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Equipment For Golf Fitness: The 5 Best and 5 Worst

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This is a light-hearted look at the five best and five worst pieces of gym/fitness equipment that you can use for your golf fitness routine.

I have personally used, experimented with, been given the sales spiel and watched the dodgy YouTube ads for every piece of equipment on these two lists.

How did the respective pieces of equipment qualify for their placing on the respective good and bad categories? They were put through an extremely subjective and moderately rigorous scrutiny, which involved absolutely no scientific process whatsoever. It comes from gut feeling, player feedback, listening to what other trainers have to say and of course, good old common sense. I’ve looked past the pseudo-science, ignored the preposterous claims and simply cast my judgment as a golf fitness professional.

Although there was categorically no science and very few facts that went into the rating of the equipment, I did come up with a fun scoring system:

Each piece of equipment is given a score out of 5 in the following categories, producing a total score out of 35:

  • Effectiveness
  • Versatility
  • Portability
  • Application to golf posture and swing
  • Cost
  • Injury risk
  • Chance of messing with swing mechanics

*The higher the number for each category, the better

The five lowest-scoring pieces of equipment were relegated to the “Worst Group” and the five best, promoted to the “Best Group.” I have included the score sheet at the end of the article.

To take a closer look at some of the items detailed, check out Golf Fit Pro.

So here they are, presented in order:

The Worst: No. 5 — Weighted Clubs

  • Score: 21 out of 35

weighted_golf_club

Rapidly going out of fashion in golf and in baseball, the donuts give false feeling of load during the swing and has been shown to slow non-weighted swing speed while encouraging off-center hits. If you want to move the club faster, why practice moving a weighted version more slowly using the same action?

The Best: No. 5 — Dumbells/Kettlebells

  • Score: 26 out of 35

KBTimeless pieces of gym equipment that produce genuine gains in strength and power. These can be used in countless different ways with a wide variety of load. There’s a reason they have been around for for years and yet still remain popular.

The Worst: No. 4 — Bosu Ball

  • Score: 20 out of 35

dustin bosu

Standing on the bosu ball will not magically “turn your core on” and help you with your golf swing. It’s more likely to send your ankle stabilizers into overdrive, rather than the important core and hip stabilizers.

The Best: No. 4 — Soft Sand

  • Score: 27 out of 35

dunes

Running, jumping and crawling in multiple directions in soft sand is highly effective for a number of reasons. Sand requires you to stabilize and balance with every step you take. But because sand has no reactive force, we can’t rely on the ankle and wrist stabilizers to do the job — now it’s up to our core, hamstrings, butt and shoulders to pick up the slack. It also smashes your lungs for cardio fitness and produces almost zero muscle soreness the next day.

The Worst: No. 3 — Somax Swing Trainer

  • Score: 13 out of 35

Somax

I can see what they were trying to do here: train the hips to move quicker and you’ll swing the golf club faster. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Fast club head speed requires the kinematic sequence of the golf swing to work in harmony. Simply training the hips to move as fast as possible and hoping the rest of the body will hold on is fundamentally flawed. Also I see a high potential injury risk while using this piece of kit. Lower backs look out!

The Best: No. 3 — Suspension Trainer

  • Score: 30 out of 35

 

Letiesha-suspension-straps

Young and old, fit and unfit, elite or amateur, the suspension trainer offers something for everybody with its ability to dramatically alter the load and difficulty of an exercise with simple body positioning. Core integration is needed in order to perform the exercises, plus hip and shoulder girdle stability are challenged and trained with the unstable nature of the straps. It’s portable, durable and fun to use.

The Worst: No. 2 — Pec Dec Machine

  • Score: 12 out of 35

Pec Deck

Tight pecs equals rounded and forward shoulders, which leads to impaired arm/body connection in the swing and ultimately funky swing actions to manipulate the club face. In terms of tightening pecs and rounding shoulders, the pec dec is king and, in my opinion, should be given a wide berth and left well alone.

The Best: No. 2 — Power Bands

  • Score: 32 out of 35

pallof press 2

These beauties have much of the same positive characteristic as the Suspension Trainer, that is: portable, durable, versatile, scalable to different levels of people and great for training with a partner.

Two features see them ranked higher though:

  1. The resistance increases the further you move into a resisted position. This means the exercise gets harder as you get to the least stable point of the movement, pure gold for stabilizer muscles.
  2. They can be used to simultaneously support and encourage muscles and joints into positions that they wouldn’t otherwise be capable of. Leveraged properly, this means increased mobility in the key golf areas of the shoulder, mid/upper back and hips.

The Worst: No. 1 — Home Ab Machine

  • Score: 11 out of 35

abcircle6

 

Even setting aside the cringeworthy TV ads selling you lies, this equipment is the worst! The last thing a seated and sedentary society needs to do is be hunched over and crunncing ourselves into oblivion. The one that goes straight up and down is bad, it will shorten your already chronically tight abs and hip flexors and pull you into a more hunched posture.

