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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Pure it with your pecs

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-rickie-fowler-300.jpgYou need strong and pliable chest muscles (pectoralis) in order to control the motion of a golf club, particularly as you swing your arms up to the top of the backswing and then back down and across your body during the downswing. The lowering of the arms toward the sides of your torso—known as shoulder adduction—might seem effortless since gravity does most of the work. But what isn't effortless is lowering your arms with enough speed and power to deliver a golf club into the impact zone and smash a golf ball. That's where the pecs come into play. If they are elastic enough to expand effectively at the top of the swing, and strong enough to contract powerfully as you swing down into the ball—you're going to pick up some noticeable yardage on your shots. I recently spoke with golf-and-fitness expert Joey Diovisalvi (@coachjoeyD) on this topic. The pecs are often overlooked in golf-fitness training, he says, because most people think the core muscles are more important to generating power. But the chest muscles are crucial not only for power when you swing, but also for maintaining good form. Diovisalvi, who trains a number of PGA Tour pros including Rickie Fowler (pictured) and Dustin Johnson, demonstrated a couple of great chest exercises for golfers. Click on the video below to learn how to train your pecs for golf.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Dom Furore) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Add a little spice to your core workout

By Ron Kaspriske

fitness-friday-paulina-planks.jpgStrengthening the muscles around your mid-section is so important if you want to play well—not to mention protect your back from injury. The core muscles have a number of chores when you swing the club including generating and delivering power to your rotation through the ball. They also help you maintain your posture, which is important if you want to make solid contact. One of the best, if not the best, exercise for safely building a strong core is the plank. It looks like a push-up except you rest on your forearms, and try to hold the position for as long as you can. It's a much better exercise for your abdomen than sit-ups or crunches since it puts very little stress on your spinal chord. The only knock on planks are that they can be a little boring. The stronger your core gets, the longer you have to hold the position to gain any real benefit from doing them. That's why many people stop doing planks. Before you give up on this wonderful exercise, I suggest you spice up the plank.

Click on the video below to see me do a version of this move that adds an element of cardiovascular training and makes them more interesting to do.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Stretching for people who don't like stretching

By Ron Kaspriske

I very rarely do long-hold stretches before I play golf. I prefer muscle-activation exercises. I want my muscles to fire when they're needed, and I believe stretching them for long periods hinders that process. Elasticity is key to muscle function so most trainers will tell you it's better to warm-up the body with dynamic movements. Even a brisk walk can help.

However, when the workout, round of golf, or day is done, there is one stretch that I love. And the reason I love it is that it covers most of the major muscle groups in one shot. I can stretch for a minute or two and be done with it.

It's called "The world's greatest stretch," and it comes from my buddy Mark Verstegen at Exos (@teamexos), formerly Athletes' Performance in Phoenix.

Click on the video below to see me demonstrate it:

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
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Health & Fitness

Poison Ivy gets performanced enhanced

By Ron Kaspriske

Slice your tee shot into the jungle? Before you begin your search, remember to tread lightly. Waiting for you in the bushes just off the fairway is a more-prolific and more-poisonous form of poison ivy than in year's past. And golfers can thank global warming for that.

the-loop-poison-ivy-300.jpgAs carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere thanks to things such as automobile pollution, scientists reporting to the United States Department of Agriculture have found that poison ivy is thriving and becoming more toxic. Contact with toxicodendron radicans, as scientists know it, is known to cause skin rashes in 80 percent of humans who touch it. High-C02 plants produce a more allergenic form of urushiol, which is the substance in ivy that causes dermatitis.

Typically poison ivy can be identified by three, spade-shaped leaflets (most often green). Sometimes greenish flowers and ivory-colored berries can be found near the stem. Golfers who play heavily wooded courses should cover their skin before leaving the fairway to search for a ball. If you come in contact with poison ivy, don’t scratch the ensuing rash as bacteria under your fingernails can infect the area. Treat the area with hydrocortisone cream, take an oral antihistamine and keep the rash area cool with a damp cloth, ice cubes, or a cold bath. It can take up to two weeks for it to go away.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photo by Getty Images) ... Read
Health & Fitness

Make The Turn Challenge #18: Stay Sun Safe

By Jeff Ritter

Golf and sunshine go hand in hand, but playing without the proper sun protection can lead to major health problems. The sun is a good thing. It supplies us with vital nutrients necessary for our survival. In fact taking in a small amount of sunlight is a sound way of promoting overall health. Beyond that, though, you need to protect yourself. In the tips below, our MTT LEAN 18 nutrition coach Cate Ritter breaks down all you'll ever need to know about having fun "safely" under the sun!


