Many people think of golf and assume that it is a sport requiring little strength and power. Well, I have news for you, that assumption is wrong! Have you ever seen the speed and force of Tiger Woods’ club head? It is something to behold. Power is a product of velocity x force. These two components have an inverse relationship, so as one goes up, the other must go down. However, by adding in strength training, which is the ability to move maximal loads, we will be able to move heavier loads at faster speeds over time. This article is also going to address some of the joints and stabilizer muscles involved in swinging a golf club. Remember, this workout is not set in stone, but it is a good foundation to plan your workouts off if your main goal is to be come the best golfer that you can be. By following the principles set forth in this workout, you should be able to add 15-25 yards to your driving distance.
The first area to look at is the muscles of the upper back. These are the muscles that are going to rotate the upper spine area (thoracic region). Any type of horizontal row to the upper chest would be a great start in stimulation these muscles. Our goal is to stimulate maximal recruitment of the motor units, so we can develop maximal force. The way to do this would be to alternate high velocity workouts with strength workouts, something in the neighborhood of a 2:1 ratio. When swinging a golf club, it is important to understand that it is the upper back that we want doing the twisting and snapping back. This area of the spine was designed to have movement. To offset any imbalances, which could lead to injury or overuse symptoms, it would be wise to train horizontal pushing movements in the routine. We want the strength and power ratio of the pulling and pushing movements to be roughly equal. A great exercise would be unilateral, or one side at a time, dumb bell bench presses.
However, we do not want a lot of twisting in the low back region (lumbar). The lumbar region of the spine was designed to stabilize. So, if you are generating a lot of torque on your swing in this area, you are fighting against the way the muscles of that area are designed to work, thus making your swing less efficient. To train this area to stabilize, get rid of all movements in your routine where you are flexing, extending and rotating for your core muscles. This includes: crunches, broomstick twists and hyperextensions to name a few. To train the core to your advantage, use exercises like planks and abdominal wheel rollouts.
Much of the force generated comes from the lower body, from the ankles up through the gluteal muscles. The glute muscles are prime rotators and stabilizers. If we break the golf swing down, one glute is stabilizing, while one is rotating. So, they are working unilaterally. A great way to train these muscles unilaterally would be to do dumbbell lunges, reverse lunges and step-ups. Additional abductors (muscles on the outside of the leg) and adductors (muscles on the inside of the leg) should also be trained. A direct way to utilize these muscles would be the butterfly machines that are so common at gyms, lateral lunges and a low cable attached to the ankle, while you bring the leg away from the body and then turn around 180 degrees and bring the leg across the front of the body.
It is important to understand that hypertrophy (muscle growth) may be a side effect of this training, but that is not our main goal. Our main goal is to get a carry over effect to the speed and force with which we swing our golf club. Also, if we use weights that are so light in our training program just for the sake of moving at maximal speeds, very little power will be developed. During the sessions in which the main concern is speed of movement, a good range for weight to use would be 60-85% of the maximal load you could possibly use. Save the heavier weights for the days when our main concern is strength development. Olympic weightlifters are the masters at being able to activate maximal muscle motor units and something can be learned from the exercises they use. If you are experienced in Olympic style lifting or have a coach that can teach you, these would also be great exercises to add into the routine. The whole body is used simultaneously and maximal power is developed. Here is a sample of what the workout would look like:
SAMPLE GOLF WORKOUT
- INVERSE BODYWEIGHT ROW-3X5 REPS, MAX SPEED or
- SEATED CABLE ROW WITH WIDE BAR TO UPPER CHEST-3X5
- ALTERNATE ARM DB BENCH PRESS 3X6
- HANG CLEANS-3X3
- dB STEP UPS-KEEP ONE FOOT ON THE BENCH AND COMPLETE ALL REPS BEFORE SWITCHING. DRIVE THE OTHER LEG UP FAST-3X6
- REVERSE dB LUNGE-3X6
- ABDUCTOR MACHINE-3X6
- PLANK-2X30 SECONDS
- WHEEL ROLLOUTS-3X8
- FLEXIBILITY WORK
- ANKLE MOBILITY EXERCISES
- THREE DIRECTIONAL REACHING LUNGES (FORWARD, LATERAL AND BACK-DIAGANOL)
- OVERHEAD SQUAT WITH BROOMSTICK
Remember to alternate two weeks of high-speed and less than maximal weight and one week of strength work where you should just be able to complete the desired number of reps. This is designed to give you a starting point and there many different exercises that could be used for great effectiveness. This is a quick workout. You could even add in band twists where you are standing in a ¼ squat position and working on keeping your low back from rotating too much. Focus on getting the rotation in the upper back. Also, chopping movements while kneeling with one leg on the ground using the pulley attachment and a rope would be great supplemental work. Perform sets low to high and then high to low. Medicine ball slams (reach back and slam down straight into ground) and medicine ball side twisting throws are great because they allow you to accelerate the whole way through the movement. You may need a nice wall to do these.
Hopefully this article has provided a good base to start your golf-training program. It is nothing to fancy or that is going to take too much time away from the links. Give it a shot and see that ball travel some extra distance, it will be well worth it.