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Fitness according to Tiger

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Update: When Tiger Woods turned pro during the summer of 1996, he weighed 155 pounds — pretty light for a 6-foot 2-inch athlete.

After changing his diet and physical fitness program, he now weighs 180 pounds, has 5 percent body fat and, according to "How I Play Golf," Woods' new book, he is strong enough to hit shots that he could not hit when he first came on tour.

In my Dec. 28 column, I recounted the dietary changes Woods discusses in his book. This week, I'll look at the fitness changes he made to become one of the best golfers in the world.

In "How I Play Golf," Woods writes that he's always been into physical fitness, so the lifestyle changes he made were "just a matter of refining my workout to include stretching, aerobics and weight training."

He then goes on to list the following stretching exercises, which he often does during delays on the course to maintain some elasticity:

Lower back: From a standing position, bend from the waist and try to touch your toes. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat. From a sitting position, bend from the waist and try to touch the floor between your feet. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat.

Hips: Lie on your back with your legs extended; lock your hands under your knee and pull your leg toward your chest while keeping your other leg extended. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with your other leg.

Chest: From a standing position, lock your hands behind your back and raise them while fully expanding your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat as many times as you wish.

Shoulders: From a standing position, extend your left arm over your left shoulder behind your back, place your right hand behind your back and try to grab your left hand. Hold for 20 seconds. Switch arms and repeat. At first you might not be able to touch your fingers, but as the muscles stretch you should be able to give yourself a low-five behind your back.

Hamstrings: From a sitting position, extend and spread your legs as far apart as possible. Try to grab your left foot with both hands while keeping your legs extended. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other foot.

Hands and fingers: Many golfers don't realize the importance of flexibility in your hands. Shake your hands for a few minutes. It will help develop your hands for those tough shots around the green.

Woods also writes that being aerobically fit helps his body compete at the highest level. His aerobic program consists of running as fast as he can for three to five miles, whenever his schedule and the weather allows. When the weather is bad, he uses an exercise bike for about the same amount of time as his run. He then cools off for 10 to 15 minutes before starting his strength workout.

Woods works out from three to five times a week and says he prefers free weights but will use weight machines when free weights aren't available.

His regimen includes:

Upper body: Lat pull downs for the upper back; seated rows for rotator cuffs; overhead press for shoulders; horizontal bench press, incline bench press and some type of fly for the chest; push downs, dips or overhead triceps extensions; horizontal and vertical wrist curls for the forearms; and stomach crunches.

Lower body: Leg extensions, curls and presses; and squats.

Woods uses two sets for each exercise, with the first set of 10 to 12 reps at a weight that doesn't exhaust his muscles. For the second set, he increases the weight by 15 percent to 20 percent, then does as many reps as he can.


Garth Fisher is the former director of the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University.