Get a Healthy Dose of "D"
Sunshine is the best source of natural vitamin D, which improves calcium and phosphate levels in the blood, supports mental health, strengthens bones, boosts immunity, fights cancer, reduces inflammation, improves mood and enhances well-being. Depending on your skin tone, age, diet, susceptibility to sunburn and the intensity of sunlight, a healthy dose of "D" is 15-60 minutes daily. Once you start turning pink, consider the reinforcements below.

Avoid Overexposure
Although it's good to be pro-sunlight, you want to avoid overexposure, a.k.a. sunburn. First, seek sunshine in the morning or late afternoon and avoid midday, peak UV radiation. Second, bring an umbrella or find shade under trees. Third, wear protective clothing such as hats, long sleeve shirts, pants, and sunglasses. Lastly, apply a safe, mineral-based sunscreen.

Select Healthier Sunscreens
Many sunscreens contain harmful chemicals and hormone disruptors that release free radicals in sunlight, are absorbed through the skin, create hormonal imbalances, and can cause skin irritations/allergies. Always read the ingredients label and avoid: oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, PABA, and vitamin A (retinol or retinal palmitate). Choose mineral-based sunscreens with the following active ingredients: zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.

Eat Protective Foods
Nutrient-dense foods high in antioxidants protect your skin from the inside out. Enjoy foods rich in betacarotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers), lycopene (tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon) vitamin E (almonds, asparagus, pumpkin seeds), catechins and polyphenols (green/white tea),omega-3s and astaxathin (salmon, fish oil), resveratrol (blueberries, red grapes, red wine), natural saturated fats (coconut/palm oil, pastured butter) and proanthocyanidins (grape seeds, wine, blueberries, hazelnuts, pistachios).

Supplement For Support
Fish oil, grape seed extract, resveratrol, and vitamin D supplements provide protection from sun damage. Vitamin D from the sun is regulated by the body, making it the preferred source, but a supplement can be a good alternative. Ask your doctor to get tested and start specific supplementation.
Avoid Skin Cancer
Reduce Aging
Support Overall Health

Cate Ritter is the Director of the THE LEAN 18 Nutrition program @MTT Performance. The program operates out of Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. Follow MTT on Twitter at @mttgolf

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Are you giving away yardage?

By Ron Kaspriske

Your abdominal oblique muscles, on the sides of your belly, have an important function in the golf swing. They help you maintain your address posture as your trunk rotates, which is critical for making good contact. If you tend to slice the ball or hit it fat or thin, it’s likely you’re not staying in your address posture as you turn through the ball. In most cases, the body straightens, the shoulder plane flattens and the ball is struck with a glancing blow.

“If one of your buddies says you’re standing up when you swing through, it’s probably because the obliques aren’t functioning as well as they should,” says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear). To find out if your core muscles are cheating you of yards, Shear says take this test:


1. Sit up in a chair holding a rolled-up towel or similar object between your knees (pictured above), with your hands gently touching the back of your head, elbows flared.

2. While keeping your lower body still, including the hips, rotate your trunk as far as you can in one direction.

3. Once fully rotated, bend as much as possible toward your opposite knee and then as far as you can away from it.

Make sure you do this test rotating in both directions, and bend toward the knee and away from it, Shear says. If you can’t bend without losing your maximum rotated position, or your elbows move closer together, or your torso drifts forward or backward, then your obliques need some work. Many times, Shear says, a golfer can perform the test in one direction, but not the other. This indicates a muscular imbalance between the left and right obliques. 

The good news: The prescription to correct the issue is the same as the test, Shear says. Keep doing this twist-and-tilt exercise. The only adjustment is to gently push your body a little farther each time, holding the increased range of motion for five seconds before relaxing. 

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Photos by Dom Furore) ... Read
Health & Fitness

An exercise band that can provide 'shocking' results

By Ron Kaspriske

There are a lot of ways to motivate people to exercise, but when nothing else works, maybe it's time for a little shock treatment. Get this, an inventor has developed a prototype fitness bracelet—known as Pavlok—that actually gives you an electric jolt if you fail to meet a work or fitness goal. The shock is "mild" says product founder Maneesh Sethi, and is intended to serve as a reminder to keep up with healthy habits. 

