Part 2 : Strength Training for Golf
In Part 1 of this series we stressed the importance of improving your mobility and range of motion. Without that mobility we won’t be able to get into the best position to drive the ball off the tee and do it pain free.
The next step in maintaining that mobility is to develop strength in the new positions with proper training. Golf is traditionally a sport where athletes make two huge mistakes in their training. The first mistake is avoiding strength training all together for fear of getting “bulky” or stiff. When strength training ,we aren’t looking for large amounts of hypertrophy (muscle growth) we are looking to train in rep ranges that allow you to gain strength and produce more force. The second mistake is choosing exercises the replicate the golf swing. To get stronger you should focus on multi-joint movements with great form. Using weighted implements to try and simulate your swing can actually do more harm than good by throwing off your mechanics and how your body “remembers” the swing.
So let’s dive in. Here are 6 exercises that are staples in our golfer’s strength training programs.
*Note: Strength training should be challenging. You should only feel like you could have completed 1 or 2 more reps with good form. If you are able to do 2 or more reps more than what is listed you should choose a heavier weight for your next set or workout.
Half Kneeling Chop
This is one of the most important core exercises you can do for your swing. It helps teach you how to keep your core still while transferring force from your upper body. Having a stable core will help you transfer more force without any leaks during your swing.
To set up, start with a bar or rope attached to the top of a cable column. You’ll begin on one knee with the inside knee up. Both the down and up knee should be at 90 degrees. In a diagonal motion keep the cable close to you and bring it down to your shoulder and then across your body. Keep your glute on the down leg tight and be sure that you remain as tall as you can. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.
Traditional core training focuses on the “outer” core muscles that we see in the mirror. While those muscles are important to train, most people neglect the deep stabilizing muscles closest to the spine. These deep stabilizers are your first line of defense in maintaining a proper spine position during your swing, keeping you from over extending or flexing.
One of the simplest exercises to hit these muscles is the Suitcase Walk. Grab the heaviest dumbbell or kettlebell you can carry without it leaning against you. Try to find a space where you can walk about 40 yds. Walk as tall as you can as if you had a book on your head. Once you have walked as far as you can switch hands and head back. Perform 2-3 sets of varying distances.
While golf is a rotational sport, it is still important to be strong while putting force into the ground to create power. One of the best exercise to develop this strength is the deadlift. Depending on your level of experience or strength you can use either a kettlebell or barbell. Remembering to make sure the exercise is difficult for anywhere from 3-6 reps.
To begin start by hinging your hips as far back as you can keeping back straight. Shoulders should be right over the barbell and your hips should be making a “V” not an “L”. Keeping the barbell as close to your body as possible press through your heels squeezing your glutes to finish at the top. Focus on pulling the bar off the ground with your hips NOT your low back.
Single Arm Bench Press
With a single arm bench press you are not only building up your chest and arm strength but your core is working extra hard to keep you stable. By developing upper body strength while also challenging the core makes this exercise a great bang for your buck. Set up on the bench so the shoulder you will be pressing with is free to move. Lower the dumbbell at about 45 degrees from your side and press back up. Focus on keeping your other shoulder pinned to the bench so you aren’t rotating. Find a weight that’s challenging for 6-8 reps on each arm and perform 2-3 sets.
This exercise will help reinforce the mobility you achieved in your hips and build strength, stability and balance. Having strong stable hips is extremely important in driving through the golf swing.
Set up with the back and front leg at about 90 degrees. Keeping the weight shifted over the front heel drop the back knee straight down until it just about touches the ground. Press through the front heel and return to the top position trying to keep your back straight. Once you can do 15 reps with your bodyweight, grab a pair of dumbbells that make the exercise challenging for 8-12 reps on each leg.
There’s no reason that if done properly, a golfer should be hesitant to strength train. Gaining strength will help you drive the ball further, be more resilient to injury, and help maintain the mobility you gained in Part 1. Give these exercises a shot and as always please let us know if you have any questions.
Stay tuned for our third and final installment of this series where we will cover some of our favorite power exercises for golf.
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