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Fitness

3 back-saving exercises for a more powerful swing

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December 15, 2023

If you study golf's longest drivers over the past 30 years, you'll likely notice some easy-to-recognize similarities in how those players generate power. One of these "similarity buckets" is a long-and-loose action, which you see from players such as John Daly, Laura Davies, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and one of the longest golfers on the planet, former hockey player Jamie Sadlowski (below).

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These players generate power by taking the clubhead away from the ball an extraordinary distance, and then using all that distance on the downswing to create more speed and power. Increasing backswing length is not only a good way to cheat Father Time, but it can also take some stress off your lower back. Trying to swing back with a feeling of tension and resistance between your hips and torso is a common way to develop low-back pain and injuries.

Here's the catch: In addition to doing back-saving things such as allowing the hips to rotate back with your torso or dropping your trail foot away from the ball to increase that turn, you have to spend a little time working on the functionality of the mid-back muscles.

One key group of core muscles needed for good rotation are the obliques. They're located on the sides of your torso. They not only greatly assist with rotation, but they also help you do so on a titled axis—which is key to solid ball-striking. You have to be able to wind and unwind your upper body from a bent-over position if you want to hit the ball out of the center of the clubface. If you can't stay in posture when you rotate, a good bit of that swing speed you generate is going to be wasted.

With that in mind, golf-fitness trainer Kaitlyn Pimentel has three exercises you can do virtually anywhere to work on your core muscles and torso rotation. You just need a firm chair or bench, a kettlebell or some other hand-held weight, and a mat or cushion for your knees. Now you're all set to start training your obliques and other core muscles.

Watch the videos below to see her demonstate three exercises that will strengthen your core and help you make a longer, more powerful swing.

Seated Bench Rotations with Breathing

Helps with: Making a bigger turn off the ball in the backswing.
Helps prevent: Poor ball-striking from losing your golf posture.

Sit with your torso upright and your hands laced behind your head, elbows flared. Inhale and rotate to one side as far as you can. From this rotated position, exhale and side bend toward the ground without letting your torso drift forward. Staying in the rotated position, you’re going to straighten up, rotate even farther, and side bend again. Do this three times in each direction, trying to improve your range of motion each time. Remember to exhale as you bend.

Kettlebell Chops and Lifts

Helps with: Lower-body stability and upper-body rotation in the golf swing.
Helps prevent: Slices and pulls from poor body segmenting.

From a split stance, kneeling on one leg, take a kettlebell or dumbbell and lower it toward the side of your rear leg. Now lift it across your body into your chest and then continue on, raising it above the opposite shoulder, fully extending your arms. After several reps, switch leg positions and repeat in the opposite direction.

Split-Squat Holds with Rotation

Helps with: Producing ground force in sync with body rotation in the downswing.
Helps prevent: Starting the downswing with the upper body or mostly the arms and hands.

From a split stance, kneeling on one leg with your torso upright and your hands laced behind your head, rise off the ground while rotating your upper body toward the forward leg. Keeping your trail knee off the ground, repeat these rotations several times. Then switch leg positions and repeat in the opposite direction.