The more you play any sport, the better you generally get. And most sports player benefit from sport-specific training in the gym. Yet most golf players, because it the game is low intensity and technique-based, don’t realise how a little regular off-course exercise will bring incredible improvements to their game.
So here are five exercises that you can start to perform on a regular basis. Incorporate them into your practice routine and see how it improves your game.
Squats and Lunges
A good golf swing requires a sound footing. Strong anchoring of the feet behind the ball is essential for a great swing because if the back foot lifts too soon it diminishes the power and distance of the shot.
Build strong legs with squats and lunges which include load. Barbells are great for this. Vary your squats from narrow to wide to access the muscles at the front and inner thighs. Take your lunges slow and deep and push from the front heel as you rise to build hip stability and hamstring and glute strength.
Aim for 2 sets of 15 of each exercise at your maximum resistance and you’ll be hitting balls harder and further.
A super swing of the pelvis and torso is what drives the ball forward and this requires strength and range of motion through the hips and core.
Russian twists are a great exercise to develop the power, control and mobility for an excellent swing. Using a medicine ball, sit on a mat with your feet on the floor, your knees bent and your torso tilted at around 45 degrees. Then, holding a medicine ball in both hands, slowly rotate your torso as far as you can to one side, bring it back to centre, then repeat the other way.
As you get stronger, you can add more challenges by extending your arms, hovering your feet off the floor and eventually moving your legs in the opposite direction to your torso.
Get at least three sets of 20 reps into your weekly workout.
Build endurance with HIIT
You might not be running a marathon but four hours’ of walking and swinging can bring on fatigue, with many golfers noticing a demise in their game in the latter holes. One of the quickest ways to build endurance is through HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and just one half-hour session a week can genuinely make a difference.
After a warm-up, devote 30 minutes to power moves like mountain climbers, burpees and shuttle runs. Work at your limit for 45 seconds, rest for 15 and repeat.
Develop flexibility with Yoga
Golf is the guiltiest of sports in terms of building body imbalances and reducing flexibility. Over time this can lead to pain and injury as well as a downturn in performance.
It won’t take long to see how being right or left handed effects the entire body with the dominant side gaining more muscle mass which will compromise posture for the long term.
One of the best ways to restore balance and develop flexibility is Yoga and there are classes a-plenty these days. Symmetrical postures like down dog and forward fold will help identify imbalances and asymmetrical poses like the Warriors and triangle will help rectify them.
Use the driving range as a golf gym
If you’re serious about your golf game, a weekly trip to a driving range will work you hard and up the ante.
But don’t make the common mistake of just hitting the ball over and over, treat it as a workout with a specific purpose. Kick off with a warm-up, devoting 10-15 minutes to a mix of stretches, a little jog on the spot and some smooth, slow swings with a wedge.
Devote the next section to your area most in need of improvement, place the feet well, use the club required and set yourself a target. Train the body by repeating the move at least 20 times each visit. If you can, bring a buddy to watch you and have them point out the good and bad in your technique.
Progress from there to ‘golf club circuit’; change clubs every two swings to bring variety and interest to the session.
Cool down by working on your short game pitching at close targets and chipping slightly further ahead.
Try these techniques as often as you play and your game will go from strength to strength.