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Isometric golf exercises for more distance

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If you want to hit the golf ball farther and you’re willing to put in a bit of physical effort to achieve the desired results, then consider adding isometric exercises to your training program.

An isometric exercise is an exercise in which a muscle gets contracted but the joint doesn’t visibly move. For example, pushing your hands together as hard as you can will contract the muscles, but your joints don’t appear to move.

Isometrics have been around for many hundreds, and possibly thousands of years with historical application in activities like yoga and oriental martial arts.

Because isometrics do not need much in the way of equipment and can work with just your own body weight, they are relatively safe to perform and are often used in physiotherapy and for injury rehab.

Personally, I first remember learning about isometric exercises when I was studying Bruce Lee’s training regimes in an effort to find things that would help with hitting the golf ball farther.

As it turns out, they’re wonderful for golf. 

The power equation has both a speed and strength component to it. To get more powerful, you either need to get faster, get stronger, or ideally both.

  • Power = Force x Distance / Time

The most important place to be strong in your golf swing is in the down swing because everyone, whether you are senior lady or world long drive champion, starts at 0 mph at the top of the backswing and gets to whatever speed they achieve at impact.

Using resistance band isometrics, you can work on developing your downswing muscle strength.

One convenient thing about using bands is they don’t really take up much space and they travel well. This is excellent for a tour player, for someone who travels frequently, and/or for a person who doesn’t want to take up too much storage space. In particular, I like the bands at Swing Man Golf because they also interchange and combine easily, they are numbered to track progress, and they won’t snap from stretching them too far.

Use the fitness routine below to strengthen your golf body.

Isometrics weekly fitness routine 

1) Take your resistance bands, go to the top of your back swing, and hold as much resistance in place as you can for 8-10 seconds.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.24.56 AM

2) Adjust the position of the bands and repeat this for your “half way down” position.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.25.08 AM

3) Then move the bands and hold again at your impact position.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.25.18 AM

4) Lastly, repeat all three of these positions… but with rear hand only, and then lead hand only.

Make sure to complete all three positions using two hands, rear hand only, and lead hand only because you’ll feel it in different places. Two hands challenges your core, rear hand works the “throwing/pushing” part of the swing, and lead hand hits your “pulling” muscles.

Perform 1-2 sets twice per week, making sure that you maintain as much resistance as possible, and add resistance whenever you can.

Doing isometrics in this manner for your golf swing is great in that it focuses on developing maximum controlled exertion for a short amount of time.

Combined with regularly practicing swinging fast using a radar device for feedback, over the course of several weeks you’ll increase the strength of your downswing and ultimately hit the ball farther.

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the creator of Sterling Irons® single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Two of his articles for GolfWRX are the two most viewed of all time. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also shot the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has helped millions of golfers and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s amateur golfers and tour players pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons® here: Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – Facebook.com/JaacobBowdenGolf & Facebook.com/SwingManGolf & <Facebook.com/SterlingIronsGolf; Instagram - Instagram.com/JaacobBowden YouTube – YouTube.com/SwingManGolf – Millions of views!!!

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Pingback: 6 Exercises To Hit The Ball Longer - www.meditationdaily.com

  2. Pingback: 6 Exercises To Hit The Ball Longer

  3. Steve

    Aug 20, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Thanks for a great article

    Where can I buy the resistance bands you use?
    I have not seen any with rings at the end or the handle that simulates a golf club grip.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Sep 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Go to the Swing Man Golf website. We’ve got them there.

      I specifically like those because they won’t snap, they have the clips for easy changing and stacking, they are numbered for tracking progress, they have good grip accessories that accommodate a lot of variability for positioning, they travel and pack up well, and with they have good anchors which allow you to use them in doors at home, in hotels, around trees or posts, etc.

      Jaacob

  4. Dlygrisse

    Aug 11, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Did some of these the last two days, could really feel it in my core/abs! I am hoping that is what I should feel?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 13, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Hi Dlygrisse,

      Different people feel it in different places but core/abs is a common place, yes!

      Jaacob

  5. Private

    Aug 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

    I’m curious as to how much strength training would actually benefit me. I’m 5’6 160 with 112SS. I just don’t see how I could get much more out of myself.

    • adam

      Aug 7, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Two words for you: Jamie Sadlowski

      • Jaacob Bowden

        Aug 7, 2015 at 1:19 pm

        Adam is right.

