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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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Walters: Avoid these 3 big chipping mistakes!

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Chipping causes nightmares for so many amateur golfers. This s mainly due to three core mistakes. In this video, I talk about what those mistakes are, and, more importantly, how to avoid them.

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The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between better recreational golfers and those not so good—and also between the tour professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—is the consistency of their pre-shot routines. It is really easy to dismiss something that happens before the ball is even struck as irrelevant, but I strongly urge you to reconsider if you think this way.

To have a set routine to follow religiously before every shot gives you the best chance to execute the shot the way you intend. To do otherwise just leaves too much to chance. Indulge me here and I’ll offer you some proof.

It’s been a while back now, but I still remember an interesting account on this subject that used the final round of the 1996 Masters—when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Norman—as his statistical proof. This particular analyst reviewed the entire telecast of that final round and timed the routine of both players for every shot. What he discovered was that Norman got quicker and less consistent in his pre-shot routine throughout his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

A lot of time has passed since then, but all competitive tour professionals pay very close attention to their pre-shot routines these days. I urge you to watch them as they go through the motions before each shot. And notice that most of them “start over” if they get distracted during that process.

While I do not think it is practical for recreational golfers to go into such laborious detail for every shot, let me offer some suggestions as to how a repeatable pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land and roll; I also think it’s realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches and putts. They are all very different challenges, of course, and as you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

To begin, I think the best starting point is from behind the ball, setting up in your “mind’s eye” the film-clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight and path it will take. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and “feel” the swing that will produce that shot path for you. Your exact routine can start when you see that shot clearly, and begin your approach the ball to execute the shot. From that “trigger point”, you should do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

For me (if I’m “on”), I’ll step from that behind-the-shot position, and set the club behind the ball to get my alignment. Then I step into my stance and ball position, not looking at the target, but being precise not to change the alignment of the clubhead–I’m setting my body up to that established reference. Once set, I take a look at the target to ensure that I feel aligned properly, and take my grip on the club. Then I do a mental check of grip pressure, hover the club off the ground a bit to ensure it stays light, and then start my backswing, with my only swing thought being to feel the end of the backswing.

That’s when I’m “on,” of course. But as a recreational player, I know that the vast majority of my worst shots and rounds happen when I depart from that routine.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. Don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot. Heck, you can even do that at home in your backyard. So, guys and ladies, there’s my $0.02 on the pre-shot routine. What do you have to add?

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6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 1

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

 

Back pain is by far the most common complaint among regular golfers. It is estimated that up to 35 percent of amateur golfers endure lower back injuries. And in our experience working with tour players, the prevalence is even higher in the professional ranks! 

Back pain can affect our ball striking and short game, diminish our enjoyment of the game, or even stop us playing altogether. It can make us feel anxious about playing (and making the pain worse) and just generally disappointed with current performance falling way short of our expectations. 

There is certainly no shortage of information on the topic of back pain, and with myriad back pain products and supplement options available, confusion about the best path to pain-free golf is one of the main reasons we don’t actually do anything effective to alleviate our suffering! 

We aim to present in this article an easy-to-digest explanation of the common causes of back pain, alongside some simple and practical ways to address the underlying issues. 

The recommendations we make in this article are generic in nature but effective in many of the low back pain cases we have worked with. However, pain can be complex and very specific to the individual. You should seek the personalized advice of a medical or exercise professional before undertaking any form of remedial exercise.

Reason 1 – Lack of mobility in 2 key areas

Certain areas in the body need to be more stable, and others need to be more mobile. The lumbar spine falls into the stable category, partly due to its limited capacity for rotation and lateral flexion (side bending). We know the unnatural golf swing movement imparts both rotational and side bending forces on the spine, so it’s an area we need to keep stable and protected. 

In order to avoid excessive low back rotation in life and especially in the golf swing, it’s very important that we try to maximize the range of movement in other areas, most notably the joints above and below the low back, where the majority of rotation in the golf swing should take place:

Area 1 – Hips

We need sufficient range of movement to turn into, and out of, both hips. For example, if we can’t turn and load into our lead hip due to a lack of internal rotation mobility, we tend to compensate with excessive rotation and side-bending in the lower back.

Suggested Exercises – Hip Mobility

Foam roll glutes, you can also use a spiky ball

90 90 hip mobility drills, fantastic for taking the hips through that all important internal rotation range

90 90 Glute Stretch – great for tight glutes / hips

Area 2 – Thoracic Spine (mid to upper back)

Having sufficient rotation in our thoracic spine to both left and the right is extremely important. The thoracic spine has significantly greater rotational capabilities compared to the lumbar spine (low back). If we maximise our mobility here, we can help protect the lower back, along with the cervical spine (neck).

Suggested Exercises – Thoracic Mobility

Foam rolling mid / upper back

 

Cat / Camel – working the T-Spine through flexion and extension

 

Reach backs – working that all important T-Spine rotation

Reason 2 – Alignment and Muscle Imbalances

Imagine a car with wheel alignment issues; front wheels facing to the right and back wheels facing to the left. Not only will the tires wear out unevenly and quickly, but other areas of the car will experience more torque, load or strain and would have to work harder. The same thing happens to the lower back when we have body alignment issues above and/or below.

For example, if we have short/tight/overactive hip flexors (muscles at the front of the hips that bend our knee to our chest) on one side of the body; very common amongst golfers with low back pain. This would rotate the pelvis forward on one side, which can create a knock-on effect of imbalance throughout the body.

If the pelvis rotates in one direction, the shoulders naturally have to rotate in the opposite direction in order to maintain balance. Our low back is subsequently caught in the middle, and placed under more load, stress and strain. This imbalance can cause the low back to bend and rotate further, and more unevenly, especially in the already complex rotation and side bending context of the golf swing!

Below is a pelvic alignment technique that can help those with the afore mentioned imbalance

Reason 3 – Posture

Posture can be described as the proper alignment of the spine, with the aim of establishing three natural curves (low back, mid/upper back and neck).

 

The 3 major spinal curves – 1-Cervical, 2 – Thoracic, 3 – Lumbar

Modern lifestyles and the associated muscle imbalances have pushed and pulled our spines away from those three natural curves, and this had a damaging effect on our spinal health. Our backs are designed to function optimally from the neutral illustrated above, and the further we get away from it, the more stress we put on our protective spinal structures. 

Aside from promotion of pain, poor posture also does terrible things for our golf swings; reducing range of motion in key areas (hips, mid back and shoulders) and creating inefficiencies in our swing action, to give us a double whammy of back pain causes.

Fortunately, re-establishing good posture is really simple and you can combine the information and exercises featured in the videos below with the mobility exercises featured in the Reason 1 section above. The equipment used in the videos is the GravityFit TPro – a favorite of ours for teaching and training posture with both elite and recreational players.

 

In the next installment of this article, we will cover reasons 4, 5 and 6 why golfers suffer from back pain – 4) Warming Up (or lack thereof!), 5) Core Strength and 6) Swing Faults.

 

If you would like to see how either Nick or Marnus can help with your golfing back pain, then check out the resources below:

Marnus Marais – marnusmarais.com

Nick Randall – golffitpro.net

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