GolfWRX recently asked me to write a perspective piece on Bryson DeChambeau’s newly bulked up body and increased distance off the tee because, if you were to play “guess the golfer,” I’d say most people would guess this is Bryson and not me
- Lived in California and has family in Fresno
- Has a science background from college
- Wore a flat cap as part of his golf style
- Plays single length irons
- Shot a low round of 64
- Added 23 pounds of muscle in 12 weeks
- Added 37 mph of clubhead speed in 47 days
- Hit competitive longest drive of 421 yards
What a strange amount of similarities! So, who better to give you outside perspective than someone who has both gained a lot of muscle rapidly and also quickly added a massive amount of distance?
Since I haven’t recently communicated with anyone from Bryson’s team, I figure the most useful thing I can do for you with this piece is to tell you what I personally did to achieve such results and how I’ve helped other golfers do the same through Swing Man Golf.
How to Add Lots of Muscle Rapidly
The above transformation was done in 2002 over 12 weeks.
I started the transformation weighing 208 pounds, and, over the course of those three months, I dropped 27 pounds of fat and added 23 pounds of muscle. Although I ended up only losing 4 pounds overall, finishing at 204 pounds, you can see the dramatic difference in the muscle makeup of my body. I added nearly 2 pounds of muscle per week…without steroid use!
There are several key take-a-ways for how to do this.
First, you need to do strength training.
For this transformation, I had originally set out to lift weights six days per week, but with being busy with my computer engineering job and life in general, I actually ended up averaging only four days per week. I never worked out in any individual session for more than an hour. To give each area time to recover, I divided up my workouts into a schedule like this:
- Workout 1 – Chest/Triceps/Obliques
- Workout 2 – Back/Biceps/Abs
- Workout 3 – Legs/Lower Back
You don’t have to use this one specifically. There are a variety of workout cycles you can do that will be effective. You could work out your entire body all at once and repeat that a couple of times per week. Or you could do a 2-day schedule of push vs pull or upper vs lower body exercises followed by an off day and then repeating the cycle. What you do can really be tailored to your goals and lifestyle.
Whichever you choose, remember to give each body part at least two days of rest before you hit that body part hard again. As long as you repeat the workout again without seven days, you should be able to continue to make small gains each session without getting too sore.
As far as reps go, for the transformation, I would do a set of 12 reps for warmup with a weight that felt pretty safe and easy. I would follow that with a weight that would be tough to do 10 times, then a weight that I could get eight reps out of, followed by a set in which I could do six reps. At any point in which I could exceed that amount of reps in any set, I added more weight.
In hindsight, I didn’t really need to do that many reps. Anytime, when I am in a phase where I’m lifting and getting back in the gym, I typically only work with 3-4 sets of 2 reps for a particular exercise, with the same idea of adding weight whenever possible from workout to workout.
With patience and persistence, it’s just a matter of time before you get a lot stronger (and bigger if that’s what you are going for). When I was last training my half squat for golf in 2017, I recall I had worked up to 725 pounds. This would have sounded unbelievable to the kid that first stepped in a weight room in high school and had trouble squatting 95 pounds.
But, like me, you can do it if you hang in there.
Second, work was required in the kitchen.
To build muscle, you need to get enough protein. For my 12-week transformation photo, I was taking 1 gram of protein per day per pound of body weight. For me, this ended up being a little over 200 grams of protein per day. I’ve since learned that for me I don’t need that much. As long as I’m getting about 0.5 grams, that’s enough for my body to make muscle and strength gains. You can test on yourself, but the point is you’ll need to make sure you get enough protein.
If you want to actually cut fat while you are adding muscle, at a higher level, the way bodybuilders do that is to cut their fat and carbohydrate calories down to the point that they are in a slight overall caloric deficit. I know from tracking my calories with MyFitnessPal and previously using an activity tracker like a WHOOP strap that, at my size, I’ll burn nearly 3000 calories simply by existing so, if I stay below that 3000 net mark each day over time, the fat weight leaks off.
I would caution against going too low in your calories. You can test for yourself, but for me when I go below 1,200 calories per day, I get really irritable, and I lose fat weight so quickly that my skin doesn’t have time to adjust and I’ll get stretch marks. 1,600-1,800 for me, is more doable without feeling too crazy. Plus, my skin can handle that level of adjustment. In the low 2,000s is much more comfortable, but it does take additional time and patience to drop the fat weight.
You can break your daily calories up however is effective for you. My 12-week transformation was done with the old “6 smaller meals per day” strategy. I didn’t like it, though. I never felt satisfied and it made it difficult to go out to eat with friends. I much prefer condensing all my calories into two larger meals with maybe another smaller snack during a fat cut.
Of course, real whole foods are better for you and will help your body recover more quickly and make more rapid gains. You don’t have to be perfect every day though. Just get your protein and keep your overall daily calorie average for the week or month in a relatively consistent deficit.
Supplement-wise, the most effective for muscle gains (and also adding swing speed) is creatine. You can find that online or at most supplement stores.
Beyond that, stay hydrated to recover and make the fastest gains. A lot of times, people also think they are hungry, but they really just need water. I try to get hydrated first thing in the morning, before all meals (which also helps me eat less), and near bedtime.
Create a good sleeping environment and get lots of sleep too. That’s also important for recovery, making the gains, and preventing injury. Through sleep trackers, I’ve found I need to be in bed about 9 hours to get sufficient sleep and feel fully rested. Whatever amount you need, if you wake up to an alarm, just go to bed early enough that you naturally wake up right before your alarm and you’ll be good to go.
How to Quickly Hit It Longer Through Golf Fitness
As for gaining a lot of distance quickly, through the 2020 PGA Championship, Bryson’s driving distance average is about 20 yards longer than last season. He’s also reportedly put on over 40 pounds. You might think that you need to work hard over the better part of a year to bulk up like he has to gain any appreciable amount of distance through golf fitness, but this is actually not the case.
In fact, it’s relatively easy to add 30-40 yards in only a month without really changing your body weight at all.
I’ve written about how to do this before for GolfWRX. Rather than reiterate what I’ve already said, I’ll just point you to a few key articles.
- The golf industry at large is starting to get the idea that one can train to make substantial distance gains. See ‘Phil Mickelson’s 6 mph clubhead speed gain just scratches the surface of what pros can achieve’ for starters.
- The Phil article also references ‘Isometric golf exercises for more distance’.
- If you want to take it to the next level with something you can do it home a couple of times per week, read ‘6 exercises using resistance bands for more distance’ or watch the below video from ‘Golf workouts at home for clubhead speed with PGA Pro Jaacob Bowden: Part 4.’ I recently used this exact workout to add back on 17 mph (over 40 yards) to my drives in only 14 days.
Beyond that, if you are even more serious, read ‘More Distance for Golf (Part 3): Long Drive Fitness’ or take a look at the swing speed training programs available at Swing Man Golf…as well as the certification program if you happen to be a pro or trainer interested in learning more while at the same time picking up some continuing education credits.
Adding new muscle and achieving massive distance gains will take some elbow grease on your part, but fortunately not as much work as you may think. Plus, you’ll be pleased to find out you don’t actually need to add on a lot of extra body weight unless that happens to be one of your goals.
Enjoy and have fun hitting bombs!
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