New Year's Resolutions

Seven simple ways to get golf fit in 2017

If you’re the type of person who uses Jan. 1 as a springboard to make improvements in your life, there are some really simple things you can do to look better, feel better and play better golf. There’s no need to think of them as resolutions; just minor adjustments. Consider these suggestions for 2017.

Related video: Total Golf Workout


Drink a lot of water

Drink a lot of water
The health benefits of drinking water go well beyond body temperature regulation and improved bodily function. Perhaps the two greatest benefits: 1. Drinking more water can help you lose weight since it curbs your appetite. 2. It improves muscle function, which can translate into a more fluid (get it?) and powerful swing. It also can give you an endurance boost. No more collapses on the closing holes.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Drink a minimum of 70 ounces of water a day


Walk more (even more than that!)

Walk more (even more than that!)
The health benefits are obvious, but for golf, it’s worth repeating that prolonged sitting often leads to back and hip problems, which are golf-swing killers. Conceding the fact that some golf courses prohibit walking or are too poorly designed to make it practical, find other places to tread. Walk the neighborhood, or to the store, or around the mall on a rainy day. Walk whenever and wherever you can. If you have a smartphone or fitness tracker, monitor your steps.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Take at least 7,000 steps a day.


Get your heart rate up

Get your heart rate up
Most golf fitness experts agree a blend of steady-state cardio and interval training will do wonders for how you feel when you play. While you might think the top benefits are burning calories and improving endurance, the ultimate golf argument for heart-rate training is that it can dramatically improve your ability to focus under stress. Imagine what that might mean when you’re trying to close out a big match on the course. See your doctor before you start any vigorous exercise program, but when you get his or her approval your goal should be to ramp up your heart rate at least a few times a week.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Three 15- to 45-minute sessions of vigorous movement a week. How vigorous depends on your age and fitness level.


Turn on your glutes

The butt muscles are not only key to good back health, they’re also key to a balanced and powerful golf swing. They keep you from swaying, sliding, lunging and they provide a ton of energy you can transfer into the golf club in the downswing. When you’re sitting, contract them frequently during the day. It’s smart to alternate the contractions from the left side to the right, or vice versa. Also, take the stairs whenever you have the option. Finally, in the gym, Bulgarian squats and Romanian deadlifts should be a staple of your program. Kettlebell swings also are great for training power.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Squeeze your butt muscles while you sit, take the stairs more, and add glute exercises to your workout program.


Exercise in all three planes of motion.

Most gym-goers work in the sagittal plane, meaning movements that are only forward or backward. But your body also is designed to move laterally and rotationally. A lot of times, you have to move in more than one plane at the same time—this is especially true in the golf swing. Your training should bolster these coordinated, multi-plane movements. Exercises such as lateral and rotational jumps, medicine ball throws and slams, and lunges with torso turns are terrific.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Exercise laterally and rotationally more.

Who doesn’t like a good, hard massage? OK, when your muscles are super sore, it might not feel that great. But buying a foam roller and other self-massage tools (sticks, balls, etc.) are a cheap and great investment in your body and golf swing. These massagers make your muscles more pliable, and that translates to more range of motion in your swing. You’ll be able to swing harder and faster while reducing the risk of injuries. Focus on the lower back, the hips, the upper back and calves.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Use a foam roller for 15 minutes two or three times a week.


Track your calories

Regardless of whether you need to lose weight, monitoring what you eat and drink will do wonders for your awareness of your nutrition. But if you are interested in shedding pounds, paying attention to calories and limiting them is a very effective way to lose weight without feeling like you’re on a diet. The golf benefits include less stress on your bones, more energy and better mobility.

THE ADJUSTMENT: Download an app on your smartphone such as Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal and document what you eat and drink each day. The basic app is free and it will total your calories, as well as keep track of the amount of nutrients in your body.