Winter is the time to begin to get fit for golf. That’s right, especially if you are spending the winter here and counting the days until the course opens once again. Getting into the routine of a golf exercise program over the winter will keep your strength for the sport, improve your skills and have you enjoying the game at the very first game of the next season. Winter may not seem as long for you either.
Maintaining and improving strength and flexibility throughout your “core” will be the best thing you can do for your golf swing. The power for the swing comes from the core muscles. Any exercise that is rotational through the spine will be beneficial. It is important to engage the abdominal muscles while performing any rotational exercise however, to ensure that the lower back is protected. A simple ab, core strengthening exercise that can be used as a warm -up is to stand with the feet shoulder width apart, knees relaxed while holding a golf club or broomstick in front of you at shoulder height. Pull the abdominal muscles in as though you were getting ready to accept a light punch to the stomach. Do not allow the knees to move as you twist the upper body slowly from side to side. Gradually increase the range of motion of the twist. This will improve flexibility as well as strength. To take that exercise to a level higher, do it from a seated position on the floor or on a bench with the feet elevated and holding a weight. Lean back slightly, concentrating on keeping the abs engaged, and perform the twist. If there is lower back discomfort while doing this, do not lean back. Focus on as much rotation as comfortably possible. Make the waistline do the work, not the arms. Keep the shoulders relaxed. Use a weight that is challenging but not extreme. 10 to 12 repetitions is good.
Using a pulley machine in the gym for torso rotations is great for golf training as well. If possible have the pulley handle at about chest height. Keep the shoulders down, upper back muscles engaged and allow the knees to move as you pull the cable out and across the body. 10-12 repetitions is good for this as well. This can also be done with the handle coming form the bottom of the pulley machine. Pull the handle up and across the body with rotation, allowing the knees to move as they would in the golf swing. Be sure to keep the shoulders down. Begin with light weight and increase over time. Pay close attention to good form.
Both external and internal hip rotation exercises will also benefit your golf swing. One internal rotation exercise for the hips is to stand with feet shoulder width apart using a broom or golf club in front of you for balance. Lift one leg, flexing at the hip and knee. While keeping the upper body centered and stable, rotate the leg across the body as far as possible. Perform 15 repetitions fairly quickly but paying attention to good form. Do not allow the upper body to move. Repeat on the other leg. To target the external hip rotators, lie on you back with your legs lifted, knees bent at 90 degrees. Put your two fists side by side between the knees. Press your knees into your fists as you press the feet as far apart as possible. You will feel this one in the outer hip (medial gluts) area.
Both Yoga and Pilates classes will be very beneficial to the golfer as they incorporate many balance, flexibility and strength moves. You can also hire a personal trainer to design a golf specific training program. Keep fit for golf this winter and improve your game in the spring.
Holly Vanderzwet, B.P.E.