The band, which could be available to the public before year's end, will have a number of other functions including wake-up calls (don't expect soothing waterfall sounds at 6 a.m.) and notifications to friends/family on how you're progressing. The band is expected to retail for $250. recently did a more detailed article on the product

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Fitness Friday: Can you touch your toes?

By Ron Kaspriske

One of the pioneers of common-sense physical fitness is Gray Cook (@graycookpt). He has a series of tests he uses to assess the functional movement of athletes. One of his favorites for golfers is the good ol’ toe touch. Essentially it tests your body’s ability to deep squat or hinge the hips correctly. Both are important to swinging a club the right way since you are typically swinging from a bent-over position.

“Everyone automatically assumes people can’t do it because the hamstrings are too tight,” Cook says. “That’s the case only about a third of the time. There are many reasons, but if you can’t toe touch, you’re going to struggle with making an effective and safe golf swing.”

Do you struggle to touch your toes without noticeably bending your knees? The most likely reason is that your brain is preventing you from doing it with straightened legs. It’s like someone throws a shut-off switch to prevent you from getting injured. Your brain senses that you don’t have enough mobility to round your back when you go into the touch. In order to learn how to do toe touches correctly, follow Cook’s progression:

Try: Touch Progression Drill >

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

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Health & Fitness

Does P90X help your golf? These guys think so

By now you or someone you know has probably tried P90X, the at-home fitness video regimen that has sold upwards of 3.5 million copies since 2005. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Sheryl Crow and Pink have been notable P90X devotees, as has former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

All have been drawn to the program by the promise of a complete total-body workout without leaving the house, and by the unfailingly cheerful guidance of its 56-year-old founder and host, Tony Horton. I've been an on-again, off-again P90X user for several years, and I've come to think of Horton as a very peppy, very fit uncle. 

tony-horton-518.jpgWhether P90X is a recipe for better golf is open for debate. The program does place an emphasis on golf-friendly concepts, such as core strength and range of motion. But there are also skeptics, including Golf Digest fitness editor Ron Kaspriske, who is leery of one-size-fits-all fitness programs, particularly when it might push the limits of people who aren't quite ready to be pushed. What I'll say is since taking up P90X, I’ve definitely felt fitter and stronger,  yet I still fight the same flaws in my golf swing that I fought before. 

Nonetheless, P90X has a sizable following, and by sheer math alone, it's fair to say a number of those people are golfers as well. Included in that group is Scott Morgan, the head pro at the Lakes at El Segundo (Calif.) and a certified P90X trainer. According to Morgan, it was the progress he made using P90X that enabled him to swing with "effortless power as opposed to powerless effort." This week he starred in a video with Horton in which he takes the P90X star through a quick first-tee warm-up, and even offers tips for Horton's raw but promising golf swing.

Horton, who played golf as a kid, says it was the first time he had swung a club in 12 years. Apparently he's got the bug again, because he has since followed up with another video touting six moves that will help your golf game.

We say stick with it, Tony. You've got to put those muscles to use somewhere.

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Health & Fitness

Six things to remember about sunscreen

By Ron Kaspriske

Congratulations. You bought a tube/can/jar/stick of sunscreen. Now what? Yes, you should put it on. But there’s more to it than that. Here are six things to remember:

the-loop-health-suncreen-basics.jpg1. Sunscreens expire. And when they do, you should replace them. If it’s been sitting in your bag since last golf season, toss it. 

2. The are two types of sunscreens. There are physical blockers, which reflect the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, and there are chemical blockers, which absorb the rays. Physical blockers are recommended for people with sensitive skin. Chemical blockers are typically more user-friendly and less annoying to wear.

3. Buy ones that contain SPF 15 or 30. Anything lower isn’t effective enough (although you should use it in an emergency). Anything higher is overkill -- and usually priced higher. Why? Sunscreens only last for about two hours so the promise of all-day protection is bogus.

4. Don't worry about nanoparticles. Microscopic particles are absorbed into the skin when sunscreen is applied. There was a lot of recent concern about their potential health risks, but a recent study concluded that the body's immune system dispatches these particles before they reach the blood stream. 

5. Reapply at the turn -- everywhere. Since sunscreens tend to lose their effectiveness in a couple of hours, you can't get through a typical round completely protected. The most important spots are places such as your nose and ears, which take the brunt of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

6. Don’t forget your lips. Buy -- and use -- a lip balm that has SPF protection. Your lips are skin, too, as they can be damaged by the sun. Believe me, the last thing you want is a doctor to have to remove a part of a lip because he found cancer cells. 

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.

(Illustration by Eddie Guy) ... Read


July 28, 2014

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