Improve Your Swing by Postural Strength

BY Richard Nizielski

As discussed in many of the other golf health and fitness articles, one of the main contributors to a consistent and repeatable golf swing is upper back postural awareness and control.

A lack of this awareness and control can have its origin attributed to a lack of the optimal activation of the muscles that maintain ideal upper back posture and connect the arms to the trunk. The muscles that are biased in exercises of this type are often termed “back” exercises. The group of muscles that oppose the action of the back group are on the front of the chest and include the pectoral muscles – these are commonly termed “chest” exercises.

The incline rear (reverse) dumb bell fly exercise is one basic exercise that is a very good starting point for those seeking to improve the maintenance of good function in their golf specific training regime. The exercise can be incorporated into your training program to improve the muscles that control the scapula position on the trunk.

The incline rear dumb bell fly exercise will strengthen the muscles that retract and stabilize the scapula (which is the socket of the shoulder) – in particular the rhomboids (major and minor), serratus anterior and trapezius (lower and middle) thereby increasing the arm to trunk (torso) connection or awareness.

The power source in the golf swing should come from the speed created in the movement of the pelvis on the torso. If optimal then the result is that the arms will become relatively “quieter” throughout your swing. Too many golfers appear to be very “armsy” or arm-dominate in the golf swing to the detriment of optimal club head speed and distance off the club.

The Exercise

  • Set the adjustable bench to a position of approximately 45 degrees
  • Take up a prone (face-down) position on the bench as illustrated in the Starting Position Photos (Fig 1 and 2)
  • It is important to keep the head and torso in a neutral position to increase postural awareness and avoid neck pain
  • The objective of the exercise is to train the muscles that draw the shoulders down and back in particular the lower points of your scapula

Rather than only raising your arms from the elbows it is important that the focus of the movement begins with the contraction of those muscles between the scapulae

  • The dumb bells should be held with a ‘thumbs-up’ or neutral grip and the elbows slightly bent
  • To help prevent the upper back and the shoulders rounding try activating the muscles in the mid-back to draw the scapulas down and slightly back. A good way to feel this is to imagine the lower points of the scapula pulling downward into a ‘V’ towards your lower back
  • In a slow, smooth movement raise the arms focusing on using the muscles between the scapulae
  • To avoid allowing the scapulas to protract (wing) keep the hands and the elbows moving at the same speed resisting the temptation for the elbows to lead and the hands to trail behind

By adding a lateral rotation to upper arm will increase the activation of the Infraspinatus and Teres Minor muscles – muscles on the back of the scapula that pull the arms back with the scapulae.

The end of the movement (Finish Position – Fig 3 and 4) should have you feeling as though you are trying to touch the medial edge of your scapula together, the back of the hands should be facing upward and the point of the elbows perpendicular to the torso.

Be sure and choose a weight that challenges the muscle groups but doesn’t compromise the form and control of the movement.

Moving Forward

Depending on your level of golf fitness and postural control this exercise can be progressed from lying on the bench to standing in the golf address posture. You should commence this drill on two feet and once you have “earned the right”, then the exercise can be progressed to one foot and finally with the addition of torso rotation and weight transfer drills – we will cover these progressions in future articles.

If one side dominates over the other the exercise maybe performed as single arm incline rear dumb bell fly exercise – thus with only one side of the body.

Improving postural strength and awareness is not only crucial to improving your golf, but also a benefit to your daily function and physical health. Always ask for assistance from your golf trained athletic development specialist when initially undertaking this exercise in your routine.

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    About the Author: Richard Nizielski

    Personal Trainer and Winter Olympian 1992, 1994 and 1998 (Bronze Medallist). Golf Athletic Development Trainer - The Golf Athlete Level I Trainer and Consultant to Kelvin Grove Golf School of Excellence, Victoria Park Golf Complex.

    Read all of Richard's articles »

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