By Angie Hurley, CSCS, CAT(C)

For the last 2 decades, top golfers have been taking golf from game to sport.

Starting with Tiger Woods, and currently with Rory McIlroy, golfers have been advancing their skills, and their game on the greens, by working hard in the gym.

Golf is a Complicated Sport

Golf requires a very specific chain of movements across multiple joints in the body. Each segment of the golf swing builds on the previous segment, allowing for greater energy to be carried from the backswing into the downswing, like a sling shot.

Currently, Rory McIlroy seems to have the kinematic advantage with his unique but precise timing of movements within his swing. Of note, is McIlroy’s fastest hip rotation ever measured by Titleist Performance Institute at 720 degrees per second, 200 degrees per second faster than the PGA Tour average.

Exercises to Maximize Your Golf Swing Potential

While the precise technique and timing of the golf swing is better left to golf coaches, each phase of movement does have specific physical components that can be trained in the gym.

The backswing requires torso and shoulder range of motion as well as lower body stability. While the downswing creates force and transfers energy from the pelvis to the torso, to the arms, and, finally, the club head.

Focusing on improving the following components can maximize your golf swing potential:

  • stable base of support
  • dissociation of the pelvis and the torso
  • internal rotation of the lead leg
  • shoulder and thoracic spine range of motion

Within each of these components, proficiency in the following areas will enhance your game and prevent injury:

  • Stability
  • Mobility
  • Dissociation
  • Strength
  • Power

Stability

Stability is the ability to control and maintain a joint position. Having stability allows the next segment in the chain of movement to operate optimally. On the other hand, if stability is lacking, the transfer of force production will be lost and misdirected.

Key areas for stability in golf include the pelvis, torso and shoulders.

Exercises

Mobility

Mobility is being able to move in a controlled manner through a full range of motion. Being able to control our body through a greater range of motion means less incidence of injury, increased efficiency of movement, and greater force production.

The key areas we want to be mobile in for the golf swing are the hips, mid torso (or thoracic spine), and shoulders. Mobility through the hips and mid torso means there is less demand on the low back to compensate, preventing many of the injuries, aches, and pains that may keep you off the greens.

Exercises

Dissociation

Dissociation has been a big buzzword in strength training for golf. In golf, it refers to the separation of the pelvis movement from the movement of the torso. Dissociation combines both previously listed components: stability of the pelvis combined with the mobility of the torso (back swing) and stability of the torso with the mobility of the pelvis (down swing and force generation). While one joint is in motion, the other is acting as an anchor point for force to generate and build. 

The following TPI drills test if you have the capability to separate torso movement from pelvic movement.

Torso on pelvis dissociation: With soft knees, hinge at the waist, rotate through the torso while keeping the hips stationary and square (facing forward).

Pelvis on torso dissociation: with soft knees, hinge at the waist, hands crossed over chest, rotate hips while keeping torso stationary and square.

Exercises:

Strength

Strength is the ability to generate force. Strength is also required to stabilize a joint. According to Dr. Sasho McKenzie, the slight squat into the lead leg at the start of the McIlroy’s downswing allows for more ground reaction force under the lead foot, facilitating velocity and momentum through the rest of the swing.

Therefore, strength training should focus on the shift of weight laterally, pushing off from the floor to create upward force, and rotation strength.

Exercises:

Power

Power is the ability to do produce force as quickly as possible. When we think of training for power, we should be thinking of quick explosive movements like plyometrics including jumps and throws. Therefore, at its core, the golf swing is a complicated, multi-joint explosive power movement.

Exercises:

To learn how to safely and effectively add these exercises and more into your training repertoire, check in with us at JKConditioning.

We can help you take your golf game from subpar, to under par.

Thanks for reading!

~Angie

I started strength training at JKC in the Spring of 2021. I am in my 60’s but happy to say I feel much younger since joining this gym. I joined JKC upon the advice of a doctor. I went through some difficult medical issues last year, that’s when one of my doctors recommended strength training at JKC. I have been physically active most of my adult life but mainly running and completed many road races as I am a distance runner. Strength training has definitely benefited me by increasing my stamina and energy. It sure has enhanced my recovery over the past year. I have the added benefit of becoming a stronger runner as well.

I was referred to JKC by my sister-in-law and had heard good things about it from many people in the running community. I also saw Jon’s picture on the wall at lululemon years ago! I really like the personalized training and the variety the guys provide. I started for strength training for running. I love cardio and do tons of it but wasn’t motivated to do much strength work on my own. Jon mixes up my strength work week to week so I don’t get bored but also lets me work in a hard circuit for the last 20 minutes of most sessions to get my cardio fix 

I have never previously seen the passion and level of care that Jon and Thomas bring to everyone who works out at JKC. Their knowledge, insight and skills are extraordinary, and they work with everyone individually to ensure the best possible results. The attention to detail and to every person’s specific requirements and goals, and the incredible, constant encouragement they provide, is, in my opinion, what truly distinguishes JKC from any other program in which I’ve participated. I am extremely pleased with the progress I’ve achieved thus far, and it’s largely attributable to Jon and Thomas and the approach they take to training and working with people.

I chose JKC originally to help prevent rowing injuries. I’m a rower and we won the St. John’s Regatta in 2019 but I rowed through a rib stress fracture and missed significant time in the boat during the racing season. Training at JKC consistently since the pandemic helped me stay injury free this year and made me the strongest I’ve ever felt, which helped me help my team win the 2021 St. John’s Regatta! Jon adds variety and mixes the exercises up well so that the workout goes by quickly and strength is gained. The gym is very personable and I like the eclectic mix of people that are there. JKC is much more intimate and personal than other gyms.

log overhead press

I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

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