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 am the oldest client at JKC at 79 years, soon to be 80. I started training at JKC July 2021. I started at JKC because two of my three sons Justin and Michael and their partners Andrea and Keir and one of my doctors recommended JKC. They all train at JKC Now my wife Linda trains at JKC too. My third son Jonathan lives in Kingston. There is a congenial community atmosphere at JKC. People are introduced to each other. There is effective personal training at JKC.

I came to JKC through recommendations from my peers from lululemon. As a current ambassador, I’ve been introduced to legacy ambassadors, like Jon, and I knew a bunch of other people from the store were working out here so I wanted to give it a go. I often dread lower body workouts so I started coming here to do legs. I’ve had such great progress that I now come twice a week— and, I no longer hate leg day!

I’ve never experienced this sort of hybrid between group workouts and personalized service. Many group strength training services offer a sort of one-size-fits-all workout for the general population, which has never been of interest to me, because I want my workout tailored to my needs! I LOVE that you can be in a group setting while doing your own personal program; I love the camaraderie and community at JKC, and, I’ve seen incredible results thus far! Jon is always so attuned to what I need.

I heard really good things about it from my sister, and I could see the positive results she was getting.  I needed to do something.  I was overweight, depressed, and recovering from a back injury.  I had reached a point where simply getting up out of a chair was becoming difficult.  I knew that if I didn’t do something about it my senior years would be very burdensome to the people close to me.  I’m so glad I did!  After just a few weeks my day-to-day pain was drastically reduced, and my mobility increased. I had the confidence to try sea kayaking, and I now play ice hockey twice a week!

The key difference is the expertise.  The trainers know the gym equipment and the exercises, but they also have degrees in kinesiology, and can apply what they know to your workout.  As someone who was in poor physical condition starting out, I was worried about hurting myself.  Previously I tried an outdoor weekly bootcamp and injured my knee by pushing too hard.  The trainers at JKC constructed a program that started at the right level for me, evolving it as I grew stronger and more fit.  I feel well looked after.

I chose JKC because I was looking for something different. I’ve seen and done the trendy workout programs before, I was looking for something that I knew I could see myself still doing a year from now! JKC has a lot of clients that have been going for years. That was a huge motivator for me! The small group coaching sessions are great and I really enjoy the format. It’s nice having 2-4 people working-out with you during your session. The camaraderie is great, everyone is very upbeat and positive – zero gym judgment!

I had been struggling with work-life balance resulting in not exercising or playing hockey as much as I had been doing in the past. In addition to being out of shape, I was starting to experience some back/shoulder issues and realized I needed to make some changes. Around this time, a friend (who was also a client) recommended JKC and that’s when I started!

You really feel part of a community where everyone is welcoming and supportive. You get a program that is designed specifically to achieve your goals, with the ongoing coaching, progress tracking and support required to achieve them. The JKC team are very knowledgeable about fitness and conditioning, and very engaging with everyone to answer questions or discuss anything and everything training related. I also like the flexible scheduling and gym times that work for my schedule (I like early mornings and evenings).

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