More information on getting fit for golf

Q: You’ve mentioned how important it is to do strength training exercises to improve your golf game, can you give me more information?

A: It is important to strengthen muscles to improve your game, but also as a preventative measure to lower your risk of injury. Warming up and stretching as well as regular cardiovascular workouts are also recommended. Some guidelines:

Back

The low back is particularly vulnerable to injury for those who play golf. In fact, by some estimates, as many as 80 percent of golfers experience low back pain at some point. The action of swinging a golf club places four to six times your own body weight through the lumbar spine. Much of the power associated with the game is generated from this area. Weak abdominals, tight, restricted muscles and joints along with the constant bending and prolonged standing, can all put stress on the low back. When training, it is necessary to work he entire back so that greatest support for the spinal column can be achieved.

Exercises to include: Lat pulldown, reverse grip lat pulldowns, one arm dumbbell bent over rows and side planks are great strengtheners for the back.

Exercises to avoid: Shrugs, barbell rows, deadlifts.

Legs/hips

Golf requires both strength and flexibility in the legs and hips. Power produced by the legs during the swing is transferred to the upper body with use of the abdominals and low back muscles. If you don’t have strong hip and leg muscles, other muscles will compensate, in turn, decreasing power and club head speed.

Exercises to include: Wall squats, good mornings, leg curls, calf and toe raises, as well as bodyweight only exercises like Lunges.

Exercises to avoid: Heavy-weight squats and/or deadlifts. Too many people are unfamiliar with proper technique in these exercises, risking injury to the knees and/or low back.

Shoulders

The shoulder joint is involved in every golf swing. When working these muscles, keep your weights on the lighter side to avoid injury.

Exercises to include: Rotator cuff exercises (internal and external rotation), and dumbbell exercises such as lateral raises and reverse flyes.

Exercises to avoid: Behind the head shoulder presses, upright rows.

Abdominals

The low back and abdominals work hand-in-hand to help improve posture, balance and stability, important factors in golf. The stronger the abdominals, the more powerful the swing and better game play overall. Going through a full range of motion when performing abdominal exercises helps to increase flexibility, allowing for greater rotation in your swing. Planks, side planks and bicycle crunches are good options.

Hands, wrists and forearms: The stronger the hands, the less effort it takes to hold the club, and the freer the arm muscles to contract and expand through your swing. Wrist curls, and exercises such as squeezing a tennis ball will safely strengthen these areas.

Biceps/triceps

Strengthening these arm muscles will give you better club control. The arm muscles need to be strong, but they also must have endurance.

Exercises to include: For biceps, light to moderate weight seated dumbbell curls and hammer curls. For triceps, pushdowns or lying extensions.

Exercises to avoid: Preacher curls, tricep dips, or any exercise using heavy weights.

Additional recommendations

If unfamiliar with strength training, seek the advice of fitness professional in your local health club. Numerous websites also exist with demonstrations of how to perform various exercises, as well as dozens of how to videos. Start out with only 1 set per exercise, using a weight that allows for 8-12 reps. When 12 repetitions can be completed easily, you may either slightly increase weights used, add a second set or increase the number of reps. Perform exercises 2 to 3 times per week, with at least one day of rest between each workout. Exercises should never cause pain during or after the workout.

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