Dustin Johnson isn’t your typical golfer.
Possessed with raw power and a muscular 6′4″, 190-pound frame, the 32-year-old stands out among his fellow players as an athlete who looks like he could be playing football, basketball, or hockey if he wanted to. But having the athletic tools doesn’t always make for a successful golfer, and that’s where Johnson has truly separated himself from the field.
“My training and nutrition plan has really evolved over the years,” Johnson told Men’s Fitness. “It's so important for me to take care of myself mentally and physically. Working out and eating right helps me feel better and play better on the course.”
Johnson has developed an intense workout program with trainer Joey Diovisalvi, doing strength training, Olympic-style lifts, single-leg movements, rotational moves, and stability work, training up to six days per week. Johnson doesn’t like taking any off days and it’s that mindset that’s fueled his rise to the top of the PGA Tour.
“Dustin is an anomaly, a once-in-a-lifetime athlete in the golf world,” says Diovisalvi, who has worked with the golfer since 2010. “I’ve been doing this over 20 years, and I don’t know if we’ll see another golfer like Dustin for a long time.”
Johnson’s always had talent—he finished tied for second at both the 2011 Open Championship and the 2015 U.S. Open and consistently ranked near the top of the PGA Tour in average drive distance—but things really came together in 2016 when he won his first major at the U.S. Open at the Oakmont Country Club. Now, he’s the top ranked golfer in the world and a consistent favorite at every major tournament.
“He’s like the Tom Brady—but younger—of golf,” says Diovisalvi. “He literally does not have any gear or option other than what he thinks is the ultimate preparation for when he’s ready to play. He just gets it.”
— Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) April 12, 2017
Johnson’s workout routine stays mostly the same whether he’s on the road for a tournament or at home in Florida. At home, he’ll use more aggressive weight protocols with his lifts, but while he’s away, it’ll be around 70-75 percent of what he normally does. Consistency is key for Johnson, because as the golfer once told Diovisalvi, “if you’re trying to find something at a tournament, it’s already too late.”
“Our Monday power workout is squats, deadlifts, cleans, and we integrate medicine ball workouts,” says Diovisalvi. “Whether it’s one legged overhead slams, side-to-side rotational velocity slams, reverse pivot slams on a wall—we do these things in between every 3 movements. It’s a strict protocol and he doesn’t vary that much. We go heavy on Monday. Dustin’s also gotten into SoulCycle, and since he’s doing a 2-a-day routine, we do a spin bike for 30 minutes before we start the intense lifts.”
Diovisalvi has Johnson use weight progressions on his lifts, warming up with squats at 135 lbs before moving to 185, then finishing around 255-275 lbs. With deadlifts, depending on how Johnson is feeling that day, Diovisalvi has Johnson doing 4-5 sets starting at 135 lbs and progressing up to near 200 lbs.
“On Tuesday we transition into dumbbell presses onto a stability ball, using torso twists and hip drops, using a 70 or 80 lb weight, then pushups with a open or full rotation, then we’ll do a TRX press or something with the cable straps. It’s very intense,” says Diovisalvi. “Then on Wednesday, we’ll do inverted pullups, Olympic barbell rows with 135 lbs, compounded with an alternating dumbbell row, where he creates some contraction and some thoracic rotation.”
Johnson integrates box jumps into his workout to strengthen his lower body and does a lot of balance moves and single-leg exercises. “We’ll also do a lot of balance work,” says Diovisalvi. “We’ll do single-leg dumbbells, start with a set at 35 lbs, then jump to 45 or 50 lbs. Dustin’s constantly challenging his balance, giving the body the opportunity to work. He progressively works to increase that resistance and get stronger.”
Johnson and Diovisalvi have developed what the trainer calls a “Brady-Belichick type relationship,” where both are able to communicate and understand what Johnson’s body needs, even the times when Johnson needs to take a break.
“Dustin trains very much like any other high-level athlete,” Diovisalvi says. “There’s been this idea for over a decade that golfers working out like other athletes mean they overtrain, and some people struggle with the concept that a golfer is an athlete too. Well hey, we’re back in the Olympics. When you take baseball players or football players—they're great athletes—but put a golf club in their hand, they don't look very athletic. It’s a hard thing to do. Dustin continues to push the needle so hard and that’s why he’s been so successful.”
Johnson's intensity and commitment to his fitness made him a great fit for the Kobe Bryant-developed BODYARMOR campaign, “Obsession is Natural.” Johnson joined athletes like Andrew Luck, James Harden, Kristaps Porzingis, Richard Sherman, Dez Bryant, Mike Trout, and Skylar Diggins in the campaign, which was written, directed and narrated by Bryant.