Golf Fitness


by Mike Pedersen

To improve your golf performance and longevity, not only is it important to have the right equipment and a good teaching professional, but also an improved level of fitness. Most of the professionals on tour are participating in golf-specific conditioning programs to enhance their game and prolong their career. If you want to play better golf and reduce injuries you should do the same. Regardless of your age, gender, or skill level, participating consistently in a golf-specific exercise program can greatly improve your golf game, as well as your quality of life off the course.

A golf-specific conditioning program consists of resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, and functional flexibility. Most golfers do not use resistance training because they do not know the best way to apply it to improve their game. Working with your teaching pro to improve swing mechanics is a great way to improve your golf game, but by performing proper strengthening and stretching exercises you can enhance the learning process and also prevent over-use injuries. Improving your fitness level can generate greater distance with less effort for a more consistent ball flight. This, in turn, will lower your scores and increase your enjoyment of the game. Before you start a golf-specific conditioning program, you should assess your current level of fitness and any physical limitations you may have.

To play optimal golf you have to improve your cardiovascular conditioning. Playing golf is not enough to improve your aerobic fitness. Having an improved level of cardiovascular fitness will enable you to maintain your energy levels, fight fatigue, and stay mentally focused for 18 holes. Walking, biking, stair-stepping, and running are great examples of cardiovascular exercise. If you have not exercised for a while, 15 minutes 2-3 times per week at a comfortable pace will improve your current aerobic level. Being aerobically fit will increase your confidence, which is what golf is all about.

Functional flexibility is a very important component to improving your golf swing. Flexibility is the range of motion around a specific joint. It is not however, how "loose" your muscles are. If you have decreased range of motion in any joint, especially the shoulders, hips or low back, your swing may not be mechanically sound or efficient. Realizing your personal limitations is a good starting point to improving flexibility and golf performance. Just swinging a golf club a couples of times before you play is not enough to improve your flexibility. The aging process causes loss of elasticity in tendons and ligaments as well as muscle. Remember to always warm up for approximately 5-10 minutes prior to stretching. This will increase your body temperature to allow muscles to lengthen without potential for injury. Combining these components in a golf-specific conditioning program will have you shooting lower scores and playing longer. Remember, your body plays the game not your equipment. Contact a fitness professional or athletic trainer who specializes in golf-specific training to take the next step.

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