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Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

I have just recently started doing core work from an upright position while starting a TRX program at my gym.  TRX is great for golf as it helps with stretching, core strength, and endurance.  But  Nick Randall of and Mark Bull seem to be taking this to a whole new level.  For those who are serious about getting into shape for your golf game and working your core to the max, this is a must-read.  

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

The majority of core work is performed either horizontally (prone and supine), sitting or kneeling. After speaking with some people much smarter than me, namely Mark Bull (UK based Bio Mechanist), I have been wondering whether we are missing a key opportunity to get some really important work done by not performing more core exercises in a standing position.

I’m not advocating throwing out the fundamental exercises that make up a solid training program.

I think we in the golf fitness world should resist the temptation of grabbing the low-hanging fruit of loaded rotational training.  So I’m not advocating throwing out the fundamental exercises that make up a solid training program.  More so, I’m searching for opportunities in the supplementary exercises where we can train the core in a manner that has more effective transfer to our golf swing.

After reading an article by Mark Bull, I was very fortunate to be able to catch up in person for a chat.  He got me thinking about the way I program core training especially. In the article, Bull talked about some analysis work he did on a long-drive champion.  That caused him to question to the X-Factor Stretch Theory of hitting the long ball. 

Question the X-Factor Stretch Theory of hitting the long ball. 

“The interaction between the pelvis and thorax has been researched for years.  And for many, it is seen as having a significant influence on driving distance,” Bull said. “However, on recently testing a world long drive champion, the values he returned started to question my own understanding and value of this interaction.  For years, we have been led to believe that high levels of stretch at the start of downswing between the pelvis/thorax is required to help generate maximum club head speed.

However, the long-drive champion failed to produce more than 1 degree for any shot during the test. However, what was of great interest was the levels of separation/stretch achieved across other segments. Let’s define separation/stretch as elastic recoil.  The levels of elastic recoil that he produced across the lead scapula/shoulder/ribcage were staggeringly high. The amount of stretch, the speed of the stretch and the rate of recoil were huge. Therefore, perhaps the interaction between thorax and arm is of more value than pelvis/thorax?”

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

“Typically, long hitters exhibit a reduction in the angle between the lead arm and thorax (ribcage) in transition towards impact” Bull said. 

More focus on elastic recoil for the whole body.

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

This is a really interesting thought, and it contradicts the traditional wisdom that more X Factor Stretch equals more club head speed. In fact, Bull had previously tested another elite player who had the one of the largest X-Factor Stretches of anyone he had seen, yet one of the lowest club head speeds. Given his findings, Bull made the suggestion that training could adapt to include more focus on elastic recoil for the whole body, rather than focusing solely on the the pelvis and thorax.

As is my tendency when listening to very bright people, I took this info and sought to simplify it down to my level of understanding, then apply to a relevant practical setting (the gym). I started to experiment with a Stroops Shorty Stick and a resistance band tied to one end, in my opinion this gives you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of stability challenge. Whilst not quite as effective, you can use any kind of stretchy band or cable machines with a handle.

Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

Stroops Shorty Stick with resistance band attached

These exercises give an appropriate swing-specific stimulus.

I am going to show you a selection of the exercises that I have been using.  I feel these tick the boxes of quality connection to the ground, pelvic stability, spinal stability and scapula stability under rotational load to work on this “all-body elastic recoil.” Importantly, I feel that these exercises give an appropriate swing-specific stimulus.  While avoiding the potential detrimental impact on sequencing/motor patterns that can occur by simply loading an imitated golf swing.

My advice is to try including these exercises at the end of your workout, after you have completed your strength work, in place of your usual core work. Before doing exercises that require you to use your core to perform the movement safely. (back squats, for example).

As always, gain consent from your relevant medical professional first.  And be careful to start with a light resistance band or cable load and work your way up gradually. Two-to-three sets of 6-8 repetitions on each side using a slow tempo is ideal to start. Work up to faster speeds and heavier loads once confident with the technique.

You should feel these exercises working predominantly your glutes/hip complex, core and shoulders/arms.  As well as challenging your ability to maintain solid connection with the ground. If you are feeling more strain in your lower back and less in the targeted areas stop immediately.  Seek out the advice of a good fitness professional.

To see these 5 exercises for working the core in an upright position, go here!

Source:  Nick Randall  Mark Bull

Pictures:  Mark Bull  Nick Randall

Thanks for reading – Have you been working your core wrong all these years?

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