Moves to Master Your Golf Swing

by Alden Mills

The 2010 Masters golf tournament is shaping up to be a big deal, thanks to the media frenzy surrounding this year's event. This season, create some of your own drama on the links, not because of dramatic return to the game, but rather surprise your opponents with an improved handicap.

PGA fitness trainer Sean Cochran recently wrote that it is important to have a good mix of mobility, flexibility, stability, strength, and power in order to develop a fluid and efficient golf swing. Golfers need to be able to move through each phase of the swing with mobility in the hips and upper spine in order to properly coil during the backswing, while having enough core strength to stabilize the spine to keep it at a fixed angle for the duration of the swing. 

If any part of the movement pattern is disrupted, by muscular imbalances, impeded range of motion at the hips or upper spine, or a weak core, a swing fault will develop. One very famous swing fault is seen here.

The following workout emphasizes functional flexibility for your shoulders and upper spine, and strengthens your core to help you generate explosive spinal rotation. Integrate these moves three times per week during the off season, and two days a week when you are in season.

Warm up -- easy jog for 10 minutes

Strength -- Perform 2-3 sets of each following exercises:

Wood chopper with hip rotation -- functional move, integrating core strength, balance, and trunk rotation

Part I

Start -- Use cable crossover machine at gym (15 lbs or what feels good to you), or attach a rubber resistance tube to a pullup bar. Position body parallel to path of the cable or tube. Hold the handle of resistance high over one shoulder.

Movement -- Activate abdominals and slightly accelerate as you draw cable or tube diagonally across body, swinging from high to low, ending on the opposite side of body. Slowly return to start position and continue for 30 seconds. Switch sides.

Part II

Start --Move cable machine to low position setting. If using a band or tube, attach tube to someplace around floor height, such as the low part of a gate or affixed to the base of a heavy object.

Movement -- Perform same diagonal movement as in Part 1, accelerating from low to high rather than high to low. Continue for 30 seconds then switch sides. Arms should be kept straight throughout movements.

Leg bridge with extension on stability ball -- good counter strength move to round out core strength

Start -- Place head and shoulders on top of stability ball with feet shoulder width apart on the ground, knees bent at right angles. Elevate hips so they are level with knees and shoulders. Placing hands on hips.

Movement -- Extend lower left leg outward from knee. Continue to extend lower leg until straight. Hold extended position of left leg for one second and return to your starting position. Repeat the exercise with opposite leg, alternating back and forth for 15-20 repetitions.

Quick twists -- works speed of rotation, forcing your shoulders to drive the movement.

Start -- Standing, hold a light dumbbell or medicine ball (no more than 5 lb) to sternum, crossing arms over chest to keep the weight in place. Bend forward slightly, at the same angle as your golf swing starting position.

Movement -- Rotate trunk back and forth as fast as you can for 45 seconds, maintaining the angle of your forward bend. Try and limit the movement to the trunk only, keeping hip rotation to a minimum. This will focus effort on the trunk rotators.

Shoulder punch -- develops core strength and shoulder and upper back flexibility.

Start -- Stand upright, holding no weight or very light dumbbells (2.5lb) in each hand.

Movement -- Rotate trunk left and reach right arm behind body to a punch, then rotate trunk right as you reach left arm behind body into a punch. Continue as fast as you can with good form for 45 seconds.  Allow weight to rock back and forth as you alternate sides, and allow back foot to pivot and heel come up as it does during a swing.

Golf lunge -- builds strength in both legs while adding a shoulder extension to place hips in a more open position.

Start -- Stand with feet hip width apart, toes pointed straight ahead holding a light dumbbell in both hands in the same grip position you hold your golf club. Draw the weight back and up into your take away position.

Movement -- Hold arms at the top of the back swing as you reach opposite foot back into a lunge. Make sure knee of front foot does not go past toes. Moving arms through a mock swing, returning to center as you step forward to complete first lunge, then through to a high finish position on the opposite side of your body. With arms held in finish position, step other foot back into a lunge. Return to center. Complete 12-15 repetitions on each leg.

Make sure to include distance walking, jogging or running in your routine too--did you know that walking an 18-hole golf course is about the same as completing a 10K race?

Alden Mills, creator of the Perfect Pushup, is CEO of Perfect Fitness, based in CA. Massachusetts born, Alden went to the Naval Academy where he went on to become a Navy SEAL. After retiring in 2000, he earned his MBA at Carnegie Mellon. His ultimate mission is to inspire everyone to pursue their own dreams. For more from Alden, check out www.perfectonline.com.


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