Power Up

Off Season Strength Training Tweaks That Pay Off In-Season

By Neil E. Wolkodoff, PhD

I have found certain muscle groups that golfers don’t incorporate into an off-season program can make a big performance difference. Yes, lifting weights head to toe twice per week is the essential recommendation for better golf and health.

The golf trick is making sure to give these muscle groups and movements more attention. Hence, when you play, they have full abilities and contributions.

The hamstrings are three major muscles on the back of the upper thigh. They flex the knee joint and connect with the hips for various movements. In the case of golf, they help with your stance and aid in rotating the hips through to the target. The news is they are chronically weak in most golfers. You should be able to lift/move 65% of the weight that can be performed with the quadriceps or front of the upper thigh in a leg extension movement.

Bang for the rep, the leg curl machines at most clubs are the place to start. Alternate between seated and prone for the best results. These muscles are endurance structured, so multiple sets of 12-15 repetitions are best. Leg presses and squat exercises will work the hamstrings, yet they are only part of the movement. Dynamic hip lifts using a FitBall are good hamstring developers at this time of year and have some core benefits.

Your forearms are the last bastion of control and acceleration in the golf swing, and just hitting balls or playing results in no improvement. These are endurance muscles, so lots of focused repetitions will raise your strength. Three sets of 20 repetitions using dumbbells with both wrist curl and reverse wrist curl to feel the burn in the last few movements. And the news for women, you can gain strength here without looking like Mrs. Popeye.

Keeping balanced during the swing is a function of the tibialis anterior, the muscles on the front of the shin. These muscles are activated when you rock forward or backward and need a correction to stay upright and centered. They are notoriously weak in most athletes and strengthening them not only aids balance yet has a function in preventing shin splints. Try a reverse calf raise, where you stand on the stairs on your heels while gripping the railing. Lower your toes up and down for three sets of 15 repetitions. Remember, your heels are the axis point, so important to find that point where you have a firm grip on the stairs while your front foot moves up and down. At first, it’s an uncomfortable movement for most people, yet over time you will be more fluid with the movement and go to full range of motion.

Neil E. Wolkodoff, PhD, performs research on golf and sports, and provides programs to improve human performance and health. He has worked successfully with PGA, collegiate and junior golfers over the last 25 years. He has authored five books and numerous research articles. Wolkodoff is the Medical Program Director for the Colorado Center for Health & Sports Science.