What golf-specific exercise do you recommend the most? How does it help the golf swing?
Very simply put, any stretching exercises that a golfer can do to increase flexibility is extremely valuable. It help help the golfer make better turns and weight transfers. Increasing flexibility will also help improve club head speed. All of this translates into more distance.
Better Breathing for Better Golf.
One of the most common swing flaws in the golf swing is tension and an of overactive mind. Golf is mentally challenging and requires a connection of body and mind. Our breathing is our internal physical mental state. Any time we experience stress on the golf course such as first tee jitters, hitting over water, we trigger a fight flight response from our sympathetic nervous system resulting in a loss of blood flow to the brain. Most golfers are not aware of their breathing patterns. Incorporating diaphragamatic breathing into your Pre-Shot Routine will calm the mind, relieve tension, and increase your sense of rythem and tempo.. Our breath is our best friend. The deeper the breathing the easier the swing.
Seated medicine ball twist
My favorite exercise for golf is the seated medicine ball twist. Get yourself a medicine ball and sit on the floor with your knees up. Hold the medicine ball out in front of you and slowly rotate your shoulders to the right making sure the medicine ball is still in front of you. Then rotate your shoulders as far as you can to the left. Again making sure the medicine ball is directly in front of you and not off to the side. This exercise will build core strength as well as flexibility to help you with your rotation and backswing.
Bent Over Single Leg Row or Twist
The exercise I think most people can do and benefit from is a Bent Over Single Leg Row or Twist. The great thing about this exercise is you don’t even need weight to benefit from this exercise. How: Standing with your feet together, slightly bend one leg and hinge at your waist while extending your other leg straight behind you. The goal is to get your back as parallel to the floor as possible. Engage your core to maintain balance. With weights you can use dumbbells to then perform a row motion and pinch your shoulder blades together as you bring the dumbbells up. Without weights, let your hands hang down toward the floor, directly under your chest. Then rotate your torso open and raise your opposite arm toward the sky. For example, if you are balancing on your left leg, rotate your torso to open up to your right side and point your right arm to the sky. All while trying to keep your spine parallel to the ground. Again, this exercise is great for working on core engagement, balance, as well as, hip mobility and stability.
Yoga and Planking
I concentrate on yoga and planking. In my experience, especially with people that have had injuries, using their own body weight was better than using free weights or machines. That is what I have introduced into my programs.
Get your glutes and hamstrings active and warmed up.
It is very important to get your glutes, hamstrings active and warmed up before fully going 100 mph. Golfers generate power from the ground up. So I like to do a simple bend over and touch your toes for 35 seconds. Then go to one leg up on a bench stretching towards your toes, switching sides up 35 seconds. Do that for about 3/4 minutes.
Walking and carrying your bag for 18 holes
Walking and carrying your bag for 18 holes will strengthen your core, your legs, and increase your endurance.
My philosophy on fitness for golf, is balance. Becoming more fit will help, identifying any weak areas such as strength or flexibility is the first step. When you identify weak areas put together a program for your individual needs. Golf requires fitness for durability and for power. An exercise program for golf should include both.
TRX Training is my recommendation. This system is moderately priced, designed for use at home, and in my opinion the best for core strength and stability. When we swing the golf club with the core of the body in control, we are using the bigger stronger muscles. Resulting in less strain on the back and shoulders.
Exercise is always helpful in any athletic activity, but I think many golfers would benefit from stretching the most. Lack of muscle mobility can cause a lot of flaws in the set up and not allow people to get in certain positions during the swing. As golf instructors, we often have to work with students with limitations, but many people could get better just by being able to make certain movements. Specifically, I like the “cat and cow” yoga stretch for the lower back (helps with posture) and rotator cuff stretches, with weights if possible, to help with abduction of shoulder and a bigger turn. Hope this helps!
Running or power walking
Nothing promotes better fitness than running or power walking. Increased heart-rate, stamina for 4+ hour rounds, not to mention hilly tracts that you play, the results are so outstanding…you can’t measure it! Remember TIGER’s legendary runs??? The proof is in the pudding.
PGA Golf Professional
Chris Rudi Golf Services, Mishawaka, IN
A large exercise ball
I like to use a large exercise ball and lay on it facing the ceiling holding a 15 lb dumbbell and holding my arms out straight and simulate my golf swing both ways to work on my core. It helped me gain 10+ yards!