When people talk about golf specific exercises, they seem to include everything from weight-lifting to yoga to simple stretching. While no exercise is detrimental, some exercises target ‘golfing muscles’ more than others.
What makes an exercise a GOLF specific exercise?
Two key aspects of a golf swing are – shoulder turn – and balance. If an exercise/stretch helps contribute to either of these two fundamentals, it can be considered a GOLF exercise.
This post will describe a few key exercises that:
- Help with your BALANCE during the golf swing – and/or
- Help you make a better shoulder turn
These are the two centerpieces of a repeatable golf swing – balance – and a good, consistent shoulder turn.
Lower Body and Core Workout
‘Full Body Exercises’ is a term that applies to a few tried and tested exercises. These include Squats, Dead Lifts and Planks.
Squats, Dead Lifts and Planks
Squats are known as the KING of full body exercises. They engage more muscle groups than most exercises – and that is one the reasons they hurt so much. Squats will uncover muscles that haven’t been used in a while – and cause soreness the day after. This, of course, is a desirable type of soreness.
I would go so far as to say – if you can only do ONE exercise, let it be squats. It will help your balance more than any other exercise.
While squats help the lower back and the core as well, it is ideal to target the core and lower back with their own KING exercises.
Dead Lifts (King of BACK exercises)
The KING of all back exercises is the DEAD LIFT. Just doing 30-40 a day should be enough to get your lower back strong. Your lower back acts as a grounding element in the golf swing – a weak lower back will cause you to sway during the backswing.
Planks and Modified Planks (King of CORE exercises)
Planks are great for core stability as well as building arm and inner thigh strength. If you modify planks a little, you can target just about any muscle group. Split (or scissor) planks (where you split kick your legs apart – and then back in), one handed planks (where your rotate your body while balanced on one elbow) and mountain climbers (knee to chest while holding a high plank) – are all variations of the plank that help with stability and strength. The pictures below provide an illustration of some of the popular types of ‘modified’ plank exercises.
Hands and Shoulder Strength Exercises
So much for lower body and core. The bulk of swing faults arise from weakness in the back, legs – or lower body in general. However, for some people, there are other weak muscle groups as well.
The Hands and Forearms
To strengthen your hands, hold a club in one hand and hit a rubber tire repeatedly. This is not just a made up exercise – it was the cornerstone of a popular golf instructor (and 3 time major winner, Henry Cotton). It is worth reading about this technique – as it affects the only thing that actually makes contact with the golf club – the hands.
An impact bag (instead of a rubber tire) works as well – it strengthens not just the hands – but also the forearms.
Shoulders tend to become stiff during long idle stretches. Hence, the shoulders do not need strengthening as much as they do LOOSENING.
Loosening the shoulders is as simple as trying to turn them around a steady spine – while keeping your lower body fixed. You can do these while sitting down – or while standing up.
If there was just ONE stretch you could do before your golf round, I would make it the ‘shoulder turn’ (shown above) while keeping your lower body fixed. This loosens the most important group of muscles required for your round of golf.
If there was only one EXERCISE you could do on a regular basis, I would go with squats. They exercise a majority of lower body and core muscles – and help tremendously with balance. However, if you can also add planks and dead-lifts to your routine, you may just end up challenging Rory Mcilroy.