For those PowerFaders looking to amp up their exercise routines, check out

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/power-exercises?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-MensHealth-_-Content-Fitness-_-GolfersNeedStrengthToo

 

I have tried each and every one of these exercises and believe they fit nicely into any of the routines that we have outlined previously.

Enjoy longer drives and more precise iron shots with a stronger core and legs.  Good luck!

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While these two topics may not be as sexy as “power,” I believe they are two of the most important goals anyone exercising for golf should keep in mind.  You can have all the power in the world, but if you can only hit 3 or 4 drives at 90% power before your swing starts to fall apart, what’s the point?  Also, if you throw your knee out while swinging at 90% power, you’re not likely going to see much benefit from packing on all that muscle, are you? (Unless you’re TW, but let’s face it, if you are, you probably aren’t reading this).  Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Endurance

Depending on your particular goals, I recommend incorporating various amounts of EACH of the following:

1) Cardio! – yeah, I know, I hate it too.  The key here is to maximize two things: duration and intensity.  For a golfer, it is more important to max out duration for our particular goals.  Whether you want to be able to walk 18 without being sore the next morning, or (like JK and myself) walk 36-45 and be able to play the same amount the next day, you must work your heart.  If you haven’t done much of this in a while, walk before you run.  Like golf, cardio can be just as much a mental challenge as a physical challenge.  You have to believe you can finish the distance/time that you have in mind.  Try starting with a number you feel you can easily achieve and push yourself from there.  One of my biggest problems when I started working out was trying to do too much too quickly and getting discouraged from failure.  Prevent these kinds of silly mistakes by keeping your expectations in line with your abilities.  (Funny how that translates in to the golf game).  My personal favorites include jumping rope (I try for 20 minutes), swimming, and the row machine.  I have bad knees, so it’s difficult for me to run much further than 1.5 miles without severe knee pain.  The key here is to push yourself to your body’s limit, not beyond.

2) Weight lifting – follow the same regimen you feel comfortable with as described in Golf Fitness: Power, but now lower the weight and max out the number of reps that you perform.  You can even add a set and really decrease the weight.  This will essentially become another cardio workout if you really get into it.  For example, rather than going at 80% of your max, drop to 35-40% and do 2.5 to 3 times the number of reps.  This will engage your heart and work on toning your muscles by increasing the exposure to the load.  Also, experiment with decreasing the amount of time between sets.  This will effectively increase your cardio output as well.  It is important to stay safe when working out at an increased pace.  Take care with weights and equipment for your sake and others in the gym.  Also, be sure to stay well hydrated when trying anything new with weights.  Cardio+weights is a serious combination that will work your body in new and different ways!

3) Carry your bag!  This might seem like a no brainer, but one good way to increase your ability to walk 18 and carry your clubs might be just that!  If you’re really gung ho, try adding a few water bottles or a couple dozen extra balls to increase the load.  I try to avoid this particular method of increasing endurance because I’d rather enjoy the golf, but if you play enough to where this is not an issue for you, go ahead and give it a shot!

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention, for golfers, is really a combination of strength and flexibility.  Increasing your strength will allow you to go at the ball harder because your muscles have the ability to control your body more effectively.  Part of this though, must be flexibility because in order for your muscles to have any room to move, your body must be flexible enough to create room.  Try a few of the following:

1) Basic stretching – While I’d normally take the time to write out a full stretching routine for you, there’s no point reinventing the wheel.  Virtual Fitness Trainer has outlined a solid basic stretching routine.  Take the parts that work for you and work on the areas where you feel most tight.  Golfers should focus on the trunk, hips, and shoulders in particular.

2)  Yoga and Hot Yoga – I personally have yet to try either of these techniques (JK, please chime in).  The flexibility benefits of these activities is obvious.  I would not recommend trying either of these without a trained professional.  Hot yoga in particular can lead to injuries if you are not careful.  Chances are, if you’re considering trying out Yoga, there’s a studio nearby with someone far more knowledgeable than either of us.  Give them a call!

3) Warm up before your round – This is easily the best way to avoid injury, particularly when playing in cold weather.  Do some of your favorite basic stretches on the range and hit a small bucket before your round.  If you have knee problems, warm up your knees, if you have back problems, stretch out your back.  The easiest way to avoid injury is to focus on the parts of your body that you know are prone to injury.  Listen to what your body is telling you and don’t push it beyond its limits.

