‘Train like a power lifter’: World Long Drive champ Kyle Berkshire’s 2 secrets to hitting bombs
MESQUITE, Nev. — The Kyle Berkshire experience must be seen (and heard) to be believed. It’s relatively easy to understand he’s golf longest hitter — a historic, sweet-swinging superstar of both unfathomable distance and speed. Slightly more difficult is comprehending the force and intensity with which he strikes golf balls.
Berkshire doesn’t hit dimples, he obliterates them, seemingly attempting to knock the “Top Flite” logo clean off his tournament-issued balls. He maintains the unique honor of being one of the few golfers I have ever seen whose ball flights vanish off the tee — going so high and so far into the air at such speeds, one can only wait to hear their official distance from the judges some 400-plus yards away.
He’s a multiple-time world champion, a hero of the long drive world and the sport’s biggest ambassador. He’s so good, Bryson DeChambeau has enlisted his services as a private, speed-training tutor (the two are also close friends).
Perhaps most impressive of all is his figure, which — in a sport featuring many Andre the Giant lookalikes — is athletic but not overly muscular. The shoulder-length hair only adds to the experience.
So, how does Berkshire manage to get such blazing speeds despite his lacking Bryson-ified figure? The short answer is that he has a plan — a plan that you can follow, but be warned, it won’t come quickly.
“I’m really not a big believer in drills — speed isn’t a quick fix,” Berkshire told GOLF.com. “If you want lasting speed, you need to train for it.”
As he explains, there are two pillars to adding speed: speed practice and fitness. As for the first pillar, Berkshire has a tried-and-true method for building what he calls a “speed reserve.”
“My recommendation, three times a week, swing as hard as you can at 50 balls,” he said. “They should be going all over the place because you’re basically overloading your nervous system. That overload is going to result in the nervous system recovering a little bit quicker and more robust. You’re going to have the same swing, it’s just going to happen a little bit faster. That’s what I’d recommend instead of trying to hunt for a quick tip, because quick tips lead to quick regression.”
But speed training is only half the battle, the other half is ensuring your body has enough strength to continue sustaining higher speeds.
Bryson’s bulk-and-bomb diet is certainly one way to go about adding muscle mass, but as Berkshire explains, the key isn’t just to add muscle.
“You want to get stronger,” he said. “You don’t necessarily need muscle mass, but you want to get stronger. To gain strength you will need to eventually gain muscle, that’s just kinda part of the biological process of adapting your body to bigger loads.”
Interestingly, the best way to get “stronger” isn’t necessarily to add a ton of weight, as Bryson did. Rather, it is to focus on training your body to engage a higher percentage of your muscles. And the best way to do that? By changing the way you work out in order to bolster your “CNS,” or central nervous system.
“Train more at a lower rep range in order to move as much weight as possible,” Berkshire says. “To do that, train like a power lifter, train low reps, high weight. You will gain muscle, which is fine. But that’s not why you’re doing it. These last three years, I’ve competed at worlds at 197-202 lbs, but I have gotten a lot stronger. So train for strength, don’t train for hypertrophy.”
If you stick to that two-pronged plan, Berkshire says, you’ll start to see your drives go further and straighter. Before long, you could find yourself swinging 8-irons where you once hit 6-irons, and as Bryson will tell you, that’s a powerful way to see your scores plummet.