You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Masters winner Jordan Spieth can dead lift 380 pounds. He looks slender, but over the past year and a half, he’s been living in the gym when he’s not on the golf course- usually spending at least four days a week with his trainer. His workout focuses on core strength and lower body, in an effort to build muscle to maintain a club head speed of 115.3 mph.
His trainer calls him “country-strong,” and he’s gained 20 pounds of muscle, thanks to some of the same methods and equipment I use with my clients- kettle bells and medicine balls. And, Jordan also has a foam rolling and stretching routine to help increase flexibility and mobility and improve stability.
All golfers, no matter if you make a living at the game or not, should have a full-body approach to their workout. It’s not enough just to strengthen your muscles, you also need to stay flexible and avoid building unnecessary bulk that could likely interfere with a smooth, consistent swing. And, you can increase fitness and play better with a simple short exercise routine.
Getting and keeping your core strong is extremely important. That’s because performance on the course- the effectiveness of your swing- is dictated by the power of your rotation. You need to have a full range of motion in the hip and thoracic spine, with a strong core that allows you to transfer force from your hips to your shoulders. The bottom line- the farther you can wind your body while maintaining good alignment, the more powerful your swing will be. And, the farther the ball will fly.
So, here are five exercises to help you master the perfect swing:
1) Standing Wood Chop (1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30 second rest between sets)
This exercise combines movements of the hips, back, and shoulders, while increasing strength and improving flexibility.
You can perform it with a cable or a resistance band, but you can also do it with a medicine ball like Jordan does.
Slightly bend your knees, raise the medicine ball overhead to one side, like you’re about to swing an axe. Throw the ball down and across your body. Repeat on each side.
2) Lateral Lunges (1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-second rest, alternate legs)
This exercise improves range-of-motion and hip strength.
Make sure you keep good posture during the exercise. Just take a large step to either your right or left, and shift your weight to that side- bending that leg. Keep your toes pointed ahead.
3) Glute Activation Lunges (1 to 3 sets of 8-12 reps, alternate legs)
These lunges are also good for increasing hip mobility.
Start with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Take a giant step forward, bending your front leg at a 90-degree angle (or until your thigh is parallel to the floor).
Your back leg should remain strong and straight.
Step back into a standing position and repeat.
4) Front Plank/Side Plank (3- 5 times, holding for 20-60 seconds)
Planks are great for core strength.
Front plank- lay face down, place palms flat on the floor.
Roll your shoulders onto your back, away from your ears, and push away from the floor.
Keep your back flat and engage your abdominal muscles. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and release back down onto the floor. Repeat.
For a side plank, lay on your side with your legs stacked. Rest your body on your forearm, shoulder directly over your elbow.
Lift your hips so that your body is in a straight line. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and lower back down. Repeat on each side.
5) Supine Spinal Twists (1 to 3 times, hold for 20-30 seconds, switching sides)
These twists also increase core strength and your shoulders should get a good stretch.
Start on your back with your feet raised and bent in a 90 degree angle, or so that your calves are parallel to the floor.
Extend your arms out wide, with palms facing down. Slowly lower your legs to the right side of your body, keeping your knees together. Hover above the ground for about 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to center.
Switch sides and repeat.
For the most benefit, these exercises should be combined with others that target more muscles and body parts. If you’re consistent, you should start to see improvement in your strength and your swing in a few weeks.
Golf Performance Coach