If you’re like many casual golfers, you’re always looking for ways to shave strokes off your golf handicap with golf specific workouts. One way to do this that’s often overlooked by golfers is to get in better shape using a conditioning program designed specifically to improve your golf game. A golf-based workout regimen combined with some golf lessons, a bit more practice at the range, and playing more frequently can really make a difference in your game.
Unfortunately, if you’re like most golfers, you’re not sure what types of exercise to include in your program. Should you weight train with free weights or workout machines? Should you incorporate some aerobic training so that you aren’t huffing and puffing by the 15th hole?
If you really need help deciding what to do, you should always consult a personal trainer. If you’re more of a “do-it yourselfer,” though, here are four key areas you should focus on in your workout program that will help you conquer the course.
Flexibility is the driving force behind any solid, consistent golf swing. Improving your flexibility boosts your accuracy, precision, and distance. Golfers who lack flexibility are more prone to swing errors like coming over the top. Those swing errors can plunge you into deep trouble—the kind of trouble that adds strokes to your scores and golf handicap.
Improving flexibility is easier said than done. You can’t just do a little light stretching and expect to see results overnight–you also need to create a workout regimen that includes exercises that focuses on improving flexibility.
These exercises differ from those that concentrate on building strength. Generally, your core, hips, arms, and shoulders are the areas you need to focus on most, since those are the places where you generate the most torque in your swing, and thus are more prone to injuries. Some folks have had a lot of success using yoga-based workouts to improve flexibility, but a word of warning: they can be tough. Always know your limits and consult a doctor before starting out.
Strength is essential to having a flawless, powerful swing. In fact, it’s hard to strike a ball well if you don’t have a certain basic level of strength. Without that modest amount of strength, if you do strike the ball well, it won’t go far. Strengthening your abdominal and core muscles is critical to having a good swing.
Strength training generally involves 2-3 reps lifting close to your maximum weight on any given exercise. As with any exercise, use caution when starting a strength training regiment. You shouldn’t just go to the gym and lift random weights, copying whomever’s around without any thought to the ultimate result. For example, lifting heavy weights a lot tends to bulk you up, costing you flexibility in the process.
Also, keep in mind that golf is a “one-sided” sport. It stresses one side of your body. So you’ll need a training program that creates some balance while also providing noticeable strength gains.
Endurance involves moving a lighter object many times without the need for rest. Improving endurance in golf means you won’t be so tired on the 14th green that you start to hit bad shots.
Some fitness experts suggest training for endurance while standing. This helps with balance, posture, and stability. But that’s up to you. Exercises that can help you with your endurance and build your core and abdominals include:
Full Bent-Knee Situps
“Bicycles” (alternating each elbow to the opposite knee in rapid manner)
To build up endurance when weight training, work with lighter weights and do a lot of repetitions.
The last of the four core areas you need to work on to be in great golf shape, aerobic capacity is often overlooked in fitness regimens. But it’s just as essential as flexibility, strength, and endurance—maybe more so. Fortunately, you don’t have to be highly aerobically fit to play golf. If you tend to ride in a golf cart, you can be less aerobically fit than if you like to walk the course.
Walking a course is great aerobic exercise. That’s because it requires more energy than riding in a golf cart, but not so much energy that you can’t swing a club effectively for 18 holes. Many golfers walk and use a pushcart to carry their clubs.
Good examples of a conditioning program for golfers are those used by runners and swimmers. Most of these have a somewhat balanced approach to getting in shape. Just make sure that whatever program you use, it targets the four areas described above.
And don’t forget to consult a doctor before starting any exercise program!