There are four components to a successful fitness program for the golfer:
Strength & Power Training
We’ll take a look at each of these components and how you can lower those golf strokes by implementing a program that gets results!
Strength and Power Training
The principal of specificity states that training is most effective when resistance exercises are similar to the sport activity in which improvement is sought. (Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, Second Edition, NSCA). Thus, you wouldn’t want a strength program used for football. You need one that’s specific to the game of golf.
There is a difference between strength training and power training. Both are required to play your best. Strength is simply how much weight you can lift from point A to point B. Whereas power is how much you can lift from point A to point B in a given amount of time. Time being the difference between the two.
Certainly, you don’t need to be an Olympic lifter or power lifter to play a great round of golf. That type of lifting won’t do your game a bit of good. However, strength and power using the specificity principal is very important to the development of your game.
A certain amount of strength is great to possess, but I feel that power is especially vital to the development of your game. Golf requires more strength than most people realize. But having strong legs and arms are not enough to get you through. You need to develop strength from where it originates…the CORE.
The CORE is made up of the musculature of your neck, spinal column, thoracic and lumbar, and buttocks and abdomen. When this CORE is developed, you’ll see fewer strokes and smile a lot more! How many times have you witnessed big strong looking individuals who can’t seem to hit the ball that far at all, not to mention straight! In contrast, how many times have you witnessed another individual who didn’t appear to possess any visible muscle that can stroke the ball a country mile? This individual has taught his body how to produce the maximal amount of power through his CORE.
Ian Pyka, MS, CSCS was a quest speaker at the 2005 Personal Trainers Conference held by the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) in Las Vegas, NV. I was glued to his talk on Conditioning for Golf and learned about The Power Generator…THE X FACTOR.
Take a close look at how the muscles in your body are arranged and you’ll soon discover that they work in an X-like manner. The obliques (side muscles) and adductors (inner thigh muscles) resemble the letter X in the way muscle fibers are arranged. Also, the gluteus (butt muscles) and latissimus dorsi (back muscles) muscles have a similar X fiber-like arrangement. These muscle fibers are specifically arranged to create movement patterns in each plane of motion your body uses to accomplish its goal.
It’s not important in this article for you to understand planes of movement but suffice it to say that we don’t just move in singular planes of motion (sagital, frontal and transverse), but in a combination of all three. These muscles work by pulling and pushing in harmony together as a unit to produce power in your golf swing. As you go into your backswing, a loading or coiling is taking place much like a rubber band that is being wound up on one of those old balsa wood airplanes. During the downswing an unloading or uncoiling is taking place to produce the power necessary to make your ball fly a long way. This is THE X-FACTOR!
For this articles simplicity sake, there are many other muscles that are vital but we’ll stick to the basics. You’d be doing yourself a big favor though by studying the human body and how it works -- if only how it relates to your golf game.
By understanding how the muscles work in your body during the swing, we can set up exercises specific to those movement patterns, thus producing a more powerful and efficient swing.
If you think cardiovascular training is not important for golf then you are NOT IN on one of the secrets that most great golfers share. You cannot concentrate effectively if you’re too tired to think! Maintaining your energy level is vital to playing a round of golf. Think about that for a moment. A round of golf can take up to four plus hours to play; not including the half hour to hour on the driving range before. How much better would you play if you felt as fresh playing the back nine as you do playing the front? The bogeys, double bogeys, etc. that usually finish your round will become pars and maybe a few birdies!
I’ve seen it happen to many people who’ve worked on this important component of their fitness program. Start out slow and easy with your aerobic program. This could just be a 10-20 minute walk each day. Then progressively increase your time to approximately 40-45 minutes increasing the intensity by walking more briskly and ultimately slow to moderate jogging. For a complete progressive aerobic program that would be individual to your particular needs, call Mitchell Fitness Systems.
