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!
The death of the 3-iron and what it means for your bag setup
The 3-iron is almost extinct. It sounds like an odd statement, but it’s very true. Don’t believe me? Go try and buy one in a set. They are not easily found.
As we evaluate this topic, I’ll refrain from specs from “players” clubs as these are not the irons normally purchased. Yeah, it might skew the data, but even the players capable of playing the long irons are opting out of the 3 iron. And let’s be honest, should any of us be playing a blade 3-iron?
Mizuno only offers 4-PW in the JPX line now. Titleist only offers a 3-iron in T100s, while the rest are void of 3-irons. TaylorMade provides 4-PW in the P790, P790Ti, and P770. Callaway has done the same, only offering a 3-iron in the “players line” of clubs, while the rest is again void of the-iron. Cobra golf has also followed suit.
So are 3-irons just too hard to hit? Is that why no one is buying them, thus causing the OEMs to stop making them? The only ones left to buy are the “players” 3 irons, and those aren’t even reasonable unless you’re a professional.
What if I told you we were being deceived? What if I told you the 3-iron is still very much alive in all the iron sets available but under the guise of a different number?
Let’s hop into the “wayback machine” and take a quick look at the history of iron lofts.
The year is 1970, and the vast majority of irons available are blades. You know, the razor-sharp leading edges that are ready to break your wrist with a deep divot.
The image above is an actual snippet from a catalog from the ’70s. At this point, the 1-iron was virtually extinct, and in 1975, Lee Trevino was immortalized by his joke about how God couldn’t hit a 1-iron, which typically fell in the 18-degree range at the time. 2-irons were standard issue in the set, and the lowest loft you might find is 20 degrees.
Then the ’80s came, and things started to progress. As you might expect, lofts started to decrease. It wasn’t because of flight windows, or launch numbers, because they didn’t have that kind of technology readily available to measure those attributes. It was simply a quest for distance.
Then in the ’90s, you’d pretty much see all iron sets with 21-degree 3-irons, down to 48-degree PW’s, and 21 degrees being the norm for the lowest lofted 3-iron. 2-irons at this time were typically 18 degrees and available by request only.
Then came the 2000’s, an era we all should be familiar with. This is where things started to get interesting. Not only because lofts continued to be strengthened, but because the hybrid became a new option to replace the long irons. Adams Golf made a killing as it perfected this golf club, creating the Idea line that was in the bags of most of the senior tour players and many of the PGA Tour players. These were a fan favorite at retail too. The hybrid was an easy long iron to hit and quickly started to replace 3-irons in golf bags across the country and even on tour.
By this time the pitching wedge lofts started to get pushed to 46 degrees, which was a big jump, to be honest. In the 1970s, MacGregor was making pitching wedges with 49 degrees of loft. So, for the 90’s to be around 48 degrees, it wasn’t too much of a shock. But in the 2000s, we now saw PW’s drop to 46 degrees; a half club stronger. This is where the downfall began, in my opinion.
The first decade of the 21st century needed the gap wedge, also known as the approach wedge or utility wedge or just plain old “wedge.” Now, keep in mind, this club wasn’t anything new. The gap wedge existed ever since the beginning because at 50-52 degrees it was simply a pitching wedge from the ’70s. But it became a necessary element for the bag since the lofts of every iron were starting to move farther and farther away from the sand wedge.
Now in 2020, the average loft of the PW is 43.5 degrees, and the average 4-iron loft is 20.6 degrees. Turns out, the 4-iron from 2020 is .3 degrees stronger than the average 2-iron (20.9 degrees) from 1970. We have come full circle! Instead of maintaining those classic numbers, of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW, the new sets are labeled 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, P, G.
I wonder how many golfers out there carry a 4-iron thinking it’s a club they can hit? Probably too many! Obviously, the 3-iron is dead at this point, since it would actually carry the loft of the elusive 1-iron Trevino claimed was unhittable!
