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How to add muscle and gain more distance than Bryson

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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.

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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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the creator of Sterling Irons® single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Two of his articles for GolfWRX are the two most viewed of all time. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also shot the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has helped millions of golfers and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s amateur golfers and tour players pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons® here: Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – Facebook.com/JaacobBowdenGolf & Facebook.com/SwingManGolf & <Facebook.com/SterlingIronsGolf; Instagram - Instagram.com/JaacobBowden YouTube – YouTube.com/SwingManGolf – Millions of views!!!

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Average Golf Swing Speed Chart | Swing Man Golf

  2. Brandon

    May 23, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    My apologies. Started playing golf is the last year and regularly go to the gym. I was interested in your article until you claimed the amount of “muscle” gained in 12 weeks. You may have added 23 pounds of weight (possible to do). However, there isn’t any way you added 23 pounds of muscle! I immediately lost interest in the article after that claim. I don’t dispute any of you distance claims, they are impressive, but please be accurate when providing information to people who simple want to increase their driving distance off the tee.

  3. Cal

    Aug 20, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    My thoughts exactly…the leading experts in the world say 3LBs lean muscle gain per month is phenomenal…

    This fraud is saying he did 23lbs of lean muscle naturally in 3 months on a caloric deficit.

    Not possible.

  4. Mark

    Aug 20, 2020 at 9:15 am

    It is genetically IMPOSSIBLE to add 23 lbs of muscle in 12 weeks. Complete nonsense which makes the rest of your article a lot less credible.

    • Cal

      Aug 20, 2020 at 3:56 pm

      My thoughts exactly…the leading experts in the world say 3LBs lean muscle gain per month is phenomenal…

      This fraud is saying he did 23lbs of lean muscle naturally in 3 months on a caloric deficit.

      Not possible.

  5. Cal

    Aug 20, 2020 at 9:05 am

    23LBs of muscle in 4 months operating at a caloric deficit = not possible without steroids/ TRT

    Even the most progressive muscle building studies out there show 2LBs of lean muscle per month as top end…please be honest with your readers.

  6. Jaacob Bowden

    Aug 19, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Take a look at the “Golf workouts at home for clubhead speed with PGA Pro Jaacob Bowden: Part 4.” article and video. For that one, you only need something to swing (like your driver), something to measure club head speed (you can get basic swing speed radars online for about $120), and some resistance bands which allow you to do personalized golf swing specific exercises to increase the strength of your swing over time. Do that workout, take 2-7 days off (depending on how much rest you feel like you need), and then repeat!

  7. Paul Runyan

    Aug 19, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Hi Jacob!

    Great article!! Years ago I talked to you and joined your training program. You asked me what Kind of athlete I had been earlier in life. A runner. Then asked me how I ran faster. I ran and trained faster! Now at 70. I still have a speed of over 100. I know I can do your program again and easily get to 110+.

    So, all the gyms are closed around here and I have a Total Gym, Swing Emulator (machine with a stack of weights up to 100 lbs) what would you recommend for seniors to maintain and increase speed without injury?

    The Swing Machine would be the same as your videos using bands in a static and dynamic state. Great machine!

    Thanks!

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