The days of seeing overweight professional golfers as the norm on the PGA Tour are long over. Athletes such as Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson have elevated the level of golf fitness to exciting and new heights.
Known for their rigorous workouts, these three golfers build their routines around maximizing their flexibility and strength. But that doesn’t mean that their flexibility exercises can’t be used to help create the perfect golf swing for your game.
Building the Perfect Golf Swing
Building the perfect golf swing is about understanding how each part of the body works in unison to create a coil that loads power behind the golf ball and then unleashes a powerful downswing where swing speed dictates distance.
It all begins with a strong lower body. More specifically, the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps are the power center for hitting long drives. Yes, a sturdy back is crucial to setting the club on the correct swing path, but the upper half of the body can’t do anything without hips clearing the way for a crushing a legs-driven swing.
The most important thing you can do when studying a swing is realizing how the body responds when the arms activate the process. The back turns away from the target while the hips rotate but do not slide or shift underneath the shoulders. Once the front shoulder moves under the chin and behind the golf ball, take a moment to feel this position. The body has produced this incredible torque and energy that it is now ready to let loose.
When the downswing begins, the arms bring the club onto a plane that is headed directly for the golf ball as the hips begin to open up to clear room for the swing. The quads and glutes drive forward, creating clubhead speed crucial in driving the golf ball forward.
By looking at this process for the perfect golf swing, you can see that several areas of the body need constant maintenance to maintain strength and flexibility. Here are a few flexibility exercises and good workout routines for helping get your body into shape for the course.
Having good flexibility is crucial for maintaining your best swing. Not only is it important to stretch once you reach the golf course before either practicing or playing a full round, but it is necessary to continue to maximize flexibility through specific daily exercises targeting the muscles used in the golf swing.
A great exercise to start your stretching routine is the “straight leg hang with a flat-back stretch.” With your feet shoulder width apart, make your back flat and bend over from the waist. Let your arms hang loosely by your side and take your upper body down until you feel a strong pull in your hamstring and hips. Remember to keep your legs straight while not bending your knees. You’ll want to do two reps for 30-60 seconds each.
Another flexibility exercise that will loosen the upper body so you can make a full turn on the backswing is the “torso twist against the wall.” First, get into a comfortable stance facing away from the wall by just a couple of feet. Next, turn toward the surface with your left shoulder while taking your right hand, reaching across your chest to touch the wall. Push away from the wall with your hand while offering resistance with your torso. Do this twice while holding for 30-60 seconds with each repetition. You should alternate hands between each rep.
Finally, the “standing chest stretch” for the arms and shoulders also uses the wall, so it is a perfect compliment to the torso twist exercise. Facing the wall, press your hands, palm first, onto the wall. Keeping the hands stationary, turn chest in either direction for 30-60 seconds for each repetition. If you are doing it right, you should feel a pull in the pectoral muscles as well as the arms and shoulders.
Good Workout Routines
One of the biggest mistakes that younger golfers make when working on their fitness is completing the exercises too quickly. For example, if the exercise calls for ten squats and the repetitions are done as fast as possible, then the exercise was essentially a cardio burst and didn’t allow much focus on the muscles we are targeting.
With an emphasis on creating “slow” strength, you should construct a routine centered around smooth exercises that will activate the areas critical to the golf swing.
A great exercise that activates the glutes and hamstrings is the triple-5 squat. Starting by holding a golf club or stretching pole at shoulder height, take an athletic position in anticipation of beginning your squat. Remember there are three sections to this squat each taking five seconds in length.
While continuing to hold the club at shoulder height, take five seconds to descend into the squat, then holds the squat position for five seconds and then you will slowly rise back to the starting standing position. A good workout routine will incorporate 10-12 reps of this exercise.
In addition to the slow triple-5 squat, another excellent exercise for your routine involves a long resistance band and a golf towel. You will need a partner to hold the resistance band, but if you have a friend who also plays golf, this is a great shared exercise.
The purpose of this moderate exercise is to mimic the downswing of the golf club. First, you will take the center of the towel and wrap it around the center of the resistance band. The person who is holding the ends of the resistance band will stand a few feet behind the golfer and raise the band above shoulder height.
The golfer then grips the two sides of the towel much like a golf club and slowly makes a downswing move, counting to five with each repetition. The band provides enough resistance that the golfer should feel the exercise in their arms, back and lower half.
By utilizing these two slow exercises in your workout routine, you’ll create low-impact strength that will add yards to your drive.