Physical fitness has become a top priority for professional golfers in recent years, as shown by the number of top players, including Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Dustin Johnson, who regularly consult with fitness experts or personal trainers. Weakness or lack of flexibility in one part of the body affects the golf swing, as stronger muscles try to compensate. However, amateurs eager to get into shape for golf don't have to sign up for an expensive gym membership or hire a personal trainer. You can do many exercises at home.
In his book "Win and Win Again," two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange cites medical research showing that the big muscles of the upper body are more critical to generating clubhead speed than the arm muscles below the elbows. Simple upper body exercises you can do include pushups, bicep curls and triceps extensions. Start with light weights -- for example, 2-lb. dumbbells -- that you don't have to strain to lift One good chest-strengthening exercise chest begins by lying flat on the floor on your back, with your arms extended away from your body. Hold a weight in each hand. Lift your arms off the ground without bending your elbows and point them toward the ceiling until they are perpendicular to your body. Use your own body weight to strengthen your arms. Sit on the edge of a sturdy couch or heavy chair. Place your palms flat down on the chair on either side of your buttocks and slightly behind you. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees. Move your buttocks forward and off the chair. Lower yourself toward the floor, while bending your arms. Raise yourself back up by using your arms instead of your legs.
To build core strength you need to increase muscle tone in the abdomen and back. Core strength generates more power from the coiling action in your backswing. Stomach crunches and leg lifts are classic abdomen strengtheners, but isometric exercises can be done anytime. Simply tighten your stomach muscles for 60 seconds. Another good core exercise starts by lying flat on your back, arms out to the side. Bring your knees to your chest. Gently roll your knees to one side and then the other without lifting your shoulders off the floor.
Some golfers think that because they swing the club with their arms, lower body strength isn't that important. But the legs and hips play a key role in controlling the direction of the ball. Leg strength also adds power to your swing. Strange recommends strengthening the quadriceps with this easy-to-follow exercise: Stand with your back and shoulders flat against the wall. Keep your heels about 12 inches away from the wall. Bend your knees and slide down the wall as if you were sitting in a chair. Hold for 60 seconds.
Tightness in the shoulders, back, hips and legs restricts the extension of the club as you swing. Stretch your arm muscles by holding one arm straight out in front of you, palm up. Take your other hand and put it on the palm of the outstretched hand. Gently push the bottom palm down so your fingers are pointing toward the ground. Stretch your back by standing up straight and bringing your left arm over your head with the elbow bent so the left hand is behind your head. Grab that elbow with your other hand and tug it toward the right. Or grasp a golf club with your hands about 24 inches apart. Hold the club straight out in front of you at chest level. Stand with your knees slightly bent. Swing your arms and club to the right and then to the left, keeping your arms parallel to the floor at chest level, without turning your chest and head.