        Jamie is a good example of someone who is under 6’0″ and 200 lbs (listed at 5’11” and 170) who can swing very fast (I believe 150 mph on a Trackman is his fastest in competition).

        I can’t think of specific names but I’ve also observed a number of other long drive guys who are also not “big or tall” who can bring it from a club head speed standpoint.

        So although you are already fast by general golf standards, you could always improve with more swing speed and strength training.

        Set a goal, be dedicated, put in the work, adjust as necessary, believe in yourself, and the sky is the limit!

  6. Mike

    Aug 6, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Hi Jaacob, thanks for taking the time to write this article but I’m not sure I agree with you 100%. Yes isometrics have been around for a long time and yes we use them in injury rehabilitation but I don’t think they are the best option for increasing strength. In rehab I use isometrics as a means to prevent atrophy of a muscle when resistance training through a full range of motion would potentially make the injury worse. With isometrics, strength gains are limited primarily to the angle at which the joint is exercised.
    Even if you take the power equation P = F x D / T with isometrics you are by definition not covering a distance, the joint is in a static position. So when D = 0 it doesn’t matter the amount of force you apply or time you apply it, P = 0. You are not creating power.
    I don’t doubt that your program is effective, I just don’t believe isometric training would be beneficial to a healthy individual looking to increase their distance off the tee. They should focus more on a progressive resistance program that incorporates concentric and eccentric movements throughout the entire range of motion.
    Mike, ATC, EP-C

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 6, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the comment.

      You are correct in that with isometrics the force is high but power is zero. But I was referring to power in the sense of the golf swing…in that the golf swing power goes up if you make your golf swing stronger and faster.

      I also agree that isometrics aren’t the “best” option for increasing strength. Were someone to be going for maximum speed gains, as you mentioned I would similarly incorporate other things like concentric and eccentric movements and more.

      Isometrics are nice as a supplement, though…even to healthy and already fit individuals (which can include tour players and professional long drivers).

      That being said, even if isometrics were the only thing you were using to work on golf swing strength, it’s better than nothing. Most golfers don’t work on their speed at all, even “fit” ones. So when you actually get them to work at it a bit and then throw something as simple as some band isometrics at them for their down swing, you can get a nice useable swing speed bump over the course of several weeks of training.

      Jaacob

      • Mike

        Aug 6, 2015 at 9:32 am

        Right on, I agree something is better than nothing. Not only for performance gains but also injury prevention and longevity!

  7. Todd Marsh Fitness

    Aug 6, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Great exercises Jaacob, I like these as the muscles you use in the swing work against the resistance but you aren’t doing all the rotation that would would do in med ball throws or Russian twists. It has been my experience that when a person gets tired doing the latter exercises they start to rotate more in the lumbar region that thoracic region.
    Good point on doing the work with both lead and trailing hand as they do work more muscles.
    I will add these to my anti-rotational exercises.
    Do you think holding the positions in the follow-through position will help with de-accelerating the club?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 6, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Hi Todd,

      I’ve never used band isometrics to work specifically on deceleration. I suppose that could work, though. I think you would have to get in to your follow through positions and then set the bands up so that you are working the opposite direction of your swing, if that makes sense.

      An alternative thing you can do with bands to work on deceleration is setting the band position up high, pulling the bands down backwards to impact, and then using them to accelerate in to the finish. In that way, the bands can help pull you along faster than you otherwise would be going and your body would have to deal with slowing down and stopping the extra speed.

      But that’s for another article. This one was just about a simple thing you can do to work on your down swing strength. :-p

      Jaacob

  8. other paul

    Aug 6, 2015 at 12:08 am

    I gained 8 MPH with Jaacob’s training in 2 months. I gained 10 more with technique change a few months later. How ever, I thought I signed up for 1 month of Jaacob’s stuff and I didn’t realize that I had to cancel it. So it kept pulling from my account for 6 months. Wife almost shot me for that. I didn’t even look at his stuff for 5 of those months… But it was my fault.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 6, 2015 at 8:45 am

      Hey Paul!

      Sorry if there was any confusion about the monthly membership…but congrats on the speed gains!

      Jaacob

  9. Erik

    Aug 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Also a great way to kill your CNS and your touch around the greens!

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 5, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      That hasn’t been my observation.

    • KK

      Aug 5, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      LOL, kill your CNS? I think you’re referring to Parkinson’s or MS. These exercises are part of pilates and similar to yoga and will do much more for you than sitting on a coach.

