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Golf Strength & Conditioning – The Kettlebell Way
Golfers like Tiger Woods are revered for their immense skill and ability in the game of golf. Golf is a very physical game. Your body must be conditioned for a long and injury free career. Years of training using body weight exercises, medicine balls, stability balls, dumbbells and many other tools have tested golfers to compete at the highest level. Recently there has been a resurgence of old school strength training tools. Kettlebells have been around for hundreds of years and have become the strength tool of choice for many athletes.
What is a Kettlebell?
A ‘kettlebell’ or girya (Russian) is a traditional Russian cast iron weight that looks like a cannonball with a handle. Kettlebells are not a new gimmick or fad, they have been around as a strength tool for hundreds of years. Kettlebells were used by many of the greats of yesteryear, such as Arthur Saxon, Eugene Sandow, and Sig Klein.
Why are kettlebells so effective?
Kettlebell ballistic exercises such as: swing, snatch and clean and jerk develop tremendous explosiveness, in addition to strength endurance. The kettlebell teaches the individual how to use his body as a unit. This is an extremely important asset for golfers, who must use their entire body to swing. For the golfer, the benefits of kettlebell exercises are numerous. Despite the various cardiovascular benefits, increases in functional strength and overall coordination will increase strength without increasing weight. It will melt the fat. This total body strength is important if you want real-world strength that will transfer from your training to your athletic activities.
Who Uses Kettlebells? Athletes like Tiger Woods, a member of the San Francisco 49ners
Celebrities such as UFC champions BJ Penn, Frank Shamrock, Katie Hagel, Maria Bello, Bruce Buffer, Sly Stallone, Chris Gartin and model Paige Adams-Geller are benefiting from training with kettlebells. Try the following exercises, these exercises can be done 3 times a week. 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, with a 1 minute rest period between sets.
Kettlebell swing stance should be shoulder width apart, sit down and grab the handle with both hands and as you reach down remember to hinge at the hips with your shins relatively vertical, you should feel a slight stretch in the hamstrings, rotate the kettlebell between your legs. Explosively straighten your legs and drive your hips forward as if you were going to run the football.
Kettlebell Clean The clean is sometimes used as a strength or endurance exercise: however, for other drills the KB(s) is used as a safe tool to carry your shoulder(s). This is a basic, traditional drill that every kettlebell lifter must master.
Technique: All points that apply to the SWING apply to the CLEAN, minus the straight arm requirement. The kettlebell, elbows, and torso must be “one” at the clean top. The shoulder should be pressed down. Keep wrists straight; No bending! The arms should be loose and the hips should do all the work. The kettlebell should travel as little distance as possible – vertically rather than in an arcing path. KB should bring the hand up and up, both negative and positive. Do not let the KB flip and “crash” on your hand. Upon impact, tighten the abs and give us a little air (like a boxer exhaling with each punch).
Tips: Master the opposite clean: keep the KB in the “rack” position, then move down to the lower position before attempting a proper clean.
Even with perfect technique, build volume very slowly; Give your elbows and arms time to adjust. Receive KB; Don’t let it hit you on the forehead. Women should not let their hands or KB touch their breasts.
Contracting your glutes and abs hard will generate the power needed to launch the KB.
Variation: Clean with a KB. Clean with two KB at once. Clean two KB alternately like a “see-saw”.
The kettlebell military press is a great exercise to strengthen both the deep rotator cuff and the large shoulder muscles. If you’ve done military presses with dumbbells, you’ll appreciate the kettlebell military press. Like all kettlebell exercises, the military press doesn’t just involve the arms but requires a coordinated effort from the entire body.
Military Press Instructions: Place the kettlebell in a rack position. Take a deep breath, hold it, tighten your arm pit, and then bring the kettlebell out to your side with your arms straight.
Once your arm pits are tight, press the kettlebell overhead in a lockout position. Focus on keeping your armpits tight and shoulders down as you press. Project your hip under your hand as you press.
At the top the kettlebell should be behind your head.
Actively pull the kettlebell back into your body as you lower it down. Tighten your armpits and once again project your hips under your arms. Keep the hips and abdomen tight as you return the kettlebell to the rack position.
Collect yourself and press on again.
Snatch: Everyone needs to master the all-important Snatch. Heavy or high-rep snatch lifting will develop your core and grip strength as well as functional strength. The snatch is described as an “overhead clean,” so if you can “swing” and “clean,” you’re ready for the snatch.
Hold the kettlebell in one hand to start. Take a shoulder width position with knees slightly bent. Swing the KB back between your legs; Sitting “back” instead of “down”. Explosively snap through your hips to full extension; Letting the KB project move upwards. Simultaneously close your hand and quickly dip down slightly – as if to go under the KB. Raise your hand in the air, closing the distance between KB and your hand.
Lock the knees, hips and elbows. After mastering the technique and timing of this drill, the KB will not bump or jar your arm or shoulder. The KB should descend gently and feel almost weightless at the top.
In the ready position: the working arms and legs are straight and locked, the legs and body are still, the hands must be with the head or slightly behind the head. You hold this position for at least one second. Lower the KB in one smooth, uninterrupted motion. Do not let KB touch your chest or shoulder. Be sure to keep your core tight so the KB’s motion doesn’t throw you out of position, jar your wrist joints, or strain your back.
Tips for Snatch. Warm up and clean with a one-arm swing.
Look straight ahead every time. Master the timing and landing of the KB in the overhead position before starting the high-rep routine. You can rest in the overhead lockout position. Don’t do a negative curl on the KB on the way down; Keep your hand loose. Gradually increase the number of repetitions to allow your palms to stiffen. Variations include the dumbbell snatch – perform the snatch exactly as described above. Because of the width of the dumbbells, be sure to rotate the arms, thumbs pointing backward, before rotating them between your legs. At the top (overhead full position), rotate your wrists so that the palms face your head.
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