*Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. He gives you an unbeatable health and fitness tip or an exercise or stretch to get your body warmed up for the weekend. He'll get you in shape to play your best golf ever.
Walk into any commercial gym in America and you're bound to see two things:
It's no big mystery why this happens. We tend to gravitate toward things we can do well versus things that are hard, strenuous or awkward. Men are inherently strong, so bench-pressing comes easy and, besides, it's the macho thing to do. Women, meanwhile, are inherently flexible so they love to show off their mobility.
While my advice to the sexes would be, do the opposite of what you see in most gyms, I've accepted that this isn't going to happen en masse. So, women, if you must stretch, focus on exercises that improve strength and mobility. I'll give some examples in future posts. And men, if you must bench-press, I'm going to show you three variations that are more beneficial for golfers than the standard barbell bench. These are great for women, too.
Golf, as many of us know, is a one-sided sport. If swinging a golf club is all you ever did in terms of exercise, the muscles on one side of your body would be weaker than the muscles on the side where your golf swing is fueled. That's why it's important to train the sides separately to regain balance in your musculature. So skip the barbell and instead try alternate-arm, dumbbell bench-presses. The benefit is that you can work your left and right side individually to regain muscle balance. In fact, if you do have deficiencies on one side of your body, you'll be able to pinpoint the weakness right away because pressing with one arm will be noticeably more difficult than the other.
Says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson, who works with a number of professional athletes, including golfers: "As an added bonus, alternate-arm benches require oblique (sides of your upper torso) muscle activation to control the load. So you work your core in addition to strengthening the shoulders, chest and triceps"
Adds Golf Digest fitness advisor Randy Myers, trainer of several PGA Tour players, including Dustin Johnson and Davis Love III: "Benching this way will help keep your shoulders pulled back and keep the swing from breaking down during either the backswing or downswing, depending on which side of your body is weak."
The key to dumbbell benching is to use moderately heavy weights and work slowly for control. Be sure not to drop the dumbbells when you finish a set. It can damage the weights, or the floor, and earn you a few dirty looks.
To see me demonstrate par, birdie and eagle versions of this exercise, watch the video below:
And remember to follow me on Twitter: @RonKaspriske