  10. Nick Buchan

    Aug 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Hi Jacob. Really interesting article! As a powerlifter I have used isometrics in my training and they are such a powerful training tool for increasing strength and I have always wondered if these could transfer over into functional and golf specific performance. This post maybe just have inspired to begin experimenting. In your swing speed training do you typically use exercises that place the golfer in golf posture or mimic the golf swing then?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Aug 5, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Hi Nick,

      Thanks.

      There are varying opinions within the golf fitness community about the degree to which something needs to mimic the golf swing in order to have benefit.

      From the specific standpoint of developing more swing speed and club head speed, which is one of my niche areas of expertise, it’s been my experience that results are better when mirroring what one does in their golf swing.

      So yes!

      Jaacob

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Instruction

Clement: Best drill for weight shift and clearing hips (bonus on direction too)

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This is, by far, one of the most essential drills for your golf swing development. To throw the club well is a liberating experience! Here we catch Munashe up with how important the exercise is not only in the movement pattern but also in the realization that the side vision is viciously trying to get you to make sure you don’t throw the golf club in the wrong direction. Which, in essence, is the wrong direction to start with!

This drill is also a cure for your weight shift problems and clearing your body issues during the swing which makes this an awesome all-around golf swing drill beauty! Stay with us as we take you through, step by step, how this excellent drill of discovery will set you straight; pardon the pun!

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Confessions of a hacker: Chipping yips and equipment fixes

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There’s a saying in golf that, paraphrasing here, it’s the person holding the weapon, not the weapon. Basically, if you hit a bad shot, it’s almost certain that it was your fault, not the fault of the golf club. It has a better design than your swing. And while that truism is often correct, it ain’t necessarily so.

For example, if I were to try to hit one of those long drive drivers, I’d probably mis-hit it so badly that the ball might not be findable. That stick is way too long, stiff, and heavy for me. Similarly, if I were to use one of those senior flex drivers, I’d probably hit it badly, because it would be too floppy for my swing. It’s clear that there are arrows that this Indian can’t shoot well. Maybe a pro could adapt to whatever club you put in his hand, but there’s no reason he would accept less than a perfect fit. And there’s little reason why any amateur ought to accept less than a good fit.

I was never a competitive athlete, although I’m a competitive person. My path led a different direction, and as my medical career reached its mature years, I was introduced to our wonderful and frustrating game.

Being one who hates playing poorly, I immediately sought instruction. After fifteen years, multiple instructors, a wallet full of videos, and a wall full of clubs, I am finally learning how to do one particularly vexing part of the game reasonable well. I can chip! But as you may have guessed, the largest part of this journey has to do with the arrow, not the Indian.

We may immediately dismiss the golf shaft as a significant issue since chipping generally involves a low-speed movement. And as long as the grip is a reasonable fit for the hands, it’s not a big deal either. The rubber meets the road at the clubhead.

Manufacturers have worked hard to get the best ball spin out of the grooves. Their shape is precisely milled, and then smaller grooves and roughness are added to the exact maximum allowed under the rules. Various weighting schemes have been tried, with some success in tailoring wedges to players. And some manufacturers market the “newest” designs to make it impossible to screw up wedge shots. And yet, nothing seemed to solve my yips.

So I went on a mission. I studied all sorts of chipping techniques. Some advocate placing the ball far back to strike a descending blow. Others place it near the center of the stance. The swing must have no wrist hinge. The swing must have a hinge that is held. It should be a short swing. It should be a long swing. The face should be square. The face should be open. There should be a “pop.” There should be no power added.

If you are confused, join my club. So I went on a different mission. I started looking at sole construction. Ever since Gene Sarazen popularized a sole with bounce for use in the sand, manufacturers have been creating massive numbers of “different” sand wedges. They have one thing in common. They are generally all built to 55 or 56-degrees of loft.

The basic design feature of the sand wedge is that the sole extends down and aft from the leading edge at some angle. This generally ranges from 6 to 18-degrees. Its purpose is to allow the wedge to dig into the sand, but not too far. As the club goes down into the sand, the “bounce” pushes it back up.

 

One problem with having a lot of bounce on the wedge is that it can’t be opened up to allow certain specialty shots or have a higher effective loft. When the player does that, the leading edge lifts, resulting in thin shots. So manufacturers do various things to make the wedge more versatile, typically by removing bounce in the heel area.

