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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.

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

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

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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 co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. 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 holds 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 more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will 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 – More than 2.8 million video 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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Self-discovery: Why golf lessons aren’t helping you improve

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Of all the things I teach or have taught in golf, I think this is the most important: It’s not what we cover in a lesson, it’s what you discover. 

Some years ago, I had a student in golf school for a few days. She was topping every single shot. Zero were airborne. I explained that she was opening her body and moving forward before her arms and club were coming down. “Late” we call it. I had her feel like her arms were coming down first and her body was staying behind, a common correction for late tops. Bingo! Every ball went up into the air. She was ecstatic.

Some time later, she called and said she was topping every shot. She scheduled a lesson. She topped every shot. I asked her why she was topping the ball. “I think I’m picking up my head,” she said to my look of utter disbelief!

I had another student who was shanking the ball. At least 3 out of 5 came off the hosel with his wedges. I explained that his golf club was pointed seriously left at the top of his backswing. It was positioned well OUTSIDE his hands, which caused it to come down too wide and swing OUTSIDE his hands into impact. This is a really common cause of shanking. We were able to get the club more down the line at the top and come down a bit narrower and more inside the ball. No shanks… not a one!  He called me sometime later. The shanks had returned. You get the rest. When I asked what was causing him to shank, he told me “I get too quick.”

If you are hitting the golf ball better during a golf lesson, you have proven to yourself that you CAN do it. But what comes after the lesson is out of a teacher’s hands. It’s as simple as that. I cannot control what you do after you leave my lesson tee. Now, if you are NOT hitting the ball better during a lesson or don’t understand why you’re not hitting it better, I will take the blame. And…you do not have to compensate me for my time. That is the extent to which I’ll go to display my commitment and accept my responsibility. What we as teachers ask is the same level of commitment from the learners.

Improving at golf is a two-way street. My way is making the correct diagnosis and offering you a personalized correction, possibly several of them. Pick the ONE that works for you. What is your way on the street? Well, here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If you are taking a lesson at 10 a.m. with a tee time at 11 a.m. and you’re playing a $20 Nassau with your buddies, you pretty much wasted your time and money.
  • If the only time you hit balls is to warm up for your round, you have to be realistic about your results.
  • If you are expecting 250-yard drives with an 85 mph club head speed, well… let’s get real.
  • If you “fake it” during a lesson, you’re not going to realize any lasting improvement. When the teacher asks if you understand or can feel what’s being explained and you say yes when in fact you DO NOT understand, you’re giving misleading feedback and hurting only yourself. Speak up!

Here’s a piece of advise I have NEVER seen fail. If you don’t get it during the lesson, there is no chance you’ll get it later. It’s not enough to just hit it better; you have to fully understand WHY you hit it better. Or if you miss, WHY you missed.

I have a rule I follow when conducting a golf lesson. After I explain the diagnosis and offer the correction, I’ll usually get some better results. So I continue to offer that advice swing after swing. But at some point in the lesson, I say NOTHING. Typically, before long the old ball flight returns and I wait– THREE SWINGS. If the student was a slicer and slices THREE IN A ROW, then it’s time for me to step in again. I have to allow for self discovery at some point. You have to wean yourself off my guidance and internalize the corrections. You have to FEEL IT.

When you can say, “If the ball did this then I know I did that” you are likely getting it. There is always an individual cause and effect you need to understand in order to go off by yourself and continue self improvement. If you hit a better shot but do not know why, please tell your teacher. What did I do? That way you’re playing to learn, not simply learning to play.

A golf lesson is a guidance, not an hour of how to do this or that. The teacher is trying to get you to discover what YOU need to feel to get more desirable outcomes. If all you’re getting out of it is “how,” you are not likely to stay “fixed.” Remember this: It’s not what we cover in the lesson; it’s what you discover!

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Jumping for Distance (Part 2): The One-Foot Jump

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In Part 1, I wrote about how I think this concept of jumping up with both feet for more power may have come about in part due to misinterpretation of still photography and force plate data, self-propagation, and a possible case of correlation vs causation. I also covered reasoning why these players are often airborne, and that can be from flawed setups that include overly wide stances and/or lead foot positions that are too closed at setup or a re-planted lead foot that ends up too closed during the downswing.

In Part 2, let’s look at what I feel is a better alternative, the one foot jump. To me, it’s safer, it doesn’t complicate ball striking as much, and it can still generate huge amounts of vertical ground force.

First, set up with an appropriate stance width. I like to determine how wide to stand based on the length of your lower legs. If you go to your finish position and stand on your lead leg and let your trail leg dangle down so your knees are parallel, your lower trail leg should extend only as far back as it will go while being up on the tip of your trail toe. If you roll that trail foot back down to the ground, viola, you’ll have a stance width that’s wide enough to be “athletic” and stable but not so wide you lose balance when swinging. You can go a little wider than this, but not much.

To contrast, the stance below would be too wide.

Jumping off the ground can be caused by too wide of a stance and lead foot position that is too closed at setup

Second, make sure your lead foot is open sufficiently at address. I’ve previously outlined how to do both these first two points in this article.

Third, whether you shift your weight to your trail foot or keep a more centered weight type feeling in the backswing, when you shift your weight to your lead foot, be careful of the Bubba replant, and then push up with that lead leg to push your lead shoulder up. This is the one-foot “jump” and it will take advantage of parametric acceleration (read more about that here).

But also at the same time, shift your lower spine towards the target.

From a face-on viewpoint, this can look like back bend, but in 3D space it’s side bend. It kind of feels like you are crunching the trail side of your mid-section, or maybe just bending over to the side to pick up a suitcase, for example. This move helps lower your trail shoulder, which brings down the club (whereas this is more difficult to do if you try to two-foot jump with your trail leg). It also helps you to keep from getting airborne off your lead foot. Further it doesn’t change your low point (by not changing the relative position of the C7 vertebrae in its general orb in space) and complicate ball striking like a two-foot jump does.

At this point, the club releases and you can stand up out of the shot (you don’t need to transition in to any sort of dangerous back bend) in balance on your lead foot having generates tons of vertical ground force without having jumped off the ground or putting yourself at risk for injury.

“Movember” mustache… not required!

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Move Your Legs Like the Legends: The Key to the Snead Squat

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It’s important not to overdo the “Sam Snead squat.” Understanding the subtle leg movements of the game’s greats is key to making your practice purposeful and making real improvement.

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