MUSCLE ACTIVATION IN THE GOLF SWING

Are You Targeting the Right Muscles?
Bob Forman
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
MS, Exercise Physiology

Having worked in the fitness field for over 30 years, the one thing I know for sure is that time is a significant factor when it comes to exercise compliance.  So when partaking in an exercise program to improve your golf game, it would be extremely beneficial to know which muscle groups are relevant in the golf swing so that a focused program can be developed.
 
A search was done to determine muscle activation during the golf swing.  Though somewhat limited, it did uncover a number of muscle groups that are predominant while swinging a golf club.   

Exercises should be incorporated into the golf fitness program to isolate these muscle groups in order to better your body to better your game.  Strength, and then speed progressions, for some of the groups identified, would maximize results.  This should all be preceded, though, by a corrective phase which targets the anatomical deficiencies discovered during the physical assessment.  A knowledgeable golf fitness instructor will be able to design and then safely supervise you in a time efficient manner, expediting the results you seek out on the golf course.    
 

The studies broke down the golf swing into 5 phases:
-       back swing – address to top of back swing
-       forward swing – top of back swing to club horizontal (before impact)
-       acceleration – horizontal club to impact     
-       early follow through – impact to horizontal club (after impact)
-       late follow through – horizontal club to completion of swing
 
muscle diagramIn the “least strenuous” back swing phase, the predominant muscles in the upper body included the upper and middle trapezius of the trail side (side further away from target – right side for a right-handed golfer)), and the subscapularis (part of the rotator cuff) and upper serratus (shoulder stabilizer) on the target side (left side for a right-handed golfer).  In the lower body, the hamstrings (semimembranosus and bicep femoris) on the trail side and the back extensors (erector spinae) and abdominal obliques on the target side were most active. 

During the forward swing, the gluteus maximus on the trail side dominates the beginning of the swing sequence with help
on the target side from the quadriceps in the front thigh and adductors on the inner thigh.  In the upper body the rhomboids and trapezius on the target side and the pectoralis (pecs) and serratus anterior on the trail side are all recruited.
 
 The acceleration phase is dominated by the pecs on both sides of the upper body with help from the serratus on the trail side.  The glutes stay pretty active and are assisted by the quads and lateral hamstring on the target side.  The abdominal obliques on the trail side join in and will stay active through the early follow-through phase.


muscle diagramThe pecs stay fairly active in the early follow-through phase and are joined by members of the rotator cuff  (infraspinatus – target, subscapularis – trail).  The outer quad and hamstring on the target side also remain active as does the glute on the trail side. 
 

Finally in the late follow through, the two rotator cuff muscles stay involved, but with less effort.  The pec on the target side eases up a bit and the serratus, once again, joins in on the trail side.  The lateral quads on both sides are active now and the adductor on the target side comes back into play.  The glutes on the trail side quiet down a bit, while the target side falls below recognition. 

Having said all that and given this breakdown of muscle involvement, it’s important to reiterate that a golf fitness program would be most advantageous if it includes exercises that target these sport-specific muscle groups:           

Upper Body
a  Pecs
a  Trapezius
a  Rotator Cuff
a  Abdominal Obliques

Lower Body
a  Glutes
a  Quads
a  Hamstrings (check for tightness first!)
a  Adductors


finger extension photoThough not mentioned, inclusion of the forearm muscle groups would also be productive as trail side forearm flexors recorded significant activity at impact and much more than the extensors.  Keep in mind that most people tend to be stronger in the forearm flexors due to constant daily use and attention should finger extensionbe given not to exaggerate that imbalance.  In other words, don’t just do hand
grips all day.  Make sure exercises are included that will strengthen forearm extensors.  Some examples are dumbbell wrist extensions and the rubber band exercise shown here. 

Knowing which muscle groups are relevant in the golf swing provides a checklist for the golfer and offers guidance as to exercise selection.  Incorporating both targeted and functional exercises for the above mentioned muscle groups will go a long way toward a better swing and a better game.  It will also help reduce the potential for injury.     

 

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EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Static Hamstring Stretch

 One of the main factors for low back discomfort is tight hamstrings, which can also affect hip mobility in the golf swing.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- how to identify and correct the common physical deficiencies most golfers have that are impacting their swing and injury potential
- over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills

- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

TheBookPatch.com Buy Now style 1 button
or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 

November 11, 2017
The top 10 fitness must haves for better golf.  Click on the pic and then "podcast."  
My segment starts at 1:10:30.

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures 


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury