Single Leg Training For Golf – Top 4 Benefits
If you’ve been paying attention to what the guys and gals on tour are doing, you know that working out and getting stronger is a part of the game. Hate to say it, but I don’t think strength training in golf is going anywhere.
One of the most well known areas to work on to improve your golf performance is the lower body. Studies have shown that increased lower body strength and power have a direct relationship to clubhead speed (1). Various studies have also shown that increased strength in general helps to reduce the risk of injury (2,3). Unfortunately, the risk for injury can be quite high in the sport of golf due to it’s repetitive nature.
When you think about lower body training, most people immediately think about traditional exercises such as the squat and deadlift. Both of those exercises are great and I incorporate them with my clients when appropriate. However, I feel that single leg training for golf (and many other sports) is often overlooked.
In fact, there is a phenomenon called the bilateral limb deficit. This phenomenon states that you are actually stronger when performing a loaded exercise on one limb compared to performing an exercise with both limbs (4)!
Let’s get into the top 4 benefits why I think you should be doing single leg training for golf.
1.) Train In Multiple Planes
The golf swing occurs in multiple planes, so it would make the most sense that we should train in multiple planes. As an example, most of our weight shift is to the trail side during the backswing and is then transferred to the lead leg during the downswing. But when we’re shifting side to side during the swing, we are also rotating and moving up and down simultaneously.
So when we’re only performing standard squats and deadlifts, we are only moving up and down and not working into those other planes. That’s where single leg drills such as lateral lunges, curtsy squats, and hip airplanes can be really beneficial when it comes to golf. In fact, working on a move like a lateral lunge can be helpful in teaching a proper weight shift to avoiding swaying or sliding in the swing.
2.) Increase Single Leg Strength
Something that occurs often, is a discrepancy in strength between limbs. You may not notice it during a typical squat or deadlift, but you’re probably not placing equal amounts of weight through each leg. That difference between the limbs over time with strength training can really add up!
There are some thoughts and research that points to lead leg strength being more important for force and power development in rotational athletes, compared to the trail side. So, if you’re right hand dominant, you’re probably dominant with that same side leg as well. Therefore, it is likely that your trail leg is probably stronger than your lead leg, which means you might be missing out on potential yards on your shots.
3.) Improve Balance
Not only does working on single leg strength improve strength in that limb, but it will also help improve balance. Balance, I’m sure as you know, is very important when it comes to the golf swing.
First, the shots that you experience on the course are not always on level ground. You may have the ball below your feet or you may be on a steep incline when swinging. Having balance in those shot situations will make sure you don’t become the next viral video on social media.
Second, as noted in point 1, we shift our weight to the trail side and onto the lead side when finishing the swing. When fully finishing the swing and posting on the lead leg, you should be able to stay balanced on the lead leg, with about 90-99% of your weight on that leg. If you’re balanced when you finish the swing, odds are that your swing was balanced as well. If you finished off balance, your swing and timing were probably off balance as well.
The drill below shows how you can work on upper body strength while working on single leg strength, balance, and even core stability.
4.) Less Stress On The Spine
There are many reasons why someone may not be ready to perform a traditional 2-leg exercise such as the back squat or deadlift. They may have mobility restrictions, they’re new to training, their specific injury history, or they may not enjoy performing that exercise because it’s uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, there’s still a way to work the lower body while keeping the client safe and maximizing gains.
When performing single-leg training, you will obviously require less resistance to train each leg independently compared to a 2-leg exercise. However, you can still provide adequate resistance to achieve the goal of increased strength while keeping loads on the spine and other joints low. Using dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands can make heavy loading a breeze with single leg drills.
Here is a single leg drill that can be loaded fairly heavy with less load on the spine when compared to the barbell back squat.
I hope this article was helpful in helping you understand why you incorporating single leg training into your golf performance routine is important. If you need help figuring what drills would be best for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would looking to get started on your own golf performance plan, you can schedule a no-obligation call or in-person appointment with me for no charge at all to get started. I want to help you move better, get stronger, and swing faster, so you can be your best on and off the golf course!
Waiting to get started with your own customized golf performance plan or just want to switch it up? Here are 9 FREE workouts with your golf performance in mind. Here is the link to grab those 9 free workouts.
1.) Ehlert A. The correlations between physical attributes and golf clubhead speed: A systematic review with quantitative analyses [published online ahead of print, 2020 Oct 27]. Eur J Sport Sci. 2020;1-13. doi:10.1080/17461391.2020.1829081
2.) Fleck, S. Falkel, J. (1986). Value of resistance training for the reduction of sports injuries. Sports Medicine, 3(1):61-8.
3.) Lauersen, J. Andersen, T. Andersen, L. (2018). Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 52(24):1557-1563.
4.) Kuruganti U, Murphy T, Pardy T. Bilateral deficit phenomenon and the role of antagonist muscle activity during maximal isometric knee extensions in young, athletic men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(7):1533-1539. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1752-8