The 3 Phases of Golf Fitness


Bob Forman

Director, The Golf Fitness Academy

Certified Golf Fitness Instructor

You’ve got to crawl before you walk and then walk before you run.  That goes for your golf fitness program as well.  Jumping ahead, like trying to run before you crawl, will more than likely result in ineffective outcomes, while raising the potential for injury.

When progressing through a golf fitness program, it is essential to correct the anatomical deficiencies first (the crawl) before moving into the golf-specific strength and balance phase (the walk), and this all should be done before adding any power exercises (the run) to the routine.

In doing so, the benefits will be achieved in a more timely manner and the body will be given a chance to prepare for the next, usually more intense, phase of the program.  This natural progression will offer a better flow, maximizing results out on the course while minimizing the risk for any setback that would prolong the time necessary for optimal results.

The Corrective Phase

It is imperative for the golfer to focus on correcting the muscle deficiencies at the onset of the golf fitness program!  This base will set the stage for better, safer outcomes during subsequent phases as both mobility and stability will be enhanced.

This will also improve swing mechanics as the body will now be able to do what it needs to do to swing a more efficient golf club.  Golfers can expect to gain some distance, not ache as much after a round of golf, and have a better feel about their game.  Nagging injuries may also start to improve or dissipate entirely.

To initiate the corrective phase, a physical assessment will need to be conducted to identify specific muscle deficiencies so that a targeted exercise program can be designed to focus on these weaker areas.  This offers a more time-managed program and offers a “quick fix” to the problem areas.  Without this knowledge, the muscle weakness, tightness, and imbalance that plagues swing efficiency and injury will take longer to correct, if at all!

A good time frame for the corrective phase is based on the number and severity of deficiencies, but generally significant results can be achieved within 6 to 10 weeks.  Compliance to the recommended exercises is a major influence in that outcome.

The Golf-Specific Strength and Balance Phase

Once sufficient progress has been achieved in the corrective phase, the golfer can transition into the golf specific strength and balance phase.

These functional exercises should isolate and mimic specific movement patterns of the golf swing and build upon and enhance what has been achieved in the corrective phase.  They should address the physical demands and the environmental forces the golfer is confronted with so as to improve ball contact, swing consistency, and shot accuracy.

Improving strength and balance will result in less fatigue during the round.  With less fatigue, the golf swing will remain consistent throughout, producing good ball contact from the first tee to the 18th green.  It will also reduce the incidence of aches and pain as often times, fatigue is a precursor to injury.  Distance will continue to improve as a result of this phase.

The Power Phase

For every 1mph increase in clubhead speed, you can expect about 3 more yards down the fairway.  Equipment manufacturers have known this for some time and that’s the reason they’ve been tinkering with clubs to make them lighter.  The rationale. . . the lighter the club, the faster the swing speed.

If distance is truly a desire, though, power is the only way to go.  Power produces speed and that comes from the recruitment of the fast-twitch muscle fibers.  These fiber types are responsible for short, quick bursts of energy, like when swinging a golf club.  Enhance the recruitment process and swing speed increases.

Power exercises involve a time element where the exercises are done at a faster pace.  This will take a toll on the body, so preparation is key.  Any deficiency that has not been addressed will raise the risk of injury upon reaching this stage.  Muscle strength and balance will also help in this regard as the more intense exercise will be better tolerated by the body.

When progressing from one phase to another, keep in mind that the current exercises remain a part of the routine.  In other words, it is essential to maintain a flexibility component when moving from the corrective phase to the strength-balance phase, and then again when incorporating power exercises.

Periodic modifications of the exercise routine to keep the entire workout manageable and within a desired time frame, while maintaining a focus on the desired outcomes, will keep the workout fresh and enhance compliance.

Working with a certified Golf Fitness Instructor who has a firm knowledge about body physiology, and exercise design and progression will maximize the golf fitness experience.  Knowing how and when to transition from crawl to walk and then walk to run is an extremely valuable asset, and should be sought after when seeking a trainer.  This way, positive improvements will be noted sooner out on the golf course, while significantly increasing the safety factor in the golf fitness program.

Going the distance with all 3 phases of the golf fitness program will have a huge impact on your game.  Knowing how to crawl, then walk, then run will ensure optimal benefits with a nice return on your investment.

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