We were sad to learn of Jack LaLanne's passing on Jan. 23 at age 96.We thought he'd live forever. Back in 1974, Jack was gracious enough to write a fitness article for Golf Digest and pose for photos performing the exercises he prescribed for better golf. We asked Golf Digest fitness advisor Ralph Simpson, a physical therapist and athletic trainer who has worked with many professional golfers over the years, if the workout LaLanne demonstrated would still be considered great for golf. Bottom line: on whole, they're still surprisingly good. Here's a sampling of exercises from the LaLanne article and what Ralph had to say about each one.
1.) Ab builder
For golfers who don't have lower-back pain, this is a very good way to strengthen the rectus abdominus (your six pack). This is an essential core muscle that supports your spine and helps produce the proper pelvic motion required when your golf swing reaches impact. Notice how Jack's lower back is not arched. That's important to avoid back injuries.
2.) Shoulder/chest stretch
This is still an acceptable way to stretch or "open" the upper chest, which helps your shoulders move nice and freely. Notice how he keeps his head over his shoulders and his face on the same angle as his chest. That's great form.
3.) Chair swimmers
This exercise strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, but newer research suggests it might hyper extended the lower back and put too much compression on the spine -- especially since golfers already place considerable force on the vertebrae when they swing.
4.) Standard lunge
This is still one of the best exercises to improve hip and leg power. Note how he keeps his lead shin perpendicular to the ground and his lower back is not arched. Great form. Jack knew what he was doing.
5.) Forearm roll
Forearm strength is one area where most amateurs could really use Jack's help. Although today, a golfer would want to quickly advance from this to rolling up something heavier. This is a good place to start, though.
6.) Wall swings
Learning to maintain posture in the backswing is a staple in swing training. Jack puts his head against a wall to help remind him to keep it still as his body rotates around that fixed point. It's more of a swing-training move than an exercise, but it's very creative and would help amateurs turn instead of lifting when they take the club back.