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Don't walk past the cable machine. It can really help your golf swing

February 23, 2024
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Ask any trainer what their clients should be working on in the gym and you'll likely get some version of this answer: "The exact opposite of what they usually do." Whether you realize it or not, there's a good chance you gravitate toward exercises and fitness routines you're comfortable doing. There's a reason why yoga classes are dominated by women and the barbell bench is usually occupied by a man.

Golf Digest Certified Fitness Trainer Ryan Elsass says there is a bunch of great equipment in the gym that you might be ignoring because those things are either too intimidating to use, or you're not sure how to use them—especially in a golf workout.

One such apparatus is the cable machine, says Elsass, who trains golfers at RTE Health & Performance in Pittsburgh. A lot of the cable machine's attachments never get taken off the rack.

"The question that needs to be answered is, why are people walking past the equipment in the first place?" he says. "Do they just not know what certain pieces of equipment are meant for, or do they look at something like a kettlebell and are scared to use it because of what they've seen or heard?"

Elsass says two cable-machine attachments every golfer should use are the rope and the short handle. The rope is typically only used for triceps pulldowns and the short handle doesn't get used at all. But there are several exercises golfers can do with these tools including things such as chops, rows and pallof presses.

Spend 10 or 15 minutes on the cable machine doing the exercises Elsass demonstrates in the video below. And here's a brief rundown of how each benefits your golf swing.

1-2. Rope Split-Stance Chops and Lifts

"Chops and lifts are exercises that are tailored for a lot of aspects of life, but are suited perfectly for the gofer," Elsass says. "I like them because they both help with tempo, core and shoulder strength and have many variations that can shift focus to weight transfer, balance or torso strength."

"Maintain a stable split-stance position, hold onto the rope with palms down, arms spread apart. Keeping the arms straight, pull down (or up) diagonally from the anchor. Make sure not to allow the weight to pull you out of position and to stay in the split-stance position. Variations include: adding rotation to the movement, changing your stance to half-kneeling or tall-kneeling or adding squats or lunges to the movements."

3. Short-handle side planks

"This is an anti-rotation exercise to develop strength and endurance symmetry in the core muscles around the spine," Elsass says. "Adding the element of the row will develop strength in the shoulder girdle. and the straight bar will make the hand/wrist/forearm muscles stronger."

"Maintain stability and don’t allow the weight to pull you off balance. Keep your planted arm directly under the shoulder joint. If needed, you can make this move easier by resting your knees on the ground."

4. Short-handle swings to impact

"This movement can be used to build either strength or speed in your golf swing. It's the most "golf-like movement" of these exercises, with an emphasis on dissociation of the upper body from the lower body.

"Keep your hips back at all times as you load up like a backswing and then rotate and pull down on the cable. Stop at impact and then slowly load into another backswing. Start with a light weight to ingrain the correct movement."

5. Short-handle negative pallof presses

"This anti-rotation exercise helps build stability, loading all the muscles needed when you rotate your torso in the golf swing."

"From an athletic stance, hold the short handle far enough away from the cable machine so it's taut. While keeping your body still, make slow circles with the handle using your arms only."