play well, but need improvements in speed and mobility. With higher level players, it's mostly about providing their body with enough resiliency to play and practice as often as they'd like to and manage injury and recovery. The fun part for me is finding the area of opportunity for improvement and putting a plan together to address it.
4. What are the biggest things you have learned over the years that have shaped your approach with your clients?
I've learned a lot of lessons over the years. Mostly from all the mistakes I've made. Most people need very similar things when it comes to their workouts. Even with an individualized program, it doesn't need to look completely different from someone else's program. Consistency is the key to long term progress. I am always going to err on the side of caution when it comes to the risk reward potential of an exercise. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I don't need to have all the answers to the questions my clients have. Not all exercises are right for every client based on their goals, needs, and assessment.
5. What are the biggest myths that you see in the world of golf fitness and performance training?
I still think many people are surprised that golfers "need" to lift weights. Usually they think golfers just need to stretch and do core work. I think there's also a misconception that golf workouts need to look a lot different than workouts for other sports. That exercises need to look like the golf swing or require a high level of balance and complexity. A good golf fitness program is going to look a lot like a good workout program for any athlete with a small number of exercises that address the unique needs of golfers.
6. What is the biggest thing or things missing out of most golfers training programs and preparation in your opinion?
Most golfers know that a fitness program is important but there are a few things that I often see missing from their workouts. Many have never been through a comprehensive golf fitness assessment to determine what may be keeping them from playing their best, what might lead to injury, what exercises should, or should not, be in their fitness program, and how to prioritize their training time. Specific mobility exercises should be programmed to address the area that are making it hard for you to make the swing you want. Everyone player wants to hit the ball farther. That club head speed is going to be primarily generated from the lower body. Unfortunately, most players are not doing enough lower body strength training, especially single leg training. You also can't expect to swing fast if you never do anything fast in your training. Exercises for power, med ball throws, jumps, SuperSpeed Golf, etc., need to be a part of your program. Many players are still following a split routine, body part program, better suited for hypertrophy and body building, than a functional workout program to help them play better golf. Core work is important, but is more than doing planks for longer and longer periods of time. Exercises that challenge the core to resist movement are important to keep the spine healthy and maximize club head speed. Have you ever felt you weren't "loose" until the 3rd hole or do you find you have a hard time playing the last few holes of a round as well as you do the front nine? Many players could save 5-10 shots per round if they did a better job warming up before their round and worked on their endurance to play well down the stretch.
7. When it comes to improving mobility for golf and sport what are the main areas you see that golfers need to improve in?
To play their best, and avoid injury, golfers need to have above average mobility in a few key areas. Here are the ones that I find most players, especially amateurs, need to focus on. Hip internal rotation is important to allow the player to create more rotary, and less lateral, hip movement in their swing. It can also help reduce low back pain and injury. Many of the players I see have a hard time with flexion of the lumbar spine and posterior pelvic tilt. This can cause problems like early extension in their downswing. The ability to create separation between the upper and lower body is important for proper sequencing and maximal club head speed. Limited shoulder external rotation can make it hard for players to get the club into a good position at the top of their swing and cause faults like swinging over the top. Limited trunk rotation can also make it hard to get the club into good position during the backswing and limit club head speed. I would recommend every player go through a TPI movement screen to see which, if any, of these may be limiting their ability to play their best.
8. If time is limited both within each workout and number of workouts per week what are the main things that you would suggest golfers work on?
Almost every player is limited in the amount of time they can spend training. That is why I think it's important to find out what areas of fitness you're most limited in and focus your time there. The four main areas I look at are mobility, strength, power, and endurance. By assessing each of these areas, I can help my players make the best use of their time. You can also do this for yourself by assessing your game. If distance is an issue, focus on speed and power. Feel tight? Focus on mobility. If you're dealing with a current or previous injury, improvements in strength and mobility might help. If you struggle at the end of rounds, you may need more endurance. Seasonal training is another way to prioritize your time. Focusing on strength and power training in the off-season may be easier since you're playing less golf. It might be easier to focus on mobility and endurance during the season while you're playing more. Again, women and juniors should typically emphasize strength and power training. Most men need to prioritize mobility
9. Where can people find out more about you and access the great information you put out there?
I am on Facebook at Strokes Gained Performance, Instagram @coachkda110 and @strokesgainedperformance and Twitter @kirkadamsgolf