Jun 9, 2017
Golf Strength
Eric Donoval

My training philosophy for building better golf swings focuses on three things: core strength, explosive power, and range of motion. Why are these necessary for a golf swing? Because all three help the body transfer force more efficiently.

Force production in the swing must travel through the core to get to the club and ball. Therefore, a strong core is vital for transferring kinetic energy. In contrast, a weak core not only reduces the power production of the swing, but also leaks potential energy that could be transferred to the club.

In addition, golfers need to be explosive through multiple planes of movement. When you look at the mechanics of the golf swing, the most obvious movement is transverse rotation, but hip extension and vertical displacement at the pelvis play a role as well. We address these with heavy doses of explosive med ball training and plyometrics.

Finally, the swing requires a certain degree of range of motion. If the body can’t reach this amount, it will compensate in a less efficient way, which can lead to injury.

Our solution is to set range of motion goals for the hips, shoulders, and thorax. The ability to rotate and extend the hips violently is paramount in golf, so we shoot for 45 degrees of internal rotation for both hips. This allows the athlete to get a quality backswing, shift onto their lead leg, and reach full internal rotation during follow-through.

The next benchmark is attaining at least 130 degrees of shoulder external rotation while standing. This helps the golfer open his shoulder at the top of his backswing without altering his swinging motion.

We also aim for adequate rotation at the trunk and thorax. The thorax usually maxes out at 140 to 155 degrees during the swing, so we shoot for 80 degrees of rotation in each direction at the thorax and trunk. The golfer should be able to disassociate his upper and lower body, keeping the lower body stable while the upper body rotates.

To reach all of these range of motion goals, we work on mobility and stability in the thoracic spine, lats, shoulders, and hips. Some of our sample exercises include T-spine mobility drills, wall slides, soft-tissue work on the pecs, and strengthening the internal hip rotators.

Below are sample workouts from the three training phases in the Louisiana State University men’s golf team’s yearlong program.

Phase 1

Overhead squat on Bosu ball 4 x 10

Dumbbell goblet squat 4 x 10

Thread the needle 3 x 10

Weighted hypers 2 x 10

Banded glute bridges 3 x 10

Stability ball push-ups 3 x 12

TRX rows 3 x 12

TRX I/Y/Ts 3 x 12

Banded hip strengthening circuit

Core work 10 x 20

Phase 2

Rotating box jumps 4 x 5

Dead lift 5 x 5

Dumbbell Romanian dead lift 4 x 5

Stability ball leg curls 4 x 10

Med ball rotational slams 4 x 5 each side

TRX Push-ups 3 x 12

Dumbbell bent-over rows 3 x 12

Band pull-aparts 3 x 15

Hip mobility circuit

Core work 10 x 20

Phase 3

Single-leg windmills on Bosu ball 4 x 5

Med ball lunge twist 4 x 5

Dumbbell single-leg Romanian dead lift 4 x 5 each leg

Single-leg stability ball leg curls 3 x 10

Single-leg med ball rotational slams 4 x 5 each side

Six-point banded push-ups 3 x 12

Horizontal cable rows 3 x 12

Bent-over dumbbell rear raises 1 x 12 each arm

Eric Donoval, MS, CSCS, USAW-1, is Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Louisiana State University. He coordinates the strength and conditioning programs for men's golf and volleyball and assists with training the football team.

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