August is National Golf Month! Golf is a great lifetime activity-people of all ages can participate and enjoy playing!
I started learning how to play golf this spring. I only went to the driving range once…but I would love to get out on a course soon! I was surprised at how much work it actually was to golf. The pros make it look so easy! I was literally sore for DAYS after hitting balls at the driving range.
Obviously, practice makes perfect, but if you’re having trouble with your golf game it could be due to muscle imbalances. There is a screening program that I learned for work that can tell you exactly what those imbalances are. But, if you’re interested in just general strengthening that can translate into playing better on the golf course, here are eight great exercises:
(click the links for videos)
This exercise helps improve hip-hinging mechanics and also acts as a hamstring stretch.
Lay on your back with your legs straight, arms down by your side, and palms flat. Slowly raise one leg keeping the knee straight and the opposite leg staying flat on the ground. Keep toes of both feet pointing up towards the ceiling and keep the hips still. Bring your leg as far as you can without bending the knee, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat this 5 times on each leg.
This exercise is great for developing stability in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core.
Hold a dumbbell overhead in your right hand. Step back with the left leg, lowering the knee towards the floor into a lunge. Return to standing. Perform 8-10 with the left leg, and then switch the dumbbell to the left hand and perform the lunge on the right side. Again, 8-10 times.
This exercise helps build stability in the lower back and mobility in the spine, hips, and shoulders.
Start by laying face-down on a mat with your arms stretched overhead, like Superman flying through the air. Lift your right arm and left leg at the same time off the floor, bringing your chest up with you. Keep your eyes on the ground. Lower back down, and repeat with the left arm and right leg. Alternate like this, for 8 reps on each side (16 total).
This exercise helps teach dissociation between the upper and lower body, which is important for your swing.
Stand with your feet about hip width apart, knees slightly bent, and holding a medicine ball in your hands with the arms bent in front of you. Keeping your lower body stable and your hips completely still, rotate your upper body and ball from side to side. Start slowly, and increase the speed only when you can do the movement without moving your lower body at all. Keep the core engaged throughout the whole movement. Alternate like this for 30 seconds.
This exercise builds core and glute strength and stability at the same time.
Start on all fours. Arms and thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. Keeping the core engaged and the spine stabilized, extend the right arm and left leg. Hold for one second, then come back to the starting position. Repeat with the left arm and right leg. Alternate like this for 8 reps on each side (16 total). The spine should not move at all during this exercise. Pretend you are balancing a bowl of water on your spine, and don’t let the water spill out the sides of the bowl!
This exercise is great for improving the range of motion of your spine. Again, this will translate to your swing and follow-through.
Start on your hands and knees, with the arms and thighs perpendicular to the floor. This is the same starting position as the Bird-Dog exercise above! Lower your head, and slowly lift your spine as much as you can into the cat position. Think about those black cat decorations you always see around Halloween where the cat is arched into a terrifying position. Slowly move back to the starting position and flow smoothly into the cow position by lowering your spine as much as possible-the opposite of the cat. Continue to move slowly and smoothly between these two positions for 30 seconds.
This stretch helps to improve the overall mobility in the chest and shoulders, which improves your posture and can help with the rotation during your swing.
Start on your knees with a stability ball to your right side. Place your right elbow and forearm on the ball at a 90 degree angle. Extend your left arm out to the side and place the hand on the floor. Slowly lower the chest towards the floor, bending the left arm. Go as deep as you can, getting a stretch through the right arm that’s on the ball. Hold for 3 breaths, then relax and switch sides.
This exercise is great for multiple things-upper body strength, shoulder/spine range of motion, and overall core strength and stability.
For this one, you’ll need a cable machine and your rope or straight bar attachment. Get into a half kneeling position, with your inside leg bent (leg closest to the machine) and outside leg down on the floor (leg away from the machine). Grab the rope or bar with both hands, one hand at the top and one hand at the end. Keeping the body tall, perform a chop diagonally across your body, making a full rotation with your upper body as you chop. Keep the hips and lower body completely still. Slowly return to the starting position. Perform 10-12 reps on each side.
Obviously, there are hundreds of exercises that can help improve your golf swing. I’ve done the golf screening on a bunch of people, and almost everyone has muscle imbalances that can be helped with these exercises. I’ve found that spinal mobility/strength/range of motion, shoulder and chest mobility, tight hamstrings, core strength, and glute strength are the areas in which most people need the most work.
The great part about these exercises is that you can easily add them into whatever routine you already do at the gym! Do a few at the end of each workout and see the difference it makes. Or, use some as a warm-up before you go out on the course for the day.