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 a 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 coil properly during the backswing. They also need 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 offseason and two days a week when you are in season.
Warmup: 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.
Start: Use the cable crossover machine at the gym (15 pounds or what feels good to you), or attach a rubber resistance tube to a pull-up bar. Position your body parallel to the path of the cable or tube. Hold the handle of resistance high over one shoulder.
Movement: Activate your abdominals and slightly accelerate as you draw the cable or tube diagonally across your body, swinging from high to low and ending on the opposite side of the body. Slowly return to the start position and continue for 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Start: Move the cable machine to the low position setting. If using a band or tube, attach the tube someplace around floor height, such as the low part of a gate or affixed to the base of a heavy object.
Movement: Perform the same diagonal movement as in Part 1, accelerating from low to high rather than high to low. Continue for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Your arms should be kept straight throughout the movements.
Leg bridge with extension on stability ball: This is a good counter-strength move to round out core strength.
Start: Place your head and shoulders on top of a stability ball, with your feet shoulder width apart on the ground and your knees bent at right angles. Elevate your hips so they are level with your knees and shoulders. Place your hands on your hips.
Movement: Extend your lower left leg outward from the knee. Continue to extend your lower leg until it is straight. Hold the extended position of the left leg for one second and return to your starting position. Repeat the exercise with the opposite leg, alternating back and forth for 15-20 repetitions.
Quick twists: Works speed of rotation, forcing your shoulders to drive the movement.
Start: Hold a light dumbbell or medicine ball (no more than five pounds) while standing to the sternum, crossing your arms over your chest to keep the weight in place. Bend forward slightly at the same angle as your golf swing starting position.
Movement: Rotate your trunk back and forth as fast as you can for 45 seconds, maintaining the angle of your forward bend. Try to limit the movement to the trunk only, keeping your hip rotation to a minimum. This will focus the 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 (2.5 pounds) in each hand.
Movement: Rotate your trunk left and reach your right arm behind the body to a punch, then rotate your trunk right as you reach your left arm behind the body into a punch. Continue as fast as you can with good form for 45 seconds. Allow the weight to rock back and forth as you alternate sides, and allow your back foot to pivot and your heel to 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 your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead while 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 takeaway position.
Movement: Hold your arms at the top of the backswing as you reach your opposite foot back into a lunge. Make sure the knee of your front foot does not go past your toes. Moving your arms through a mock swing, return to center as you step forward to complete the first lunge, then through to a high finish position on the opposite side of your body. With arms held in the finish position, step the 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. Mills 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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