At my last count, I have eight 56-degree wedges in my collection. Each one was thought to be a solution to my yips. Yet, until I listened to an interview with Dave Edel, I had almost no real understanding of why I was laying sod over a lot of my chips. Since gardening did not reduce my scores, I had to find another solution.

My first step was to look at the effective loft of a wedge in various ball positions. (Pictures were shot with the butt of the club at the left hip, in a recommended forward lean position. Since the protractor is not exactly lined up with the face, the angles are approximate.)

I had no idea that there was so much forward lean with a simple chip. If I were to use the most extreme rearward position, I would have to have 21-degrees of bounce just to keep the leading edge from digging in at impact. If there were the slightest error in my swing, I would be auditioning for greenskeeper.

My appreciation for the pros who can chip from this position suddenly became immense. For an amateur like me, the complete lack of forgiveness in this technique suddenly removed it from my alleged repertoire.

My next step was to look at bounce. As I commented before, bounce on sand wedges ranges between 6 and 18-degrees. As the drawing above shows, that’s a simple angle measurement. If I were to chip from the forward position, a 6-degree bounce sand wedge would have an effective bounce of 1-degree. That’s only fractionally better than the impossible chip behind my right foot. So I went to my local PGA Superstore to look at wedges with my Maltby Triangle Gauge in hand.

As you can see from the photos, there is a wide variation in wedges. What’s most curious, however, is that this variation is between two designs that are within one degree of the same nominal bounce. Could it be that “bounce is not bounce is not bounce?” Or should I say that “12-degrees is not 12-degrees is not 12-degrees?” If one looks below the name on the gauge, a curious bit of text appears. “Measuring effective bounce on wedges.” Hmmm… What is “effective bounce?”

The Maltby Triangle Gauge allows you to measure three things: leading-edge height, sole tangent point, and leading-edge sharpness. The last is the most obvious. If I’m chipping at the hairy edge of an adequate bounce, a sharp leading edge will dig in more easily than a blunt one. So if I’m using that far back ball position, I’ll need the 1OutPlus for safety, since its leading edge is the bluntest of the blunt. Even in that position, its 11-degree bounce keeps the leading edge an eighth of an inch up.

Wait a minute! How can that be? In the back position, the wedge is at 35-degrees effective loft, and 11-degrees of bounce ought to be 10-degrees less than we need. The difference here is found in combining all three parameters measured by the gauge, and not just the angle of the bounce.

The 1OutPlus is a very wide sole wedge. Its tangent point is a massive 1.7″ back. The leading edge rises .36″ off the ground and is very blunt. In other words, it has every possible design feature to create safety in case the chip from back in the stance isn’t as perfect as it might be. Since a golf ball is 1.68″ in diameter, that’s still less than halfway up to the center of the ball. But if you play the ball forward, this may not be the wedge for you.

Here are the measurements for the eight sand wedges that happen to be in my garage. All are either 56-degrees from the factory or bent to 56-degrees.

A couple of things jump out from this table. The Callaway PM Grind at 13-degrees has a lower leading edge (.26 inches) than the 11-degree Bazooka 1OutPlus (.36 inches). How can a lower bounce have a higher leading edge? Simple geometry suggests that if you want a higher leading edge, you will need a higher bounce angle. But it gets worse. The Wishon WS (wide sole) at 6-degrees (55-degree wedge bent to 56-degrees) has a leading-edge height of .28 inches, higher than the Callaway which has over twice the nominal bounce angle!

One thing is missing from this simple discussion of angles.

If I place one line at 34-degrees above the horizontal (loft is measured from the vertical), and then extend another at some angle below horizontal, the height above ground where the two join depends on how long the lower line is. This means that an 18-degree bounce with a narrow “C” grind will raise the leading edge a little bit. A 6-degree bounce on a wide sole may raise it more because the end of the bounce on the first wedge is so close to the leading edge.

 

Let’s look at this in the picture. If the red line of the bounce is very short, it doesn’t get far below the black ground line. But if it goes further, it gets lower. This is the difference between narrow and wide soles.

This diagram describes the mathematical description of these relationships.

Our first task is to realize that the angle 0 in this diagram is the complement of the 56-degree loft of the wedge, or 90 – 56 = 34-degrees since loft is measured from vertical, not horizontal. But the angle 0 in the bounce equation is just that, the bounce value. These two angles will now allow us to calculate the theoretical values of various parts of the wedge, and then compare them to our real-world examples.

