I wanted to include the best golf exercises for al three of these areas but it would be too long for a single article (and I am long winded enough!). In this article, we are going to cover the top 3 golf exercises for your hips. We start with the hips because your hips are the primary drivers of your golf swing.
I also decided to focus on golf exercises that are not flexibility based since I write about golf flexibility so much already. Ready to go?
Why You Need Great Hips
The hips are dynamic movers and move in many different ways. Specifically for the golf swing, your hips contribute to postural stability, lower body movement control (critical for accuracy), and your hips drive rotation and power.
One of your most powerful contributors to posture and postural stability in the golf swing is your butt muscles, the gluteus maximus and friends. And since we spend much of our lives these days in a seated position, the glute max is over stretched and very weak. Posture is essential for a good golf swing as I have written about previously: “How Important is Golf Posture?”
Golf Swing Stability
Golf swing stability is the responsibility of the muscles on the outsides of your hips, namely the gluteus medius. The glute med is a small muscle with a big job: it prevents lateral swaying in your golf swing.
When you take your backswing, there are a lot of dynamic actions taking place that put pressure on your body to move outside of its base of support. The base of support in golf is called the triangle, the power triangle, the golden triangle, etc.
The most effective golf swing is a rotational swing. If your body is allowed to move much in any other direction, you will lose accuracy, consistency and efficient golf power. Due to a variety of factors, this is MUCH more common as golfers get older.
Golf Swing Drive
Probably the best known job of the hip muscles in the golf swing is rotation. The hip muscles are responsible for starting the downswing and for golf power.
As golfers pass the age of 50, they are more likely to start the downswing with their core rotational muscles such as the obliques. Not only will this result in a huge loss of power, but will also cause all sorts of inconsistency problems and erratic ball flight.
So our goal with hip exercises is to strengthen them to be able to do their job and then to train them (muscle memory) to do their job.
Before we get into the top exercises, it is important to note that the golf swing is, in itself, a multi-faceted movement. In other words, no muscles work in isolation. They work together as a unit.
As a result, unless you are a body builder training for a competition, you should avoid exercises that work on one single movement in isolation.
Exercises on certain machines in the gym are isolation exercises. They are beneficial for someone recovering from a hip surgery/injury and beginners because they are safe. However, machine exercises are not going to benefit your golf swing.
For instance, what part of the golf swing will benefit from the exercises in the above picture? Muscles perform in accordance to how they are trained.
Instead, we work on exercises that work multiple muscles together with more dynamic movement patterns…just like how they are required to work in your golf swing.
1. The Hip Loader
I want you to notice a few things with this exercise. It is multi-planer. In the first exercise, it is working the hip muscles in the forward/backward plane which is a key strength for posture.
In the second, it works the hips in the side to side plane which is key for lateral stability in the golf swing.
In the third part, it works the hips in the rotational plane which is key for golf power and golf downswing initiation. Plus, we are addressing core rotation strength as well….bonus!
2. Side Stride with Arm Reach
Take a large step or lunge to the left and bend your knee as far as you can comfortably as you rotate your right arm underneath your chin, as in a backswing. Push back to your starting position with explosive force.
Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions then repeat with the opposite leg.
The key take away from this exercise is to push back up to standing with explosive force, as fast as you can. There is an old saying in athletic training that “if you want to be fast, you need to train fast.” So if you want to have powerful hips in your golf swing, you have to train them that way.
Of course being “explosive,” is relative to your current abilities. You want to push back as fast as YOU are able to.
3. Single leg Squat with Arm Reach
OK! Now we are getting advanced! This is a great exercise for hip strength and stability but is not easy. So only try this one if you can do it safely.
Stand on one leg and hold the dumbbell(optional) as shown in the opposite hand. Draw in your belly button to stabilize your spine.
Perform a single leg squat while the hand holding the dumbbell reaches for your opposite ankle. Then return to standing and raise the dumbbell as shown
Keys to Success:
Make sure to bend your knees as well as your waist. This exercise requires good balance. If you do not have good balance, hold onto something stable with the arm not being used in the exercise.
I hope these exercises are beneficial to your golf game as they have been for our students. If you want more, our Age Defying Golf Rx program is a 12-week program designed exclusively for golfers between the ages of 50-75 years old.
Age Defying Golf Rx
Join the thousands of golfers who have decided to upgrade their most influential piece of golf equipment:
THE BODY, used on every single shot in the game.
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Thanks for reading!
Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Golf Performance Specialist
Age Defying Golf