Tiger Woods’ domination of world golf has made the golf fraternity stand up and take notice of golf fitness. His results were and still are amazing and he was one of the first to promote the fact that he spent time in the gym to improve his game. Golf fitness programs are now big business and there is no reason why golfers of all levels can’t implement it into their weekly routines.
The golf swing is about flexibility and the transfer of weight to create speed through levers (arms and club). In order to hit a long, straight drive you need to generate well over 100 miles an hour of clubhead speed. Believe it or not but the arms cannot generate that kind of force. The arms are not passive in the swing obviously but the only way you can create those speeds is by using the leg, buttox and stomach muscles.
Some people believe that improving fitness for golf is only for the elite, but lets think about that for a second. An elite golfer that goes around under par plays less than 70 shots. A golfer of less ability will play upwards of 85, 90 or even 100 shots and is more likely to play practice swing before each shot and after most poorly played shots. This creates fatigue quickly. Studies have shown that a full golf swing uses 90% of the body’s peak muscle activity. This means the muscles are under high stress during a golf shot. Then there is the 4-6 miles of walking covered in a game so it is suffice to say, no matter what level you are at you need conditioning.
Due to the extreme technical elements involved when playing a golf stroke, when your muscles fatigue it becomes more and more difficult to play consistent shots. In order to hit longer more consistent shots you need to participate in both aerobic exercises, strength conditioning and flexibility training. Strengthening needs to be conducted where the force is generated, the legs and abs.
Aerobic exercise can be achieved by activities such as jogging, swimming, cycling or rowing. Your age and current fitness level will determine how much you can do but aim for at least 20 minutes three times a week. It is important maintain an intensity that is sub-maximal, meaning you should be able to complete the 20 minutes without stopping (low – medium intensity). If this is too much to begin with then simply begin at a level that you can cope with. Even brisk walking in 5 minute intervals is a start.
Flexibility training should be conducted only when there is blood in the muscles. This means a couple of minutes of light jogging/walking before you begin stretching. When stretching it is better to do dynamic stretching. This means the muscle you are aiming to stretch is active (moving). For example, if you want to stretch your hamstring, gentle ‘kicks’ will dynamically stretch the muscle. Aim to stretch the lower back, quadraceps, hamstrings, buttox and chest.
Strength conditioning is important to generate the force required for a full golf stroke. Lunges, squats and crunches are important to build strength in the core of your body. Medicine ball exercises that involve the twisting of the trunk and bridges will help create more powerful shots on the course.
Back, knee, shoulder and wrist injuries are common in golf. Some are injuries that occur due to poor technique while others are overuse injuries. It is important to swing the golf club within your limits. Attempting to hit the ball too hard rotates the back and knee beyond their capabilitites so it is important to understand your body’s limits.
Research shows that aging causes loss in strength which can contribute to injuries. You need to continue with your strengthening exercises. Don’t over do it, remain in your limits but keep it up. If you do sustain an injury, you need to give the body time to recover. Playing with niggling injuries can turn chronic which will definately keep you off the golf course. Listen to your body!
To hit longer and more consistant golf shots be sure to implement a fitness program. The results will be amazing.