So hopefully you’ve already read the article posted on flexibility exercises for golfers here. Now that you’re as limber as a Cirque du Soleil performer, you’re ready to get strong. This is where exercises for golfers is really important. Most people don’t think of golf as requiring much strength.
Although if you hit 150 balls at full effort at the driving range you’ll definitely have some sore muscles the next day.
The main areas that we look at strengthening are upper leg muscles and core. Even though a lot of the swinging happens with the arms, most of the power generated in a golf swing (and many other sports) comes from the hips and core. Imagine in the backswing that the body is being wound up like a rubber band.
The unwinding should start with the hips and pelvis then culminate in the arms and hands generating clubhead speed. As I stated last article, I am not a golf coach. If you are having difficulty with this concept it my be worth getting some lessons to look at technique.
Hip strengthening exercises for golfers
For golfers hip muscles are useful for 2 reasons. One is the generation of power, the other is surviving the 5-6 km walk (more like 8km when I play).
There are a bunch of muscles that surround the hip, but we are more interested in the bigger ones known as the gluteals. They have 2 jobs. One is to rotate the hip which is very useful in a golf swing, and the other is to pull the leg through when walking or running.
Glute strengthening exercises exist all over the internet and you can make it as complicated or as simple as you like. Here are 2 easy ones that we use frequently in the clinic:
1. Butt Burners on the Wall
Stand side on to the wall with your outside leg about 15cm away from the wall and your toes pointed towards the wall slightly. Bend the knee that is against the wall to 90 degrees so that your foot is in the air. Next, bend forwards at your hips with the knee you are standing on slightly bent.
Make sure you maintain a neutral spine position. From here push your leg touching the wall into the wall as hard as you can. After 10-20 seconds you should notice some burning in the glutes of the leg that you are standing on.
2. Single leg butt lifts
Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90° and your feet facing straight forward. Then bring one knee up towards your chest. From here lift your hips without rotating your spine until there is a straight line between your knee, hips and shoulders.
Make sure you keep both hips at the same height. Lots of people cheat on this one by allowing the pelvis to twist.
If this is too hard you can always start with 2 legs and work your way up to one leg. If it is too easy try looping a TheraBand around both knees to make your hip stabilisers work harder.
Core strengthening exercises for golfers
Core muscles are a fairly broad term that applies to most of the muscles in the abdomen and spine region. We don’t need a photogenic six pack to have a good golf swing. This is obvious when you look at various body shapes on the pro tour. What we do need is good back extensors and obliques.
The back extensors help maintain a good posture in your stance and throughout the swing. Obliques have the primary job of rotating the thorax which is important for a golf swing trying to generate power. If you can build up strength in these muscle groups you will be less likely to develop fatigue in your swing towards the end of a round.
Again, there are numerous ways all over the internet of strengthening these muscle groups. However I particularly like the ones that mimic a golfing position. This isn’t just for fun, but more so because muscles adapt to the position that they are being strengthened in.
3. Bent over rows
This exercise is more for the low back musculature, or lumbar extensors.
Firstly, loop a TheraBand around a bed or table leg. If you don’t have a TheraBand you can always use 2 hand weights or even a backpack with some heavy objects in it. Stand in your golf stance position, being particularly conscious of maintaining a neutral spine.
Whilst holding the TheraBand pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. After a few repetitions you will notice fatigue starting to occur in your shoulder blade stabilisers but also low back and leg muscles as they fight to hold the swing posture.
4. Band rotations
Band rotations are a great exercise for the entire core but particularly the obliques. Again, it is beneficial to be training them in a golfing movement plane.
Tie the TheraBand to the base of the bed or table. Next, adopt your golf stance with the band pointing towards 3 o’clock. Make sure you hold the band as if you are holding a golf club. The movement is a follow through motion of a golf swing.
If it helps you visualize you are more than welcome to hold a golf club at the same time. Once you have repeated this motion to fatigue you can turn around, face the band towards 9 o’clock and practice a backswing type motion.
Obviously one direction of movement works far harder in a golf swing than the other. Lets face it, the backswing is quite gentle compared to the downstroke and follow through. However for the sake of muscular symmetry I would always suggest working out both sides evenly.
With any strength training program the magical volume of exercise is 3 sets to fatigue, 2-3 times per week, spaced evenly throughout the week.
As with any exercise regime if you are getting pain or having considerably difficulty for some reason it is worth while consulting your physiotherapist to figure out the cause.
Also be aware that in certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, it is recommended that you check with your GP prior to starting a new exercise program.