It's fun to go to the range and beat golf balls, especially when they have targets for you to aim at -- some ranges have greens placed in ponds so you can cheer when your shots stay dry. But there are other ways to improve your golf swing. Pros such as LPGA star Suzann Pettersen spend hours in the gym to become stronger and more flexible. So if you want to improve your golf swing, take a lesson from the pros and adopt some of their exercise routines.
You need to be limber to swing a golf club properly and efficiently. You also want to avoid injuries. So if you want to enjoy your day on the links to the max, make sure your body is ready to go when you reach the 1st tee or the hitting area at the range. MayoClinic.com recommends basic warm-up exercises, including stretches for the quads, hips, back and shoulder. The American Council on Exercise suggests more creative stretches, such as using the club as a substitute for a medicine ball to do trunk rotations to loosen up your back and hips.
Core Strength Exercises
"The energy for your golf swing comes from the muscles in your torso -- not your arms," Pettersen tells "Shape" magazine. By building up core strength, you're better equipped to maintain stability and good posture throughout the swing. One of the fittest players in the game, Pettersen recommends a number of exercises to increase core strength, including side lunges with rotation and seated medicine ball rotations. Some of the exercises are sport-specific, incorporating strength workouts and the movements of the golf swing itself. STACK recommends planks, deadlifts and a number of other exercises for golfers who want to develop core strength.
Power and Explosiveness Exercises
PGA star Stewart Cink is one of many pros who have turned to plyometric exercises to increase distance off the tee. If you want to hit the ball further -- and who doesn't? -- you need to generate more clubhead speed at the point of impact. This requires the type of explosive power produced by plyometrics exercises, which often involve rapid bounding, throwing and leaping movements. For example, Cink's routine includes the rocket jump. Move into a squat position, cock your arms back at the bottom of the squat, then explode upward while fully extending your arms toward the ceiling. Repeat as soon as you touch the ground. Plyometrics trains your muscles to fire rapidly, and if they do so as you start your downswing, the result is likely to be additional clubhead speed and more distance.
Balance and Flexibility
As IDEA Fitness & Health Association explains, golf is "a game of asymmetry and multi-directional stresses." To put that in plainer English, a golf swing is a one-sided movement that twists muscles in opposing directions as your body coils and uncoils. IDEA says its comparable to performing 100 to 130 oblique curls to the left -- and only to the left if you play golf right-handed -- with a compressive force eight times your body weight. To improve or restore body balance and flexibility, many golfers turn to Pilates and yoga. Both help pinpoint weaknesses and imbalances in your body, lengthen and strengthen muscles and relieve joint tightness. The result is a smoother and more fluid golf swing.
- Shawe: 5 Golf Exercises to Get You in the Swing of Things
- MayoClinic.com: Slide Show: Golf Stretches for a More Fluid Swing
- STACK: Improve Your Golf Swing with Core Exercises
- IDEA Health & Fitness Association: Create a Pilates Conditioning Program for Golfers
- American Council on Exercise: What Are Some Good Golf Exercises?
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.