What you do in the hours leading up to your round of golf can either help or hurt your play. If you workout prior to a round of golf, how you warm-up and specifically what exercises or activities you do can help your body perform the golf swing movements and lower your scores. Adversely, if you do the wrong types activities, workouts or warm-up exercises or movements, you will feel like you have never swing a golf club and your round and score will suffer! This post will describe the types of movements you should do and not do if your want to play better and shoot a lower score.
The Golf Swing is Rotational
The golf swing is a rotational type of movement, requiring that your hips, spine and shoulders turn freely and repetitively. Take away the ability to turn your body and it’s highly likely your swing, your round and score will suffer!
The Wrong Types of Workout Exercises & Movements
Workouts, exercises and warm-up activities that teach the body not to rotate can inhibit the turn of the hips, spine & shoulders.
The picture above shows three common weight lifting exercises (from left to right: standing chest press, overhead triceps extensions & standing bicep curls).
While the exercises shown are performed using resistance bands, it really doesn’t matter the type of resistance used (bands, cables, free weights, kettlebells, body weight, etc.).
You Are How You Train
Any exercise that trains the muscles around the hips, spine and shoulders to not move, essentially trains the hips, spine & shoulders not to turn.
Training the hips, spine and shoulders not to turn is great after a round of golf, or on a day that you’re not planning on playing golf.
In the conditioning & training world there’s a training principle called Specificity of Training. What this means is that training is very, very specific to the training stimulus the body experiences. Simply stated, if you go out and regularly train to run, you will get better at running. If you run slow, your body will learn to run slow and if your run fast, your body will become faster.
So if you do a workout or some exercises that don’t turn the hips, spine and shoulders, before you play golf…your body probably won’t turn very will while you play.
The Nervous System
It’s all about the nervous system, as the brain and nerves learn the golf swing movements you practice.
Motor Units & Muscle Memory
For a muscle to work to move a bone or body segment, the brain basically send signals to select muscles, over the nerves, telling them to coordinate the movement of the specific bones and of the arms, legs and trunk, required to perform the desired movement.
A motor unit is a combination of specific: 1) nerve fibers and select 2) muscles. When an impulse of electricity reaches a muscle, the muscle may fire, or contract, to pull on a bone to move just an arm, a leg or the entire body to perform the desired movement.
There are thousands of nerve fibers, which run from the brain to all of the muscles of the body. When you repetitively train specific movements, the brain and specific nerves and specific muscles, learn how to more efficiently perform the specific movement being trained.
Muscle Memory is the term often used when people are referring to this process of what technically is called motor learning.
Motor learning is what happens when a specific movement is practiced over-and-over and the brain stores the instructions for the specific movement in the brain.
Muscles are Dumb
So actually the muscle is not learning anything! The brain is actually storing the memory in the brain.
The brain, the nerves and the muscles connected to the specific nerves are learning!
When you perform specific exercises or movements, specific nerves and muscles get activated or turned on.
When muscles get activated, they are on for minutes or possibly even hours.
Take Home Message
When you perform exercises that don’t turn your hips, spine and shoulders, specific motor units are activated and stay activated for some period of time. The end result is you have muscles that are switched on and are working to hold the position and movements of the hips, pelvis, spine and shoulders, so you can’t turn them very effectively and efficiently.
The Golf Exercise Don’t List
The following exercises are not recommended prior to a round of golf:
- common body weight or calisthenic exercises (planks, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, bridges…)
- common weight lifting exercises (bench press, shoulder press, rows, bicep curls, tricep extensions, squats, rdl…)
The Right Types of Workout Exercises & Movements – Turning
Activities or movements that teach the hips, thoracic spine and shoulders to turn is the objective.
So if the golf swing requires that your hips, spine and shoulders turn, then do things that turn them on the day of and prior to your round.
This will activate the specific motor-units that are responsible for turning the hips, spine and shoulders to perform a coordinated, fluid golf swing.
