Research has found that large vertical ground reaction forces in the downswing play a huge role in increasing clubhead speed and optimising launch angles. But in order to create these forces you need to strengthen your lower body. This will help you push into the ground and generate the reaction forces that move up through the body and into the club.
Good movement combined with good levels of strength and an ability to generate forces quickly are attributes that must be developed if you want to see any transfer into your golf game. For this reason, I like to use exercises that train a movement as opposed to singling out a specific muscle.
The body and multiple joints work together during the golf swing and not in isolation, therefore strength exercises typically should focus on this.
I have compiled a few of my favourites that you can work on to improve your leg strength. I always use a mixture of bilateral and unilateral exercises in my programmes as there are different benefits and adaptations.
Strengthen your lower body: Bilateral
Training on two legs is going to allow you to use more load. More load will see greater adaptation and help you get stronger as you need to exert greater force. A squat or deadlift will activate more muscles which will get more motor neurons firing – these are the signals that tell our muscles to contract and produce force.
The trapbar deadlift is a great exercise as it makes it easier to perform with good technique. There is no load directly placed on the spine like with a back squat so it’s great for those new to strength training.
The only downside is that the bar can be too heavy to start with. If this is the case, these DB suitcase squats are a great alternative.
Strengthen your lower body: Unilateral
Single leg exercises are important for golfers as they reduce muscle imbalances that occur between both sides.
The swing is all about accelerating effectively and decelerating correctly. Therefore, it’s important that both sides of the body are effective at force production and reduction to ensure your swing is efficient and functional.
The reverse lunge to knee drive is a great single leg exercise that not only challenges balance and control but also develops strength of the glutes, hips and quads.
You can perform with no load as a great warm up, or to develop strength – load with either dumbbells or a barbell dependant on your strength levels.
Maintaining control of the pelvis through the movement is key and also makes this excellent for improving core stability.
Strengthen your lower body: Lateral
The forces produced by your swing are predominantly vertical. However, there is a lateral shift from the trail leg to the lead leg in the downswing. Therefore, single leg lateral exercises will help you train the muscles of the hips and learn how to load them. These muscles drive force up and laterally into the other leg.
I love these alpine squats as they help to develop the push from the trail foot into the ground which you should use to explode into the downswing. They are great for feeling the load and drive of the hip, which creates the lower body drive in the golf swing.
As we approach winter and the golf season is coming to a close, now is the time to start working on developing your strength, especially if you are new to it.
You can overload the body through strength exercises and not worry too much about the initial soreness and the impact it can have on your swing.
The benefits it will have on your health and performance on the golf course are endless.