Golf is an unusually demanding physical sport.
While golfers typically do not need the Mister Universe physique that other ball sport athletes often strive for, they have a greater need for flexibility and a powerful core.
The mechanics of a golf swing and the level of accuracy needed to play a good game of golf put brute strength on the backburner compared to achieving a full range of motion. In fact, some workout routines can make golfing harder by increasing the size of the wrong muscles, reducing flexibility.
How Golf Fitness Helps Your Swing
Golf exercises need to address your swing in order to help your game. To perform a powerful, compact swing, you need to be able to swing your shoulders at a 90-degree angle over the hips, and follow through by turning your hips to a 45-degree angle at the same time.
Inflexibility can make this ideal swing impossible to achieve. Stiff hamstrings, inflexible hips, or tight shoulders can all become obstacles that reduce your ability to achieve this 90-to-45 ratio in your swing.
Your golf workout needs to also address your core, since the abdominal muscles are the ones that will provide the foundation for the strength of your swing – not the arms.
Use the following exercises to give your body the maximum range of motion it needs to perform a truly magnificent swing.
1. Dynamic Twist
The dynamic twist improves the mobility of your hip, making your backswing easier and relaxing the consequences of swing faults. Make this part of your routine of gold stretches to ensure that you are always prepared for a healthy swing.
To do it, lie on a padded surface and cross your right leg over your left. Place your left hand on your right knee and rotate your body to the left while bringing your right arm to shoulder height. Rotate your right shoulder and bend your hand towards your head.
2. Medicine Ball Core Rotations
Few workouts are better for your core than medicine ball core rotations. You can also use dumbbell weights, or no weight at all – whatever is most comfortable for your current level of strength. You can even lose the ball and hold a golf club across your chest so that your back stays perfectly straight during the twist.
The idea behind core rotations is to keep your feet of the floor while twisting your body from left to right. Use a soft padded floor mat and avoid damaging your spinal column, though. This position should put your full body weight on your glutes – not the tailbone located directly above.
Planks are the most effective part of any core workout routine. Place your feet on a suspension trainer or on a large physiotherapy ball and keep your forearms fixed against the ground. Push your body weight back towards the ball and keep the position as long as you can.
According to Harvard Medical School studies, traditional sit-ups and crunches push your curved spine against the floor and increase the size of your hip flexor muscles. Large hip flexors can pull on the lower spine, causing chronic back pain. Planks offer a safer, more narrowly focused way to work out your core muscles.
4. Bottom’s Up Press
The bottom’s up press is a simple dumbbell routine. Stand in a natural position with a dumbbell held next to your ear in one hand. Simply push it straight up, straight down, and repeat.
This exercise builds strength in the hand, forearm, and shoulder. It also improves your capability to focus upper arm strength with precision – practice moving your arms straight up and down without wavering and your swing will become more controlled than ever.
5. Split Squats
Split squats are simple and highly effective hamstring exercises. From a split-stance position, lower your body so that one knee touches the ground and then push your body back up again. Keep your back straight during the exercise and you will notice that the movement stretches your hamstrings while increasing your lower-body muscle strength.
This exercise is preferable to leg extensions, such as those you would perform on an exercise machine. Leg extensions work out your quadriceps – the muscles on the front of your thigh – more than your hamstrings, and you want to isolate those muscles as much as possible so you can develop your swing.
Can Improper Swings Cause Injury?
Yes. Some of the most common golf injuries include back pain, tennis elbow, shoulder pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Even world-class professionals with perfect swings occasionally suffer from these injuries, but amateurs with improper swings put themselves at far greater risk.
The golf exercises mentioned above can help prepare your body for the level of exertion golf demands. Swing coaching can help address longstanding golf swing issues and help protect you from health problems later on.