Unless you are a “snowbird”, chances are you have stored the golf clubs away until next spring. I’m sure however, if you are an avid golfer, you never stop thinking about the sport. Right now is the time to think about your golf fitness for next season. Maintaining your fitness for golf over the Fall and Winter seasons will probably mean a better score when you first hit the course in the Spring. Swim, walk, run or cycle, indoors or out during the off season to maintain your endurance for the game but focus on few other important areas as well. Be sure to consider core strength, flexibility through the spine and hips and shoulder stability when keeping fit for golf.
The power for your swing will come from a strong core. You need not do 100’s of sit-ups daily to strengthen the core. In fact this, at one time a standard exercise, is no longer part of an exercise regime. Planks of all kinds, side, high, low, “bird-dog” and any variation you can do will strengthen the core muscles more effectively and safely. If you aren’t familiar with a plank, start easy. Place your forearms on your bed, hands together, elbows apart, step your feet back so that you have a nice straight line from the heels to the shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold as long as you can. If this is easy and you can hold this plank for one minute with little effort, take it to the next level. Lift one foot, hold for one minute then repeat on the other foot. Taking this low plank position to the floor will increase the intensity. Any weighted rotational core exercises will also be a great benefit for golf. Seated “Russian twists” or standing torso rotation, holding a med ball or body bar are great. Stand on a BOSU ball or kneel on a stability ball for added balance training difficulty.
Torso rotation also improves the flexibility about the spine which facilitates the golf swing. The more flexibility range you have through the spine the stronger your swing will be through a longer range of motion. One simple stretch is to sit upright on a chair or bench, knees together and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind you and slowly and gradually rotate the shoulders around to face sideways. Engage the abs as you do this to protect the lower back. Make the rotation from the spine, not just the shoulders as much as possible. Also engage the muscles between the shoulder blades to ensure the shoulders are down. Hold the position for 30-60 seconds. Also try standing, feet in a wide stance, with a body bar or broomstick held across the back of the shoulders, abs engaged. Perform a torso twist so that the lead shoulder rotates down and the other up. Repeat several times on both sides.
Shoulder, particularly scapular, stabilization will also benefit your golf swing. One super simple exercise to do is to hold both arms out in front of you at shoulder height, thumbs up. Actively pull the shoulder blades together while keeping the shoulders down. Check this one in a mirror to be sure the shoulders are staying down. Hold for 5 or 10 seconds then release. Repeat several times. Be aware of how it feels to engage those muscles in the upper middle back and try to recruit them during your swing. Other weight room exercises such as a single arm, seated, pulley row will also greatly benefit shoulder stability.
If this seems a bit overwhelming to put together for yourself, the fitness classes that benefit golf are pilates and yoga. These focus on core strength and flexibility and an instructor guides you safely through correct technique. A personal trainer can also be of great help when training for golf. Don’t wait for Spring, get fit for golf now.
Holly Vanderzwet, B.P.E.