“Dear, The Golfing Doc; I was told that if I got stronger, I would hit the ball farther. My friends told me to strengthen my core. I have been doing sit-ups and a bunch of other ab exercises. After three months of doing this now, I still haven’t gained any extra distance. Am I doing this correctly? Thanks. Joe K., Seattle, WA”
When it comes to gaining more distance, you want to be able to generate more clubhead speed. Most golfers think that the harder you hit the ball, the farther it will go. In more instances than not, the harder you try to hit the ball, the shorter distance it goes– or it ends up in a bad spot. Although hitting the ball harder with more power may feel like you are going to get more distance, it is more so a matter of speed that produces distance. More specifically; clubhead speed creates more distance.
The first key to distance is a good and efficient swing. If you don’t have a consistent swing yet, lessons from a good instructor will help you gain some extra distance right away. Sometimes technical aspects such as equipment, properly fitted clubs, ball type, a change in technique (such as improving lag), and a variety of other issues should be addressed. However, once these have been considered, distance will then be subject to how much energy your body can produce.
In order to create more clubhead speed, your body must be able to produce this energy. You must then be able to transfer this energy from your body to the golf club. Since your feet ground you, you generate power from the ground up through your legs. This energy is then transmitted to your torso, upper body, and arms until it finally is released through the golf club. There is one catch though: What if the energy is not going from your lower body to your upper body correctly or efficiently? What is that missing piece?
The answer to this question lies in your core. Most people consider their abdomen and their abdominal muscles to be their core. This is incorrect. I want you to think of your core as a cylinder. This cylinder includes your abs, your back muscles, your hip flexors, and even your glutes. At the bottom, the cylinder is sealed by the pelvic floor muscles. At the top, the cylinder is sealed by your diaphragm. The more you can generate energy within this cylinder, the greater speed, power, and distance you can produce.
With this in mind, you can hopefully understand how thousands of sit-ups and crunches, alone, won’t do that much for your golf swing and increasing your distance. Working your abs is only one piece of the puzzle; you have to work your entire core. The benefits of a strong and healthy core also include: less back pain, better activation of natural supporting muscles for your back, a reduction of the risk of injury when lifting objects, and also an increase in overall general strength.
Planches are a more beneficial core exercise for increasing core strength. Here are some pictures demonstrating a few different planche positions. All the positions with your elbows on the ground are the most basic. As you get stronger, you can begin to move onto your hands. If your core is weak and even the elbow positions are very difficult, try doing them on a bench instead of the floor. You can work up to holding these positions for up to one minute each. Do these three to four times a week and your core will get stronger.
If any of the exercises create pain or discomfort, please discontinue immediately and consult your primary health care professional.