• Strength for Maximum Distance & Control

    Generally speaking, golf is a slow-pace sport very different from fast-movement activities such as basketball, tennis, aerobic dance, or skiing.The exception to this rule is the explosive action of the golf swing, which places significant stress on shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints, and produces high torque forces on the low back and hip structures.

    Consequently, if you are not strong and fit in these parts, you could experience game-limiting injuries in these and other areas of the body. Although you could increase your hitting power and reduce you rinjury risk by practicing proper swing mechanics under the watchful eye of a professional golf instructor, you also could improve your swing and decrease your potential for injury by performing appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises that produce a flexible and strong musculoskeletal system. As you achieve higher levels of fitness, you can generate more power with less effort, thereby producing a smoother swing with greater club head speed. You will develop more force without forcing the action, which is essential for long and consistent drives.

    Why? Your muscles have the ability to relax and lengthen. Well-designed stretching exercises enhance your muscles' lengthening capacity, thereby increasing your movement range and improving your joint flexibility. Your muscles also have the ability to contract and shorten, producing varying levels of movement force in the process. Progressive strength training enhances your muscles' contraction capacity, thereby increasing your movement force and improving you rmusculoskeletal function. Such conditioning provides the dual benefit of more power production and greater resistance to potentially damaging forces.

    By doing a basic program of stretching and strengthening exercises, you can simultaneously produce driving power more easily and absorb swing forces more safely. Because these are the keys to successful and enduring golf participation, you should carefully consider starting a sensible golf conditioning program.

    As has been mentioned in preceding chapters, the golf swing is one of the most complex and unnatural actions in all athletic activities. In fact, you probably spend many hours at the driving range to develop more effective swing mechanics. Some of your practice time may be better spent doing appropriate golf conditioning exercises, however, to develop the physical ability necessary to swing the way you should. Several research studies have looked at the effects of basic conditioning programs for golfers. The golfers in these studies spent just 25 to 35 minutes a day, three times per week, in the fitness center. All did 12 to 14 strength exercises on Nautilus machines and some also performed six stretches on a StretchMate apparatus. Table 4.1 presents the basic strength training exercises, the major muscle groups they address, their relevance to the golf swing, and home training alternatives using free weights. If you are new to strength training, it might be best to begin with machine exercises because they may be easier to learn and perform properly. Free-weight exercises offer greater versatility and require more movement control, however, which might be advantageous for some golfers. For most practical purposes, a combination of machineand free-weight exercises should provide a successful and satisfying strength training program.

    Table 4.1 Basic Strength Training Exercises for Overall Muscle Conditioning
    Nautilus ExerciseMuscles AddressedEffect on Golf SwingDumbbell Exercise
    Leg extensionQuadricepsPower productionStep-up
    Leg curlHamstringsPower productionLunge
    Leg pressQuadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal musclesPower productionSquat
    Low backErector spinaeForce transfer-lower to upper bodyBack extension (bodyweight)
    Abdominal curlRectus abdominisForce transfer-lower to upper bodyTrunk curl (bodyweight)
    Rotary torsoInternal obliques, External obliquesForce transfer-lower to upper bodyBench press
    Chest crossoverPectoralis majorSwing actionBench press
    Super pulloverLatissimus dorsiSwing actionOne-arm bent row
    Lateral raiseDeltoidsSwing actionLateral raise
    Biceps curlBicepsClub controlStanding curl
    Triceps extensionTricepsClub controlOverhead triceps extension
    Super forearm flexionForearm flexorsClub controlWrist curl
    Super forearm extensionForearm extensorsClub controlWrist extension
    Table 4.2 Changes Experienced by Golfers Following Eight Weeks of Training
    FactorsStrength training onlyStrength training and stretchingAll participants
    Club head speed (mph)+2.6+5.2+3.4
    Body weight (lb)-0.7+1.0-0.2
    Percent fat-2.3-1.7-2.0
    Fat weight (lb)-4.6-3.0-4.1
    Lean (muscle) weight (lb)+3.9+4.0+3.9
    Mean blood pressure (mmHg)-4.4-4.8-4.5
    Muscle strength (lb)+56+56+56

    After eight weeks of strength training, the golfers in these studies made significant improvements in their driving power, as indicated by faster club head speeds. As shown in table 4.2, the golfers also replaced four pounds of fat with four pounds of muscle, increased their muscle strength by almost 60 percent, and reduced their resting blood pressure by more than 4 mmHg. Even more impressive, the golfers who also strength trained and did stretching exercises experienced twice as much increase in club head speed as well as a 30 percent improvement in overall joint flexibility.

    These results should be compelling for golfers who want to play better, look better, feel better, and avoid injuries. It is encouraging to note that all the golfers who completed the strength training program remained injury-free throughout the entire golf season. Furthermore, mos treported a higher overall level of play, with less fatigue and more energy than they had experienced in many years. Clearly, sensible strengthtraining is beneficial for both the golfer and the game.

    The basic program of strength exercise is simple, short, and easy to complete. We recommend that golfers do one set each of 13 exercises, for a total of just 13 training sets per session. Use a resistance that permits between 8 and 12 repetitions performed at a controlled speed through a full movement range. When 12 repetitions are completed in good form ,increase the weight load by 5 percent or less. The entire strength workout should take about 25 minutes, three days a week. The latest studies have shown about 90 percent of the benefit can be realized from only two strength training sessions per week, however, which is good news for time-pressured people and active golfers.

    With these facts in mind, here are your basic guidelines for a beginning strength training program:

    Perform one exercise for each major muscle group for overall and balanced muscle conditioning.
    Perform one set of each exercise.
    Use a resistance that lets you complete between 8 and 12 repetitions.
    Increase the resistance by 5 percent or less upon reaching 12 good repetitions.
    Perform every repetition at a controlled speed, typically two seconds for the lifting phase and four seconds for the lowering phase.
    Perform every repetition through a full range of joint movement (as long as you do not experience discomfort in doing so).
    Strength-train two or three nonconsecutive days per week.
    Keep a record of each workout to monitor your training progress.

    Generally speaking, this program should produce noticeable changes in your muscle strength and body composition within one month. After two months of training, you should be about 50 to 60 percent stronger on your exercise weight loads. You should also replace up to fou rpounds of fat with four pounds of muscle, which should help you look ,feel, and function much better than before you started training. Your fat/muscle changes can be assessed best by body composition tests, typically performed with skinfold calipers. You also should notice firmer muscles in your legs, arms, and upper body, in addition to more slack in your waistband.

    We recommend that your strength training program become a standard component of your lifestyle. Even when you achieve a high level of muscle conditioning, regular strength training is necessary to maintain your physical capacity and performance ability.

    Complete Conditioning For Golf