Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)



Do This, Not That

Two exercises golfers do wrong (not you, other golfers)

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Doing push and pull exercises back to back, with little to no rest, is a smart way to make workouts more efficient. The right pairings allow you to tax different muscle groups, which in turn eliminates the need for prolonged rest between sets because there is less fatigue, says Jennifer Fleischer (@jenniferfleischer), a Golf Digest Certified Fitness Trainer and one of the 50 Best Trainers in America.

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A classic example of a good push/pull pairing are bench presses and bent-over rows. Both are great for golfers looking to pick up some clubhead speed, get their irons through thick rough and blast shots out of bunkers.

Bench press for golf? Yup. EMG (electromyography) data gathered by Centinela Hospital in Los Angeles on good golfers' muscle activity shows that the pectorals (chest) are among the most active in the through-swing and are crucial to clubhead acceleration. And rows are great for strengthening the muscles of the upper back from a hip-hinged stance (similar to golf). Among their many roles, the upper-back muscles help stabilize your golf swing, which leads to better ball-striking.

OK, with that explanation out of the way, now comes the "you're doing them wrong" part. If you play golf, you want to keep your spine neutral during the concentric phase of the press. If you arch your back as you push the dumbbell or barbell upward, you're moving your spine into extension and forcing the vertabrae near your tailbone to compress on each other. That's the last thing a golfer wants to do, as this sport already is cruel to your lower back. Arching your spine might seem intutitive to recruit more leverage in the lift, but it comes at the expense of your back health.

In the case of bench pressing, you're much better off doing them in a neutral-spine position, Fleischer says. Even better, if you do them with most of your body off the bench, you can recruit your glutes and hip flexors to make the exercise multi-purpose.

Watch Jen's demonstration of the right and wrong way to do the bench press below.

The mistake most often made in bent-over rows is using the opposite arm for support on a bench or similar. Putting your wrists into extension to serve as a post while you row with the opposite arm is again putting undue stress on a body part that takes a beating during the golf swing. You're much better off not using the opposite arm for support or keeping the wrist in a flat/neutral position if you do, Fleischer says.

Watch Fleischer's "Do this, not this" demonstrations for rows here.