Improve Your Golf Swing

By Yael Grauer |

Golf does not require the endurance of a triathlete or the brawn of a power lifter. Instead, it’s all about technique and form — which in turn require mobility, stability, flexibility, and core strength.

The quick, fluid motion of a drive takes just seconds, torquing your upper body backward and then forward: backswing, downswing, follow-through. But there’s a lot more happening here than you might expect.

Consider the tremendous amount of force created by your body during those seconds. Then there’s the rotation of a full swing and the balance and coordination required to keep your feet on the ground and your swing on plane. Added together, you have a complicated athletic movement, indeed.

To accomplish all this, golfers need adequate thoracic (upper and middle back) mobility, stable knees, flexible (but not hypermobile) hips, and, perhaps most critical, a strong core.

“Without proper activation of the core muscles, you’re getting too much laxity and mobility of the lumbar [lower] spine and SI [sacroiliac] joint,” says Chris Poulin, CSCS, PRT, a Titleist Performance Institute golf-fitness instructor who tutors pro golfers in the finer points of preventing or recovering from injuries.

Many golfers suffer lower-back pain because of the excessive motion of the swing, he explains.

“Most golfers have difficulty shifting into their left hip, or turning their pelvis to the left.” (Due to anatomical asymmetries, this is true for both right- and left-handed golfers.) Not only does that limitation cause you to lose distance and accuracy in your swing, it also causes unnecessary strain on the knees and excessive back extension, which can lead to back pain and knee injuries.

The following workout, designed by Poulin, builds up your body for the demands of the sport, so you’ll have the necessary strength and balance to perform well and remain injury-free. Several top European tour professionals perform a similar program.

One word of caution: These exercises are subtle but powerful, so don’t overdo them. You’ll get the best results by building your capacity over the course of a few weeks.

The Golf-Swing Workout

Begin with just one set of up to 10 reps of each exercise every other day, and work your way up to two sets of 10 reps per day. When you hit the links, warm up with a single set before you start playing, and then complete up to three sets afterward. Workout by Chris Poulin, CSCS, PRT, instructor at the Titleist Performance Institute.

1. TRX Hip Lift With Exhalation

Most golfers play right-handed, which can cause the pelvis to compensate by pulling forward on the left side. This exercise will help draw your pelvis back into a more neutral, balanced position.

  1. Repeat for up to 10 repetitions.

2. Knee-Forward Sprint

This exercise helps you stretch the back of your hips, so you can transfer weight from the right side of your body to the left. It’ll aid you in pivoting effectively, preventing injury and improving your swing.

  1. Repeat for up to 10 repetitions.

3. Lateral Dips

A tight adductor muscle (on the inner thigh) in the right leg can limit pelvic mobility, gumming up your swing and shortening your follow-through. This exercise stretches the adductor muscle.

  1. Repeat for up to 10 repetitions.

4. Lunge With High Guard

This exercise improves your backswing by strengthening your left abdominal muscles and assisting with optimal shoulder rotation. Instructions below are for right-handed golfers. If you are a left-handed golfer, simply reverse the position and perform the exercise on your left side.

  1. Repeat for up to 10 repetitions.

5. Cable Push-Pull

This exercise helps strengthen your core and upper body, and improves coordination. Keep resistance light so you can maintain good form.

  1. Complete up to 10 repetitions on each side.

6. TRX Rotation

This exercise helps improve your backswing (or downswing, if you’re left-handed). Perform on both sides. If you’re tighter in one direction, or find that it’s more difficult, perform more reps in that direction.

  1. Repeat for up to 10 repetitions on each side.


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