The game of golf is one of the few sports where the most athletic person in the group is not necessarily going to be the best golfer. To be good at golf you don't have to be the strongest, run the fastest or jump the highest. Golf is a game that requires technique, superior hand-eye coordination, balance, and core strength. If you are looking to get your body in shape for golf, here are the top 5 things to focus on for a golf specific workout
- Building strength and power output
- Increasing mobility
- Balance and core strength
These five categories are guaranteed to improve your golf fitness, which will have a direct impact on improving your golf game. Learn more about all the exercises and follow our examples on YouTube and linked articles shown below.
Periodization can be simply defined as implementing different phases in your training routine over a select period of time, with each phase focusing on a different area of development. This is important because your body will not have a chance to adapt to the workouts you are doing and plateau. It also will keep you motivated and well prepared for the season. Over the course of a year for a golfer there are four phases; early pre-season, late pre-season, in season, and postseason. Each phase focuses on a different area of training. The goal is to get stronger before the season starts so that you are in peak shape for the year. Maintence and recovery at the tail-end of the season are also a must.
Early Pre-Season - This phase is about getting stronger and building muscle through lifting weights. Focus on challenging yourself and lifting moderately heavy weights so that your body gets used to moving heavier weight. Do not go too heavy where you are not able to get at least 8 reps. The goal is to get stronger without getting bulky or muscle bound.
Late Pre-Season - In this phase the goal is to focus on developing power. In lifting terms, power is defined as moving weight with speed and can be achieved by using slightly lighter weights, but focusing on moving them faster. You are trying to create explosiveness which is going to translate directly into your golf swing. It is important to give yourself enough rest so that you are able to consistently do each set with speed. Power exercises should be implemented into your workout plan for phase one.
In Season - For this phase the goal is to play golf to the best of your abilities and maintain the strength and power that you have built up in the past two phases. This can be achieved by alternating your strength workouts with your power workouts. Remember you are now in season which means that you want to feel good when you are out on the course. Scheduling your lifting days around when you will be playing will help you avoid being sore on the course. Aim to workout twice a week during this phase. Do not sacrifice technical golf skills training for lifting weights in this phase.
Off Season - The last phase is your time to let your body rest and recover after the season is over. Consider taking some time off from heavy lifting and strenuous workouts for several weeks. Take some time to do other things besides golf to let your mind and body reset. This does not mean lay on the couch and do nothing for a few weeks, but try to do exercises that use other muscles. In the off season you should do assessment of your body and figure out what is bothering you if anything and focus on taking care of that before phase one begins again.
2) Building strength and power output
Lifting weights with a purpose is going to be the best way to increase strength and power. Lifting to improve your golf fitness is going to be much different than lifting for most other sports. Remember the reason why you are lifting is to hit the golf ball farther and more consistently, not to look better in the mirror. This may happen naturally, but it is important to tailor the workouts to build golf specific muscles. Most of these muscles are going to be in your lower body and hips, which will create power through rotation. Using medicine balls as well as plyometrics are going to be important to go along with lifting exercises. Some of these lifts and exercises include;
- Hex-bar deadlifts
- Walking lunge
- Single-leg RDL
- Front squat
- Kettlebell swing
- Overhead med ball slam
- Box jumps
- Med ball side pass
Find examples of the exercises above visit 18 Strong, a golf fitness company.
3) Increasing mobility
Mobility is arguably the most important aspect of training that will help improve your golf game and make you feel better out on the course. Golf is a rotational sport and that rotation comes from both the hips and thoracic spine (T-spine) which is why it is important to be mobile in those two areas. Some hip mobility stretches include;
- Keeling hip flexor stretch
- Spiderman stretch with rotation
- Lying hip rotations
- Butterfly stretch
- Frog stretch
- Pigeon stretch
Some thoracic spine stretches include;
- Open books
- 4 point reach backs
- Tennis ball spine mobility
- Seated t spine rotations
Take the time to focus and do these stretches correctly with good form. These exercises also do not require much if any equipment and can easily be done from home. Doing them a few times a week along with strength training is ideal. For more information or examples of stretches, visit GMB Hip mobility and Thoracic spine mobility exercises.
4) Balance and Core Strength
Improving your balance is directly related to having a strong core. Most people think increasing core strength means just doing a lot of sit ups each day. This is actually not true and there are much better ways to improve your balance and core strength without doing a single sit up! Some of these exercises include;
- Planks and side planks
- Dead bugs
- Half kneeling wood chop
- Leg raises
- Hip dips
- Palloff press
Remember to really focus on engaging your core with these exercises and to have a steady breathing technique. These exercises are not intended to give you six pack abs, but will help build a stronger core and improve your balance.
Lastly, improving your overall endurance is going to allow you to be able to walk the course day after day without getting fatigued and swing the golf club more consistently. The goal is to increase your aerobic capacity through cardio so that you do not find yourself out of breath when it is time to take an important shot. This can be done through:
Long distance training will improve your stamina when walking the course. Some long distance cardio exercises include running 2-5 miles, biking 10-15 miles, or swimming laps in a pool. Don’t get discouraged if you can't do these distances right away, start shorter and gradually work your way up, you will be surprised how fast you improve.
Short explosive exercises will also help your stamina and power output in your swing. These exercises include sprints, hill sprints, broad jumps, and bike sprints. A combination of long distance and short explosive training throughout the week will benefit you the most. The Gilcrest Golf School has some great examples of endurance exercises and more info on their website Gilcrest Golf.