We are on the home stretch now. We’ve covered the basic fitness requirements for golf, we’ve outlined the most crucial exercises for increasing flexibility, the foundation on which the rest of the fitness aspects are built, and we’ve talked about golf-specific stability exercises, so pivotal (pun intended) to getting your drive right and preventing injuries. In this, the third and final instalment on getting into shape for golf, we will look at strength and power: Again, absolutely essential when you are teeing off, and to stop injuries, for example, to your knees and lower back, which are put through tremendous stress during the game.
Muscular strength is defined as the ability of the body to exert a required level of force to perform a functional movement—like running, jumping, picking up weights—and, in this case, driving a club on the greens. Developing strength allows your body to properly sequence the muscular contractions that are required in a golf swing, maintain the spine angle, and generate power. Ignoring strength development can lead to injuries in the discs in the lumbar spine, the hip joint, or the knee joint.
Harder, longer: Ignoring strength development can lead to injuries. By Thinkstock
Muscular power is the last physical pillar of golf conditioning and can be defined as the body’s ability to generate the greatest amount of force in the shortest possible time. Many movements in a golf swing require an explosive contraction of the muscles. How fast your club travels through the air and how hard it hits the ball is a function of muscular power. If the clubhead moves faster as a result of increased power outputs from the body, the ball will travel farther.
• Cycle lunges
This exercise is great for developing speed and power in the lower body. Adopt a lunge stance with the left foot in front, right foot back and knees slightly bent. Extend the arms slightly behind the hips and keep your torso upright. Lower the body into a deep lunge, then forcefully jump into the air. Drive your arms up and forward during the jump. Switch leg positions in the air—right leg to the front, left to the back—and land in a lunge position. Bend both knees slightly to absorb the landing. Land on the balls of your foot and focus on keeping the landing soft. Keep your core braced throughout. Repeat the jump for six-eight repetitions and two-three sets.
• Single-leg deadlift/ with dumbbell
This increases stability and strength in the hamstrings, hips and lumbar spine. It also teaches great postural awareness—practising it will automatically result in your body learning how to dissociate the movement of the hips from the movement of the spine, thus allowing the hips, which are much stronger than the spine, to pick up the bulk of the load in an activity. Grasp a dumbbell with both hands. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and body upright. Bend at the hips and reach out for your left foot with the dumbbell while extending the right leg behind you as a counterbalance. Hinge only from the hips while keeping the spine angle straight and fixed. Pause for a second at the bottom position of the exercise and return to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions and repeat with the other leg. The entire exercise should be performed on the balancing leg and the leg that extends backward should not touch the floor till all the repetitions are over. Perform two-three sets. Beginners can use a light medicine ball or even a water bottle instead of dumbbells.
• Medicine ball diagonal wood chops
This exercise develops rotational power in the core muscles, the main source of power generation during a golf swing. Place feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft and easy; hands holding a medicine ball over the left shoulder. Using a chopping action, rotate your torso and hips and bring the ball to over and outside your right ankle. Pause for a brief second, and then drive it back to the starting position, doing the movement in reverse. The movement should be fast and rhythmical for six-eight repetitions on each side. Complete two sets on either side of the body. As it starts getting easier, graduate to using heavier weights.
• Tubing pulls
This exercise is great for increasing pulling and rotational strength in the core, middle and upper back. It also encourages good postural muscle development, necessary in golf. Stand upright, with your knees soft, eyes looking forward, and grab the handles of a tubing (band) with both hands at shoulder height. The band has to be securely fastened to a strong surface. Step a couple of feet back to create additional resistance. Pull your right arm backwards by flexing at the elbow. Allow the hips, core and shoulder to rotate. At the same time, extend your left arm and shoulder forward. Repeat the sequence by pulling the left arm backward and extending the right hand. Alternate back and forth for 10-15 repetitions per set. Complete two-three sets in a session. Move to a higher resistance tubing gradually as your strength increases.
Ranadeep Moitra is a certified coach from the National Strength and Conditioning Association of America, and has worked with the Indian cricket team, the Bengal cricket team and the East Bengal Football Club. He currently coaches the Indian golf team.
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Also Read | The earlier articles in the series