A few weeks ago I was asked to do a special golf conditioning seminar at a very popular natural health food supermarket. This seminar attracted quite a crowd. Of the main reasons there was so much interest is because core conditioning can do such remarkable things for your golf game. Every golfer wants to play better. This desire is a common thread running from professional golfers touring on the PGA circuit to the amateur beginner at your local public golf course. For many, golf is a chance to relax, relieve stress, do some business and get some exercise. Regardless of why someone plays golf or what level they play at, the desire to lower one’s personal score is present in every recreational and professional golfer I’ve ever met. You’re about to learn how to improve your score quickly and easily by leveraging the 2 major keys to golf conditioning success.
First, In case you’re not familiar with me, my name is David Grisaffi and I’m a corrective exercise kinesiologist, certified lifestyle coach and a certified golf biomechanics expert. From years of training golfers at every level, I’ve discovered the two most overlooked secrets in improving your golf scores and they’re not what you think.
The most common methods to achieve better golf performance are a combination of professional lessons and more practice. Although this approach seems logical, it’s the very reason why many golfers end up with overuse injuries in the wrist, shoulder and most commonly, the lower back. Few golfers associate the need for improved physical conditioning with the quest for improved performance. However, physical conditioning and an improved golf game are tied so closely together they are intertwined with and inseparable from lessons given by a good PGA professional.
The most important tool in your golf game is your body and what kind of physical condition it’s in. Many professional golfers have taken up core conditioning and golf fitness because they need to improve their game, but this was especially true after Tiger Woods showed up on the scene bigger, stronger and physically better than the rest. Since then, almost all golfers have looked into, if not already started, a core conditioning program. In fact, if you’re not on a golf conditioning program yet, you are in the minority.
The interest in core conditioning among the pros has had a profound trickle-down effect and I’ve had the privilege to see this first hand. One summer, a young gentleman named Michael Putnam from Pepperdine University came over to my studio for a golf conditioning program. He was a tall handsome young amateur with Pro golf on his mind. Long story short, after some serious gym time, he landed in the runner-up position at the NCAA division one golf championships and is now on the nationwide tour waiting for his chance at Q school again.
1. Golf flexibility.
The number one key to golf conditioning success is flexibility. Unfortunately, it is also the number one fitness component all golfers overlook. Too often, they think flexibility is a complete waste time and does not contribute to their golf game. This is flat out wrong. Regardless of how strong your muscles are, without flexibility to match, your potential for injury skyrockets. If you incur any type of injury, no matter how minor, your ability to improve your game is practically shot until the injury is healed. Gary Gray, an internationally respected physical therapist, says what when it comes to golf swing faults and body fixes, “flexibility is the most important component.”
There are many different approaches to flexibility, from performing traditional stretching exercises to dynamic flexibility, which involves moving the body, rather than holding static stretches. If you stretch for static flexibility, you will get static flexibility. For improvement in your golf game, I prefer to see you stretch in a dynamic fashion. Dynamic flexibility will help your golf game by improving end range of motion movements.
You also must understand static and dynamic posture. These two positions have a great influence on your golf swing. Your posture influences your golf game by storing and conserving energy. World-renowned therapist and physicist Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais’, showed that we use less energy while in good posture. On a golf course, the ramifications of poor posture include swing faults and increased injuries.
Static posture as it relates to golf is your ability to stand over the ball in a comfortable position. Can you hold static posture over the ball without moving or feeling a little pinch in your back, a little pull in your hamstrings? If you tend to move over the top of the ball, then you need to work on static posture via a flexibility program.
Dynamic posture is your ability to maintain axis of rotation in all working joints regardless of position and movement speed. This type of dynamic posture is related to dynamic flexibility and is essential for golf success.
Muscle imbalances are a far too common part of golf swing faults. These imbalances have a direct influence over static and dynamic postures. To understand muscle imbalance, you need to understand the two types of muscles: tonic and phasic.
Tonic muscles are ideally suited for postural duties and become tight easily. Phasic muscles are more suitable for dynamic movements and easily become lengthened and weak. Tonic muscles tend to rob neurological impulse from the Phasic muscles. When this happens, for example in your downswing, the hip flexor starts to pull downward and gives you what we call a “fat shot.” For more information about specific flexibility exercises, I’ve written an entire e-book about flexibility, complete with photos and exercise photos, and you can actually get it free when you purchase my Firm and Flatten Your Abs e book package.
2. Core conditioning.
The second major key to golf conditioning success is core conditioning. The core area is quite a popular subject these days. The core contributes to everything we do in our daily lives from picking up a suitcase at the airport terminal to holding our child in our arms. In the game of golf, core strength and conditioning is vital to your success. Your core consists of the area from the knees to the chest and is made up of many different muscular parts that are intertwined to produce a good, fluid golf swing. Having a strong, flexible, and powerful core helps you with the ability to generate stability, strength, and power in your swing.
Regular core conditioning work can dramatically improve your golf scores. As a matter of fact, doing an excessive amount of traditional abdominal training such as crunches and sit-ups may lead to faulty posture and hamper your golf game.
For golfers, I also strongly suggest most of your core conditioning program be implemented while standing on your feet. When I set up core conditioning programs for golfers, I also set them up in modules or levels which you progress through as your strength and conditioning level increase. At the very beginning of a core conditioning program, some exercises may seem easy. These starting-level exercises were not designed to fatigue you – they are neurologically-based and help in developing a solid neurological “wiring system” in your body.
Remember, there is no such thing as “muscle memory.” It is your neurological memory that guides and controls movements by communicating to the muscles involved. If the “wiring system” is not working in your house, the lights do not go on. If the neurological system in your body is not wired properly and then turned on with proper training, your golf swing will show it.
An effective core conditioning program needs to look at all “four sides” of the core. The core consists of four major muscles: The transverse abdominis, the internal oblique, the external oblique and the rectus abdominis. There are many other muscles involved as well, such as are lower back, latissmus dorsi (the only muscle that reaches from our pelvis to our shoulder), quadriceps, hamstrings and shoulder muscles. All these muscles must work together to develop a good powerful and repeatable golf swing.
As I state in my book, Firm and Flatten Your Abs, “An idle butt is the devil’s fat depository”. What I mean by “idle butt” is that when you are not actively moving towards the achievement of a goal, you are regressing, not “maintaining,” and you are certainly not progressing.
To progress, you have to set a goal, get on an individualized program and work towards it constantly. Below, you will find a highly effective golf core conditioning program I have written for you based on the principles I’ve shared with you in this article. Follow the program for 4-6 weeks and you will be impressed with the results. Keep in mind, though that this is just the beginning. Variety and continuous progression in your workouts are critical to your continuous results.
One of your best strategies to improve your performance is to hire a qualified professional to help you create ongoing personalized golf-conditioning programs; the same way you would hire a pro to help you continue to improve the techniques and mechanics of your game. For a core conditioning program with 7 progressively advancing levels of workouts and over 50 exercises to choose from, take a look at my site, www.flattenyourabs.net.
Golf is a game of physical conditioning, skill, mental focus and hopefully, fun. To play at your best and enjoy the experience, every golfer must adhere to a sound physical conditioning program as well as a nutritious diet, which allow the mental focus and conditioning of your body to stay in harmony.
David Grisaffi’s core conditioning program for golf: Phase I
–>> Use this program for 4-6 weeks
–>> Monday / Wednesday / Friday
–>> Exercises 3, 4 & 5 are done in a circuit with 1:00 rest between circuits
–>> Equipment needed: Swiss ball, dumbbells, and barbell