4)  Stay Hydrated!  Part of maintaining flexibility is keeping your fluid levels up.  You may notice that you cramp more quickly when you haven’t had enough water in a given day.  A noted dietitian recommends drinking enough water to have two completely clear urinations per day.  This is an easy way to keep track and is generic to each individual person, so I tend to use it as well.  I also recommend avoiding replacing water with sports drinks.  While they do provide electrolytes (critical for staying hydrated), they also tend to contain more sugar and carbs than are necessary for golfers.  Stick to water on the course and use the sports drinks prior to your cardio program.

Please add your own personal warm up routine or cardio program below!  One great way to keep your workout interesting is mixing things up and getting new ideas from your friends.

Golf Fitness: Power

November 24, 2010

Much has been written about golf fitness in terms of how to generate power.  My goal is not to advocate a particular swing theory or exercise program, but rather to provide general fitness advice that should be helpful to any swing.  While the average golfer generally wants to get more power in his or her full swing, rarely is that energy properly focused at the gym to develop the right muscles.  Here are some fundamentals to focus on:

1) Mix in both Unilateral and Bilateral exercises – Bilateral exercises use both limbs in unison to move a load, such as barbell squats, barbell bench press, and chinups. If one limb pushes or pulls harder than the other, the load will not move evenly. Unilateral exercises focus on each limb working independently of each other. This can be accomplished by either isolating one limb at a time or by using dumbbells or independent stack cables to push or pull with both limbs at the same time. Examples of these movements include exercises such as dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell bent-over rows, and lunges.  Read more here on these terms.

2) Start with your lower body – the only way to swing faster (not harder) is to have a stable foundation.  Since good footwork is critical to nearly every swing, making sure your legs are strong is a good start to getting more power.  I personally try to work my legs every single time I go to the gym.  For me, mixing squats, splits squats, step ups, and a number of explosive leg exercises has helped improve my stability.  In particular, curtsy squats help replicate the hip rotation that occurs in the golf swing.  For those of you who are uncomfortable with weighted exercises, using an aerobics step for a number of ploy-metric exercises maybe the correct option.  For others, squats and lunges will provide more than enough resistance.

3) Don’t forget your lower back – This area of the body is often  forgotten but critical to maintaining spine angle throughout the swing – another fundamental of nearly every golf swing.  To effectively work your lower back, you could start with an exercise ball and roll slowly backward while lying with your back on the ball to stretch it out.  Most gyms are equipped with some variation of a back extension machine.  Start with the one at a 45 degree angle and work your way up to the horizontal back extension.  This exercise can be intimidating the first time you do it because you may feel as though you can’t support your body weight.  Ease into it.  Soon enough, you’ll be doing this exercise with only one leg supporting your weight.

4) Core strength – instead of just doing crunches, mix this up and use the cable machines to work your full range of motion.  Woodchoppers and bar bell torques are the best for really feeling the burn and can be done with low weight.  Also, don’t forget to work your lower abs.  This will not only supplement the work you are doing on your lower back, but it will prevent lower back pain from carrying your bag around the course (another great fitness benefit!).  One of my favorites is having a partner stand by your head while you are lying with your back on the ground.  Kick your feet up towards your partner while keeping your legs straight  and back on the ground.  Have your partner throw your feet back toward the ground, but don’t them hit the floor.  bring your feet back up to your partner and repeat.  Once this becomes to easy, have your partner mix it up by throwing your feet down at an angle.  This really burns.

5)  Work your back, chest, and shoulders evenly! – don’t over-exercise on any one area in an attempt to “bulk up” because you’ll throw off your natural rhythm.  Also, be sure to mix it up with bilateral and unilateral exercises here.  Doing too many unilateral exercises will definitely throw off your body’s ability to coordinate muscles for a powerful, smooth swing.

6) Work your wrists – an often overlooked area for generating power in the golf swing is wrist strength.  Rock climbers roll a weight that is hung from a dowel up and down while holding at arm’s length.  I also recommend holding a light dumbbell and simply rotating your wrists as long as you can.  These exercises will also help you generate clubhead speed  because your wrists will be more supple during impact.

7) Don’t be discouraged, Keep at it! – soreness from working out and the uneven strength gains you make will likely translate into some initial backward movement in your ability.  You may hit the ball shorter or make less flush contact initially, but give it time.  Exercising will only improve your ability in the long run.  Jokes aside, a good golf swing is an athletic motion that requires precision and balance.  Developing leg and core strength will only improve your ability to swing faster.