So if you have taken the necessary time and repetitions to train your body to learn to turn and swing the club, you’ll want to enjoy the fruits of your labor as you play golf and feel your body performing the golf swing movements naturally & effortlessly. To do this you will need to avoid the “anti-rotational” workouts, exercises and movements prior to your round and ensure your are doing the right rotational types of activities.
Turning the Correct Way and In Correct Sequence
It’s not just about turning your hips, spine and shoulders, but about turning them in the same way and sequence as they need to turn in the golf swing.
Back to the specificity of training principle – turn the hips, spine and shoulders in the: 1) same body position and same joint angles & planes of movement, and 2) sequence that are required in the golf swing.
Same Body Position
To maximize the carry-over, to ensure that what you work on actually improves your golf swing, do your exercises and movements in the same body position as the swing is performed in on the course.
The angles that you train your joints in impacts your results, so make sure that your body is positioned with your feet, legs, knees, thighs, hips spine, shoulders, arms, hands and head in the exact same position as in the golf swing.
Standing up straight is not the same thing as getting into golf address posture and making your swing. When you stand tall, it might be easy to turn and swing, but when you get into golf address position, specific muscles may be or become tight and may not stretch until you get in to a golf posture and move through the golf swing movements.
Same Movement Sequence
The hips, spine and shoulders should all turn (both in the backswing and in the downswing), however they must also move in the correct sequence.
Specificity of training once again plays a major role in warming-up and preparing for your round.
In today’s modern golf swing, PGA & LPGA players sequence their downswings with the turn of their hips first, followed by the turn of the shoulders. This creates separation between the turn of the hips and turn of the shoulders, which helps create a great deal more power to improve distance and direction.
Powercore 360 Rotational Activation Activities
Turning the Hips & Pelvis – The Hip Trainer
Show above is the PC360 Golf Hip Trainer and resistance band being worn for a one minute as the best pre-round activation drill.
As the golf swing movement is performed, the band resists the turn of the hips and pelvis to the golfer’s right, this activates the specific leg, hip and pelvic muscles which need to be used to turn the hips as the golf swing is performed.
As the swing movement continues, the band pulls on the hip trainer, turning the hips in the exact same movements as the actual golf swing.
At the end of the hip turn (in the finish position) the muscles around the hips have reached their end-range. In this position, they may be tight and may be restricting any further turn of the hips.
To improve the ability to turn the hips through impact to a great finish position, try holding this position to stretch tight hip and pelvic muscles.
Band position is now switched to where the band turns of the hips & pelvis in the backswing, stretching muscles around the hips, and requiring many leg & spinal muscles to work to hold a good position of the body as the swing is performed.
As the swing continues, against the resisted turn of the hips, turn the hips all the way to the finish position. This action activates hip & pelvic muscles and keeps them on for awhile so you can still turn further and easier as you go to the golf course and play your round.
Turning the Spine & Shoulders – The Torso Trainer
The PC360 torso trainer wraps around the bottom of the rib cage. The band resists the turn of the shoulders, to the golfer’s right, which activates the muscles which are responsible for the shoulder turn in the golf backswing. This action immediately improves shoulder turn flexibility, both how far you can turn and the ease of the turn. When activated in this fashion, these muscles will be on for awhile.
Since the rib cage and the shoulders are connected to the thoracic spine, turning the rib cage will turn the shoulders as well.
It’s also important to note that the correct part of the spine that is designed to turn and should be turning in the golf swing is the thoracic spine.
At the finish position, the band is still gently pulling on the torso trainer and helping to improve the turn of the shoulders.
The golf swing is a rotational movement where the hips, thoracic spine and shoulders needs to turn freely if you want to play well. If you want to turn then you need to turn before playing and avoid workouts, exercises and activities that train your body not to turn!
Using the Powercore 360 Golf Hip & Torso Trainers and Resistance Bands, golfer’s can:
- perform golf-specific workouts & warm-up activities
- increase core strength
- increase flexibility to turn the hips, t-spine and shoulders easier
- improve golf swing mechanics
- improve golf performance & play better golf