Believe it: you cannot have too much strength for golf. Need proof? When working with Annika, strength training was our No.1 priority. She ended up doing 300-lb squats and push-ups with 70 lbs on her back, and it played a part in winning 89 professional tournaments (10 majors). And don’t worry: you will not bulk up with strength training.
Strength is what’s needed to move and control an object, in our case the club. Strength is also needed to protect our joints as muscles can take the forces off those joints, meaning fewer injuries. Strength is important to produce power (in combination with speed) and power is what we want to hit it further or to get out of the rough. Now the only way to gain strength is either to move ourselves while overloading our body (e.g., push-ups or squats) or to move an object heavy enough to create an overload (e.g., a weight or cable pull). Of course we want to do this in a safe way and we also want to make sure that our body is trained as a whole system to stay balanced—so no isolating!
Let’s start with just a few things to keep in mind while you’re strength training:
- Always warm up before exercising. I suggest 5 minutes of dynamic movements like light running, cycling or jumping rope. I don’t suggest static stretching before the workout; leave that for after Make sure you always have your core engaged before you start to move.
- Pull your belly button in and up, which will create a little pelvic tilt without “tightening” Have a good stance, soft in your legs with knees slightly bent, similar to your golf stance.
- Stay aligned, keep your spine straight, no leaning to either side. Imagine yourself inside a cylinder (a mirror is very helpful here).
- Keep a loose grip, just enough to control the weight and don’t isolate any body parts as you want to learn to use your whole system.
- Move to the next progression only when you are 100% sure that the exercise is performed with perfect form and you are comfortable.
- Intensity will make you stronger, not duration.
For this article we will start with some body weight exercises (calisthenics) that most everyone knows. They are still some of the best, safest, and most efficient exercises, and they can be done anywhere.
These are great to build overall core strength and to learn how to connect your whole body, from your hands to your feet. This is important as your feet should essentially be connected to the club.
Lay on your stomach supported by your elbows and toes, then lift up your midsection by pulling your abs towards the ceiling. Create a forward pelvic tilt so you end up with a straight back (almost rounded up vs hollow). Squeeze your glutes together and keep the abs tucked in and engaged while relaxing your arms, shoulders and legs, which is quite hard to do. Hold the “squeeze” for up to 30 seconds 3-5 times with 10-20 seconds break in- between.
Intensify: decrease stability by lifting up one leg or one arm (or both) or have someone push down on your midsection while you resist.
These will build strong legs and gluteal muscles, and will also help to protect the spine and knees. With feet shoulder-width apart squat back by initiating the movement with your hips moving back (vs. your knees moving forward) until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. It is important that your knees don’t extend in front of your feet, this way the squat is safe even if you have knee issues. If it is hard for you to trust sitting back I suggest you stand in front of a bench or chair and sit back until your glutes touch, then come back up. Perform 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps, slow on the way down and faster on the way up.
Intensify: Add weight (i.e dumbbells in your hands) rather than increasing the reps, or stand on a balance board.
Start the pushup position and lift your midsection by pulling your abs towards the ceiling. Initiate the push up by letting your elbows travel to the side (vs starting with your scapular) and lower the midsection slowly as far down as you are comfortable. Initiate going up by pulling your abs towards the ceiling and then push with your arms, that means that your whole body stays connected throughout the exercise. Go 3 sets, 8-10 reps, slow on the way down and faster on the way up.
Intensify: Decrease stability, i.e. lift one leg or have your hand on a balance board or increase the load by having someone place weight on your back.
For more information and more training exercises, visit Kai’s website.