Once upon a time, golf was seen as a relaxed, sophisticated sport that could be done by anyone, regardless of your fitness level. Now while it’s still a sophisticated and fairly calm sport compared to some others, it’s not exactly a walk in the park… If you want to really play your best game, you should be doing golf fitness and conditioning work in the gym.
Author: Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. When he’s not on the course working on his own game or mentoring young golfers, he writes in-depth articles for his website, Golf Influence. Thank you Jordan for this excellent article!
Being a great golfer demands a mix of power, flexibility, coordination, and balance. And the only way to develop these is to do hard, focused physical training. But how do you know if what you’re doing is good golf fitness and conditioning or not? Here’s what you should know.
What Is Golf Fitness and Conditioning?
Golf fitness and conditioning, or golf-specific fitness, is the kind of physical exercise necessary to improve every aspect of your golf game. It’s about a variety of things—mobility, stability, flexibility, balance, strength, and power.
Working on golf-specific fitness will help you develop the right kind of strength to play powerful shots and improve your mobility so your joints can move effortlessly through the range of motion necessary for a good golf swing.
Ultimately, good golfing fitness allows you to hit the ball further with less energy expenditure, swing through your full range of motion with less risk of injury, and help you feel good on and off the course.
Why Is It Important for Golfers?
Why does fitness and strength matter for golfers? Unlike other sports, you don’t need speed or brute strength to be a good golfer. But you do need to be fit enough for a lot of walking, flexible enough for precise form on your swing, and have some strength behind you if you want to make the best use of your driver.
Ultimately, being well-conditioned and physically fit is important for two main reasons: to perform at your best and to lower your chances of injury.
Analyzing the Achilles Heels of Golfers
Golfers tend to face some specific physical issues that can affect their swing, which in turn can have a negative effect on their performance. Some of these particular common problems might include:
- Lack of flexibility: This leads to a stunted swing with a poor range of motion.
- Poor posture and balance: Falling over during your swing can result in inaccuracy.
- A weak core: Poor core strength contributes to both poor posture and a lack of power behind your big shots.
They might seem like small, simple things, but they can affect everything from your accuracy down the fairway to how far you can drive the ball off the tee. A good golf driver can’t out-hit poor strength and conditioning!
Flexibility: Unleashing the Swing Potential
Flexibility is the main ingredient in a powerful, effective golf swing. Being flexible means, you can get a full range of motion in the upper body without moving the lower body unnecessarily, leading to a more effective swing and less chance of tweaking a muscle. Add these stretches to your routine to improve your flexibility:
- Shoulder Stretch: Assists with reaching a full backswing.
- Torso Twist: Helps with spinal rotation, an essential element of the swing.
- Hip Flexor Stretch: Helps to enhance safe, controlled hip rotation.
Strength: Building the Golfer’s Powerhouse
It’s not just about posture and flexibility, though. While you don’t see a lot of very muscular golfers, being physically strong means you have a powerful engine fueling your swing. This is particularly helpful for teeing off, and it helps you with controlling your shots better as well.
You should have a well-rounded gym program in place to really reap the rewards of strength training. Make sure you incorporate these exercises to build strength in all the right places:
- Deadlifts: One of the best movements for strengthening the posterior chain, the back, hips, glutes, and legs.
- Pull-Ups: A compound exercise that builds upper body strength for control over your swing and your clubs.
- Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: Builds core strength and trains that rotational power that’s essential for a powerful and safe swing.
Balance and Coordination: The Art of Precision
Good balance is important for controlling your swing, fine-tuning your precision on the short game, and navigating the ups and downs as you walk the course. Here are a few exercises you can add to your routine to help improve your balance and coordination:
- Single-Leg Stands: Build strength, stability, and endurance.
- Ladder Drills: Improve agility, which is important for navigating the course.
- Yoga: Strengthens your core and helps with balance.
Core Stability: The Foundation of a Perfect Swing
The core is much more important than most people realize during the golf swing. It’s what supports your body in its posture and allows for a strong rotational force as you swing through. It also helps you to transfer weight correctly throughout the swing.
Make sure you’re doing these core exercises at least once during the week to build core strength and improve your skills.
- Planks: Targets the whole core, but be sure to do them with the correct form.
- Russian Twists: Improve your rotational strength and smoothness.
- Supermans: Strengthen the lower back muscles so your core is well-rounded.
Integrating Golf Fitness with Lessons
You do need to be golf-fit to play your best game. But of course, you need to actually practice your golfing too. It’s important to find the best way to integrate fitness and lessons or practice so you can grow both sides of your game.
Customizing Your Path to Golf Fitness
Every golfer is different. What works for someone else might not work for you, so we highly recommend consulting a golf fitness specialist to help you nail down the right golf fitness and conditioning plan for your needs.
Scheduling Success: Harmonizing Golf and Fitness
Once you’ve got a great fitness plan, the next step is finding the ideal balance between training your game and training your fitness. Having a schedule and sticking to it regularly is by far the easiest way to do this because you’ll need to make sure to get in both gym time and driving range or course time.
Working on your swing is extremely important. But don’t neglect golf fitness and conditioning, assuming that working on the actual golf will be best! The two need to work hand-in-hand for you to have the best chance of improving your handicap, driving further, and nailing your strategy.
Trust us, build a schedule that balances your on-course training with your body training, and watch how your golf swing, stamina, and confidence change!
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