5 Exercises That Are Bad for Your Golf Game

If you’re looking to improve your golf game, it’s always a good idea to focus on your fitness. However, not all exercises are created equal with the goal of trying to lower your golf handicap. Here are five exercises to avoid courtesy of golf fitness expert Mark Tolle from Golf Fitness Chicago in Northbrook.

Leg Press Machine
From a muscle imbalance perspective the quads, which are the front thigh, are generally stronger than the hamstrings (back thigh) and this exercise reinforces this fact. When your quads overpower your hamstrings in deep knee flexion (when on a leg press), there is increased torsion placed into the meniscus, increasing the likelihood of knee injury.

The quads and glutes (butt muscles) should be used together during normal daily activities. Additionally, when your glutes do not fire while using your quads with a great level of force, there is increased risk of low back injury. So from a functional perspective strengthening your legs on a leg press can also contribute to muscle imbalances, which in turn lead to knee pain and low back pain. There are much better exercises such as the deadlift, squat and lunge patterns – if performed correctly.

Seated Leg Extension Machine
This is the exercise you perform while sitting in a machine and straightening your legs against a pad. Again this reinforces the muscular development of the quads over the hamstrings and glutes as described above. But the other major reason is the amount of compressive forces that occur under the knee cap with this movement. It wears down the cartilage and contributes to what we call patella femoral pain.

I admit to having some of my patients perform this exercise back in the early 90’s, and I’m so glad I stopped years ago. You will see bodybuilders do this exercise to specifically build and define the quads but I’m sure they will eventually have knee pain. Remember it is much more functional and safer to work the legs with your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Machine Hamstring Curls
This exercise is performed by lying face down on a machine & curling your knees back. This puts undue stress on the back of the knee and isolates one particular part of the muscle. Yes, the knee bends this way but during normal functional activity the muscle acts much differently. You are much better off doing an exercise that recruits the entire hamstring and use the glutes as well such as the deadlift, split squat or step ups.

Biceps Preacher Curl
The biceps preacher curl is performed by sitting and leaning over a angled bench and then doing bicep curls with a bar. The thing I don’t like about this is the forward shoulder position it puts you in. You get a lot of unnecessary stress in the shoulder capsule and over stretch the biceps tendon and rotator cuff. It also leads to muscle imbalances by pulling the shoulder blades forward and it can also hurt the neck.

This exercise isolates the biceps muscle which is not the way it actually works in normal function. You need to integrate the wrist and free up the shoulders to work the arms adequately.

Standing external shoulder rotation with dumbell
Specifically working the shoulder rotators (rotator cuff) can be beneficial from a prevention standpoint but is often times done incorrectly. Holding a dumbbell in your hands and moving it side to side is not placing tension on the external rotators of the shoulder, but rather the elbow flexors. You are much better off using tubing to work the rotator cuff but even then it is for someone that is recovering from a rotator cuff injury or surgery. There are better exercises that integrate the rotator cuff and work the shoulder stabilizers for a healthy shoulder.

Mark Tolle
Golf Fitness Chicago
706 Landwehr Road
Northbrook IL 60062
Phone: 773-965-4959


Walter Lis

Walter Lis is the managing editor of Chicago Golf Report. Launched in 2010, Chicago Golf Report is the most visited website on Chicago golf and is one of the top ten most popular local golf websites in the country. We are a digital-only news and information resource covering everything golf in Chicago and its suburbs, providing the latest news about local golf facilities, golf events, golf instruction and even golf business.

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