The Golf Digest Living Room Combine: Are you fit enough to swing like a tour pro?
Assuming you’ve got some down time at home while we wait out the coronavirus pandemic, we put together an eight-part, in-home test for you to find out just how “golf fit” you really are. Call it the Golf Digest Living Room Combine. If you can pass all eight of these tasks, you’ve got the strength and mobility in the key parts of the body to swing like a tour pro.
And if you can’t pass all eight, Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear (@ben_shear) offers some simple exercises you can do to clean up your movement patterns and get your body primed for that magnificent day when our lives regain some sense of normalcy.
HOW MANY CAN YOU PASS?
8—Mini-tours, here you come!
6-7—You can make a run at the club championship
4-5–Not bad. A little more gym time is all it takes
1-3—Desk jobs are brutal on the body, but now you know what to work on
0-1—Re-test after a few weeks of these exercises
No. 1 Overhead Squats
Standing in a doorframe to monitor your stability, hold a golf club directly over your head and go into a full squat. If you can’t keep the club above your head, or if your body wobbles or you can’t fully squat, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “It’s one of three reasons,” says Ben Shear, Golf Digest Fitness Advisor. “The most common is a lack of mobility in the middle of your spine, but it’s not necessarily a T-spine issue. It also could be a lack of ankle mobility (poor dorsiflexion) or weak core muscles. Or all three.”
Exercises to correct: 1. T-Spine Extensions; 2. Half-Kneeling Knee Drives; 3. Dead Bugs.
No. 2. In-Line Lunges
Standing in a doorframe with a club level across your shoulders, position one foot a shin’s length behind the other. Lunge forward to touch the back knee to the front heels. If your front foot doesn’t stay flat during the lunge, or the club doesn’t stay level, or both, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “The biggest reason I’ve found is a lack of frontal-plane stability,” Ben Shear says. “It also can be a balance issue, but either way, you need to target the obliques. They need to get stronger.”
Exercise to correct: 1. Side Planks.
No. 3 Hurdle Steps
Place tape from one side of a doorframe to the other just below kneecap height. While standing closely facing the tape with a club draped across your shoulders, step one leg over the tape and touch your heel to the floor without putting weight on it. Step back over. If you touch the tape, or the planted leg buckles, or the club doesn’t stay level, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “If you’re sitting while you read this, that’s your first clue why you couldn’t do this test,” Ben Shear says. “You could lack dorsiflexion in your ankle, but most likely it’s that your hip flexors are too damn tight.”
Exercises to correct: 1. Half-Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretches; 2. Half-Kneeling Knee Drives.
4. Seated Trunk Rotations
Sit cross-legged inside a doorframe, facing it. Hold a club across your chest and rotate toward the door frame in each direction. If you can’t touch the frame with the shaft of the club while keeping it connected to your chest and your spine upright, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “When you sit at your desk, do you feel like your shoulders are rounded or pulled back? If they feel rounded, you probably lack mobility in the thoracic-spine, and you need that to make a good golf swing,” Ben Shear says.
Exercise to correct: 1. Side-Lying Thoracic Rotations.
5. Straight-Leg Raises
Lying flat on your back, arms extended to your sides against the ground, raise one leg toward the ceiling as high as you can. If you can’t raise it to 90 degrees without it bending at the knee, or the other leg comes off the ground, or your upper body comes off the floor, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “Short, tight hamstring muscles are probably the reason,” Ben Shear says. “It also could be the result of weak core muscles.”
Exercises to correct: 1. Hamstring Doorframe Stretches; 2. Inverted Hamstring Stretches; 3. Bird Dogs.
6. One-Arm Wall Push-Ups
Standing just short of arm’s length from a wall. Put one arm behind your back and the other on the wall, palm up. If you can’t do at least 10 push-ups without your chest staying parallel to the wall (no wobbling) and your back and legs staying straight, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “People think it’s because their arms are too weak, but this is a classic issue with core stability,” Ben Shear says. “Unlike the in-line lunge test, where a failed test means instability in the frontal plane, this is a rotary-instability issue. You need a stronger core.”
Exercises to correct: 1. Split-Stance Torso Rotations; 2. Pallof Presses.
7. One-Leg Chair Squats
Place a chair directly behind you and extend your arms in front of you. Standing on one leg, squat until your butt touches the chair. Then stand back up. If your planed knee buckles or you can’t stand back up, you’ve failed the test.
Why did I fail? “I’m looking for ankle mobility issues with the planted foot or a lack of strength in the gluteus medius (butt) muscles,” Ben Shear says.
Exercises to correct: 1. Mini-band lateral walks; 2. Mini-band clamshells. 3. Half-Kneeling Knee Drives.
8. Raised-Leg Push-Ups
If you can’t do five regular push-ups with a straight back, don’t even bother with this test. If you can, then raise one leg off the floor and complete at least 10 push-ups. If you can’t do 10, or your pelvis dips toward the floor, or you can’t keep your legs and back straight, you failed the test.
Why did I fail? “Upper body strength is needed, for sure, but this also tests your ability to stabilize the pelvis,” Ben Shear says.
Exercises to correct: 1. Seated Physio-Ball Torso Rotations; 2. Push-Ups.