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SHOULDER TURN 101

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One of the biggest questions I get from golfers of all levels is how do I get more shoulder turn? So here is my answer in a nutshell

Shoulder turn is a question of mobility in your upper body and rib cage as well as a stabilization issues of the lower body, so in my opinion 2 things need to happen:

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1) Have a good base. Making sure the lower body is stable and controlled is just as important in the having overall mobility in the trunk. If you aren’t stable, you may slide, lose your spine angle, or stand rather than turn, so number 1 is have a good base.

2) Mobilize your rib cage. The rib cage is pretty mis-understood and often overlooked when thinking about shoulder turn. Your shoulders sit on your rib cage, therefore in order to turn your shoulders your rib cage and spine must have the mobility to create that turn.

Here is one of my favorite drills to help increase mobility through the trunk and rib cage.

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As I mentioned earlier, a good shoulder turn requires 2 things, a good base and good rib cage mobility. Make sure you keep your hips and pelvis stacked through the movement, and BREATHE. Exhale through your movement and if you get stuck or feel labored in your breathing, stop, hold that position and BREATHE into to relax and increase your mobility.

Enjoy your new found mobility!

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GET WIDE FOR A BETTER SETUP POSTURE

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My friends at California Golf and News asked me to write an article for their November 2012 issue, so with the help of my friend Matt Viguerie, Head Golf Professional at Mission Viejo Country Club, we put this together.

Get Wide for a Better Set Up Posture

Have you ever heard of the concept “free arms lead to a full extension?” Ever watch Rory blast a 320-yard drive? His upper body and arms look relaxed while he’s swinging the club 130 miles per hour. But rest assured, his internal muscles are firing as he keeps his driver on plane and square through impact. AWESOME power. WIDE shoulders. PERFECT posture.

We in the fitness world believe that when someone engages their core (contracts their internal abdominal muscles), he or she will better stabilize their spine which is the first step in establishing a better base for their shoulders/arms and hips/legs to move with efficiency. With efficient movement, golfers are far more likely to set up with good posture and reach full extension – and really generate some serious power.

With efficient movement, golfers are far more likely to set up with good posture and reach full extension – and really generate some serious power.

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All golf instructors drive home how bad a rounded back or “C-Posture” at address  because this set-up promotes loss of posture/spine angle, and can lead to scooping and fat shots.

This is considered a “C-Posture” at address. Notice how the spine is rounded, which can cause many swing faults going into backswing and impact.

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Notice the flat spine at address and how the shoulders are positioned as opposed to the above “C-Posture” photo above

In the gym I promote BEING WIDE as a useful concept with any and all upper body strength movements.

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Practice properly setting your shoulder blades back when you do “push” drills like push-ups or “pulling” drills like pull-ups. I also recommend drills like “farmer’s carries” as it is a total body movement that promote good shoulder stability, core engagement, and sound posture while moving primarily from the lower body.

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Farmer Carry is a golf fitness drill used to promote a tall neutral spine and good stable shoulder position. This spine and shoulder position lends itself well to setting up to the golf ball.

Photo 3- Farmer Carry (side view)

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Caption- Remember to get your shoulder into that Wide Position as you carry your weight. This drill is all about core engagement, balance, and shoulder stability. Try to walk tall as if you were not holding a weight in 1 hand. If you tilt or can’t Stay Wide through your shoulders then go lighter. Try 30-50 steps in each arm

Matt Viguerie, PGA Head Pro from Mission Viejo Country Club agrees that setup posture and shoulder blade positioning dictates a lot in terms of accuracy in your golf swing. He says, 
“If you setup with too much curve in your spine (C-Posture) your swing plane will be off and it will create timing issues. Roy’s advice of Getting Wide, and his drills help reinforce ideal spine posture.”

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HOW’S YOUR HINGE?

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In part 2 in the series with Sean Lanyi of Sean Lanyi Golf, we discuss “the hinge” in the golf swing.  The hinge is an important part of the backswing and is often a problem for getting people to stay on plane.  Check out this cool drill I use to improve not only your hinge, but your core and balance, as well as Sean’s explanation of the hinge.

Enjoy!

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GOOD, BETTER, BEST

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I think walking when playing is a great way to stay loose and focused during your round and its a great workout, especially if you are playing a tough course like Black Gold, Monarch Beach or Tijres Creek. But like anything its best to be prepared. So I wrote and article called Good, Better, Best that my buddies at California Golf Magazine put up on their website. Hopefully you find some benefit out of it too!

I highly encourage walking versus riding when you play. It’s a great way keep your mind focused while playing and it’ll burn some extra calories while having fun. That being said, I do recommend you build up yourself up off the course first to ensure you aren’t running out of gas on the back nine. You don’t want to be huffing and puffing on your way to a birdie putt. So while walking while playing might be good, being prepared for it is better, and that will ensure your best every round. Read on to what I suggest to my clients for their golf conditioning.

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Good- Walking

We all know walking is a good physical activity, and we all should walk 20-30 minutes everyday for general health and fitness. The most common complaint I hear revolves around time, my answer is, Do yourself a favor and make some time. Use half of your lunch break or skip the 2nd half of Sports Center to walk. That being said, I never suggest mindless cardio so try to disconnect from your cell phone or iPod while walking and focus on tall posture and belly breathing. Don’t worry the TV will be there when you get back.

