Virtually all sports abide by the belief that “speed kills". The best athletes in many sports also tend to be the fastest, most explosive athletes. While many of these athletes have extraordinary skills, they also have superbly conditioned bodies with a lot of attention begin given to leg training, as for good reason. Legs serve as the foundation for all explosive athletic movements, and the golf swing is no exception.
While all movement and power originates from the abdominal and lower back region (the “Core"), these forces can be greatly dissipated if there is not a strong base to stabilize, balance and push from.
Imagine trying to hit a 300+ yard drive while standing on one leg. You would be hard pressed to develop significant power because you are not fully involving your legs to help in maintaining balance on both the backswing and follow through. You also would not be capable of achieving a full and powerful weight shift.
Being an ex-Division 1 track athlete, virtually all of my training time was spent on total body explosive lifts, core training and lots of leg training. Most of the power I currently have I directly attribute to doing the right exercises to develop total body power. I spend a lot of time and energy focusing on my legs because I know that they pay huge dividends when it comes to creating power.
Unfortunately, most of the individuals that I work with are not very enthusiastic about training legs and discount the overall benefit, both from a performance and health perspective, of these types of movements. Many people think leg training involves either playing basketball or running on the treadmill. This does not cut it when it comes to enhancing golf performance.
Legs are probably one of the most difficult muscle groups to work out for a few reasons:
* They are the strongest muscles in the body, meaning they can lift the most weight. Lifting more weight makes a workout much more intense and physically demanding.
* Your legs are weight bearing muscles, meaning that if you are sore there is no way to get around the soreness besides waiting for recovery to happen naturally.
However, the benefits are extremely significant:
* Training legs properly results in tremendous increases in general athletic power. This is especially true for the golf swing, as you develop a nice, strong base from which you can generate explosive power.
* Training your legs with even moderate intensity results in significantly more calories being burned compared to a workout of similar time for your upper body.
* Proper leg training will significantly increase your strength and power in the rest of your muscle groups. The process for this is as follows:
- Intense leg workouts cause significant stress to you body. Your body responds to this stress by releasing various hormones that will make it recover and come back stronger so that the next time around it will be better suited to handle the stress you give it.
- One of the main hormones that is released through this process is testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for a wide variety of things, among them building muscle.
- The testosterone that is released into your blood stream after a good leg workout reaches all muscles, meaning that all muscles receive the benefit of this hormone, even though your legs did all the work.
* Proper strength training will allow the younger, developing athlete to safely realize his maximum physical potential and power. The mature athlete will better maintain the current strength levels he currently has. The older athlete will significantly decrease the rate of muscle loss and power reduction that occurs naturally due to the aging process.
* Greater strength in your legs will significantly increase your overall endurance. As your legs get stronger regular things like walking and jogging take less energy to do because of your increased strength.
* Significant increases in bone density. Loading your skeletal structure with forces greater than it is use to results in additional bone being developed in order to compensate for this additional stress. For older individuals, leg training can help significantly in maintaining bone density in the hip joint, which is a common source of fractures and breaks. Our bodies are incredibly skilled at adapting to change, so take advantage of it and build your bones.
* Increased joint strength and dynamic flexibility. Tight hip flexors are a common source of lower back pain and limited rotation in your swing. Properly executed compound leg exercises executed over a full range of motion are an excellent way to address tight hip flexors and develop excellent dynamic flexibility. These movements are also great at developing and maintaining healthy joints.
* Increases in your baseline metabolism. Baseline metabolism is how many calories you would burn a day even if you did nothing at all. It is the minimum amount of energy needed to live. As you condition your legs your baseline metabolism will raise, meaning you will burn more calories a day even when you are doing nothing at all. Supporting your torso all day takes a lot of energy.
* Strong legs help with everyday life too, as you will have an easier time walking up and down stairs, lifting heavy loads (since you should be lifting with your legs), and just being mobile in general.
Remember that time spent working your legs is time is extremely well spent and will have a significant impact on your ability to generate power and lose weight.
As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the NSCA, Jason Krantz's focus is on significantly improving the power levels and injury resistance of all golfers. He specializes in power enhancement and all related components of improved golf performance. For more information on how Jason can help your game visit http://www.sonicboomgolf.com
You can also try out the Virtual Launch Monitor at http://www.sonicboomgolf.com/virtual_launch_monitor2.php This tool will show you how altering different variables involved in producing distance will affect how far your ball will travel and will show you how you can maximize your distance off the tee.