IN JANUARY 1976, a teenaged Bernhard Langer, serving his mandatory conscription in the army, was summoned with a group of young Germans to a frozen field. Handed a rifle and a 30-pound backpack, he was told to imagine a low-flying airplane firing rounds overhead. Imagine, he was told, and throw yourself to the ground—not gingerly but directly, quickly.
"Every time," the golfer recalls, "that backpack would hit your spine from behind."
The next morning Langer couldn't get out of bed. He'd suffered stress fractures to a pair of vertebrae and had two bulging discs. "I thought my golfing career was over," he says now, in his 46th year as a pro. "But, you know, so far, so good."
Langer, 60, is fourth on the PGA Champions tour money list and has already played 13 events this season, including a win at the Insperity Invitational in Texas and a 16th-place finish in the U.S. Senior Open earlier this month. In all, he's won 10 senior majors since graduating to the Champions tour almost 11 years ago, and he has barely lost a step. He still drives the ball an average of 284.1 yards, longest among active golfers in their sixties and 18th overall.
Langer credits his success in large part to consistent workouts. His fitness routine hasn't changed much since the 1990s. On off weeks, he's in the gym for about 90 minutes a day. He does some form of cardio for 45 minutes, spends 30 minutes using resistance bands, lifting and doing body-weight exercises, and then finishes with stretching. When on the road, he keeps sessions brief: 10 minutes on the bike, stretches, then a light resistance-band workout.
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A quick workout to improve your distance off the tee at any age
Complete 45 minutes on one of various machines: bike, VersaClimber, StairMaster or treadmill. No running. On a treadmill, walk at a challenging incline, at a speed of 4.2 mph.
Hold both ends of an anchored band at chest height. Pull back with shoulders and arms, engaging the trapezius muscles.
With a band tied high, grab onto the loose end with both hands as if gripping a golf club in your backswing. Mimic the downswing, leading with the left shoulder and hip (for righties) through resistance.