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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.

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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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Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 1)

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Golf is hard. I spend my career helping people learn that truth, but golfers are better than they give themselves credit for.

As a golf performance specialist, I give a lot of “first time working together” lessons, and most of them start the same way. I hear about all the ways the golfer is cursed and how s/he is never going to “get it” and how s/he should take up another sport. Granted, the last statement generally applies to an 18-plus handicap player, but I hear lots of negatives from better players as well.

Even though the golfers make convincing arguments for why they are cursed, I know the truth. It’s my job to help them realize the fates aren’t conspiring against them.

All golfers can play well consistently

I know this is a bold statement, but I believe this because I know that “well” does not equate to trophies and personal bests. Playing “well” equates to understanding your margin of error and learning to live within it.

With this said, I have arrived at my first point of proving why golfers are not cursed or bad golfers: They typically do not know what “good” looks like.

What does “good” look like from 150 yards out to a center pin?

Depending on your skill level, the answer can change a lot. I frequently ask golfers this same question when selecting a shot on the golf course during a coaching session and am always surprised at the response. I find that most golfers tend to either have a target that is way too vague or a target that is much too small.

The PGA Tour average proximity to the hole from 150 yards is roughly 30 feet. The reason I mention this statistic is that it gives us a frame of reference. The best players in the world are equivalent to a +4 or better handicap. With that said, a 15-handicap player hitting it to 30 feet from the pin from 150 yards out sounds like a good shot to me.

I always encourage golfers to understand the statistics from the PGA Tour not because that should be our benchmark, but because we need to realize that often our expectations are way out of line with our current skill level. I have found that golfers attempting to hold themselves to unrealistic standards tend to perform worse due to the constant feeling of “failing” they create when they do not hit every fairway and green.

Jim Furyk, while playing a limited PGA Tour schedule, was the most accurate driver of the golf ball during the 2020 season on the PGA Tour hitting 73.96 percent of his fairways (roughly 10/14 per round) and ranked T-136 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee. Bryson Dechambeau hit the fairway 58.45 percent (roughly 8/14 per round) of the time and ranked first in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee.

There are two key takeaways in this comparison

Sometimes the fairway is not the best place to play an approach shot from. Even the best drivers of the golf ball miss fairways.

By using statistics to help athletes gain a better understanding of what “good” looks like, I am able to help them play better golf by being aware that “good” is not always in the middle of the fairway or finishing next to the hole.

Golf is hard. Setting yourself up for failure by having unrealistic expectations is only going to stunt your development as a player. We all know the guy who plays the “tips” or purchases a set of forged blades applying the logic that it will make them better in the long run—how does that story normally end?

Take action

If you are interested in applying some statistics to your golf game, there are a ton of great apps that you can download and use. Also, if you are like me and were unable to pass Math 104 in four attempts and would like to do some reading up on the math behind these statistics, I highly recommend the book by Mark Broadie Every Shot Counts. If you begin to keep statistics and would like how to put them into action and design better strategies for the golf course, then I highly recommend the Decade system designed by Scott Fawcett.

You may not be living up to your expectations on the golf course, but that does not make you a bad or cursed golfer. Human beings are very inconsistent by design, which makes a sport that requires absolute precision exceedingly difficult.

It has been said before: “Golf is not a game of perfect.” It’s time we finally accept that fact and learn to live within our variance.

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Walters: Try this practice hack for better bunker shots

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Your ability to hit better bunker shots is dramatically reduced if you have no facility to practice these shots. With so few facilities (especially in the UK) having a practice bunker it’s no wonder I see so many golfers struggle with this skill.

Yet the biggest issue they all seem to have is the inability to get the club to enter the sand (hit the ground) in a consistent spot. So here is a hack to use at the range to improve your bunker shots.

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Golf Blueprint: A plan for productive practice sessions

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Practice range at the Dormie Club. Photo credit: Scott Arden

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

You’ve gotten lessons.  Several of them.  You’ve been custom fitted for everything in your bag.  You even bought another half a dozen driver shafts last year looking for an extra couple of yards.  And yet, you’re still…stuck.  Either your handicap hasn’t moved at all in years or you keep bouncing back and forth between the same two numbers.  You’ve had all the swing fixes and all the technological advances you could realistically hope to achieve, yet no appreciable result has been achieved in lowering your score.  What gives?