My PM Grind Callaway wedge has its 3rd groove, the supposed “perfect” impact point, 0.54 inches above the leading edge. This should put it 0.8 inches back from the leading edge, roughly matching the measured 0.82 inches. So far, so good. (I’m using the gauge correctly!)

The 13-degree bounce at 1.14″ calculates out to 0.284″ of leading-edge rise. I measured 0.26″, so Callaway seems to be doing the numbers properly, until I realize that the leading edge is already .45″ back, given a real tangent of .69″. Something is out of whack. Re-doing the math suggests that the real bounce is 20-degrees, 40 min. Hmmm…

Maybe that bounce angle measurement isn’t such a good number to look at. Without digging through all the different wedges (which would make you cross-eyed), we should go back to basics. What is it that we really need?

Most instructors will suggest that striking the ball on about the third groove will give the best results. It will put the ball close to the center of mass (sweet spot) of the wedge and give the best spin action. If my wedge is at an effective 45-degree angle (about my right big toe), it will strike the ball about half-way up to its equator. It will also be close to the third groove. But to make that strike with minimal risk of gardening, I have to enough protection to keep the edge out of the turf if I mis-hit the ball by a little bit. That can be determined by the leading edge height! The higher the edge, the more forgiveness there is on a mis-hit.

Now this is an incomplete answer. If the bounce is short, with a sharp back side, it will tend to dig into the turf a bit. It may not do it a lot, but it will have more resistance than a wider, smoother bounce. In the extreme case, the 1OutPlus will simply glide over the ground on anything less than a ridiculous angle.

The amount of leading-edge height you need will depend on your style. If you play the ball forward, you may not need much. But as you move the ball back, you’ll need to increase it. And if you are still inconsistent, a wider sole with a smooth contour will help you avoid episodes of extreme gardening. A blunt leading edge will also help. It may slow your club in the sand, but it will protect your chips.

There is no substitute for practice, but if you’re practicing chips from behind your right foot using a wedge with a sharp, low leading edge, you’re asking for frustration. If you’re chipping from a forward position with a blunt, wide sole wedge, you’ll be blading a lot of balls. So look at your chipping style and find a leading-edge height and profile that match your technique. Forget about the “high bounce” and “low bounce” wedges. That language doesn’t answer the right question.

Get a wedge that presents the club to the ball with the leading edge far enough off the ground to provide you with some forgiveness. Then knock ’em stiff!

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Golf 101: What is a strong grip?

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What is a strong grip? Before we answer that, consider this: How you grip it might be the first thing you learn, and arguably the first foundation you adapt—and it can form the DNA for your whole golf swing.

The proper way to hold a golf club has many variables: hand size, finger size, sports you play, where you feel strength, etc. It’s not an exact science. However, when you begin, you will get introduced to the common terminology for describing a grip—strong, weak, and neutral.

Let’s focus on the strong grip as it is, in my opinion, the best way to hold a club when you are young as it puts the clubface in a stronger position at the top and instinctively encourages a fair bit of rotation to not only hit it solid but straight.

The list of players on tour with strong grips is long: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, David Duval, and Bernhard Langer all play with a strong grip.

But what is a strong grip? Well like my first teacher Mike Montgomery (Director of Golf at Glendale CC in Seattle) used to say to me, “it looks like you are revving up a Harley with that grip”. Point is the knuckles on my left hand were pointing to the sky and my right palm was facing the same way.

Something like this:

Of course, there are variations to it, but that is your run of the mill, monkey wrench strong grip. Players typically will start there when they are young and tweak as they gain more experience. The right hand might make it’s way more on top, left-hand knuckles might show two instead of three, and the club may move its way out of the palms and further down into the fingers.

Good golf can be played from any position you find comfortable, especially when you find the body matchup to go with it.

Watch this great vid from @JakeHuttGolf

In very simple terms, here are 3 pros and 3 cons of a strong grip.

Pros

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and helps you hit further
  2. It’s an athletic position which encourages rotation
  3. Players with strong grips tend to strike it solidly

Cons

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and can cause you to hit it low and left
  2. If you don’t learn to rotate you could be in for a long career of ducks and trees
  3. Players with strong grips tend to fight a hook and getting the ball in the air

 

Make Sense?

 

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