When I first started working out, I started with a friend using a program endorsed by Men’s Health Magazine.  You can find that program here.

More to come!   If you’re currently working on your own program, please feel free to post about it!

One of the many things that golf has  given to me is an appreciation for the value of good physical health.  I will leave at this for the personal anecdote:  Prior to golf, the heaviest thing I cared to lift was likely a beer keg.  Thankfully that is no longer the case.

Rather than extol the virtues of good fitness for daily life, I hope to convince the reader that it is incredibly useful in the quest to lower your score.  My goal is not to lay out a workout plan for the average golfer (not possible);  Instead, I will approach this series of posts from the perspective of accomplishing one of a number of goals.  If you should find that one of your goals is mentioned, hopefully you will find the content helpful.  Future posts will include Power, Consistency, Endurance, and Longevity.  This post, however, will focus on the single most important factor for getting into (or maintaining) good golf fitness: Diet.

Diet, like the short game, is the one thing that we actually have a hope of achieving the same level of perfection as the professionals on TV.  Much like the short game, however, whenever we get a chance to work on one thing, it’s never at the top of our list.  I made a conscious effort when beginning my own fitness regimen to take note of the reasons why certain changes in my lifestyle seemed more difficult to make than others.  Diet was one of those that was most difficult.  I didn’t want to eat less than I was used to because that particular change was not one that I was willing to make in my quest to lower my scores.  More importantly,  when I started going to the gym, I became hungrier than I had ever been before!  I realized that the only way for me to make a difference was to change WHAT I was eating.  Truth be told,  when I was fully committed to the diet, I was eating more than I ever had before.  The craziest part of the whole change is that I lost more weight and gained more muscle than I have had at any point in my 20’s.  How is this possible?  Glad you asked.

Before you stop reading,  I’m not peddling a book or a program.  I’m telling you to eat everything your mom told you to eat when you were a kid:  green veggies, fruits, nuts, milk, and lean meat.

Like the other posts in this series, any changes in your diet should be guided by your ultimate goals and your physician.  Think about what it is you want to accomplish.  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to hit the ball farther?  Do you want to be able to walk 18 without being winded at 9?  All of these choices will impact your decision.

I personally took my cues from a diet that worked exceptionally well for other members of my family: the Abs Diet.  (Amazon)  The premise of the diet is to change the types of food you eat to maximize the nutritional content of what you consume.  It further recommends consuming a greater quantity of meals during the course of the day and controlling portion size.  What I liked about this particular plan was that it was very flexible (more like suggestions for how to eat well) rather than a strict regimen.  The author appreciates the difficulty of maintaining a diet with a hectic lifestyle and makes simple suggestions for how to maximize your food’s benefit to your body.  He also provides a very simple list of foods that you should attempt to eat on a regular basis (great for restaurants).

Some of the suggestions, however, did not work so well for me.  The amount of milk, for example, that the author suggests was not possible for me to maintain.  As stated before, use your common sense to figure out how a particular diet can work for you.  As far as recommendations go, change your diet only in ways that you can maintain.  Only if you can commit to the changes will you be able to see (and maintain) results.

Regardless of your particular goals, however,  the following suggestions will not lead you in the wrong direction:

1) consult a nutritionist – most are trained in sports nutrition and will be able to help you define and achieve your goals.

2) increase your protein intake – protein shakes aren’t just for the meatheads at the gym.  Try adding protein powder to oatmeal or making a smoothie.  These are simple and tasty ways to increase your protein levels.

3) increase your fiber intake – fiber is incredibly important to weight loss.  Eat more whole grains or whole wheat pasta.

4) decrease fat and sugar – this one is important regardless of your goals.

5) take a multivitamin – maintaining high levels of nutrients and minerals will help maximize the effort your are putting into your diet and exercise plan.

6) enjoy your regimen – this point cannot be made strongly enough.  If you are not enjoying exercise or are feeling terrible because of your diet, make sure you figure out why and fix the problem.  Results will only come if you stay committed long enough to see them, so make sure you are enjoying the journey.  For me, this meant cheating one day a week.  I ate whatever I wanted one day a week just so I could stay committed to the diet.  I eventually got to the point where my new goal was to skip the day off because I felt terrible the next day.  Make sure you feel as though success is possible.

Remember, there will be several posts in this series.  Next up:  Exercising to maximize Consistency.