The side-to-side version is the absolute pits for golfers. In a sport where the majority of people already have too much lateral flexion (side bend) in their swings, the last thing we want to be doing is repeating this action over-and-over again. It trains poor movement patterns, puts you at significant risk of low back injury and no, sorry, it won’t make your love handles melt away like butter.

The Best: No. 1 — Postural Training Aids

  • Score: 33 out of 35

 

IMG_6160 sml and cropped

Posture, Posture, Posture. I talk about it a lot, but it’s hard to stress how strongly I feel about training posture and dynamic rotation movement patterns. Without proper set up, it’s almost impossible to move well during your golf swing. Like anything, good set up posture is trained, not just assumed. These pieces of equipment have been designed for this exact purpose. They can be used anywhere and by anyone to directly assist the most important part of their golf swing — posture and quality rotation.

Conclusion

So there we have it. I’m sorry if I criticized your favorite piece of gear and caused you to question its inclusion in your gym routine. Hopefully it will encourage you to relegate it to the garage and pick up something useful instead!

On the flipside, I’m happy if I validated what you already use or even inspired you to add a couple of useful items to your golf fitness equipment kit.

Check out Golf Fit Pro to take a closer look at some of the items detailed above.

Best and Worst Equipment Scoring Sheet

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 5.33.41 pm

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings. www.golffitpro.net

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Pingback: Equipment For Golf Fitness: The 5 Best and 5 Worst | GolfWRX | 40100sports

  2. Nathan

    Apr 2, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Whether or not everyone agrees with this list, it is nice to see fitness being discussed on wrx. Nick makes some good suggestions. Obviously in a short article, he cannot go into full detail about each item, but his thoughts are mostly spot-on. Nice job, Nick!

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 3, 2015 at 1:11 am

      Cheers Nathan!

      I was always going to rub a few people up the wrong way with Bosu Ball and Weighted Club. But if we all thought the same way, the world would be a boring place!

  3. Mbwa Kali Sana

    Apr 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    A very biaised assesment of training aids :the best are not even mentioned ,such as the OVERSPEED /UNDERSPEED clubs :everybody should know that to train effectively the “Fast Twitch muscle fibers ” you have to “trick” them by swinging a club sllghtly more heavy ,then a club slightly less heavy ,at random(See the SUPERSPEED Sticks by MIKE NAPOLEON) .Speed training is essential ,don’t move slowly ,short bursts of the “SWING CHAIN “or the “TORSO BURNER”give you speed ,versatilty and strength .The best rubber bands are the “ULTIMATE SWING TRAINER “rubber tubes by MIKE BAUMANN.See also the” SPEED BALL or” XLR8R” “by JOHN NOVOSEL and his famous “TOUR TEMPO ” …Isometric exercises develops strength ,no need to utilize heavy weights:just get a “BULLWORKER” and you’ll see your streghth grow almost magically .This training device is 60 years old ….

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Hi Mbwa, It was really more of an article on golf FITNESS equipment, not training aids. I don’t claim to have expertise in the training aids area, hence why I missed some of your favourites.

      Cheers,

      Nick

  4. Scott

    Apr 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I am not one to normally comment on exercise equipment. Unless something is dangerous to use, what ever gets you motivated to work out is great. However, I just looked at the posture belt you tube training video and it looks ridiculous. It may work, but most of the other stuff mentioned looks like it would be more effective.
    Most people do not truly understand what good posture is. Stand up straight and hold in your stomach, as if you are getting ready to be punched in the gut. Keep breathing. hold that for as long as you can and work your way up in the amount of time you can hold it. You can even do it in a chair. That is proper posture and the exercise works the inner layers of or abdominal muscles. That exercise has made a HUGE difference in my posture.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Scott,

      Nice suggestions and definitely along the right track. What your suggesting sounds like a little too much bracing with superficial muscles (obliques especially) however. This is likely to inhibit dynamic rotation, look out for an upcoming article from me on how to effectively train golf posture

      Cheers

      Nick

  5. Steven Thomas

    Apr 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    I have swung a weighted club for years. The current club I have weighs 5 pounds. I swing this several times a day and right before I go play. I saw a Golf Channel show when they were talking to Gary Player. He says he swings a weighted club everyday, as do many pros.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Steven,

      There are lots of people who support using a weighted club, I’m just one of them. When considering the research plus feedback form players and coaches, it just doesn’t seem like the right way to go.

      cheers

      Nick

  6. zoots

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    I’m thinking of buying a swing fan. Would this be the same as a weighted club, therefore a no-no?

