Get Ready for DeChambeau to Become the Incredible Bulk
THERE has been a huge response to Bryson DeChambeau’s announcement that he plans to bulk up - modern parlance for putting on weight with a little help from an extensive work-out routine. Many pundits don’t understand why somebody who has enjoyed a terrific start to his PGA Tour career would want to change anything. He has, after all, already won five times with a method that is very much all his own. If it ain’t broke, why would you want to try and fix it?
But DeChambeau is his own man. He has a unique swing, he plays with irons that all the same length and he takes an age to hit the golf ball. The self-styled Scientist is taking a break from the action and says that we will probably not see him again until the Hero World Challenge, the last event before he plays in the Presidents Cup in December. Let’s hope that US Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods hasn’t already ordered DeChambeau’s kit because he is likely to be bursting out of it come the end of the year.
The American admits that he has already spent a lot of time in the gym working on his strength and he also has plans to change his diet. No prizes for guessing why he has decided to take this approach. He wants to hit the ball further. And that is hardly surprising in a game dominated by the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Matthew Wolff and Cameron Champ, who all propel that harmless little golf ball into the middle of next week.
It all began with Tiger Woods, who was the first player in the modern era to realise the benefits of building up his muscle mass. In his prime, Woods hit the ball way further than his rivals. Until he burst upon the scene, we used to think that Ernie Els was a big hitter, but Woods was regularly striping the ball 20 yards past the Big Easy. And that meant he could reach almost every par five in two and was going into most par fours with a wedge in his hand.
Make no mistake about it, Woods changed the game forever. Rory McIlroy may only be about 5ft 9in tall but what he lacks in height he more than makes up for in muscle mass. And Brooks Koepka, who has dominated the game for the past couple of years, doesn’t need to tell anybody that he spends much of his spare time pumping iron. You only have to look at his physique.
It’s a difficult balance to get right, of course, and Woods’ career has suffered as a result of all that gym work. He has endured a catalogue of devastating injuries on the way to winning his 15 majors, and although he won The Masters in 2019, he spent much of the rest of the year struggling with further injuries and had to go under the surgeon’s knife once more.
But DeChambeau is undeterred. “I'm going to come back next year and look like a different person. You're going to see some pretty big changes in my body, which is going to be a good thing. I am going to be hitting it a lot further,” he said. “I will be bigger. Way stronger. Just stronger in general. I am going to look probably a lot bigger, but it's going to be a fun month and a half off. I have never been able to do this, and I'm going to go do things that are going to be a lot of fun.”
DeChambeau being the sort of individual he is, he won’t just be using weights to get in shape. Instead he will be using something called "muscle activation techniques” under the supervision of Greg Roskoph, an important member of his team.
“We make sure the neurological threshold is just as high as the mechanical threshold,” DeChambeau said. “In layman's terms [ooh, yes please Bryson!], pretty much whatever muscle potentially you have, how big and the muscle spindles you have, you can recruit every single one of them to their full potential throughout the whole range and training the whole range of motion.” Obviously.
The workouts are done on specific machines and incorporate neurological fitness, making sure he is not hurting himself or damaging himself in the process but finding the tipping points and staying right near them. That is a crucial difference between him and the techniques Woods used as a young man. It means he will almost certainly be able to avoid any long-term health and fitness issues.
“I can literally be in massive amount of pain and we can go do a treatment on one of the patterns directly affecting the neurological pain and not have any pain and get back up off the table,” DeChambeau said. “It's not your normal PT work. I've done it. I’ve broken ribs before. I got a rib out of place when I was 14 and went to physical therapy for the long time. It was great but didn't feel like it ever got better until I started increasing my tolerance levels with weight and strength.
“Once I started doing that I felt like I could tolerate anything. You bring it on and I could tolerate it. So it's pretty cool what he does. It's revolutionary in the physical therapy world.”
So get ready for the Incredible Hulk to be unveiled at the Hero World Challenge. And don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he is angry.
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