Friday, March 28, 2014

Winter Blues
Staying normal in the off-season

In the northeast of the country, golf season runs from April 1 through October 31st according to the USGA Handicap Revision Schedule.  If we're lucky, it might get warm enough (and stop raining for more than 20 minutes) in March so we can get out to the range, bang off the rust, and shank a few at an unsuspecting ball-retrieving cart. It's about now that the stir-crazy starts to set in and people start doing things like swinging golf clubs indoors, and ending marriages over broken lamps or holes in the ceiling. Well, it's almost season but you're sitting there still rotting of boredom waiting for the nice weather....

Q: What's a Golf-nut to do?  A: Get fit quick!

OK so you can't swing a club, you've putted about as much as you care to do. It's time to do some exercising. I'm not talking about heavy lifting Tiger-esque kind of exercises, just the body moving and joint strengthening exercises. You know -- the ones you should have been doing all winter but were so busy with drinking rum and eggnog over the holidays that you just kind of skipped. The best things about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere, any time, and they'll get you in shape for golf this season.

1:  Plank -  A good staple. Some fitness experts would make you believe that isometric exercises can be dropped because they don't do enough for you when you reach a certain level of fitness. Personally, I work out nearly every day and I still get benefits out of the plank move so I'll recommend it until the day I die.

- Simply lay belly-down on the ground.
- Position your elbows right under your shoulders and your forearms out ahead like the Sphinx.
- Now squeeze your abs, butt and shoulders and raise your body up off the floor. Balance on your elbows and toes.
- Make a straight line from your shoulders to your toes and hold it as long as you can. Work up to 1 minute.

Still think it's too easy? Women's Health Magazine has a great article on the plank and how to make it harder.  Laugh if you want - the smallest women on tour are still banging their 3 woods farther than you're hitting driver. I'm not too proud to get my info from any source!

2: Pushups - Probably the most well-known stationary exercise in the world. Get your upper body in shape. If you don't know what it is, well... you REALLY need to read and do these exercises.  Do 50 per day.  Do them however you can. 10 sets of five.. Five sets of 10...25 sets of 2... Just do them.

- Start in Plank Position.
- Place your hands flat on the ground a little wider than shoulder width or as close to that as is comfortable.
- Tighten your abs and make a straight line from your shoulders to your toes.
- Lower your upper body to the floor by bending your arms. Push back up. Repeat. Maintain the straight line of your body.

You can make them easier by going to your knees instead of your toes. There are also variations that work different areas. The standard pushup is a good place to start.

3: Squats and Stairs - A lot of power in the golf swing comes from the lower body. If you have stairs in your house, use them...a lot. Do power sets of stairs going up and down 10 or more times. Skip stairs and take 2 at a time slowly if you can. It's great for the hamstrings and glutes. When you're done with that, do some squats. Simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart and squat down as close to parallel as you can. Stand up, Repeat. Do a lot. Hold something for weight to make it harder - I hold my golf bag.  If you have issues going up and down, then wall squats may be for you:

- Find a good, sturdy wall. Stand with your back against it.
- Bend your knees and slide yourself down the wall slowly until your upper legs are parallel to the floor (or as close as you can safely get them)
- Hold for 30 seconds (or as long as you can).  Stand up, then repeat.

These are very effective exercises to give you a base to play your best golf this year. Best thing is, they can pretty much all be done while watching TV! Do them every other day and you'll start to feel it in 2 weeks or even sooner! Don't quit, and enjoy the walk this Spring when you can finally get out! Don't forget the cigars!