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Fitness Friday: Strong arms for knockdowns

February 17, 2011

*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. This week he focuses on making your forearms stronger to hit knockdown shots and prevent injury. And remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

Roger Schiffman**

Managing Editor

Golf Digest

*Earlier this week on the Instruction Blog, a Golf Digest article featuring Paul Azinger demonstrated how to hit two different versions of the knockdown--the very shot D.A. Points used to navigate Pebble Beach's final few holes and win the AT&T National Pro-Am last Sunday. Obviously, proper technique is crucial to executing this shot. But not to be overlooked is the role that good hand, wrist, forearm and shoulder strength play not only in hitting knockdowns, but also in gouging shots out of the rough, shaping draws and fades, picking up 10 more yards off the tee, and protecting the tendons and ligaments in your arms.

Arnold Palmer's meaty paws or Hal Sutton's Popeye forearms might come to mind when you think about how strong arms contribute to an effective swing, but fitness trainer Chris Noss says even modest strength gains in the forearms and shoulders can make a huge difference in your performance. Noss, who works with several tour pros, including Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink and Steve Stricker, says stronger muscles in the hands, wrists and forearms will allow you to manipulate the clubhead better--perfect for shaping shots or keeping it from twisting in deep rough. They also help protect your elbows from tendonitis. And stronger shoulders will help you generate more clubhead speed and also protect the often fragile muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff.

If you're serious about improving and/or play a lot of golf, Noss suggests incorporating some forearm and shoulder exercises with light dumbbells--no more than 3- to 10-pound weights--into all of your workouts.

To see me demonstrate a few of these exercises, including Noss' simple all-in-one move that works the muscles in the hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders, just click on the video. Your goal is two or three sets of each exercise and 15-20 reps. And remember when performing them to keep your head tall, neck relaxed and shoulder blades back and down. Standing in an athletic golf posture as you perform them also is recommended to engage your thigh muscles as an added bonus*.

--Ron Kaspriske, Fitness editor, Golf Digest