I often hear from amateur golfers about how training with weights makes them feel “tight” and it ruin’s their golf swing. Traveling on the PGA Tour I disagree with this point of view completely. It is well known that the top players on the PGA Tour; Tiger, Vijay, and Phil workout regularly. They praise the benefits of their workouts in the development of their golf swing. I am a first hand observer of what they do in the gym on the days they play.
As a result, I see the reasons why amateurs do not workout as excuses rather than legitimate reasons. I would guess that the difficulty amateurs have with weight training or working out in relation to the game of golf is how to do it correctly. This article will discuss how to properly workout to improve your golf game.
Weight training is not bad for the golfer if done correctly.
Weight training done incorrectly is bad for the golfer.
This is where the amateur gets sidetracked, frustrated, and ends up thinking weight training is bad for golf. A typical weight training program found at many health clubs can be detrimental to the golf swing. These types of programs can make you feel “tight”, adversely affect your golf game, and leave you frustrated.
The reason why these “generic” training programs are counter productive to golf is their inability take into account what is required of the body in relation to the golf swing.
Golfers need to be very aware of a few important concepts when weight training in relation to the golf swing. First and foremost, any training program for golf needs to be cross-specific. A cross-specific training program develops the body to the positions, movements, and requirements of the sport you participate in.
Granted everyone’s swing is slightly different but the base components are the same. All golfers rotate around a fixed spine angle, transfer weight forward and back during the swing, generate clubhead speed, attempt to square the club at impact, and complete the swing in a balanced finish position.
The main goal of a cross-specific training program is develop your body physically around the golf swing. This induces what is termed a transfer of training effect onto the golf course. Simplified this states that the training you do in the gym pays off on the course in a positive manner.
Designing a weight training program for golf is a simple process if done correctly. The best place to start is with flexibility. Golfers need to be flexible. The golf swing requires you to move the club through a long range of motion, thus requiring your body to be very flexible. Areas of the body that typically require large amounts of flexibility for golf are; the hamstrings, lower back, hips, and shoulders. Oftentimes the amateur’s swing can improve from just adding flexibility exercises to their training program.
Another aspect of a cross-specific training program for golf is balance training. Balance is the ability of the body to control its’ center of gravity and body parts efficiently. Balance exercises address both the nervous and muscular systems of the body creating greater efficiency in its ability to control body movements and center of gravity.
After you have looked at the flexibility and balance components of a training program for golf, it is time to shift gears to the “weight training” side of the equation. The golf swing requires the development of strength within the muscles of the body. You need muscular strength to maintain a fixed spine angle, create an efficient weight transfer, and develop clubhead speed.
The development of strength in the muscular system is where the amateur commonly makes mistakes. Remember all the exercises in a cross-specific training program for golf must revolve around the movements of the swing, and create a benefit to your play on the course.
Typically, strength training is thought of as a group of exercises that create “bulk” and build the “beach muscles”. Bench pressing 300 and developing biceps like Arnold does not mean you’ll drive the golf ball 300 yards.
Developing strength for the golf swing is very different from “football” or “bodybuilding” strength exercises. The golf swing uses the whole the body, from feet to fingertips. As a result, golfers need to strengthen the entire body cross-specifically to the movements of the golf swing. A key to strength training exercises for golf is to integrate the entire body into the exercise patterns, rather than isolating a specific muscle (a.k.a. bicep curls and bench press).
For example, bicep curls may make you look great for the beach or fill out your golf shirt, but you do not swing the golf club with your biceps only. You use your entire body, and as a result the strength training part of your program, must incorporate the entire body. Exercises such as ball crunches, Russian twists, single leg squats are beneficial strength training exercises for golf.
Completing the template of a golf specific training program is endurance training. The golf swing is a repetitive movement. In a single round of golf the swing is repeated numerous times. A week on Tour might find players swinging the golf club well over 1000’s times. As a result, it is necessary to develop the endurance capacities of your muscular system.
Developing endurance in your muscular system allows you to repeat a movement over and over again without getting tired, a key component of the golf swing. Once the body becomes tired, the ability to swing the golf club properly becomes impeded resulting in miss hits, lost distance, and poor shots. Bottom line, you need to make the same swing consistently to score consistently. Endurance training assists in this process.
To summarize; weight training and working out is beneficial to the golfer, if and only if it is done correctly. The wrong choice in the type of training program, exercise selection, or even exercise sequence can hinder your golf game. Choosing a training program that is cross-specific to the golf swing and induces a transfer of training effect onto the golf course is best. This type of program incorporates; flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and power exercises relative to the golf swing providing benefits to your body and golf game.
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, and owner of http://www.seancochran.com