Now, it’s time to discuss how we got to this point. You’ll hear a lot of companies talk about “flight windows” or “launch angles” and how it was changed by engineering, lowering CG’s, and increasing speed through thin faces. Some will talk about how the ball has changed, and it just launches higher, and it requires the lofts to be strengthened, or it will just go too high!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that is all a bunch of baloney, and here is why: They started making gap wedges as part of the set. If the launch was too high or the window was too different, why make a matching gap wedge with the same technology and have the loft of a pitching wedge from the 1990s? Wouldn’t that launch or window then be too high for that club too? And yet you still need to buy another gap wedge to fit the 52-degree range. If the average golfer bought a 2020 game improvement set today, they would find the set make up to be 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW (43.5 degrees), Gap #1 (48.6 degrees), Gap #2 (52 degrees). That means if you happen to carry a 56 and a 60 degree, you now have the same amount of label wedges (5) as you do irons (5)!
Five wedges in the bag! Does anyone think this is weird?
Furthermore, when was a higher launching iron shot a bad thing? Wouldn’t average golfers benefit from a steeper angle of descent so the golf ball stops quicker on the green?
I conducted a study where I tested a Titleist 716 MB 8-iron with 39 degrees of loft to a TaylorMade P790 9-iron with 40 degrees of loft. All the data was captured on the Foresight GC2 launch monitor. It wasn’t a perfect test since they didn’t have the same shaft or loft, but my findings were surprising none the less. They went the same distance, almost down to the decimal. The Titleist went 165.2 yards, and the TaylorMade went 165.1 yards. Launch was only .6 degrees different while peak height was less than four feet different. So, unless you are Tiger Woods, you are not noticing a difference out on the golf course.
Some of you might think, “so, the label on the bottom of the club changed, it’s all going the same distance. So, what’s the big deal?” To me, it’s the confusion it creates more than anything. By decreasing the lofts, you’re just making the numbered iron go farther, and you are creating even bigger problems by having large gaps with the sand wedge when all amateurs need those clubs. It’s also putting clubs into the hands of golfers when they have no business hitting, like the 4-iron with 20 degrees of loft. Titleist has already made a T400 5-iron with 20 degrees of loft, and that’s just silly.
There also is the argument that golfers love distance, and when they start playing and can hit a 7-iron relatively far, it helps grow the game. Growing the game isn’t a bad thing, but if they are new to the game, they shouldn’t have any preconceived notions of how far to hit a 7-iron, and that means loft at that point becomes irrelevant.
I will not refute that a 40-degree lofted game improvement iron will be slightly longer than an identical lofted players club, but I think you’d be surprised to see the actual difference is a maximum of about three yards longer. The technology works, but by no means is it so substantial that we need to change the label on the bottom of the golf club.
The bottom line is that loft is king, regardless of the technology involved, and I have seen, but one equipment company make a change backwards! This is TaylorMade with their P770 irons. In comparison the P790, they increased the loft by one degree in the short irons and up to two degrees in the long irons, to add height and spin to the irons to improve performance. Imagine that, more spin and height are an advantage! And that was backed by their testing and their data.
Now to even further nail down my point, it is worth noting that TaylorMade Golf offers the highest lofted Pitching Wedge in the industry at 49 degree, which are in the Tiger lofts of the P7TW irons. That same iron set has a 22.5-degree 3-iron. At 22.5 degrees, it is typically the lowest-lofted iron in the golf bag of the best iron player on the PGA Tour in 2019. Of course, he has the skill to play an iron with lower loft, but the point that history reveals to us is that the effective loft of playability for an iron is about 22 degrees and higher. Anything lower lofted than that is typically replaced with a hybrid. This is not just a trend for the amateur golfer either, and it is even happening on tour with the best players in the world.
We will probably never see the lofts rolled back, but the least we can do is update Lee Trevino’s quote, “if you ever find yourself in a thunderstorm, lift up your 4-iron, because not even God can hit a 4-iron.”
The Gear Dive: Going scorched earth on Tiger documentary
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