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Strengthen Your Golf Swing

by Deborah L. Mullen, CSCS 

Your golf game can be improved by following a strength-training and flexibility program. Although it was once believed that strength training would develop bulky, tight muscles that would hinder the golf swing, research and the large number of pros who strength train have dispelled this myth. By conditioning the muscles used in golf you can:

sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) increase your clubhead speed and driving distance
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) increase your muscle endurance
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) decrease your risk of injuries related to playing golf
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) increase your enjoyment of the game

During the golf swing, the body acts like a whip. Power production starts with the feet pushing against the ground, then travels up the legs to drive the hips forward. The force is transferred through the trunk to the chest and upper back, then to the arms, which move the club through its arching pathway. Like a whip, if one link in the sequence is weak or stiff, power will be lost. The body will have to reinitiate power after the point of disruption, which is not only inefficient but can also cause injury.

Research that measures muscle activity during the golf swing tells us that many muscle groups are involved and some are more active than others. The large muscle groups in the body (buttocks, legs, chest and back) contribute the most force. Contrary to popular belief, the deltoid muscles (top of shoulder) are relatively inactive, while the rotator cuff muscles (which stabilize the shoulder) are are very active during the golf swing.

Golfing Muscles:

sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) front of thigh (quadriceps)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) back of thigh (hamstrings)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) outer thigh or hips (abductors)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) inner thigh (adductors)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) buttocks (gluteals)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) sides of abdomen (internal and external obliques)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) low back (erectors)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) mid/upper back (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) chest (pectorals)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) shoulder (deltoids)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) rotator cuff (infraspinatus, terses minor, subscapularis, supraspinatus)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) back of arm (triceps)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) front of arm (biceps)
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) forearm (forearm flexors and extensors)

If you are a member of a health club or gym, you can ask a personal trainer to set you up on a golf-specific program. Otherwise, ask to be shown torso rotation, rotator cuff, and forearm exercises to add to your general conditioning program. If you prefer to workout at home you can use machines, free weights (barbells and dumbbells) or elastic resistance (rubber tubing and bands). The Sports FitKit for Golf contains an effective, golf-specific strength and flexibility program using rubber tubing. You can even use your own body weight for strength training. Here are two exercises that require no equipment:

Squat - (front and back of thigh, buttocks)

Stand in front of a chair, with feet hip-width apart and feet pointing straight ahead. With hands on hips, bend knees and slowly sit back and return to starting position. Beginner: Sit down in chair. Advanced: Buttocks touch edge of chair. Injury Prevention Tips

sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) Don't let your knees bend past your toes--the farther back you sit, the less your knees have to bend.
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) Maintain good posture--bend from the hips, not the waist
sm_blue_oval.gif (76 bytes) Inhale when you sit down, exhale when you get up--don't hold your breath!

Push-Ups - (chest, front of shoulder, back of arm)

Begin on the floor with hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width and legs together. Keeping body straight, press up to full arms' extension. Don't sag in the midsection or let the head drop. Slowly lower and stop when your arms are 90 degrees at the elbows.
Beginner: Bend knees and work off them instead of the feet.
Advanced: Elevate your feet 1-3 ft.

Note: Although moderate strength training and stretching is very safe, if you are 35 or older or have a medical condition or previous injury, you should check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Sports FitKit for Golf - a simple, effective and time-efficient way to increase performance and reduce injuries. Rated 4 stars out of 5 by Golf Magazine. Simple Fitness Solutions.

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