Improving your Golf Game from the Gym
The people that say “golf is an old mans sport and you do not need to be in shape for it” probably have never picked up a club before. As I mentioned in my previous article “Top Athletically Challenging Recreational Sports” playing a round of golf (walking not taking a golf cart and drinking beer) requires a great amount of energy. So if you want to be able to play the game at a higher level you are going to have to improve your physical condition. Strengthening your core and glutes and improving your dynamic flexibility can help you to get a more powerful and controlled swing that is surely going to get you to bomb it down the fairway. Professional golfer Rory Mcilroy is a great example of this. A couple years ago he began working out to help improve his golf game and judging from his four major championship victories it seems to be working. However this does not mean that you will be going into the gym and doing exercises that bodybuilders are doing. Make sure your workout routine is specifically targeting those muscles that you utilize on the course and that it is in a way that recreates your swing.
To build your own golf workout routine I recommend you follow a sequence of a push exercise, a pull exercise, a lower body exercise and a core exercise. Avoid doing exercises that work your middle to lower chest for your push exercise because this part of the body is not utilized in your swing. Stick to upper chest and shoulder exercises such as dumbbell press or incline bench press for your push exercises. Also keep in mind the goal of your workouts. To have an effective swing building strength is important, but mobility is also vital. Thus keeping your rep count in the eight to twelve ranges will help you to achieve the results that you want. Here are some of my top exercises that will help you to improve your golf game the next time you are at the gym.
As I mentioned in the article “how to warm up properly”, dynamic stretches are the best way to prepare your muscles for a workout or a round of golf. Dynamic stretches prepare your muscles by warming them up by moving around and loosening them from the movements. The big difference between static and dynamic stretching is that dynamic stretches do not require you to hold the position at the end of the movement. What makes dynamic stretching more effective in preparing your muscles for exercise is that the exercises stretch out your muscles without allowing them to relax. A perfect dynamic stretch for a golfer is to practice your swing at a reduced speed, both ways without a club and then with a club. This effectively prepares your muscles for the movements that they are about to be performing.
Medicine Ball Tosses
Medicine ball tosses help to improve your balance through working oblique and abdomen muscles. Your oblique muscles are vital to your golf swing as they are the muscle that is engaged when your body is twisting. You can perform this exercise in two ways: either standing up or seated.
- Seated: Sit in an upright crunch parallel and about a foot and a half away from a wall (preferably a solid brick one that you are allowed to throw a ball at). Your feet can either be on the floor or straight out with your legs extended. Start with the ball on the side of your body that is opposite to the wall. Using both hands toss the medicine ball at the wall. Catch the ball as it rebounds off of the wall and in a controlled manner bring it back to the starting position. Performed the same way for the other side.
- Standing: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Stand so that your feet are running parallel with the wall. It does not matter which way you face as you will be doing both sides. Start with the medicine ball on your hip and grasping it with two hands. Engaging your core, rotate your body and release the medicine ball when it reaches your belly button. Be sure to follow through so that you finish with your chest facing the wall. Catch the ball as it rebounds off of the wall and in a controlled motion bring it back to the starting position.
This exercise utilizes explosive movements and helps to improve your balance and mobility. It can be done with a dumbbells or a barbell. They are essentially performed the same way with both. The only difference being that the dumbbells will be held with your arms extended by your side, and the barbell will be rested on your shoulders. Be sure that the weight is light enough so that you are not slowed down a lot (obviously not too light), as you want to explosively launch yourself into the air with it.
- Starting with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Squat down so that your leg forms an angle that is slightly less than 90 degrees and immediately reverse your direction to explode into the air. To do so extend through your ankles, knees, and hips. Ensure that your back is straight and upright throughout the lift. Absorb your landing through your legs as you come back down to the ground.
Cable Face Pulls
Golf requires you to maintain good posture over the golf ball for four hours or more. If you do not have strong back and shoulder muscles to support you your posture and swing are going to suffer in the later rounds. This exercise works your traps, rotator cuffs and rear delts, all muscles vital in keeping good posture.
- Using a rope and a cable machine adjust the cable so that it is at neck level. Be sure to take a step back from the cable when you are performing the exercise. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out. Pull the weight to your face, separating your hands as you perform the rep. Your upper arms should be parallel to the ground as you do so. Pause when your hands are beside your face and release the weight slowly back to the starting position.