Your performance on the golf course, just like any other sport, can see huge improvement with repetition and on-course practice. But one aspect of your game that’s often forgotten is building a strong and powerful body to really make the most of all that practice.
With golf carts being a whole thing, we won’t worry about building the endurance to walk a full 18 right now. (Though, due to some horrible drunken golf cart ramping incident, many of you may have found yourself in that situation, but that’s another post all together.) When developing a personal exercise program, one must think sports-specific, so we’re focusing on a strong, powerful swing with this full body workout.
A golf swing is very quick and powerful, using the ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine) energy system. Our body uses the ATP-PC system for short, strong movements; it requires no oxygen and good for about 12 seconds of maximum physical effort. 20 minutes on a treadmill isn’t exactly going to translate to more yards from the tee — strength, power, mobility, and stability are on the menu.
The following will put you on track to become an ironman on the course (12 oz. curls not included):
Your golf swing uses nearly every muscle in the body, so training the entire body throughout the week would be wise. This is where resistance training comes in. Start with some of the key muscles in your core (glutes, abdominals, obliques), as well as your hamstrings, lats, deltoids, and your adductors. Focus on big, compound movements that use multiple muscle groups to see the most bang for your buck — exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench press, for example.
Form is of the utmost importance with these strength-building exercises. Master the easiest progressions of each exercise before moving on to something harder (ex. body weight squat, goblet squat, barbell squat). And don’t overwork yourself: when training for strength, 3-6 sets of 3-6 reps is ideal. (If you’re wanting to put on some size, stay in the 8-12 rep range.)
Strength alone isn’t going to translate into more yards off the tee, power brings the speed we need to put maximum force on the ball. You need to be able to access that power quickly. To do that, you need to add quick, explosive movements to your training.
This can be done with lifts like the bench press, squats, and deadlifts, at 60-80% of your 1-rep max for very few reps (1-3) and as quickly as possible. The key here is to maintain your form while making explosive movements. Try a rotational power exercise like medicine ball toss for a more swing-specific movement, and more advanced lifters can add olympic lifts and plyometrics to the program.
Mobility and stability are equally as important in a strength program. A golfer’s mobility and stability is crucial to maintain correct alignment throughout the swing, and important for injury prevention and longevity. When training for mobility, the hips, shoulders, and thoracic spine are the big players. Exercises like scapular shrugs, thoracic spine rotations, and fire hydrants condition all of these major parts of the body. Sets of 6-8 reps are very effective for mobility, too.
The focus should be on the core with stability training. Building strength in the abs, obliques, low back, and glutes is what we are after here. Exercises like the plank, bird dog, and glute bridge will get the job done, and you will reap the rewards on the course.
The following is a sample full body workout for beginners looking to make the most of that time on the course (you’ll look better naked, too, and who doesn’t want that?):
Full body body golf workout for beginners
Bird Dog (2 sets): 6 reps each side; rest 10 seconds
Fire Hydrant (2 sets): 6 reps each side; rest 10 seconds
Scapular Shrug (2 sets): 8 reps; rest 10 seconds
Glute Bridge (2 sets): 8 reps; rest 10 seconds
Rotational Med Ball Toss (3 sets): 3 reps each side; rest 30-60 seconds
Goblet Squat (3 sets): 10 reps; rest 60-90 seconds
Dumbbell Chest Press: (3 sets): 10 reps; rest 60-90 seconds
Romanian Deadlift (3 sets): 10 reps; rest 60-90 seconds
Single Arm Dumbbell Row (3 sets): 10 reps each side; rest 60-90 seconds
Plank (3 sets): 20 seconds; rest 30 seconds
Pallof Press (3 sets): 8 reps each side; rest 30 seconds
**Remember, it’s important to ask your doctor before participating in physical activity. These exercises are just recommendations and may not be right for you.**
Of all my years as a personal trainer... scratch that. Of all my years as a person, back pain has been one of the biggest complaints of the people I come in contact with. It can affect anyone no matter gender, race, age, or profession. Back pain varies from minor to chronic, and can keep anyone from the things they love, cost precious sick days from work, or worse. If you're someone looking to alleviate recurring back pain, prevent future injury, or maybe even avoid prescription medication and surgery, read on.
Injuries, weight gain, and even weak abdominal muscles are among some common causes of back pain, but the most common culprit is bad posture. Too often, people find themselves in spinal flexion or bending forward. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time, bending over repeatedly, lifting heavy objects, standing, and even the way we lay down can all lead to back pain with incorrect posture.
To combat back pain from the aforementioned activities, it's important to keep maintenance of lordosis (see picture below). Lordosis is an inward curve of the spine and is found in the low back, just above the waist. If we lose lordosis often or for long periods of time, back pain can start. In order to keep lordosis, it's important to interrupt prolonged positions by taking a quick walk or a few short breaks throughout the day.
On top of maintaining lordosis, exercise is the key to improving your posture. The pain we feel is often coming from a change in the shape of one or multiple disks in our back. Proper exercise can help those disks return to their original shape — proper disk alignment equals no pain! Exercise is also important for prevention. By building a stronger core we can in turn build a healthier back. A strong core increases stabilization and support for our back. More support means less chance for injury. Plus, who doesn’t want a six pack?
The following everyday exercises are a sure fire way to improve your posture, alleviate current back pain, and prevent pain in the future. It is important to note that these exercises are only recommendations and you should consult your physician before exercise.
Example of proper lordosis.
Exercise One: Slouch Over Correct (Posture)
Sit relaxed in a chair. Draw yourself up and over extend to create lordosis as much as possible. Hold that position for a few seconds, then relax. Perform 3 x a day for 10-15 reps.
Exercise Two: Extension (Rehab)
Position 1: Lie facedown with head to one side. Relax every muscle in the body. Remain here for 2-3 min.
Position 2: Slowly slide the elbows under the shoulders, extending the back. Keep the hips loose. Remain in this position for 1-2 min.
Position 3: Extend the arms and slide hands under the shoulders. Relax the lower body and allow the low back to sag. Hold for 1- 2 seconds and relax. Repeat for 8-10 reps. All three positions should be done 4-6 times a day.
Exercise Three: Bird Dog (Strengthen)
Start on all fours with a neutral spine. Keep neck in line with spine throughout the whole exercise. Contract your abs while slowly lifting one arm and the opposite leg. Hold for 1-2 seconds and return to the starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps on each side.
Kubey, C., & McKenzie, R. (2014). 7 Steps to a Pain-Free Life. New York: Plume.
Fehrsen-Du Toit, R. (2003). The Good Back Book. [Toronto]: Firefly Books.