__By Ron Kaspriske
The muscles around your hip joints and pelvic girdle are the unsung heroes of your golf game. They provide power, stability and protection when you play. But often they are neglected when you work out. If you're guilty of this neglect, remember that you need to switch on these muscles in order to play well—particularly the gluteus maximus and medius, the hip adductor and abductor muscles and the illiotibial "IT" band. These muscles help improve stability, posture, and turn your lower body into a powerful energy generator when you swing. And as a bonus, they help protect the knees from strains and tears typically caused by poor mechanics and overuse.
Two exercises that can help are mini-band walks, says Mark Verstegen, founder of the athletic-performance company Exos (@teamexos). Exos was formerly known as Athletes' Performance. Verstegen (@markverstegen) was one of the first fitness experts to understand that golfers need some very specific exercises in order to activate the key muscles used in the golf swing—particularly in the glute/hip region. To do these exercises, you'll need two mini-bands, but they're easy to find in any sporting goods store and usually cost less than $10. Even better, you can store them in your golf bag.
1. Mini-band walk forward (two sets, 10-20 steps)
WHY IT WORKS: The resistance of the stretch bands against your legs activates and strengthens the glutes, which are key to maintaining a stable base when you swing, especially at faster speeds.
HOW TO DO IT: Place a mini-band around your legs above the knees and another around your ankles. Walk forward in small steps, keeping your knees bent and alternating the elbows driving back with each step. Keep your back straight and your knees over your toes at all times.
WHY IT WORKS: The resistance of the stretch bands really strengthens the muscles of the pelvis and upper thigh including the IT band and the adductor and abductor muscles. Training these muscles will improve lower-body rotation and add power to your swings.
HOW TO DO IT: Place a mini-band around your legs above the knee and another around your ankles. Walk sideways in small steps, keeping your legs fairly straight and alternating the elbows driving back with each step. Keep your back straight and your knees over your toes at all times.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
(Photos by J.D. Cuban)