Golf has never been a sport associated with athletic excellence. Sure, it’s tricky to make a small ball go in a hole using only a stick. But swinging clubs doesn’t build abs you can wash your plus fours on. Right?

Don’t tell Rory McIlroy. Since the turn of the decade, the Northern Irishman has snared himself four majors, a glut of tour trophies, 95 weeks in the world number one slot – and a physique you wouldn’t normally associate with a stroll round the links.

Though it’s the big lifts that get Instagram most fired up – especially given McIlroy’s penchant for press-ups sans shirt – his coach credits those improved performances on the course to less photogenic work off it. “It’s about flexibility, strength, speed and power,” says his trainer, Steve McGregor, the man who turned a doughy 20-year-old with a dodgy back into a champion on the greens and in the squat rack.

“That means a lot of stability work, and single leg, single arm exercises.” By loading one side only, McGregor can correct imbalances caused by rotating in the same direction, hundreds of times a day, for two decades.

You body might not suffer the same stress, but the back issues that threatened to curtail McIlroy’s career are universal. Even if you’ve never teed off. Your desk chair is just as bad for your posture, shortening some muscles and stretching others until you’re in a permanent slump.

The fix is core strength, says McGregor, which gets you back into the right position and increases strength all over. If the link between your legs and arms is strong, then you can find more power in both. Which could means an extra 30 yards on your drive, or an extra 30kg on your bench press.

The Rory McIlroy Power Club Workout

Though you can’t have McGregor in your corner, thanks to Nike’s Training Club app, you can get the next best thing: McIlroy’s workouts in your pocket.

This quickfire circuit couples strength moves, to build power, with flexibility work that ensures you can actually deploy it. “It’s about strength and endurance,” says McIlroy, “but it’s also about building a foundation for more power to come.”

The circuit gives you no rest periods – golf may not offer many cardio challenges, but less downtime means less fat and more muscle. It also means you can fit this workout into your lunch break, so no excuses. Just make sure to focus on form over weight. You’ll build more muscle from a perfect deadlift with a lighter bar, than trying to shift so much metal you throw your back out. Remember, you’re after McIlroy’s body now – not the 2010 version.

Pre-Workout Stretching

Stand five metres away from a wall and perform each stretch walking towards it. Pause, turn around, then repeat on your way back to the starting position.

Walking Leg Swings

Stride forward and bring your toes to your opposite hand. Swing back, then bring both feet together. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Walking Quad Stretch

Step forward and bringing your rear leg heel up to touch your glute. Catch it with your hand, squeeze, then swap legs.

Lunge With Lateral Flexion

Lunge forward with your hands above your head. Tilt your torso to the left, then to the right, then stand up and repeat with the other leg.

Hamstring Walk

Step backward and straighten your front leg, sinking down so your heel is on the floor. Stretch it out, then repeat on the other leg.

Rotational Squat Jumps

Sink into a bodyweight squat and drive up, lifting your feet off the floor and rotating 90 degrees to your left.

Repeat, this time turning to your right. Repeat returning to the centre. Continue to your right, then centre. That’s one rep – perform 10.

The Workout

Medicine Ball Rotational Slams

1 x 10 reps
Grab a medicine ball and stand holding it front of you. Keep your feet locked and twist to your right, slamming the ball down. Catch it as it bounces up, rotate to the left, and repeat. That’s one rep.

Strength Circuit 1

Perform one set of each exercise, then move onto the next with no rest. Return to the deadlifts and repeat all three exercises, for three rounds total, before moving onto the second set of medicine ball slams.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

3 x 5 reps
Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells. With your legs slightly bent, pivot forward from your hips – keep your core locked shoulders pulled back. Lower for three seconds then push your hips forward to drive the weights back.


3 x 5-10 reps
Grab a pull-up bar with a wide, overhand grip. From a dead hang – that’s arms straight – pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar. Slowly lower back to a dead hang and repeat.

If you can’t perform a full pull-up, jump up to the top of the movement and lower yourself down as slowly as possible.

Plank Alternating Leg Lifts

3 x 8 reps
Set up in a plank position, with your weight on your toes and forearms, elbows beneath your shoulders. Slowly lift your left foot, keeping your leg straight. Pause at the top, then lower.

Repeat with your right leg. That’s one rep.

Medicine Ball Rotational Slams

1 x 10 reps

Strength Circuit 2

Same deal as the first circuit – perform one set of each exercise then move onto the next without rest. That burn your feeling? That means it’s working.

Dumbbell Reverse Lunge

3 x 10 reps
Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells. Step back with your right foot, sinking down as deep as you can. Drive back up to standing.

Repeat with your left leg. That’s one rep.

Renegade Row

3 x 5 reps
Keep hold of your dumbbells and set up in a press-up position, weights below your shoulders. Keeping your core locked – no twisting, now – row one weight up to your stomach, pause, then return.

Repeat with the other weight. That’s one rep.

Lateral Duck Walk

3 x 10 reps each side
Wrap a resistance band around your legs and stand sideways. Step out with your right leg as far as possible, then bring your left leg to meet it.

Repeat for 10 steps, then swap legs.

Medicine Ball Rotational Slams

1 x 10 reps

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