Sample Golf Blueprint practice plan for a client.

One could argue that no one scientifically disassembled and then systematically reassembled the game of golf quite like the great Ben Hogan.  His penchant for doing so created a mystique which is still the stuff of legend even today.  A great many people have tried to decipher his secret over the years and the inevitable conclusion is always a somewhat anticlimactic, “The secret’s in the dirt.”  Mr. Hogan’s ball striking prowess was carved one divot at a time from countless hours on the practice range.  In an interview with golf journalist George Peper in 1987, Mr. Hogan once said:

“You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but the truth is, I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. I’d be at the practice tee at the crack of dawn, hit balls for a few hours, then take a break and get right back to it. And I still thoroughly enjoy it. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply—when anyone is— it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Let me guess.  You’ve tried that before, right?  You’ve hit buckets and buckets of range rocks trying to groove the perfect 7-iron swing and still to no avail, right?  Read that last sentence again closely and you might discover the problem.  There’s a difference between mindful practice and mindless practice.  Mindful practice, like Mr. Hogan undoubtedly employed, is structured, focused, and intentional.  It has specific targets and goals in mind and progresses in a systematic fashion until those goals are met.

This is exactly what Nico Darras and Kevin Moore had in mind when they started Golf Blueprint.  In truth, though, the journey actually started when Nico was a client of Kevin’s Squares2Circles project.  Nico is actually a former DI baseball player who suffered a career-ending injury and took up golf at 22 years old.  In a short time, he was approaching scratch and then getting into some mini tour events.  Kevin, as mentioned in the Squares2Circles piece, is a mathematics education professor and accomplished golfer who has played in several USGA events.  Their conversations quickly changed from refining course strategy to making targeted improvements in Nico’s game.  By analyzing the greatest weaknesses in Nico’s game and designing specific practice sessions (which they call “blueprints”) around them, Nico started reaching his goals.

The transition from client to partners was equal parts swift and organic, as they quickly realized they were on to something.  Nico and Kevin used their experiences to develop an algorithm which, when combined with the client’s feedback, establishes a player profile within Golf Blueprint’s system.  Clients get a plan with weekly, monthly, and long-term goals including all of the specific blueprints that target the areas of their game where they need it most.  Not to mention, clients get direct access to Nico and Kevin through Golf Blueprint.

Nico Darras, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

While this is approaching shades of Mr. Hogan’s practice method above, there is one key distinction here.  Kevin and Nico aren’t recommending practicing for hours at a time.  Far from it.  In Nico’s words:

“We recommend 3 days a week.  You can do more or less, for sure, but we’ve found that 3 days a week is within the realm of possibility for most of our clients.  Practice sessions are roughly 45-70 minutes each, but again, all of this depends on the client and what resources they have at their disposal.  Each blueprint card is roughly 10 minutes each, so you can choose which cards to do if you only have limited time to practice.  Nothing is worse than cranking 7 irons at the range for hours.  We want to make these engaging and rewarding.”

Kevin Moore, co-founder of Golf Blueprint

So far, Golf Blueprint has been working for a wide range of golfers – from tour pros to the No Laying Up crew to amateurs alike.  Kevin shares some key data in that regard:

“When we went into this, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  Were we going to be an elite player product?  Were we going to be an amateur player product?  We didn’t know, honestly.  So far, what’s exciting is that we’ve had success with a huge range of players.  Probably 20-25% of our players (roughly speaking) are in that 7-11 handicap range.  That’s probably the center of the bell curve, if you will, right around that high-single-digit handicap range.  We have a huge range though, scratch handicap and tour players all the way to 20 handicaps.  It runs the full gamut.  What’s been so rewarding is that the handicap dropping has been significantly more than we anticipated.  The average handicap drop for our clients was about 2.7 in just 3 months’ time.”

Needless to say, that’s a pretty significant drop in a short amount of time from only changing how you practice.  Maybe that Hogan guy was on to something.  I think these guys might be too.  To learn more about Golf Blueprint and get involved, visit their website. @Golf_Blueprint is their handle for both Twitter and Instagram.

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