New Year’s resolutions rarely stick, but maybe this one has some staying power: We asked Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear to come up with the best golf exercises for an off-season program. No problem. He selected a dazzling dozen. First there are three to improve mobility and three to improve stability. You’re looking at those here. The other six come next month, once you’ve had a chance to work on this starter kit. In the March issue, Shear will give you three exercises for strength and three for power. In other words, once you’ve improved your stability and flexibility, you’ll be able to add the gas for more
1. 90-90 knee drop
Start with both legs bent to 90 degrees and the knees touching the ground (left). Keeping one knee down, rotate the other until it’s touching the ground on the opposite side. Then repeat with the other knee (right). Keep alternating the knee rotations back and forth. Do six reps in each direction to help improve the mobility necessary to coil and initiate the downswing.
1. Medicine-ball lift
Kneel on one leg with the foot of the other leg directly in line with it. Hold a medicine ball down by the hip of the kneeling leg (left). Bring the ball to your chest and lift it across your body above the opposite shoulder (right). Do 10 reps. Switch leg positions and repeat in the opposite direction. Improves balance, core strength and cross-body coordination needed for the golf swing.
Lie on your side with your top leg bent at 90 degrees, waist high, lower arm holding it down. Rotate the other leg thigh down (top). Lift that foot up, grab it with your other arm and pull it toward your butt. Finally, rotate your torso away from the top leg (bottom). Hold for a few seconds, then return to start. Do five reps, each direction, to improve trunk, thigh and hip mobility.
2. No-arm side plank
Lie on your side, supported by your shoulder and upper arm with your feet stacked and resting on a bench (top). Raise your pelvis as high as you can (bottom). Hold for a few seconds and then lower it to the ground. Do 10 reps, and repeat on the opposite side. This strengthens the oblique muscles necessary for proper side-bending and torso rotation in the golf swing.
3. Shoulder wall slide
Keep your back, shoulders, head and arms against a wall (left). With your eyes straight forward and your feet a foot from the wall, slide your arms up as high as you can, maintaining all points of contact with the surface (right). Don’t arch your back. Do 10 reps. Improves shoulder mobility needed to swing on the proper plane.
3. Dead bug
Hold a physio ball with your arms and legs (top). Lower one arm behind your head while straightening and lowering the opposite leg (bottom). The other leg and arm should push into the ball. Keep your back from arching. Return to start. Do 10 reps, alternating arms and legs. Improves core stability to control faster swings.