When you think about exercises, you probably focus on the first part of the movement—like the push in push-up. But what happens on the way back down is equally if not more important in terms of strength gains and injury prevention. For example, when jumping from a squat position (bottom right), it's the landing—not the jump—that's too often ignored. "People don't get hurt jumping, they get hurt landing," says Golf Digest fitness advisor Ben Shear. "And in golf, stopping the swing is causing most of the injuries. If you want to swing harder for power, you have to train your body to decelerate safely."
The process is called eccentric training, but you might think of it as working out in reverse. It emphasizes the second half of an exercise, like the lowering portion of a pull-up (top photo, right). The muscles are lengthening and contracting as they resist an opposing force, usually gravity. Here Shear has developed an eccentric workout for golfers. When doing the exercises, use a 1-1-4 tempo for each rep. Example: One second to pull up, one second to hold the up position, and four seconds to lower the body. Do this workout twice a week, and before long you'll be able to swing the club "harder and safer," Shear says.— Ron Kaspriske
Do 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, or as many as you can. Remember to go slow.
1. HAMSTRING DIPS
HOW TO: From a kneeling position with your feet securely anchored and your body upright, lower your torso forward, stopping just before gravity pulls you all the way down. Then slowly rise back to the start position. Try to keep your back straight and pelvis forward throughout.
2. REVERSE CHEST PRESSES
HOW TO: Grab two dumbbells that are heavy but manageable. Lie back on a bench and press the dumbbells above your chest at a normal pace. Then slowly lower the dumbbells to your chest before quickly pushing them back up again. Resist the urge to arch your back as you press up.
3. BENT-OVER REVERSE ROWS
HOW TO: Grab a dumbbell with one hand, and plant your opposite hand on the side of a bench. While pushing into the bench, quickly pull the weight up to your side, then slowly lower it back down before quickly pulling it back up again. Try to keep your back straight and head down throughout.
4. LOWERING SPLIT-SQUATS
HOW TO: Holding two dumbbells above your shoulders in a kneeling split-stance, quickly rise straight up with your torso, then slowly lower your body back to the start position. Then quickly rise again. Keep your torso as upright as possible and your lead knee directly above the heel of that foot.
5. RESISTED TORSO ROTATIONS
HOW TO: Hold a cable or resistance band in front of your chest, arms extended and band taut. Keep your head still as you quickly rotate your torso in one direction until you feel fully wound. Then slowly unwind in the opposite direction. Keep your lower body fairly still.
6. LET DOWNS
HOW TO: Hold on to a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, and quickly lift your body until your head is above the bar. Then slowly lower your body until your arms are completely extended below the bar. Pull back up—if you can—and repeat. Try to prevent your body from rocking.
7. RESISTED LATERAL SIDESTEPS
HOW TO: Wrap a resistance band around your waist, and anchor the other end. Quickly sidestep away from the anchored point as far as you can. When the band is fully stretched, slowly sidestep back toward the anchored point, resisting the pull. Try to stay rigidly upright.