We the people, for four-score and seven days or so, have found ourselves in an interesting spot during this Covid-19 time (usually horizontal on the couch). This is particularly sad for us golfers because, usually, this season leads to being outside, catching emergency 9’s and making extra swings, pasting white ball against blue sky. We also usually gain some driving distance without much additional effort. Extra swings leads to extra muscle which leads to extra distance.
However, right now we are not so lucky.
We are sitting at home, not playing golf, not working out like we’re used to, and most of us are running more often than we should. (For thoughts on distance running and golf, check out my article here.) What we are doing is losing distance.
I have a solution, rather, a mitigation, that will stem the leak and keep you more explosive until you can get back to the weight room (ideally with a TPI trainer of course). To find one of those I believe in, click here.
These are three of my favorite “power” exercises that require no equipment. If you have equipment- Dumbbells, barbells, bands or anything, our repertoire infinitely expands, but at minimum, these are great to add in to your training, and you will see benefit, period.
Firstly, the “power” category falls into our progression pyramid pretty close to the top. If you have no Mobility(5), we will struggle with our Stability(4), and if neither of those, very little Strength(3) will take place. The three of these must come before Power(2) and then Speed(1). If you find that you are struggling with low back pain/hip pain, or have difficulty balancing on one foot for longer than 10 seconds or so, some of these exercises may not be for you and we should start at the incredibly-important bottom of the pyramid.
Secondly, power is generated in the golf swing through the ground. Well, through the body, and the body uses the ground for its reaction to the body (think pushing against something that pushes back against you). One glute (butt) is loaded and braced against and then the body drives itself into the ground (which pushes back), firing the other glute and causing the body to unleash speed into the clubhead, sending the ball into oblivion (ideally).
Watch the above video by clicking the link; what you can see from the video is Tiger loading one side of his body, the right, and then driving against that brace in the foot to the other side, while lowering himself into the ground. From there, he drives up through that lead leg (going from lateral to vertical), creating tons of force which he can then transfer down the chain into the clubhead.
All of that can be many, many, articles in its own right, but simply, we needed to see what basic parts of the body are firing powerfully and rapidly to make sense of why these training exercises were chosen.
#1 Skater Jumps
Skater Jumps- Golf Fitness ← (Link)
Easily observed is why this exercise is so excellent for a golfer. The loading of the hip on one side, driving laterally to the other, and then the reception of that lateral force (which would then proceed to more vertical in a golf swing), is readily apparent. Most people usually assume that to hit the ball far one must be able to increase speed quickly. They are absolutely correct. But, what most people fail to realize is that acceleration must be met with powerful deceleration (or slowing down) as well. The deceleration and absorption of one force allows for the energy to be transferred to the next phase of the kinetic chain. (In this case from the hips, to the torso, to the arms, to the hands, to the clubhead.) This drill imitates many pieces of that, so it’s a winner in my book.
I usually have my athletes go for about 3 sets of 6-10 total jumps, or 3-5 on each side.
#2 180* Squat Jumps
180* Squat Jump- Golf Fitness ← (Link)
Another jumping exercise I like for my golfers is a rotational jump. (What? No. Did not see that one coming…) Many of the benefits from exercise #1 are here as well, but one key component is the addition of the transverse (or rotational) plane. Skater Jumps had us going laterally, but they didn’t really have us rotating very much. A golf swing has both happen at the same time, moving laterally while rotating. Again, one of the major components of this exercise that is often ignored is the landing. The ability to absorb and control the descent (and in this case avoid continuing to rotate) is just as important as the ability to explode up and rotate in the first place. As with all of our power exercises, we are not focusing on high heart rate or the ability to do 50 in a row. We simply want to explode as high, hard, and fast as we can, and absorb as efficiently as we can.
I personally like to have my golfers rotate opposite ways on jumps, balancing the exercise, but an argument can be made for only rotating the direction that a golfer would swing, and I wouldn’t fight you over it honestly.
Similarly to Skater Jumps I usually have my athletes go for 3 sets of about 10 total jumps, 5 on each side.
#3 Clapping Push-ups
Clapping Push Ups- Golf Fitness ← (Link)
At first mention, this exercise usually earns me a raised eyebrow or two from my athletes. But, I briefly want you to imitate the impact position. What muscles (in your upper body) do you feel contracted? In a good position, you should feel your lead-side lat, of course, as it pulls the way. Your lead tricep should be taught, maybe your trail-arm bicep, but both pecs should be flexed. Most people usually gloss over the pec.
The faster and more explosive we can contract the pecs, the more efficiently we can create the impact position triangle we are looking for. Check out Rory here:
(credit: golfswing HD youtube)
You can see the triangle I am referencing, formed by the shoulders, straight-ish arms, and hands. Extend your arms in this position and you will find that your pecs have come alive.
Therefore, the more efficiently and explosively we can get into this position, the faster we can move through impact. I also think of the pecs as a speed maintainer as well. Oftentimes players generate significant clubhead speed on the way down, but actually lose some through impact, where it matters more. With strong and explosive pecs, this can partially be eliminated.
As with our other power exercises, this is not a “till-failure” kind of exercise, this is about being as explosive and powerful as you can be. Small rep counts with a full-bore unleash is what we’re after here.
Also, as another reminder, power exercises are closer to the top of our pyramid, so if you have mobility or injury issues, don’t start here. This exercise in particular requires significant core strength, wrist and shoulder health, and coordination. If you are lacking in these categories, you are begging for an injury (and who wants to get all the way through Covid and then have to take more time off). Master the basic push-up first, then once that is easy, add in the claps.
I usually have my athletes go for small sets on this one, usually limiting these to no more than 5-6 reps at a time. If they begin to lose height on the explosion, then I know it’s time to stop the drill. We don’t want slow.
If you find yourself at home without equipment, give these three exercises a go. You will definitely maintain your power levels in this time, and if you have done very little power work before, you might even increase your driving distance. How cool would that be? To come out of your quarantine with more distance? C’mon.
If you decide to implement these into your training, please tag me on social media as I would love to see you in action, you beast!