Your body dictates your golfing ability. There's no way around it. If you're fit, chances are you'll play better golf. If you're not fit, chances are you'll play poorly. While you should stay in shape all year round, the winter is great for starting a golf-specific fitness program. Regardless of age, gender, or playing level, participating consistently in a golf-specific exercise program pays dividends in your game and in your life.
A golf-specific conditioning program consists of resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, and functional flexibility. Resistance training strengthens the "core" body-- the abs, low back, and hamstrings. Cardiovascular conditioning generates energy to play longer at peak performance. Functional flexibility enhances swing mechanics and shot execution. Together, these three components build strength, suppleness, and stamina. The also build confidence in yourself and your game.
Flexibly is a key to a consistent golf swing. Recreational golfers often lack the flexibility to perform swing mechanics correctly. Instead, they compensate for it by making adjustments in their swing. They risk hitting a bad shot and injuring themselves. Adding flexibility exercises to your winter workout improves your swing mechanics and your shot execution.
The Lunge with a Twist Exercise combines the power in your lower body with the core rotational movement needed for maximum golf swing speed and distance. Use a medicine ball or a single dumbbell for this exercise. * Assume a standing position with your arms straight and hanging down in front of you, holding the dumbbell or the medicine ball.
* As you step forward with one leg, rotate your upper body to the same side holding the medicine ball or the dumbbell chest high the whole time. * Return to the starting position and do the opposite leg.
* Repeat each side 10 times for 3 sets.
This exercise improves rotational range of motion and strength. It also strengthens the core area of your body. The Seated Twist is an offshoot of this exercise. Instead of standing and lunging forward, you simply twist from side to side while sitting on a chair and holding a dumbbell chest high. This exercise can be done in your office.
The Straight Leg Rotational Hamstring Stretch stretches the hamstrings, hips, lower back, and mid-section. It trains the hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back, obliques, and upper back muscles.
1. Begin by placing feet shoulder-width apart, extend arms overhead, and clasp hands together. Turn so that you are facing to one side.
2. Slowly extend arms toward the top of your shoes, keeping your legs straight.
3. Extend downward to your level of tolerance, pause slightly, and return to the starting position.
4. Rotate torso, shoulders, head, and arms to the other side.
5. Slowly extend arms toward your shoes, keeping your legs straight. 6. Reach downward to your own level of tolerance, pause slightly, and return to the starting position.
7. Return to the other side and repeat the same sequence, then return to the center position.
8. Perform 15 to 25 repetitions.
Yoga is also a good exercise for enhancing flexibility. PGA pro Jamie Mulligan includes Bikram Yoga in his conditioning program. Bikram Yoga involves making precise movements for 90 minutes in a superheated room. It keeps the body loose and supple, and strengthens concentration and focus
Resistance training should be part of your winter conditioning program. When you improve strength, you improve control and balance. Also, strength training involves body awareness, muscular control, and coordination--all key elements for improved golf. When you do resistance training, you increase blood flow through a functional range of motion, and strengthen the tendons and ligaments in you body's joints. In conjunction with a stretching program, strength training improves flexibility, not hinders it.
The strength-for-golf commponent of your program addresses your body's "core" area--the abs, low back, and hamstrings. Contrary to popular belief, weight training does not cause you to lose "feel."
A golf-specific conditioning program incorporates moderate weight, with medium (12-15) repetitions, and in a time frame of 30-45 minutes. This type of program is designed to improve your golf-specific strength and endurance, not build muscle. A typical strength training exercise includes
* Leg Extensions * Leg Press * Leg Curl * Low Back * Abdominal * Rotary Torso * Double Chest * Super Pullover * Triceps * Biceps * Forearm * Four-way Neck
The Tire Exercise is a different type of resistance exercise. Invented by golfing great Henry Cotton, this simple exercise strengthens the arm and wrist muscles and helps you judge swing speed.
Take your normal stance with the tire positioned as the ball. Employing a normal grip use a quarter swing to hit the back of the tire, moving the club head as fast as possible. The pitch of the swishing noise and the sound of the club's impact are your speed indicators. The loudest crack at impact is heard when the clubhead is released properly. Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 swings. Then turnaround and do it from the left side.
Improving your cardiovascular system boosts energy. It also increases stamina and focus. Waking, biking, stair stepping, running, and swimming are all good cardiovascular exercises. Since golfers walk a lot, many focus on it as their main cardiovascular workout. A cardiovascular program incorporating 20-30-minutes of walking at an intensity 10- to 15-percent higher than when you walk a course works well for most golfers.
Using the winter to get in shape pays dividends. It improves your golf game, enhances your quality of life, and builds self-confidence. Instead of being depressed this winter because the season is over, start a golf-specific conditioning program to get yourself ready for the spring.