When Golf-Specific Exercises Aren’t Enough!

The 2015 PGA Tour season is underway!

Tiger is out.

Rory is in.

And, Rory’s club is in the water.


And, you’re working your butt off to get in golf shape. I know you’re working hard to get into golf shape, because I saw you at the gym a couple weeks ago. You were doing a very standard “wood chop” exercise on the cable machine similar to this:

Woodchop 2

Photo credit: mptp.info

Now, I’m no dummy. I know exactly why you’re doing it. You’re doing it because you believe you’ll get more explosive in the downward plane of your golf swing. You believe you’ll improve clubhead speed. You believe you’ll increase driving distance. And, you believe you’ll build muscular endurance.

Except…what if you don’t do any of those things?

Sure they could happen, but…

What if, instead, you get dysfunctionaly explosive?

What if, in an attempt to improve your clubhead speed, you decrease your hip function?

What if you’re gaining driving distance while shortening your golf lifespan?

And, what if you’re building endurance but in a completely compromised muscle pattern?

If you’re ignoring your overall body alignment and function, then those things are most certainly happening. You are bringing a dysfunctional body to the gym, and you’re leaving with a dysfunctional body that is now stronger than it was before. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, then chances are you have heard me say that by strength training on a dysfunctional body, “You’re building a Ferrari on a bent frame.” Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m ALL for golf-specific exercises, as I am baseball-specific, volleyball-specific, football-specific, and whatever-your-sport-is-specific exercises. I think they can be of huge benefit to an athlete’s body, especially, as it relates to this article, if you’re wanting and needing to play golf at a high level. I have worked with clients throughout all levels of golf–junior, collegiate, Web.com, LPGA, PGA, and Champions Tour–and none of those players would be at the level they’re at without strength training. Yet I see the same thing across the board: dysfunction. But rest assured, I see dysfunctions in athletes regardless of what sport they play. To be honest, I see dysfunctions when I’m at the grocery store, the mall, and at church. I’m always analyzing posture and dysfunction, and believe me, it’s everywhere. So, please don’t think this is only in the golf world.

Too often, in the world of athletics, athletes are asking their bodies to do more than they are functionally capable of doing. I often describe this as athletic ability “trumping” dysfunction. Basically, most athletes are more athletic than they are functional. And, the longer they play, the more dysfunctional they get, the less athletic they get. They start to see the gap between athleticism and dysfunction gets smaller and smaller until one day an athlete’s dysfunction catches up with him or her. Maybe they lose a few yards on their drive, perhaps they lose a little quickness on the court, or, worse yet, maybe they suffer an injury. When athletes start to layer strength training on top of dysfunction, I believe that timeline is sped up as the underlying dysfunctions are exacerbated and brought to the surface at a much quicker rate.

It’s sad to think that it could all be different if the athlete, and in this case the golfer, would have simply done something to address their dysfunction prior to performing their golf-specific strength-training workout. They simply need to set their body up for it better ahead of time. Again, this isn’t just a “golf” issue. I’m saying that for any activity or exercise you do, you need to be set up for it. When the body is functional and aligned, it performs as designed! You’ll get more from your workout in less time, you’ll perform better at your sport of choice, and you’ll decrease your risk of injury when playing.

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I’ll also propose that you don’t have to ever lift a weight, and you can still improve your body, swing, and overall golf game. I have a client who is a VERY avid golfer who plays three-to-five days every week. From the fall of 2013 until the fall of 2014, he increased his clubhead speed by 10%! He went from a clubhead speed of 82 MPH to a clubhead speed of 90 MPH, simply by doing Egoscue and getting his body functional again. He was ecstatic, saying, “I never thought I’d see my clubhead speed the 90s again!”

Oh…and, by the way, the reason he thought he’d never see a clubhead speed in the 90s again, is due to the fact that over a decade ago he was in an accident and was temporarily paralyzed on this right side! While his right-side function has greatly improved, he still isn’t back to 100% and, honestly, he may never be. Yet, he increased his clubhead speed by 10% in a year, without lifting a weight. Pretty cool, huh?

While I think strength training is incredibly important, I don’t believe simply doing golf-specific exercises is enough and many of you are putting the cart before the horse. Please friends, do yourself a favor: Straighten, and then strengthen. Remember that Ferrari example from above? A Ferrari only performs like it’s designed to when its frame is straight!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite sport-specific exercise?