Your fitness questions answered
@gradontripp: I started doing push-ups in the morning, along with my normal stretching. Should I do 'em daily or every other day?
__A:__The great thing about body-weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, planks, etc., is that they are very hard to overdo. Do them as often as you want, but pay attention to your form. When it starts to deteriorate, move on to the next exercise. Quick tip about push-ups. When you get into the "up" position, squeeze your core muscles. Keep them engaged as you perform the exercise. This will help stabilize your body when you play golf, allowing you to make a faster and more consistent swing.
@marionshoward: What's your take on scorpion planks?
__A:__I'll start by saying that the one issue I have with traditional planks is that the shoulder muscles often fatigue before the core muscles do, so it's difficult to improve the strength and stability of the abdominals beyond a certain plateau. That's why I like planks that incorporate some degree of instability, which make the core muscles work harder and fatigue quicker. As far as the scorpion plank, I've seen various exercises labeled a "scorpion plank," so I'm not sure which one you are curious about. I do like the version where you get into the up position of a push-up and then lift a leg off the ground and rotate the pelvis and bent leg toward the opposite elbow. It helps improve your lower body's ability to rotate independently of the trunk, which is a key move in sequencing the downswing correctly.
__A:__The problem likely stems from an imbalance in strength between the muscles on the front side and backside of your body, particularly from the waist down. For example, your quadriceps—the big muscles on the front side of your thighs—are probably much stronger and more flexible than your hamstrings, which are on the back side of your thighs.
The hamstrings and gluteus muscles play a key role in being able to rotate the body while maintaining the bent-knee posture you began with at address. There are other factors, but this is by far the most-common issue. Back in 2011 @markverstegen addressed the topic of maintaining posture in the bunker and the exercises he recommended would help you as well. Read: "Get In The Gym, Make More Sandies"
@nomadirish: What's the best exercise for a slow, smooth takeaway?
__A:__You need stronger, more pliable oblique muscles. They're the ones on the sides of your trunk—above the love handles—and they allow you to rotate the vertebrae of the mid-back (thoracic spine). Ideally you want to rotate the upper body with the hips and legs staying relatively still. Side planks are great to strengthen the obliques. And when you're ready to work on coiling better in the backswing, take the advice of my friend Karen Palacios Jansen (@kpjgolf) here: http://www.golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2013/07/fitness-friday-improve-coil.html.
@orcasan: Golfers elbow? Causes, treatment, preventative exercises?
__A:__How much time do you have? We could be here awhile. Simply put, elbow tendinitis is typically the result two things:
The best treatment is rest. That means no golf for a couple of weeks. If that's not going to happen, inflammation can also be reduced through the use of wraps and also sleeping with the arm in a bent position. I don't recommend cortisone shots to reduce inflammation, but that's a personal choice. I'd rather the inflammation subside naturally. Many doctors say cortisone is extremely effective and outweighs any side effects. As far as exercises, the forearm muscles and shoulder muscles are designed to help protect the elbows from stress. Try the ultimate exercise for golfer's elbow.
@hendu2011: What is a good 30-to-60 minute routine for mid-level athletes?__
____A:I am constantly changing what I do for my workouts, but they always incorporate the following: Push exercises, pull exercises, core exercises, lower-body exercises and exercises that train the body to move forward and backward, side to side and rotationally. I suggest you start with my basic 20-in-20 routine and go from there.
@cormac88: What's the best thing to eat while playing a round of golf?
____A:__You need sustainable energy and you'll get that from something that has protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. During a round, I'd go with an apple or banana and your favorite nut. Avoid simple-carb foods otherwise you risk a sugar crash somewhere on the back nine.
Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.
*(Illustration by John Ueland) *