WEIGHT TRAINING FOR GOLF
by: Sean Cochran
Are you too confused about weight training for golf?
There are many opinions in the golf world on whether weight training is beneficial or counter-productive to the golf swing.
On the PGA Tour it is a well-known fact that the majority of professional golfers are implementing golf fitness exercises into their training regimen. The goal of such golf fitness exercises is to improve their play on the golf course.
First and foremost, as a professional strength and conditioning coach on the PGA Tour, I see the benefits of a golf specific exercise program are well documented.
The confusion for most amateur golfers probably centers around what specific training modalities and exercises should they include in their golf fitness programs and what are the professional golfers doing.
I get a lot of questions on how are the professional golfers programs set-up, what specific exercises do they incorporate in their programs, and are the exercises in such programs similar to those found in local health clubs. A lot of people ask me if they should include actual dumbbell and barbell exercises into their golf exercise program.
The goal of this article is to provide you information on what the components, modalities, and exercises that compromise a good golf fitness program.
I will also provide you with a breakdown and sequence of a good golf fitness program.
First and foremost, I need to define a few terms to help you create an understanding of the basic goals of a golf fitness program. The main goal of a golf fitness program should be to improve your golf game through the development of your physical body. In order for you to meet this goal, the golf exercises within your program must develop the body relative to the golf swing.
At this point, I must explain a few things about the biomechanics of the golf swing. The golf swing is a total body athletic activity. Meaning the entire body is utilized to swing the golf club. Just as in baseball, you do not throw with only you’re your, but rather your entire body. The same is true of the golf swing; you swing the golf club with your entire body. This in the world of strength and conditioning is defined as an “integrated total body athletic action”.
The golf swing is easily defined as an athletic action incorporating the entire body to execute. Knowing this point, a golf fitness program must incorporate exercises for the entire body. A term we like to call “integration”. Integration is the utilization of exercises that incorporate the entire body. For example, the golf swing incorporates a rotational movement of the core (abdominals, lower back, hips, and obliques). An integrated golf specific exercise incorporating all these muscles would be a physio-ball Russian Twist in which all these muscles are working in a rotational pattern.
This is very different than isolating each muscle of the core and training them separately with isolation exercises such as abdominal crunches. The point to be made is; integrate the muscles of the body rather than isolating each muscle in a golf fitness program.
Secondly, the exercises within a golf fitness program must be “cross-specific” to the anatomical positions, movement patterns, and energy requirements of the golf swing. Simply stated this means train your body with exercises that place your body in the position your perform the golf swing, utilize exercises that move your body through the ranges of motion of the golf swing, and develop the needed energy requirements of golf.
For example, a golf swing is performed in a standing “athletic position”. Knowing this fact, it would probably be of greater benefit to perform a physio-ball squat rather than a seated leg extension for the golf swing, why? Because the physio-ball squat places your body in a position similar to a position in which the golf swing is executed. A leg extension isolates the quadriceps in a seated position, which does not train the body in an integrated movement pattern, nor in a position similar to the golf swing.
Cross-specific training results in a “transfer of training effect” onto to golf swing. This simply means the exercises you are performing directly affect your golf swing in a positive manner. One goal of a golf fitness program is to get the greatest amount of benefit from each of your exercises.
If you keep these two principles integration and cross-specific in mind when developing your golf fitness program. The choices made in the selection of exercises will undoubtedly be better for your golf swing.
Once these basic principles are understood you may begin the process of developing a golf fitness program. A golf fitness program consists of a series of modules. The modules are essentially different pieces of the program geared towards developing a specific improvement within the body. As a whole, the separate modules together comprise a golf fitness program. For example, flexibility training is one module that is contained within a golf fitness program. The goal of the flexibility module is to develop the flexibility parameters within the body required of the golf swing. Listed below in sequential order with a brief definition are the modules that comprise a comprehensive golf fitness program.
1. Flexibility Training: exercises to develop flexibility within the body required of the golf swing.
2. Balance Training: modalities geared toward improving your balance capacities in relation to the golf swing.
3. Joint Integrity Training: Exercises to develop strength and endurance in the joints of the body. Injury prevention based exercises for the shoulders, hips, and knees.
4. Core Training: Exercises to develop the required stabilization, strength, and endurance in the core region of the body for the golf swing. Utilizes a variety of modalities and equipment such as physio-balls, medicine balls, tubing, and dumbbells.
5. Total Body Training: Integrated total body strength, endurance, and power training exercises. Geared towards developing the needed strength, endurance, and power within the body in a cross-specific manner relative to the golf swing.
The most important principle to remember relative to the modules comprising a golf fitness program are the goals of each module and the order.
Training order is of the greatest importance with a golf fitness program.
Often times the golfer will attempt to develop power within their muscles before achieving the proper levels of flexibility that the demanding golf swing requires.
If you train this way, you will most likely develop power in the body, but you will likely not be able to use it effectively.
For example, if you develop greater amounts of power in the core region of the body, but don’t have the flexibility to execute a full shoulder turn. The ability of your body to utilize your increased power will be less than optimal. I can’t emphasize to you enough, keep the training order consistent as I outlined above.
Finally, the number of exercise choices you have in terms of flexibility, balance, joint integrity, core training, and total body exercises for the golf swing are too many to count.
There is also many types of equipment you can use for each component of your golf exercise program.
You can use stretch cords, tubing, medicine balls, dumbbells, and all other types of equipment within a golf fitness program. The points to keep in mind when choosing the actual exercises for your program are: 1) Do the exercises train the body in the anatomical positions of the golf swing? 2) Do the exercises take the body through the ranges of motion entailed within the golf swing? And 3) Do the exercises develop the required energy requirements of the golf swing?
If you use these questions in the decision making process of exercise selection, the final program you develop will most certainly be beneficial to your golf swing.
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