I am often asked by golfers, “What should I do to warm-up before a round?”
The warm-up should have one focus point – to raise your core temperature. By raising your body’s temperature you will warm up the muscles and make them more pliable.
This warm-up consists of first warming up your body to be able to handle the stresses the golf swing places upon it. Second, we focus on programming the brain on the golf swing itself and bringing together the swing as a whole.
TIP: Get a feel for the putting green BEFORE warming up for full golf shots. My warm-up begins at the putting green and ends on the driving range. After all, aren’t we going to hit a driver as our first shot of the round?
Before I give you a specific warm-up routine for your round, lets cover what dynamic warm-up is NOT:
Dynamic warm-up is NOT static stretching. Pre-round, we never do static stretching as boat loads of scientific research (I wish I had a picture of a boat load of scientific research – it would be pretty funny) has proven that it elongates your muscles thus reducing muscle tension. This reduction in tension created by static stretching will REDUCE distance and open you up for INJURY.
The golf swing is a dynamic movement that requires a lot of tension and power. For this reason alone, static stretching is completely ruled out for our warm-up. Time to forget your old school stretching methods from the 1980′s.
Now that we know what NOT to do when warming up let’s discuss what we need to do to get properly warmed up for golf.
How you go about this depends on your body and all the wear and tear it has been through. As you age, you get more aches and pains and some areas may need a bit more warm up than others.
How to Raise Body Temperature (5-minutes)
Perform each of the following exercises for the time listed. You should be breaking a light sweat when completed. I’ve read other experts say that you shouldn’t break a sweat during your warm-up.
The golf swing is a powerful movement where an average golfer uses over 90% of his strength during one shot! How can you expect to be properly prepared for such an athletic event if you DON’T break a sweat?
To get prepared, you need to break a light sweat. So let’s get sweating…
The best descriptions for each exercise can be found at the American Council on Exercise. They have a fantastic library of all movements listed below. For simplification, I have given a hyperlink to each movement along with a brief description of why we perform each movement during our dynamic warm-up.
Trunk Rotations with Putter - 30 seconds The Golf swing is a rotational athletic movement; to protect our hips, knees, ankles and low back a twist is perfect. Try not to over rotate during your twists. Instead of a medicine ball, hold your putter out in front of you at arms length and rotate your torso.
Side Bends - 30-seconds The golf swing has a built in side bend during the back swing and follow through. To ensure we protect our lower back, it is important we perform side bends.
Inchworms - 60 seconds One of my favorite dynamic warm-up movements is the inchworm. The inchworm gets your hamstrings, upper body, arms, and back warmed up and ready for crushing it.
Arm Circles - 30 seconds forward, 30 seconds backward (60 seconds total) The shoulders should not be overlooked. Many golfers with dysfunctional golf swings have extremely tight shoulders and upper back. Perform this until you feel a burn.
Bodyweight Squat - 60-seconds The power source of the swing is in the buttocks and legs. For this purpose we need them ready when we need to get a little ‘cheeky’ when we need a bit of extra distance.
This warm-up should have you ready to go as it works all of the major body parts used in the golf swing. We want to maintain some tension in our muscles, but make them pliable. This has been accomplished by raising the body temperature.
Now that we are warmed-up, let’s warm-up that golf swing.
How to Warm-up the Mind for Lower Scores
Once you have completed the above circuit, it’s time to bust out your golf clubs.
We all see the guys who do the static stretches then yank out the driver. All I can tell you here is they are losing driving distance as soon as they knocked out that first static stretch. Not to mention, they are pulling out the hardest club in the bag to hit (minus that putter we all love).
It’s never a good idea to start with the big dog out of the gate. Warming up your mind for golf is just as important as the body.
Starting out with a wedge or 7-iron also boosts confidence as these are easier to hit. In addition, to confidence, you are gaining more feel for the scoring shots around the greens.
Confidence is often overlooked in golf, and we are building it in right here in our 15-minute dynamic warm-up.
How to Warm-up the Golf Swing (10-minutes)
Start with your wedge or 7-iron hitting half shots. I’d like you to hit half shots as long as you would like, however, to keep your warm-up at fifteen minutes try to complete half shots in 3-4 minutes.
Hitting half shots allows you to warm-up your nervous system to the chain of movements required in the golf swing. Start out nice and easy here and you are laying a solid foundation for your upcoming round.
Once you feel like you have a good rhythm should you move on. Don’t rush through this, as it will affect your scoring later on.
You will then work up to three-quarter shots for another three minutes. Again, if you have time, take longer and get a feel for the distance you are hitting your shots. This is important information you can use when in scoring situations around the green.
Finally, move on to full shots using the 7-iron or wedge. Progress by hitting a 5-iron, 3-iron, and finally your driver.
Time to play golf.
Now head to the main tee box and crush it!
Christian Henning, NASM-CPT
AKA Dr. Distance
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