When I went Primal and started to take control of my body, my core was the place that felt the most immediate benefits. With a stronger core, I found that I could hit the ball further and more consistently than ever before.
What do we mean when we talk about the core? Well, the core is generally associated with abdominal muscles but actually includes just about everything other than the arms and legs.
Without meaning to get too technical, they include your obliques, gluteus maximus, abs (rectus abdominus), transverse abdominus, quadratus lumborum and the erector spinae, which run up the spine, provide support and enable a stable posture.
These core muscles work together to provide a solid internal structure for dynamic movements and transfer of force from one extremity to the next, just what you need for a properly engaged golf swing.
That’s why you’ll often hear Tour professionals talking about their core muscles. Twitter is full of videos of pros working out with exercise balls and weights in the quest for a stronger core.
Amateurs should take note. The pros aren’t doing this to look good on social media. There are a number of reasons why conditioning their core muscles allows pro golfers to lower their scores.
Reasons to Focus on Your Core Muscles
Firstly, the core matters because it drives the downswing. During the transition from the top, the lower body moves first as the pelvis rotates. The core stabilizes this move, allowing the torso, shoulders and arms to follow, adding energy with every stage in the sequence.
Secondly, the core doesn’t just add power to your downswing. It also adds consistency. If you can control your swing so that it rotates around the axis of your spine, you will deliver the club head more consistently on target with pure contact.
Sliding and swaying on the back swing are both signs of a weak core, and both tend to cause inconsistent shots with very little power. A strong core allows you to stay in posture throughout the swing.
When you add consistent ball striking to powerful rotation, what is the end result? That’s right – distance.
Ways to Strengthen Your Core
What exactly should you be doing to develop your core muscles to improve your golf game? That’s what I asked myself not too long ago and I came up with three things: diet, conditioning and technique.
What I want to focus on here is conditioning.
Many golfers think that well-defined abs are all the evidence they need of a strong core. When they start to experience back pain or come out of shots, this can be pretty confusing. If their abs are strong, why can’t they deal with the forces created during their swing?
Proper core conditioning doesn’t focus just on the abs. These core muscles may look good, but don’t tell the whole story. You need to create holistic core workout plans that work equally important muscles like your obliques and the erector spinae. That way, your core can be turned into an effective shock absorber to protect your back and handle a faster swing speed.
Here are three simple exercises to improve your core strength fast.
Palms Down Backward Bridges
Bridges are a great way to strengthen your all-important glutes. The best variety is to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms with your palms down at the side of your body. Now push your pelvis up by pressing your heels down, trying to get your glutes to do the lifting.
Side Planks With a Rotation Reach
This one helps to develop your rotational stability. Lie on your side with your bottom arm bent at the elbow directly under your shoulder so that it props your body up. Stack your legs, knees, ankles and feet together and tighten your abs. Reach your other arm up towards the sky. Now, simply rotate that arm around your body, return it to the skyward position. Repeat 10-12 times and switch sides. Be sure to keep your head in line with your body at all times.
This exercise helps with rotation, but also teaches your body to disassociate upper and lower body movement. They are also great for golfers to get a feel for the loading/unloading phase of the swing and training the pelvis to initiate the downswing.
Get into a standard push-up position with good posture. Your belt buckle should stay facing the floor the whole time. Open up your chest as much as you can by raising your right arm towards the sky (loading phase feel). Bring your right arm down and then quickly drive your right knee towards the opposite shoulder (initiate downswing feel). Repeat with your left side. Be sure to keep your lower body stable during upper body work and upper body stable during lower body work.
Don’t overdo these exercises, but do set aside half an hour to stretch and work out. You should feel some tension, but if this develops into pain, take a rest for the day. Generally, a couple of sets of 10 reps is enough to start building that critical core strength.
If you stay disciplined, you’re sure to see rapid improvements in your distance.