You don’t see too many overweight professional players these days. They know and understand that good nutrition plays a huge roll in their overall fitness program. How you fuel your body will determine how effectively you can train and play the game. You have to give your body the fuel it will need before you tee off. Without the correct fuel, you’ll lose concentration and increase the strokes. Not what you want. If you play in the early morning, just make sure you eat a balanced breakfast that may include hot cereal (oatmeal) with blueberries or other fruit, two pieces of whole wheat toast with a thin layer of peanut butter and a glass of milk. It’s that simple!
Take along a quick snack to eat during your round just in case you experience low blood sugar. A snack might be a piece of fruit, an energy drink, or an energy bar with a bottle of water. You’ll notice that you will feel better almost immediately after taking in the nourishment.
After your round of golf, it’s time to replace the lost glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is simply the stored fuel your body needs to function for work and play. This meal may consist of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with tomato and lettuce. Instead of potato chips, eat raw veggies or a piece of fruit. Drink lots of fluids (non-alcoholic) to replace your body fluid after you play and don’t forget to drink water during and after your round.
If you’ve been taking golf lessons for years and not getting the lower scores you desire, it could be that you are physically limited by a body that is just not flexible enough (or maybe you’re not practicing your game enough!). Most of my clients who play golf are over 40 years young and can’t understand why their swing just doesn’t feel good. It may not feel good because they're not flexible.
Golf requires fluidity. There’s a beauty to a golf swing…maybe not yours right now…but a great golf swing not only looks good, it feels good! Ever notice how you feel when your ball sails straight and long? A sufficient warm-up is necessary before you attempt to stretch your muscles. A warm-up could include high step walking with arm circles both clockwise and counterclockwise or any other warm-up using most of your body for at least 2-5 minutes. Now, you’re ready for a quick stretch!
Stretching increases blood flow to the working muscles. It also lengthens muscles and this in turn produces a muscle that is stronger for use. Stretching increases the range of motion around the joints of your body and may decrease the incidence of injury. Make your stretching program one in which feels good to you. Don’t overstretch or bounce. Ease into each stretch and hold for approximately 20 seconds each or more.
Your muscles come equipped with defense mechanisms that prevent injury if you stretch too far. Believe me, they’ll let you know. You’ll feel a quick, shock like effect that tells you to back off. But, never try to get to this point. A time efficient golf stretching routine should only take a few minutes of your time and include stretches for your calves, legs, back and shoulders. You will feel and see the results very quickly.
Get your golf specific program and try it out before your next round and feel good hitting that first drive! (For a complete explanation of the stretching exercises and description of how to execute each, call Mitchell Fitness Systems for a FREE copy).
The Golf Swing
Let’s take a closer look at the golf swing and its segments. There are many exercises to use that are specific (specificity principal) to each component. Your personal trainer or golf pro can help you with these.
There are four segments to a golf swing:
Address or Set Up
Backswing or Takeaway or Load
Downswing or Unload
Finish or Follow Though
This is a power position that necessitates complete balance on the heel-arch of your feet. The angle of your spine and overall postural position is critical in this segment of the swing. The strength component is about to be displayed in the preparation for loading during the weight shift.
The Back Swing
Balance is the key with the component of the swing as well as stabilization of the lower body during the loading phase on the rear leg. Flexibility and strength is the key in rotating the upper body into a loaded position.
The Down Swing
The component elicits the greatest amount of muscle force as the body accelerates the club to impact the ball.
This component must contain proper acceleration through the power zone and a timely deceleration at the completion of the swing. Your hips must be facing the target here with your bodyweight at least 90% on your front leg at the finish.
Whether you’re an avid golfer or a weekend hacker, golf specific exercises will help you in your pursuit to condition your body to play the best golf your practice and genetic abilities will take you. This article is a brief explanation of the four components of fitness necessary for you to understand each ones importance.
You can obtain a copy of the golf specific exercises simply by requesting it from Mitchell Fitness Systems at (310) 325-8637. Good luck!