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Golf Weight Training

by Amy Neighbors
    Fitness training can provide the strength and power a good golf swing requires.

    Fitness training can provide the strength and power a good golf swing requires.

    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

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    Weight training is important in golf, as fitness for the sport requires more than just typical good conditioning. To achieve that level, a golf-specific weight training workout is encouraged. Golf relies on creating power in the body's core and the training program should be focused on that as well.

    Lower Body

    A stable base of support or lower body will anchor a golf swing. The legs provide the base so that momentum can move from the core out through the upper-body extremities. The quadriceps, or the muscles of the anterior thigh, are involved all the time the time in the golf swing. Whenever knee flexion occurs, the quadriceps are under tension and performing the work. Squat progressions will work the quadriceps and keep them strong. The hamstrings are the most important muscles to develop to maintain the appropriate golf posture. Developing strength and flexibility in the hamstrings will result in a more consistent golf posture throughout the golf swing and reduce the strain on the lower back.

    Core

    Core conditioning must involve the usage of every core muscle, not just the abdominals. When contracted, they stabilize the spine, pelvis, and shoulder girdle. Core muscles control movements, transfer energy and enable the body to shift its weight in all directions. A strong core is the key to improving posture, eliminating chronic back pain and reducing the risk of injury. It is important for golfers to keep the abdominal muscles strong to protect the lower back muscles.

    Upper Back

    The upper back muscles keep a golfer upright during the swing, so it is important to focus on strength-training in that area; otherwise, form and technical practice will not help. The main contributor for the lack of ability to make a full backswing is the upper back area. Many golfers have an imbalance in their golf posture that keeps them from rotating fully in the backswing. The only way to improve this is through strength and flexibility training of the upper back muscles. This includes the latissimus dorsi, which is responsible for the transverse extension movement of the golf club, and the trapezius muscle, which pulls the shoulder blade toward the spine. The stronger these muscles are, the better the golfer can maintain an erect upper back throughout the swing.

    Chest

    The chest muscles, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, create strength and stability with the help of the upper back and shoulder muscles. These muscles connect to the shoulder joint and help stabilize and mobilize the muscles of the rotator cuff. Keeping this group of muscles strong and balanced will help decrease the risk of shoulder injury. It is important to strength-train the chest muscles to create symmetry between them and the upper back muscles. When the muscles are off balance, one group of muscles will be over-flexible and the other will be tight, decreasing range of motion in the swing.

    Upper Arm

    The upper arm is made up of two muscles, the biceps brachii on the anterior side and the triceps brachii on the posterior side. The biceps brachii, “bi,” meaning two bundles of muscle, is known as a tri-articulate muscle because it works across three joints. One of its most important functions is supination of the forearm. Supination is turning the hand from a palms-down to a palms-up position. The biceps also works in conjunction with the triceps muscle to oppose movement of the elbow. As the biceps works to flex the elbow, the triceps, having three bundles of muscle, extends the elbow or straightens the arm. Both these muscles work to control the club during the swing.

    Shoulders

    The shoulder muscles have many roles in the swing. Because of its range of motion, the shoulder joint is injury-prone and must be trained appropriately. The best way to do this is to strengthen the shoulder as part of an integrated upper body workout. Weak shoulder muscles lead to lack of control of the club. In addition, inflexible shoulder muscles can affect club position at the end of the swing. If the shoulder muscles are weak, the golfer will have no control over the club throughout the swing. Shoulder muscles play a key role in swing consistency.

    About the Author

    Amy Neighbors is president and master trainer of Swing Athletics Golf Performance Fitness. She is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, SCW and NHE personal trainer, and ARC CPR. Neighbors holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois. She began writing for online publications while working on her master's degree in 2006.

    Photo Credits

    • Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images