Mobility is just one way that you can challenge your body to perform better for you on the golf course. Developing power and more coordination between body parts during an athletic move (like the golf swing) is another way to create improvement in your game with your body — in this case via specific exercise.
Improving coordination of body parts helps transfer energy from the ground and body to the clubhead and ball — and you can do this more efficiently if you have the right muscles active during the golf swing. Specifically, getting the hips and core contracting to create stability in the body while the arms and shoulders make a dynamic move is a key for efficient energy transmission.
Similarly, to create more energy that eventually gets to the ball, many of the world’s best golfers use the effective strategy of pushing through the ground, in turn creating more power and distance in the golf swing. They do this by engaging more of the muscles used for jumping (even if you don’t this in an obvious manner during the swing — a la Happy Gilmore). So exercise that increases your vertical force production will help to better activate these powerful muscles within the context of your golf swing, ideally leading to the same increase of power and distance.
With all that said, these are some of the most effective exercise moves for promoting power and better body coordination in golf that many people are missing out on.
- Anti-rotation Chops
- Anti-Rotation Pallof Press
- Squat Jump
Give them a try!
1 – Anti-rotation Chops
A “chop” exercise involves taking the hands from a high position on one side to a low position on the opposite side (like a “wood chop” of sorts). In this instance, the other intention of the exercise (especially for golf) is to keep the core and hips steady and unmoving throughout the action (stability through the hips and core while the upper body is active and dynamic).
- Begin in a half-kneeling position (put a pillow/cushion/support block under the knee if possible) — dominant foot flat on the floor in front with the knee and hip at 90 degrees, non-dominant leg under the pelvis with the knee down, and back toes tucked for extra balance (toes on the floor). First, reach high and towards your dominant leg side with the elbows straight. Then, pull down and to your chest, bending the elbows. Finally, push down and towards your non-dominant leg side, straightening at the elbows again. Keep the core and hips stable throughout (no significant rotation of the torso should occur).
- You can use no resistance, a resistance band attached from a high point, or a light weight to create more challenge to this activity.
- Repeat this for 10 repetitions, and repeat for the other side of the body too (ie. arms high on opposite side, and legs switch to non-dominant in front as well). Complete 2-3 sets.
- Notes: (1) The closer together your knees are to your mid-line, the more difficult it will be to keep your balance. (2) Simulate forearm rotation by beginning with the thumbs pointing out with the arms high, thumbs pointing up towards the ceiling at chest level, and thumbs again pointing out (to the opposite side) at the low point. And, (3) Once you get a feel for the movement, try the whole action with the elbows straight — this is a much greater challenge for your core and hip stability.
2 – Anti-rotation Pallof Press
A Pallof Press looks like an upper body exercise, but in this instance it is actually mostly another core and hip stability move. Creating separation between the arms and the body without swaying off your base of support is the essence of a pallof press exercise… see a parallel to reaching away from your target while staying balanced over a golf ball?
- Begin in half-kneeling again (put a pillow/cushion/support block under the knee if possible) — dominant foot flat on the floor in front with the knee and hip at 90 degrees, non-dominant leg under the pelvic with knee down, and back toes tucked for extra balance. Keep the hands at chest height against your sternum to start (1), then push away from the body extending the elbows fully at the same height (2). Return to the start, then extend away from the body again at head height (3). Return to the start, and finally extend away from the body to stomach height. Return to start.
- You can use no resistance or a small weight in the hands for this exercise, but my preference is resistance tubing attached to the side. This creates a constant rotational challenge for the hips and core to resist throughout the movement, which changes dynamically with movement of the arms (a more golf-specific challenge).
- Repeat this for 10 repetitions, and repeat for the other side of the body too (ie. if a resistance band is attached, turn all the way around and switch the legs to non-dominant in front as well). Complete 2-3 sets.
- Note: The closer together your knees are to your mid-line, the more difficult it will be to keep your balance — this is another way to make this activity more difficult.
3 – Squat Jump
The same muscles that create an effective vertical jump help generate power in the golf swing. Many golfers are focused on rooting their trail leg into the ground during the backswing and transferring their weight to the lead leg on the downswing (still a good idea), but have you tried supplementing that with more vertical thrust?
This is a power-creation focused exercise, so be sure to reset to the start position after each action (just like you would after each golf swing).
- Begin standing in an athletic position — a slight bend at the knees and hips, chest tall, feet shoulder width apart (1). Shift the hips back and down to perform a squat, keeping the arms down if possible (2). At the bottom of your squat, push hard through both heels, squeezing the glutes to jump vertically into the air — swing your arms forward and above your head at the same time if possible (3). Land softly on your feet, and return to start.
- Try to keep the action of the squat in consistent rhythm — roughly 1 second to complete (count “One-One-Thousand” in your head) the squat component. This keeps the action consistent and in a more natural rhythm to the golf swing.
- No resistance for this exercise, but there are some simple modifications to make this easier or harder:
- Repeat this for 10 repetitions, 2-3 sets.
Squat Jump Notes:
- If jumping creates other issues for you, joint-pain related or otherwise, still push through the heels and squeeze the glutes, but do not lift off — come up on your toes instead. This still creates vertical thrust power, but minimizes impacts of the actual jump.
- Arm-swing from low-to-high increases you vertical power in total, but if you want more challenging conditions for your lower body, remove the arm swing. And no, swinging the arms high-to-low doesn’t help, even if it feels more natural.
- Begin slightly elevated for a final challenge — this hopping down into the squat (even by as little as 10cm) creates a counter-movement that generates more muscular engagement during the jump.