Golf strength exercises are a must for any golfer wanting to improve power output; decrease injury; improve accuracy and consistency, and slow the effects of the aging process for senior golfers.
There is more and more information coming out about golf strength exercises, but some of it is a bit misleading. What constitutes golf strength exercises? And what are the benefits of doing them once you recognize the difference between golf strength exercises and 'general' fitness exercises?
First off...a sport specific approach is needed. In analyzing the physical requirements of the golf swing, we know several things right up front.
It takes place on your feet. You are in a very dynamic and athletic body position (golf posture). You maintain this position while you swing a 3 foot long lever at up to 100 mph. There is a definite sequence of motion required. Maintaining balance, stability and coordination are a must.
Okay...now that we've 'briefly' recognized just some of the physical requirements for an optimal golf swing, what would be the approach to your golf improvement program?
Since the golf swing takes place on your feet, you would definitely want to do many of your exercises on your feet. Doesn't that make sense? Since you are in a dynamic (golf posture) position, you would want to strengthen the muscles that help maintain this position.
Because golf is a turn back (rotation) and a turn through (rotation), you must focus on both core strength and flexibility from a rotational standpoint. Not doing so, will slow your golf improvement and not give you the results you were hoping for.
Balance is critical to maintain a consistent swing with optimal mechanics, therefore you would want to challenge and improve your body awareness. This entails doing exercises on unstable surfaces; isolating just one side of the body, then the other to balance it out; and using many different modes of resistance (for example bands, handweights, stability balls, medicine balls, and even body weight).
Along with balance is stability. They go hand-in-hand, and in order to improve stability, you need to work on strengthening your lower body, specific to the dynamic movement of the golf swing. This would be from a lateral (side-to-side) motion, to a definite rotational (turning) motion. Training your lower body to improve stability is a must to produce repeatable shots.
We cannot ignore golf-specific flexibility in regards to utilizing golf strength exercises. But the type of flexibility needed is once again, dynamic. I hate to keep using that word, but the golf swing, is not like other athletic movements. Being in golf posture and moving that club at up to 100 mph takes a tremendous amount of flexibility in the major joints of the body.
Stretches that are most effective are movement oriented stretches, not static (holding) stretches. Improving your range of motion, with motion stretches is the only way to go. Taking a look at body positions throughout the swing will give you a better idea of the types of movement stretches you need to do to maximize your body's ability to produce consistent power.
None of the above can be attained sitting in a stationary machine in a gym. I hate to burst your bubble. Don't get me wrong. Any exercise is better than no exercise; but if you want to make better use of your time, you've got to participate in more golf strength exercises, than machine (general) exercise.
So next time a golfing buddy says he/she is training for golf; ask them what kind of exercises they are doing. You'll now know if they are truly golf strength exercises.