Glutes are key when it comes to the golf swing. The gluteal muscles (which include three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) are essential for power and stability during the golf swing. Many golfers’ glutes can be inhibited, while the hamstrings and/or the lower back try to take over their job. This can manifest into several different swing faults. The right glute is needed for stability during the back swing and power on the down swing. The left glute is needed for stability through impact. Swing faults that can occur from weak glute muscles include slide, sway, early extension, loss of posture, reverse spine angle and hanging back. As you can see, glute muscles are needed for a strong and efficient swing. The following exercises are great for the glutes, and you can do them anywhere.
This exercise challenges the stability of the pelvis, lower back and core while strengthening the gluteals. There are several variations of this exercise. The basic Bridge starts lying on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-distance apart. Focus on recruiting your gluteals throughout the exercise, not your hamstrings. This will take practice and concentration. Inhale to prepare, and exhale to lift your hips to a bridge position. (Feel as if there is a line from your shoulders to your knees). Inhale to stay in this position, and exhale as you lift one foot slightly off the floor without shifting or dropping either hip. Inhale to return the foot to the floor, and exhale as you lift the other foot, repeating ten repetitions. Inhale as you lower the foot, and exhale as you lower your hips back to the floor.
Bridge With Leg Extension
Take the basic Bridge exercise and gradually lift the leg higher off the floor. Eventually take the exercise to the full Bridge, where the lifted leg is extended to the ceiling, then lowered parallel to the supporting leg, and lifted back to the ceiling and finally it is returned to the floor. Focus on keeping your hips lifted and level. Try not to rotate or drop the supporting hip. Start with the basic Bridge first, and then progress to the full leg extension as your glutes get stronger.
Concentrate on feeling your glutes throughout each exercise, without letting the hamstrings do all of the work. The glutes are easy to miss during your workout, since the hamstrings and lower back may want to take over. These simple exercises will help strengthen your glutes and help you stabilize during your golf swing. Next time you head to the gym, don’t forget about your glutes.
Start on all fours. Shoulders should be directly over your hands, with hips directly above your knees. Engage your abdominals to keep your back and pelvis in a neutral position throughout the exercise. Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you extend your right hip, reaching your foot to the ceiling, keeping your knee bent. Inhale to return, and repeat 10-15 repetitions on each side. Intensify this exercise by wrapping a band around your foot and holding the other end with your hands on the floor. Repeat the exercise with this added resistance.
Start lying on your side with your knees bent in front of the hips, with feet stacked. Inhale to prepare while keeping your feet touching, and exhale as you open your top knee as far as possible. Inhale as you bring your legs back together, and repeat. To intensify this exercise, wrap a resistance band around your thighs. This exercise specifically targets the glute medius, and is great for golfers who tend to sway or slide.
Kelley Ranaudo is a GFM Advisory Team Member and co-founder of Pilates Digest. She has a Masters Degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Pilates Instructor and Owner of The Fitness Studio of Orlando and a Level 1 Certified TPI Instructor.