The golfer’s warm-up routine

How sharpening certain fitness skills can help you play like a pro

There’s more than just a good eye and a fluid swing that separate a birdie from a bogie. Eric Emig, a personal trainer and certified golf conditioning specialist in St. Louis, explains: “A deficiency in any one of the key areas—posture, balance, flexibility, and strength—can have a negative effect on the speed, power, and motion of the swing, thus causing shorter drives, slices, hooks, topped shots, pop-ups and/or low-back issues and golfers’ elbow.” In other words, if your body isn’t in golf condition (read: fit), you can be prone to injury and you won't play to your full potential.

This golf-specific strength workout, designed by Emig, covers all of those areas with the aim of improving power production and transfer in the swing while reducing any restrictions in mobility and improving balance. Here, find his flexibility routine, which is great to do right before you hit the links.

For this sequence, you’ll need a Swiss ball. Do each exercise for 30 seconds, completing three sets (with rest, if noted) before moving on to the next.

The following exercises are demonstrated by Tommy Konefal, personal training manager at Equinox 92nd Street

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  • Look Left/Look Right

    Look Left/Look Right

    While seated on your Swiss ball, slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder, then slowly turn head through center and look over right shoulder. Continue for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds; repeat for three sets. “This increases the range of motion of the neck for takeaway and follow-through of swing and can reduce incidence of neck injury,” Emig says.

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  • The Arch

    The Arch

    Still seated on the ball, place hands behind the head and roll on the ball, arching over it so it supports your upper back. Hold for 30 seconds, then push into your feet to roll back to seated. Rest for 30 seconds; repeat for three sets. This one’s a twofer, stretching out your upper back and the chest, to potentially reduce injury to the back and rotator cuff, says Emig.

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  • Two-Arm Shoulder Roll

    Two-Arm Shoulder Roll

    Kneel down and place your hands on the ball in front of you on the floor. Roll the ball away from you, allowing your arms to extend out and your upper back to extend. Hold for 30 seconds, then carefully roll back up; rest for 30 seconds and repeat twice more. This is great for opening tight shoulders and improving their range of motion (again, good for the rotator cuffs).


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  • Forearm and Wrist Stretch

    Forearm and Wrist Stretch

    Seated on the ball, extend your right arm straight out in front you, and hinge your hand so fingers are pointing down. Use the left hand to gently pull the fingers toward the body; hold for 30 seconds. Rotate the right hand so palm is facing out (like you’re signaling “stop”). Use the left hand to pull the fingers back; hold for 30 seconds. Switch and stretch the left wrist. Go immediately back to the right wrist; do each hand three times. “Increasing the range of motion of the forearm and wrist can reduce the risk of golfers’ elbow,” Emig says.

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  • Lying Trunk Rotations

    Lying Trunk Rotations

    Lie on your back with the ball under your bent knees. Slowly allow the knees to fall to one side, so you’re feeling a stretch in your hips. Hold for 30 seconds, then rotate through center and to the other side for a second 30-second hold; do three sets total. This move increases core flexibility to reduce the risk of lower-back injury, says Emig.

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Strength train for flexibility

“When weak, muscles put up a guard to protect against injury, making them feel tight.”