Fitness Components for Golf

By Amy Neighbors
Tiger Woods is known for his dedication to fitness.
Tiger Woods is known for his dedication to fitness.

Golf is a game of precision. In order to be precise with every swing of the club and hit of the ball, golfers must have proper body form and technique. In addition, golfers must have great kinesthetic awareness, which comes from muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. A successful fitness plan will help the golfer meet his goals. The components of golf fitness are well-rounded and include flexibility training, golf specific strength training, core training, aerobic conditioning and a diet and nutrition plan.

Flexibility Training

Flexibility training is possibly the most undervalued, yet most important component of golf conditioning. Range of motion of the body’s muscles and joints play an integral part in many of the golf movements. Flexibility can be defined as the range of motion about a joint and its surrounding muscles during a movement. By increasing the joint range of motion, performance may be enhanced and the risk of injury reduced. The rationale for this is that a limb can move further before an injury occurs.

Flexibility training has many benefits such as correcting muscle imbalances, increasing range of motion, relieving joint stress, promoting muscle relaxation and enhancing kinesthetic awareness.

Golf Specific Strength Training

One important result of strength training is increased physical performance. Muscles use energy in order to produce movement. When we strength train, we increase the muscle size, strength and endurance. Having increased body strength, not bulk, enhances your golf game by improving the force of your swing.

The power of the golf swing is directly influenced by the core muscles and rotation of your hips. A stronger core allows the hips to turn faster in your swing increasing the length of your drives and iron shots. A stronger core and hip rotation will generate more power as a golfer rotates. These golf muscles play a critical role in increasing clubhead speed. Clubhead speed is created when the golfer delivers impact on the ball.

Core Training

Training the power house of the body to achieve more force in the golf swing is much different than going into a gym and lifting heavy weights or using the machines. Golf is dynamic and involves balance, coordination, stability and body awareness.

Golfers need to focus less on muscle group isolation and more on muscle group integration. Once a stronger and more flexible core is developed, the golfer will be able to rotate fully on the backswing and create maximum torque. Full rotation and torque generate high levels of clubhead speed without the golfer having to physically swing harder.

Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular fitness is a special form of muscular endurance. It is the efficiency of the heart, lungs and vascular system in delivering oxygen to the working muscle tissues so that prolonged physical work can be maintained.

Cardiovascular training serves as the foundation for other fitness programs. The conditioning and health of the heart and blood vessels are the basis for safety and performance in nearly all athletic endeavors.

Golfers need to have an aerobic capacity for the course. On average, a golfer will walk approximately 5 miles on a course and many can be rugged or hilly. When the heart and lungs cannot handle the increased heart rate and oxygen consumption, the golfer will become winded and tired and his or her game will suffer because of fatigue.

Diet

A diet that is balanced and consists of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is recommended for golfers. Approximately 50 percent of a golfer’s diet should come from whole grain carbohydrates. This includes oatmeal, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and without enough of the right carbohydrates, the body will be tired and unable to perform. Protein is found in meats and dairy. This macronutrient rebuilds muscle tissue and regulates chemical processes.

Fat is the final diet component for the golfer. Like carbohydrates, fat is also an energy source for muscle, however, fat has 5 more calories per gram than carbs. The recommended amount of fat is less than 30 percent of the golfer’s daily calories.

Finally, water intake and hydration are a crucial part of the golfers diet. The body needs to stay hydrated, especially during the warmer golf months. Golfers lose water through perspiration and respiration. That water must be replenished as a slight drop in hydration can cause fatigue and even confusion.

About the Author

Amy Neighbors is president and master trainer of Swing Athletics Golf Performance Fitness. She is an AFAA-certified group fitness instructor, SCW and NHE personal trainer, and ARC CPR. Neighbors holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Illinois. She began writing for online publications while working on her master's degree in 2006.

Photo Credits

  • Sam Greenwood/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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