It's the beginning of December and we just got our first plowable snowfall of the season, which means that the golf courses up here in the Northeast are closed. So why should I write something on putting more distance into your golf game? Well now that the golf season up here is in hibernation this is the perfect time to work on your strength & conditioning in preparation for reopening in the Spring. In athletics the majority of progress in your strength & conditioning should occur in the offseason, prior to practice & competition (this deserves a whole article in its own right but you'll just have to trust me on this one for now). Over the years I have trained quite a few golfers and every single one has reported to me that within 6-8 weeks of training they hit the ball further and easier than before. Now is the time to really get to work on improving your power output so when you hit the green again the ball travels further easier. Here are three basic steps to training for swing power:
1. Start with mobility. A properly performed swing requires adequate hip & trunk mobility - sitting down all the time for work enforces restrictions in our movement and we need to undo that. Stop sitting so much. It really is hurting your game (and probably your body as well). Get up and move around, at work and home, even if it means setting a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to stand up for a while every 20 minutes. When it comes to stretching specific muscle groups, focus on the hip flexors, quads, and thoracic spine.
2. Build an adequate strength base. Get stronger (i.e. be able to lift heavier weights) on the Back Squat, Deadlift, Press, and Row. These basic compound movements (what we like to call the "big lifts") involve the most muscle mass in the greatest range of motion. This translates to a stronger, more resilient, more powerful body. A stronger musculature produces more force which translates through the club into hitting the ball with greater velocity.
3. Build specific strength with the Lift. The Lift is an exercise than can be done with free weights or a cable machine - it looks kind of like a golf swing but carries some key differences that make it effective as a rotational exercise. You do not want to mimic the golf swing with weights - this can actually mess up your game. Instead find a rotational exercise that involves the same muscles as a swing but without exactly duplicating the movement. A properly performed Lift fulfills both of those criteria.
For each of those steps you will want to get instruction by a knowledgeable fitness coach. Performing those exercises with proper form and incremental progression is key to maximizing your time in the training room. Get mobile, get strong, get powerful.