The Importance of Golf Fitness
Golf fitness has come a long way in the past 15 plus years, and, like it or not, it is here to stay. You are seeing more golf instructors team up with fitness professional in an effort to maximize your experience and improve your body and game. At least you should be seeing this.
Gone are the days of a cookie cutter swing theory. If your instructor still wants you to swing like the Tiger of old, you should find a new instructor, even if you are Tiger. Your swing needs to be just that, your swing. It is fine if you are trying to accomplish specific moves for a certain reason, but you should be very clear what that reason is.
More importantly, you better first make sure this is a swing change that your body is capable of. There is nothing worse then talking with someone about swing changes that their body cannot physically produce. This is one of the main reasons I advise people wanting a program to boost club head speed that we must first go through an evaluation. I need to know exactly how their body functions, what works, what is inhibited, how is their range of motion, and how their body works together.
Where Do I Start?
You’ve heard me say this before: you have to learn to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. This holds true for every player. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the FedEx champion or a local weekend player. You want your body to function and do simple tasks before asking it to do a demanding task like a golf swing.
So what can you do at home, without having a screening, to know what is helpful? Here is a simple breakdown of common faults I see on all types of players, even PGA Tour pros.
Golf is a rotational sport. Yes, some players have more rotation then others, but it is a good idea to always work on rotation, even if it is just for a warm up prior to swinging and playing. This can be something as simple as reachbacks or an A frame stretch. These are great to help improve rotation and something I use as a warm up or cool down to make the player move and work stability.
Rotation is also a huge part of the power a lot of you are searching for. If you cannot make a proper turn, you can not expect to sequence correctly and hit those high speeds you desire. This was one of the first things I started improving to raise my speed to what it is today. When the body doesn’t use the thoracic spine to rotate, it comes up with a compensation to achieve the goal. Typically, this comes in the form of torquing the lower back and the hips breaking down to create room to open more.
Most players lack separation, which is the ability to move the hips and torso independently from one another. This requires stability and muscle activation that some of you have never experienced. A lot of separation and lack of proper sequencing is a big contributor in lower back pain as well. If you suffer from lower back problems during or after your round check out these 10 exercises I have posted on my YouTube channel.
You can work your separation in many different ways. My Tour players always have a set number of exercises that are compounded to work many different areas at once. You can work yours by sitting in a chair and holding your hips as stable as possible while making a big shoulder turn. You can have your arms crossed to really work the rotation and stabilizing the scapula as well, or you can allow the arms to move and have the scapula protract and retract as you turn.
The lats are a common issue with a lot of players. They are the big meaty muscle that runs down both your sides. When they contract they are responsible for bringing the arms down to your side. Think of getting a rebound in basketball and bringing it down to your chest. Why does this matter for golf? If they are tight, you will be unable to extend your arms up and away from you. The arms may break down as a result. So if you are working on width in your swing, this is typically a good place to start. Twisted prayer is my favorite exercise for this. My lats are very flexible but this still gives even myself a great stretch.
The lower trap muscle, under your shoulder blade, gets beat up constantly in the swing due to the repetitive motion. Not to mention, you are probably sitting with bad posture either at your desk or at home and causing more issues to this area. We want this muscle to function and do its job, though it typically does not due to these issues and we ask another muscle to pick up the slack. This is terrible and what causes discomfort or injury. This is why I like every player to turn these on and work them constantly. I have written a previous article that covered a couple different ways you can activate them just about anywhere you may be. I love eliminating the excuses I know most of you try to come up with by giving you something you can do anywhere, anytime.
I often ask a client how much time they are willing to put into their golf fitness program. I’m not expecting an honest answer, in fact, I often get a textbook answer of, “an hour a day, 7 days a week” or “as much time as I need to.”
It is important to set realistic goals in your fitness, so I tell people, “Let’s start small.” Depending on their background in fitness and their routine, I may tell them, “How about we start with 15 minutes, 3 days a week?” If they achieve that, they can do more, but never less. Once that becomes easy, we can either add more time to the workout or increase the days. The goal is to get started doing something and build off that routine.
These are just a few of the main areas I value as extremely important for any golfer to monitor. Again, the idea is for you to do something to help improve your body. Don’t think of these movements as something that will only help your golf game. These movements are for quality of life. Don’t wait until it is too late to start a program.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and ask questions. Also, if there is a topic you would like covered, please let us know, I am always searching for new ideas. I love golf, and I love fitness. Being able to help people in both aspects is a dream come true!