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Fitness Friday: Is heavy lifting bad for your golf?

*Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. This week he discusses how different people are motivated differently to do their workouts. And he suggests a social network that might help you. Look for Weekend Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter: @RogerSchiffman**.

Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

Here's Ron: If you know fitness expert Mike Boyle or have ever heard him speak, then you know he's not afraid to be controversial. If he believes in something, he doesn't care if it runs counter to popular belief. Knowing that about him, I recently asked Mike to take on a popular myth about golf and strength training. I've heard many people say that golfers should avoid increasing muscle mass because it could hinder their swing. Too much bulk leads to inflexibility, they say.

"That's laughable," Boyle said. "Not only do you need stronger muscles to protect your joints--especially when you play golf--but stronger muscles will actually improve your flexibility."

Boyle, like other well-respected fitness experts Gray Cook and Ben Shear, believes that stronger muscles lead to a more stable body. And when the body has stability, it's able to move in ways it previously could not. A better way to understand this is to ask an inflexible person to try to do a deep squat while holding a bar directly over the head. When attempting this functional movement, typically the bar will drift forward and the body will stop well short of a full squat. Now, have that same person lie on the back, arms over the head holding the bar against the floor. In this position, he or she will be able to raise the knees up to the chest with no difficulty and simulate a full squat position. Why? The body is in a stable position when you lie on the ground, allowing it to be more mobile.

Do you remember the years when Tiger Woods looked big enough to play linebacker? Between 2005 and 2008, Tiger was arguably as big and strong as he ever was. He won 25 PGA Tour events and six majors during that four-year span. Ever see Jason Zuback swing a club? Zuback, a five-time World Long Drive champion, looks like a fire hydrant with legs, but when he takes the club back, the shaft is actually perpendicular to the ground. Those are just two of many examples of why strength training is effective for golfers.

In Golf Digest's July issue, Boyle gives golfers four basic strength-training exercises to help you protect your joints and improve your mobility. Click here to see them.

*Ron Kaspriske

Fitness Editor

Golf Digest *