Just about everything you do during golf practice and/or a game involves the core region of your body.
Hitting a long drive off the tee, iron shots, pitch shots and blasting out of the bunker and even putting. Heck, even picking up the ball in the cup takes strength in your core region.
So, it would make sense then that many of your struggles in golf originate in the weaknesses in the core of your body.
How do you fix it? Well, there’s no magic core strength pill or patch. It takes some good, old-fashioned flexibility training and exercise. Now, I’m not talking about hitting the gym every day of the week and pumping iron like some of those puffed up body builders. This is simple stuff you can do right in your home or office; just minutes a day, maybe 15 to 20 minutes, that’s it.
I already do my sit-ups every day!
Different types of core exercises exist. Many of you are probably familiar with exercises such as the sit-up, which is an exercise that can be used to train the core. If you have read any of our other articles, read our manual Your Body and Your Swing or watched the DVD, you are well aware of what the word core means and its relation to the golf swing.
Let us do a quick review for your benefit and introduce the types of core exercises to perform for a better golf swing.
The core is an anatomical region of the body. It can generally be defined as the region of your body between the hips and chest. It encompasses numerous muscle groups on the front, side, and backside of the body. In general the core consists of the muscles that make up your abdominals, lower back, obliques, and hips.
The core region is important to the golf swing for many reasons. The core is essentially called the “engine” of the body. It is the area that “drives” the body for most any human movement including your golf swing. It is primarily responsible for the capacities of: balance, stability, and power development within the body. For these capacities to occur efficiently it is necessary to train the core for improved performance.
Core Training for the Golfer
Many of us correlate core training to only the abdominal section of the body. In order to develop the core correctly, we must train all areas of the core equally. This means to address the obliques, hips, and lower back with the same number of exercises and repetitions as you do for the commonly trained abdominal region.
A quick note from experience: More times than not, most golfers have “imbalances” in the core region. This means that certain muscles or muscle groups are weaker than others. To improve your performance on the golf course, you need to have a balanced core for optimal strength, endurance and power. Keeping this thought in mind, many times the lower back region is “weaker” than the abdominals (an imbalanced core). Picture the golfer picking up his ball from the cup. We’ve all seen them, creaking as they go down, maybe a quiet groan as if no one hears it. If this is the case, additional attention/exercises are needed for the lower back to bring it “up to speed,” so to speak, in level with the abdominals.
Moving forward, knowing that we must train the entire core and create balance between all the muscles, it is time to discuss what type of exercises to utilize in training the core region. To develop the core region for golf you will want to perform exercises in the following categories: stability (balance), strength, endurance, and power. All four of these categories are necessary for an optimal swing. Leaving one of the categories listed above out of your training program is like building a boat with a hole in it. It won’t work!
Let us define the differing training categories of a “golf specific core program” to help you better understand the purpose behind each category. The categories of core training that are incorporated in golf training are: 1) stability (balance) training, 2) strength training, 3) endurance training, and 4) power training.
Balance and Stability
Stabilization exercises are exercises that give the body the ability to have better balance. A large portion of your balance capability is directly related to the core region of the body. If you are unable to maintain your balance throughout the golf swing, the efficiency of the swing, contact with the ball, and club head speed will suffer. For example, when you swing your driver and are not able to maintain that perfect “finished position” of swing, the problem may be related to your balance capacities throughout the entire swing.
Balance training develops the integration of your neural and muscular systems, your brain and your body. Improvement in the functioning of these two systems of the body and integration of these two systems will result in a better swing. Follow the logic and it will all make sense. If you improve the ability of your body to balance, then the ability to maintain balance within your golf swing will become easier.
The golf swing requires that certain body parts remain in a stable position while other body parts are moving. To perform a powerful golf swing, the body must have the strength and flexibility to perform these actions simultaneously.
In order to perform the above activity it is required to develop the strength parameters of the core. If you have a weak core then the ability to maintain a posture, keep a posture, and perform this over a period of time will be compromised. To repeat, the core region of the body is involved in the stabilization process of the body. To improve this capacity, we must train the body to be more efficient at stabilizing itself during the golf swing. Strength exercises develop and improve this capacity within your body for the purpose of improving your golf swing.
The golf swing is a repetitive movement performed by the body. You are doing the same activity over and over. An efficient golf swing and good scores require that you perform the same swing on the 18th hole as you do on the 1st hole. If you are unable to do this then the mechanics of your swing will suffer, as will your scores. To eliminate this situation it is necessary to develop the endurance capacities of the core region. Endurance exercises allow the body to perform the same activity over and over without getting fatigued. As a result of the golf swing being a repetitive athletic movement, endurance training will enhance the ability to maintain your optimal swing mechanics over an extended period of time.
Power Exercises are geared towards improving the power outputs of the body. Training for power gives you the opportunity to hit the ball farther. The core region of the body is directly related to torque development in the golf swing. Power can also be defined as torque (rotational power) when discussing the golf swing. In order to create high amounts of club head speed, your body has to create large amounts of torque. If you want to create greater power in your golf swing you must include power exercises in your core training program.
If you are really serious about improving your game, start at the core of the problem!
In this article we have described the core and how to train the core specifically for the improvement of your golf game. A few points to keep in mind from this article: 1) the core is a region of the body that includes all muscles from your hips to your chest, 2) you must develop the capacities of stability, strength, endurance, and power within the core for a benefit in your game, and 3) the development of the core must be balanced in terms of all muscles involved and in all the training components (equal amounts of stability, strength, endurance, and power) within the core.
Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly working with PGA Professionals, most notably Masters and PGA Champion Phil Mickelson. To learn more about Sean and his golf fitness programs go to http://www.bioforcegolf.com