Power Starts From Below
How to Really Create Rotational Strength for the AthleteThere's a saying in Baptiste Yoga, "Root to Rise". Meaning, for true strength, one must ground themselves, establish a foundation if they ever want to soar.
Like a tree, my golfing athlete must develop a strong connection with the ground. They must set strong roots because the golf swing is a dynamic 100 mph gust of wind that will take them all over the place if not.
It starts with stability. The training program must have exercises that develop both static and dynamic stability. Stability really means the ability to maintain alignment in the presence of an outside force. We must be able to establish a level of stability whether we are holding still or in a movement pattern. Stability is a matter of strength, and with such an athletic movement as the golf swing, there has to be a good amount of lower body strength to have a consistent golf swing.
Take a look at this:
Rotation starts from the ground up. And, before we ever want to send the body through very dynamic levels of mobility, we need to make sure we can resist rotation with strong levels of postural stability. That means I need adequate core strength to accomplish an important goal that is important for dynamic sport and everyday life = Maintaining a Neutral Spine, which protects my back form injuries and pain.
As he goes through this movement pattern, he slowly pushes his back leg back and keeps his chest and back leg working at the same rate (one goes up, one goes down). He keeps his spine straight (neutral) throughout by maintaining a stable, braced core. He balances on the post leg getting a big stretch through his hamstring. As he drives back to hip extension, he pushes through the ground, keeping the barbell close to his body, and squeezes his glutes as he comes back to complete hip extension. It's a great movement that develops Unilateral leg strength, mobility & stability through the entire body, balance, and grip strength.
When we think of rotation we typically visualize the torso moving in an axial pattern, spinning from side to side. We can't get trapped into thinking that the upper body is solely responsible for the ability of the torso to rotate. You see so many weekend hacker golfers using their arms and shoulders to develop any kind of power in their golf game. This leads to an inconsistent club swing path, less power, and future arm and shoulder injuries. The arms are never intended to be prime muscle movers in dynamic functional movements. In the case of golf, tennis, and baseball the arms express the power we created from the ground up (from the ground, low body, core, arms, club, and finally, ball- the entire kinetic chain). Our rotation actually happens like the strength and power we develop- from the ground up. Look at this movement that Jessel is doing to the right, it's a Stability Ball Russian Twist with a weight plate as the external load. This definitely works side to side chop power, but before he ever moved in an axial pattern, Jessel has to stabilize his core, push through the ground with his feet, and squeeze his glutes to maintain hip extension and to protect his lower back. Then, the dynamic rotation happens....Hmmmmm, a lot like the golf swing. His rotation and power production starts from below. If he didn't stabilize with his lower body and core, he would spin out of control off of this stability ball.
Much like the Deadlift variation, a top goal with this Russian Twist exercise is to maintain a neutral, braced spinal position- the same thing he must maintain in his golf swing. Train this in the gym, develop the muscle memory, and the body knows what to do when you put it through dynamic demanding movements like the Golf Swing.
Root through the ground, respect your connection through the foundation you create for your movement patterns. Power and rotation start from the ground up. If you are not training stability exercises and developing lower body strength, your ability to rotate and create sufficient power is probably lacking.