Recently, I was speaking with a colleague about the elusive "magic bullet" golfers are always trying to find. This behavior pattern is similar to the overweight person who refuses to buckle down and do actual work to lose the extra inches and pounds. They would rather spend money on ineffective supplements and As-Seen-on-TV merchandise that promises a quick fix to 5 years of poor eating and exercise habits. Somehow it never quite works out the way the box says it will. Golfers tend to have a similar disorder driven by products on the Golf Channel that point them towards virtually everything except the only proven method to improving golf specific performance: integrated weight lifting and flexibility training. There’s nothing new or sexy about the following notes, but if you are dedicated to seeing your accuracy and distance improve, then give these tips a try:
- A thorough dynamic warm-up will dramatically improve static and dynamic flexibility. Spend about 15-25 minutes to get a sufficient warm-up prior to weight training. Standard dynamic movements for the SAPT golfer include: prisoner squats, over speed good mornings, knee hugs, Frankenstein kicks, walking lunge with twist, lying reach-backs, hip bridge, bent knee twist, active “t” stretch, plus many, many more.
- Prehab everyday to keep the pain away. Prehabilitation exercises are special movements designed to help prevent injury in specific high-risk muscles or joints. Terminal knee extensions, rotator cuff movements, and grip strength/mobility movements are great places to start.
- Golf, like most power sports, relies heavily on the strength of the posterior chain. Your posterior is comprised of all the muscles on your backside, so get these areas as strong as possible. You will see improvement in drive length and golf posture.
- Instead of traditional supersets, take an integrated approach to flexibility training by coupling a strength exercise with a dynamic flexibility exercise. For example, couple a squat with a movement geared towards improving T-spine mobility (like lying reachbacks). This approach increases workout efficiency, allows for rest between sets, and places a greater priority on active flexibility training.
- Stance is best trained through traditional strength movements: squat variations, good mornings, rows, hang clean, etc. Powerful hip rotation is driven by a strong posterior.
- Backswing, downswing, and follow-through are best trained through a series of special exercises and flexibility movements. If you are a right-handed player, part of the goal here is to help achieve greater stance specific strength in left arm abduction and right arm adduction (if you swing left-handed the goal is left arm adduction and right arm abduction strength).
- Be smart and train all aspects of muscular contraction: concentric, isometric, and eccentric. Examine all parts of the swing and stance to determine what types of strength are needed throughout. For example, a great deal of isometric strength is needed in the adductors and lower back to maintain proper golf posture.
Make It Effective
Understand that there is a right and wrong way to do everything and everyone will have a different starting point. Because serious golfers have a heightened ability to perceive changes in their body, they are extremely sensitive to any new demands imposed on their bodies. Be conservative in your approach to starting a strength training program – remember we’re after long-term consistency. To improve new program effectiveness, several factors need to be taken into consideration:
- Training age
- Chronological age (this is important as golf is one of the few sports where it is possible for a 57 year old to consistently beat a 20 year old)
- Flexibility through all stages of swing and standard flexibility
Look at each of these variables independently to identify strengths and weaknesses. Then take a step back and look at the whole picture to determine training priority. For example, if you have a difficult time maintaining a flexed and stable posture during the downswing, then there may be a problem with calf flexibility – notes like this will help inform exercise priority.
A carefully planned and consistent program that includes weight training and flexibility will provide huge returns and lower scores.