What are some good golf exercises?

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What are some good golf exercises?

March 23, 2011, 03:19PM

What are some good golf exercises?First, determine if you want to get in shape to improve your golf game or whether you are merely playing golf as a way to stay in shape.  If the answer is the latter than some simple stretches will be helpful for preparing for a round of golf; however, if the answer is the former, than it is a good idea to focus on developing golf-specific strength which requires exercises combining the legs, hips, core and shoulders together since all of those body-parts have to work simultaneously during a golf swing.

When training for a sport, first study the sport to identify the movements involved in the execution of appropriate technique. For example, when watching the sport of golf it is evident that a successful golf-swing requires a lot of mobility from the feet and ankles, the hips and the thoracic spine.  For a right-handed golfer the backswing specifically requires a lot of mobility from the thoracic spine which runs from the mid-back between the shoulders and the top of the hips (otherwise called the “t-spine”). The t-spine has its greatest mobility in the transverse plane which allows the trunk to rotate to the right and left.  As the trunk and t-spine rotate to the right over the pelvis, it causes the pelvis to rotate to the right, but not as far as the t-spine. As a consequence of the rotation of the t-spine and pelvis over the legs, it creates rotation through the legs all of the way down to the feet.  A lack of range-of-motion which restricts the necessary rotation in any of these joints can lead to a faulty swing pattern and affect the swing efficiency.

The body is designed to work as one integrated unit; for example if the hips do not allow the proper range-of-motion for rotation, then it is likely that the rotation will come from either the lower-back or shoulders. This could cause of a flawed swing and the ball to either hook or slice off the course of play.

Exercises for golf can be organized into two categories: range-of-motion or flexibility exercises which improve the motion at specific joints and strengthening exercises which train numerous muscles to coordinate their efforts to move effortlessly through a specific movement pattern.

Listed below are two different exercise programs for golfers. The first program is a general flexibility program to properly stretch out and loosen up before a round of golf.  The second program is designed to improve the mobility, strength and power production capability of the joints responsible for the rotational movements of the golf swing.

When doing these exercises, spend the time during the rest interval between each one practicing the pattern of the golf swing.  Performing visualization exercises to see and feel the movement during the strength training can help improve the actual motor skills and movement mechanics of the swing on the course.  Try to feel how your body moves during the golf swing so that you can practice transferring the skills of the exercises to the specific needs of the golf swing.  

 

Stretches and exercises for golfers to be used as a warm-up prior to a round of golf:

Standing medicine ball trunk rotations - Start with this movement to loosen up the back and hips. Instead of a medicine ball, hold a golf club on the handle with the club head sticking up straight in the air (the leverage of the club will create resistance and the movement of the club will work on grip strength). Perform 8-12 rotations to each side, rest for 30 seconds; repeat 2 times.

Kneeling hip flexor— Excellent for loosening the muscles which can become tight from sitting.

Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds on each leg; repeat 2 times.

Warrior — Another great stretch for the hip flexors, which become tight from too much sitting.

Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds on each leg; repeat 2 times.

Standing hip openers— Opens up the hip allowing for greater range-of-motion (and ultimately power) from the hips during the backswing.  Perform 8-12 repetitions on each leg; rest for 30 seconds; repeat for 2 sets.

Standing triangle straddle-bend stretch— Loosens up the large latissimus dorsi muscles.

Hold for 20-30 seconds on each side; repeat 2 times.

Lunge with twist— Like the trunk rotations, hold a golf club straight in the air to create a minimal amount of resistance.  The lunge does not need to be deep, simply step forward with either leg, hold the split stance position and rotate away from the forward leg. Perform 8-12 repetitions on each leg (alternating legs); rest for 45 seconds, repeat 2 times.

 

Strengthening exercises to help improve flexibility, strength and power in golf:

This particular exercise program can be done 2-3 times per week to help improve flexibility, strength and power for golf.  The purpose of the program is to improve the coordination and movement synergy between the various muscles and joints involved in the golf swing movement pattern.  For an exercise program to have the greatest effect, it is important that it has specific application to the sport or movement; consequently this exercise program features a number of different exercises which integrate the movement of the hips and back in an effort to mimic the mechanics of a swing.

Begin the program by resting briefly after each exercise. As your fitness level improves, progressing to circuit training (simply performing 3-5 exercises in a row before taking a rest break) will have an added benefit of improving cardiovascular endurance.  Allow yourself at least one full day for recovery between doing this workout and playing a full round of golf.

Prone scapular stabilization – A tall posture is important for improving the rotation necessary for the golf swing, this exercise will help improve and straight posture through the shoulders.

Perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Inchworms – An effective exercise for strengthening core, shoulders and hips together; can be performed by either moving for a certain distance (like across a room) or by walking out and back on the hands without moving the feet (while standing in place). Perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Standing medicine ball trunk rotations – An effective exercise to train mobility of the t-spine and hips together; for additional range-of-motion as you rotate to your right-allow your left foot to rotate to point towards your right and as you rotate left-allow your right foot to rotate towards your left. Rotate to both sides, 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Hip hinges — Will strengthen the hips which can generate more power for the swing; make sure the spine (especially the low-back) stays straight and the movement comes from the hips.

Perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Standing wood chop — A great exercise for integrating the movements of the hips, back and shoulders. Requires the use of a medicine ball or dumbbell (if using a dumbbell, hold it horizontally with both hands around the ends of the weight). Perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Lateral lunges — Effective for improving the range-of-motion, strength and power of the hips by using them in a different plane of motion by going to the side.  Make sure to focus the work in the hips by pushing your tailbone back as you lower over your leg. Alternate legs, perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Lunge with twist — Excellent exercise for integrating the hips and back; hold your arms straight in front with both hands pressed together or with a medicine ball or dumbbell for added resistance. Alternate legs, 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Glute activation lunges — The final lunge in this workout, this exercise will improve mobility in the hips leading to greater strength and power through the swing. Alternate legs, perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Stability ball Russian twists — If you have access to a stability ball, this is a great golf-specific exercise featuring trunk rotation. Hold a weight between both hands for added difficulty.

Alternate legs, perform 8-12 repetitions; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

 

Stretching/flexibility to improve range of motion during your golf swing:

Select 3-5 stretches from the list below and perform these stretches AFTER the previous strengthening exercises.  Doing static stretches after a workout can help to lengthen the involved muscles, which improves the range-of-motion of the affected joints. These stretches will help loosen up the hips and upper thighs allowing for greater mobility in the hips during the rotation movement of the golf swing.  

Hip flexors

Hold for 20-30 seconds, alternate legs; repeat 1-3 times.

Kneeling prisoner rotations

Perform 6-8 repetitions to each side; repeat 1-3 times.

Child’s pose

Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Cobra

Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Hip rotations

Hold the push-up position, perform 4-6 repetitions with each leg; rest for 30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Supine spinal twists

Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Crossover stretch for hips and thoracic spine

Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

Supine 90-90 hip-rotator stretch

Hold for 20-30 seconds; repeat 1-3 times.

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