Fitness: Pettersen reveals her workout routine

Suzann Pettersen demonstrating fitness in her home gym for Golfweek Style Issue.

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan walked into his first players’ meeting last November behind Suzann Pettersen and thought: I need to get to the gym more.

If Pettersen wasn’t a top-5 golfer, she might be a physical therapist or elite trainer. She’s fascinated by the body and how it performs. A back injury in 2005 left her crawling, and every workout since has been designed with her back in mind.

Pettersen built a $40,000 gym in the basement of her Orlando, Fla., home, where she works out with trainer Dave Herman. On the road, she gets a kick out of watching gyms at player hotels go from packed to ghost town as the season progresses.

“This is where I build my energy, my getaway place,” she said. “If you love something, you’ll get more out of it.”

After the Solheim Cup last September – an exhausting week by anyone’s standards – members of both teams fell ill the next week in Portland, Ore. Pettersen, however, did the opposite of take it easy. She flew Herman out to hit up the Nike Campus in Beaverton every day.

“If you let your body go down on the couch, you’ll never get back up,” Pettersen said. “I know I can keep it up at least two or three weeks after (Solheim).”

Pettersen lost in a playoff at the Safeway Classic, then won the next week in Canada. When asked if her fitness level gives her a leg up on the competition, Herman said, “Two legs.”

Like her golf practice sessions, Pettersen prefers working out alongside male athletes – golfers, baseball players, etc. They’re usually stronger, and they push her limits.

“If I work out with girls,” Pettersen said, “I always win the challenge.”

Redcord Sling

This Norwegian therapy system was a critical part of Pettersen’s rehabilitation process for her injured back.

Pettersen still uses the device every day and has a portable one she takes on the road and attaches to a squat bar at the gym.

With her feet and legs anchored in the red and black sling, she swings back and forth through a series of positions. This strengths her core and lower back as she holds each angle.

Dynamic band warm-up

Dave Herman began training with bands in the early ’90s and has made them an integral part of Pettersen’s regimen. On the road, she spends 40 minutes on dynamic stretching before touching a golf club, her bands fitting easily into her suitcase. Static stretching, she said, should be reserved for day’s end.

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Suzann Pettersen demonstrating fitness in her home gym for Golfweek Style Issue.

Power through resistance

Herman wanted to add more golf-specific moves to Pettersen’s routine as the 2010 season neared.

PGA European Tour sports therapist J.J. Rivet introduced Herman to this stabilization exercise that he put in Pettersen’s routine.

While keeping her balance on a roller, she uses bands to add tension to the movement as she works on her swing.

The exercise helps her become more aware of the weight distribution in her feet.

“You always work power and speed from the feet up,” Pettersen said.

Vertimex

This $3,200 piece of equipment is designed to develop fast-twitch muscles. It’s commonly used by basketball players to help their vertical jumps, but Herman can rattle off 25 exercises golfers can use

to develop speed. Herman credits the Vertimex for helping Trevor Immelman come back from a wrist injury. The 2008 Masters champion also bought one for his home.

Band squat

Pettersen has changed the way she approaches many staple exercises – such as the squat – to protect her back.

You won’t see her doing any dead lifts or lunges. The band squat allows her to create speed with no stress on the lumbar region.

She maintains a grip on a bar to make sure she doesn’t hurt her back.

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