Muscle Bound – Building Strength for a Strong Golf Game
for Golf Tips Magazine, October, 1998
Everyone wants to drive the ball like Tiger Woods, John Daley—or Laura Davies, but power in golf isn’t supposed to be about strength—or is it? Big biceps might not help your game, but overall strength and balance can. That’s why kinesiologist Paul Juris, a sports performance and rehabilitation consultant, recommends a functional strength training program, geared for golf. “The goal is not muscle, the goal is an effective motion,” he states.
Juris defines strength as “the ability to apply force, to provide an efficient and effective motion.” That definition applies to the sequence of motion in the golf swing, which generates velocity. Strength is also required to create force in acceleration, but just as importantly, to absorb force in deceleration. While machines may help build isolated muscle strength, free weights help the body learn to control both movement direction and balance. And since those factors are the basic elements of the golf swing, Juris recommends by-passing the machines and heading straight for the barbells and weight stack.
“Functional strength training teaches your body more effective dynamics—to coordinate movement and balance,” he explains, “The more effective you become at moving weights, the more easily you can increase your skills at real tasks, like hitting a golf ball.” Exercises should replicate the conditions of the swing, so the workout translates to the golf course. Juris stresses the importance of doing exercises in a standing position, similar to the golf stance, and coordinating two muscle groups—the trunk rotators that produce motion, and the hip, leg and back stabilizers, that maintain posture and balance. If the stabilizers are not strong enough to handle the force of the powerful rotators, instability can result, or worse—injuries.
“In a golf weight training program, start from the bottom up—just like in the swing,” Juris explains. Working the legs and hips creates a solid platform, and more effective acceleration in the turn. Strengthening the abdominals and lower back produces a more stable posture, and developing the shoulders and upper back provides for a fluid follow through. A stronger body can maintain equilibrium and move smoothly and solidly, from the back swing, through impact and the follow-through.
Watch for specific exercises in the future, but consult a physician before embarking on any new workout program. Use caution with all resistance exercises and treat any particular ailments before training. Then see how much stronger your game is!