    • Jack

      Apr 1, 2015 at 2:33 am

      I’ve had a swing fan before. If you want to increase your swing speed, I think it’s legit to help you make the jump. But you needs to consistently keep swinging at that speed. Most of the time after I use it, I think it messes up my swing a tempo a lot.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Zoots,

      I would say that it depends on what you use it for. Training swing feels from top of backswing to impact – go for it. Trying to generate more clubhead speed – maybe not.

      Cheers

      Nick

      • zoots

        Apr 2, 2015 at 12:27 am

        Thanks Nick. I’ll take that into consideration

    • Tony Lynam

      Apr 21, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I have used a swing fan for over 15 years and it has to be one of the best training aids for increasing and maintaining swing speed. I am 52 years old, 4 hcp and clock out at a 110-115 swing speed. I have also utilized the Momentus weighted club during that 15 years and recently added an Orange Whip swing trainer for tempo work in the last year.

      • David

        Apr 24, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        Great choices! The orange whip is a huge omission regarding the article.

  7. luckbox

    Mar 31, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I am confused how rounded shoulders and tight pecs would lead to a improper swing. Sure you do not want to look like Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler (Mr Olympia not Mr. Choke-Artist) but tight pecs and strong shoulders are prevalent in two of the most dominant golfers 2000 Tiger and current Rory.

    • Nick Randall

      Apr 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Luckbox,

      Be careful not to confuse TIGHT with STRONG. You can be still be strong and have pecs that are not adaptively shortened and impeding shoulder function. By all means, train your chest and shoulders, just use dumbbells, barbells and push up variations instead of the pec dec.

      Hope this helps

      Nick

  8. Steve

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    If that was how you used the Bosu Ball then I would agree. Try turning it over and sitting on it and then do your ab workout or doing planks/side planks with your feet on it or even harder with your elbows on it. lie on it to do lower back extensions. Also if you do squats with both of your feet on it your quads, glutes and hip stabilizers all come into play without as much pressure on your ankles. Do pushups with your hands holding the sides. It only takes up a small space and used correctly in combination with suspension training it’s a great workout.

  9. Erik

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Power bands should be on the worst end and kettlebells should be best no 1. You obviously haven’t studied the TGU, goblet squat, and swing enough.

    • Regis

      Apr 1, 2015 at 11:03 am

      I personally disagree, at least to some extent. I’m no fitness buff but I do try to work out and a lot of it is golf related. When healthy I think kettle bells are the best but there is a learning curve. I have also had to rehab following a number of serious surgeries and for a person with limited space (hospital room, apartment) or one who travels nothing beats a quality set of power bands. If I had to pick one exercise aid for overall versatility, portability, flexibility and longevity (we all get older) it would be power bands but you have to purchase a quality set

      • James

        Apr 1, 2015 at 11:31 am

        Regis,

        What brand/set of power bands would you recommend?
        Thanks

        • Regis

          Apr 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

          I like SPRI Xrtubes because they have good handles and door attachments but there are a lot of good options out there. Just look for quality door attachments and good handles. There are a lot of fitness sites you could explore

  10. Jeremy

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    After rehabbing from knee surgery I’ve had good results with the bosu ball. It’s been great for my balance, and when you do more than just stand on it it can provide a great core workout. Posture and form are important though. I think they’re overpriced so I wouldn’t buy one for my home, but I always use it at the gym.

  11. MJ

    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I would think any balance exercise would be good for golf. Where are you teaching crossfit?
    Good article I like the posture drills

  12. 4pillars

    Mar 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I tried putting the Kettlebell at the end of my golf club but they just fell off.

    The neighbour downstairs was not too pleased.

  13. TR1PTIK

    Mar 31, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I understand the concern for the pec dec for most, but when followed with a proper back workout and ample stretching, I don’t see the issue. The main issue I see with working the pectoral muscles is that they could impede the swing if you bulk up too much.

    • Nolanski

      Mar 31, 2015 at 11:48 am

      When I was big into [smart & safe]weight training, I always deemed chest flys as too dangerous. They had rotator cuff injury written all over it and there were just many more chest exercises that were safer and more effective. To each his own though.

      • TR1PTIK

        Mar 31, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        Rotator cuff injury makes sense for that exercise. I still do them though. I just don’t use a ton of weight and I stop when something doesn’t feel right. As long as people work at their own pace, and are smart enough to know the difference between growing pains and injury pains then do what you want. As far as Americans are concerned – almost any exercise is good exercise.

  14. Nolanski

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:55 am

    You arent kidding about the ankle stabilizers on the BOSU ball! Luckily my ankles are like oak trees or I’d be afraid of them snapping. I must not be doing that power band pose in the picture because I’ve done that one and it felt like it didnt do anything for me. I’ll try it again with stronger bands I guess.

  15. Ronald Montesano

    Mar 31, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Nick…I hope there is a follow-up on postural training aids, so we can understand why and how they work. Thanks, mate.

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