Knowing how to make an effective golf swing is useless unless you are fit enough to do it. I believe you need good muscular strength, stability and coordination if you want to play this game well. That means hitting the gym.Here I'm demonstrating six exercises that will make you stronger, activate the key muscles used in the swing, and train your nervous system to make them work together. Even though I retired from competitive play, I still do these exercises--and more--with my longtime trainer, Kai Fusser.NOTE FROM KAI: No matter who I'm training, we focus on proper form. So perform these exercises slowly at first. If you find them too easy, you can add resistance with heavier weights, remove a stabilizing factor, or do them faster for a more difficult challenge. But again, proper form is essential. Do two or three sets of eight repetitions of each exercise (and in both directions when applicable).For more exercises from Annika and Kai, go to kaifitnessforgolf.com.
DUMBBELL SHOT PUT
PURPOSE: Trains the lower body to initiate the downswing and provide acceleration. Also improves balance, control and body rotation during the swing.HOW TO: Hold a light dumbbell at shoulder height, and rotate your shoulders to the right, loading your weight on that side as if you were making a backswing. Now straighten your legs, and initiate a body rotation of 90 degrees in the sequence of hips, torso, shoulders and finally arms as you extend the dumbbell. Complete the movement by simulating your swing's finish position. Your weight should be supported by your left leg.NOTES: Keep your abdomen muscles engaged throughout the movement.
PURPOSE: Builds strength in the legs and your rear end to stabilize your body when you swing. Also trains you to use the ground as leverage to create more swing speed.HOW TO: From a standing position, holding two dumbbells at shoulder height, initiate a squat by pushing your hips back. Your weight should be in your heels. Lower your body until your thighs are about parallel to the ground. Then use your glutes to stand up.NOTES: Contract your abdomen throughout the exercise. Don't let your body drift forward until your knees are out in front of your toes. If you have trouble lowering your body, put a bench or chair behind you as a safety precaution.
PURPOSE: Trains your body to rotate around an axis. Also teaches the shoulders and arms how to work together while maintaining a consistent width to your swing.HOW TO: Anchor a cable or a stretch tube. Hold it lightly to the side with your upper body rotated toward the anchored point. Mimicking a through-swing, rotate your body in the opposite direction in this order: hips, torso, shoulders then arms. Maintain your posture, and keep the arms extended. Rotate until you simulate your swing's finish position.NOTES: Don't let your arms bend, and resist the urge to pull the cable across your body with your hands. Your body rotation should do the work.
ONE-LEGGED KNEE TO ELBOW
PURPOSE: Teaches muscle groups to connect and work together. Also improves shoulder strength and hip mobility, which can relieve stress on the lower back and provide more control of the golf swing.HOW TO: Get into a push-up position. Raise one leg off the ground, and contract that leg's glute muscle. Now pull the knee of that leg under your body toward the elbow of the opposite arm.NOTES: Keep your arms straight but don't lock them. Keep your abdomen muscles engaged throughout. Resist the urge to let the shoulder on the same side dip when you rotate the knee toward the opposite arm.
DUMBBELL UP AND UNDERS
PURPOSE: Improves coordination and strengthens your shoulders, abdomen and back.HOW TO: Grab a light dumbbell and get into a push-up position. Rotate your upper body to one side, and extend the arm holding the dumbbell directly above the arm that's supporting the body. From this position, rotate your torso and hips in the opposite direction while tucking your right arm under your body.NOTES: Do this exercise slowly, trying to stay in control of your body movements. Your abdomen muscles should be engaged throughout. You can do this exercise without a dumbbell if it's too difficult.
ONE-LEGGED SUPINE HIP EXTENSION
PURPOSE: Strengthens the hamstrings to help maintain swing posture. Also trains the abdomen muscles and glutes to work together for increased power.HOW TO: Lie back on a physio ball with one leg planted and the other extended. Squeeze your stomach and glute muscles, and thrust your hips up as high as you can and hold for a few seconds.NOTES: Do not thrust your hips until you have contracted your glute muscles. If you feel stress in your lower back or begin to cramp in your hamstrings, you're not activating your glute muscles enough. In that case, start by doing the hip extensions on two legs.