If you’re the type of person who likes to make New Year resolutions to improve your life, but all too often find it impossible to back up your good intentions with the discipline and perseverance required to seem them through, then here are 10 really simple things you can do to look better, feel better and, yes, play better golf!
Walk 7-10,000 steps a day: Prolonged sitting leads to back and hip problems that can potentially cause havoc with your swing. So, get up on your feet and walk, whenever you can. If you have a smartphone or fitness tracker, monitor and keep a record of your steps.
Improve your posture: Posture is the most neglected and least understood aspect of health and fitness. Correcting your posture is the single best thing you can do to improve how you look and feel. Good postural alignment improves blood flow to the muscles, which improves their functionality and helps to reduce pain. [Here are 2 great videos to be had from www.fittergolfers.com that will help you optimize your posture: ‘Achieving Good Posture’ and ‘Maintaining Good Posture’]
Strengthen your glutes: The gluteal muscles are key to good back health, but also to a balanced and powerful swing. Strong glutes help to prevent swaying, sliding and early extension. They also provide energy via GRF that you can transfer into the club in the downswing. So, when you’re sitting down, squeeze your buttock muscles together at regular intervals throughout the day. [If you can isolate them, it’s a good idea to alternate cheeks.] Take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator and target your glutes in your lower body programme with exercises like Bulgarian squats and Romanian deadlifts.
Strengthen your trunk muscles: When strengthening your trunk muscles, develop ‘core’ stability first, before moving on to building core strength. Work the deeper stabilizing muscles first and your functional fitness will improve, making you less prone to injury. Most movements start at the centre and ‘translate’ outwards and a stable centre will help ensure that your movement is efficient and pain-free.
Back pain is commonly caused by a weak or imbalanced core. Building core strength will rebalance the muscles at the front and back of your body and should be linked to work on good posture. Complement posture workouts by practicing good posture when you’re sitting at work, at home or in the car, and when out walking etc. Once you’ve developed your core stability, you can start working on the more superficial core muscles to build strength that will be visible to all. ‘Plank’ and ‘bridge’ exercises provide a good starting point. Remember you can have strong limbs, but have relatively weak trunk muscles and that is a dangerous combination! Core strength is something everyone should work on.
Exercise in all 3 planes of motion: The golf swing demands that you simultaneously move in more than one plane, so conditioning should include multi-plane movements with exercises like lateral and rotational jumps, medicine ball rotational throws, rolling bridges, reverse chops and lunges with trunk rotations etc.
Do some balance exercises at least twice a week: This can be done very easily indeed. When performing everyday tasks like brushing your teeth, combing your hair, buttoning your shirt etc. simply stand on one leg. This simple act will improve your balance and make the muscles around your ankle work really hard to maintain your equilibrium and thus will strengthen them significantly. As we get older, our balance deteriorates and we get weaker due to age-related muscle wastage called sarcopenia. [It’s why old people become susceptible to falls.] Everyone over the age of 40 should work to maintain their levels of balance and leg strength.
Get your heart rate up in three 20-45 minute relatively vigorous sessions a week: A combination of even-rate cardio and interval training will work wonders for how you feel out on the course. It will burn calories, improve your endurance, and your ability to focus under stress, helping you to hole that vital final putt. Your goal here should be increase your heart rate from its resting rate (between 60-100 beats per minute is normal) to a rate slightly below your maximum rate, which is dependent upon your age and can easily be ascertained by simply deducting your age from 220. [So, for example the maximum heart rate for a 55 year old person is 220-55=165 beats per minute.] Note: It is always advisable to consult your doctor before you start any vigorous exercise programme.
Self-massage twice a week: Just 15 minutes with a foam roller (or other self-massage tool) will free up your muscles, increase their elasticity and lengthen your swing. You’ll be able to swing harder and faster while reducing the risk of injuries. Focus on the lower back, the hips, the upper back and calves.
Drink a minimum of 2 litres of water (preferably filtered) a day: The benefits are numerous. Drinking this amount of water tends to curb your appetite and can help you lose weight. It will also improve muscle function for a smoother, more powerful swing, and give you an endurance boost. So, you will wave goodbye to those slumps in performance over the closing holes!
Keep track of your calorie intake: Smartphone apps are freely available to help you log what you eat and drink each day. Regardless of whether or not you should be shedding a few pounds post-Christmas, monitoring what you eat and drink will raise awareness of your nutritional needs. Less stress on your bones, better mobility, and increased energy will benefit your game enormously.
And there you have it. You don't have to do all 10 at once if you find the prospect too daunting, just select a manageable number and gradually work your way through them if you can.
On the other hand, if you think you can 'go the extra mile' and have what it takes not only to transform your general health, but to go on to achieve a body that is totally golf fit then why not take our two FREE self-assessment screening tests for both the lower and upper body? They will pinpoint the areas you need to work on and enable you to select those modules that perfectly meet your needs from our comprehensive conditioning programme. Strike while the iron is hot. Do it NOW! Good luck and here’s to a hugely successful season in 2017...