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Better- Intervals

If you have been walking and need to step up the intensity, try some Interval training. Intervals are about taking your intensity up for a short period then dropping it down to catch your breath before doing it again.  I start all my healthy golfers with at a 3:1 (rest to work ratio) on the treadmill.  The protocol is walk at 3 mph for 1 min and 30 seconds, then run (or sprint if you can) at a speed suitable for you for 30 seconds.  You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel on the course after just a couple of interval sessions.

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Best- Circuit Training

I will stand on my soapbox here for a minute and say this, it’s wise to make sure you are ready to train and have a good routine based on your needs and fitness level, so seeing a qualified Golf Fitness Instructor is ideal here.  Now that that’s out of the way, circuit training is great to challenge your fitness and involves doing 3 or more exercises back to back with no rest until that set is complete.  For golf conditioning, I like to group a high intensity exercise (like Medicine Ball Throws), followed a strength exercise (like Push Ups) and follow that up with a balance activity (like Single Leg Balance in Golf Posture). Set a timer for 3 minutes and do your Medicine Ball Throws for minute 1, for minute 2 do your Push Ups, then finish your last minute with Golf Posture Balance on your left leg for 30 sec, then balance on your right for 30 sec.  For that example 1 set will last 3 min straight, move and do your drills for the entire time! No rests until that last minute is done. Take a minute off then repeat another set.

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Good, Better, Best is all about progress, we are all where we are in terms of our fitness. Once we understand it and embrace it we work on it.  It will benefit your overall health and improve your fitness and ability to score when it counts.

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FEET, BALANCE AND GOLF SWING

Who would have every thought to pay attention to feet when it comes to your golf game? Believe it or not your feet and how connected to the earth they are greatly relate to how you swing the club and how much force you generate when you swing the club. Paul Chek (a fitness guru) puts it best by saying, “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe”, or there is no way to generate force from an unstable surface.

I have been working with Marc Marini, PGA Instructor from Sea Cliff Golf Club in Huntington Beach, CA and as with all of my clients, the first place I start is with a movement assessment. A movement assessment tells me how well (or how poorly) someone is moving and from that assessment I can create programs to cater to those needs. Marc came in to work on improving his power and felt his in ability to keep his feet connected to the floor was restricting him, and caused him to lose power and balance in his swing. Among other things, we had to go over some basics such as:
1) Roll out the arches: this drill massages the bottom of the feet to take stress off of your arches and calves

Massaging the foot arches with a golf ball

Marc Marini demonstrates how to roll out or massage the foot arch with a golf ball for better mobility in his ankle during the golf swing

 

2) Mobilize the ankle joint: We used 2 simple drills to give the ankle more movement by stretching the calves and top of the foot

Stretch for the ankle joint

Marc Marini demonstrates how to stretch the front half of the ankle for better mobility during his golf swing.Stretching the calf/ankle jointMarc Marini demonstrates for to stretch the calf against a curb to improve his ankle mobility and foot stability during the golf swing

 

3) Reintegrate the calves with a swing drill: In this drill I hooked Marc up to a stretch cord to challenge his balance (the same way he loses it in his swing). This reintegrates how his feet should act in the golf swing and retrains his brain as well as his body in the golf swing.

Swing Drill with resistance

Marc Marini and I demonstrate a drill to reeducate his balance through the golf swing.

 

Drill to improve Pivot

Marc Marini demonstrates one of his favorite drills to improve balance, pivotand club face are all in line with the ball.

In this case Marc is a strong dude and to unlock power we needed to improve his foot balance and ankle movement so he could generate more power in his swing.

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IS YOGA BAD FOR THE BODY?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html

I came across this article in the New York Times recently titled “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” and thought it was interesting since I am frequently asked by golfer’s and those looking for more mobility/flexibility about yoga.

My typical answer is, without properly assessing your movement ability, strengths and weaknesses, I won’t have a good answer for you.   Anyone, whether in good physical health or poor, should understand that movement can be helpful or harmful.  And I am not talking just about form or technique, I am talking about being aware of certain movement patterns.  An example being, people with lower back pain typically think that yoga and stretching the lower back are good things to do to relieve pain.  In actuality stretching the lower back may destabilize it more and cause increased pain.

Dont’ get me wrong, I am not saying yoga is wrong, but I am saying that not being aware of what is right or what is not right for you is bad.  What really made me agree with the article from the NY Times was this paragraph

“Not just students but celebrated teachers too, Black said, injure themselves in droves because most have underlying physical weaknesses or problems that make serious injury all but inevitable. Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

I feel the same way about movement in general. Strength Classes, Pilates, Aerobics, etc can be great or can be detrimental.  The right movement for the right person can be great and a lifesaver, but the wrong movement for the right person can be terrible.  I said it before and I will say it again, Get an assessment to understand your movement needs whether your goal is to increase your general health and movement, or to increase golf or sport specific conditioning you can’t have a plan without assessing where you are.

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Commitment Trouble?

I was thinking about yesterday’s blog on New Year’s Resolutions and how to keep the ball rolling, when on my breakfast break, I came across this awesome talk on TED.com on “The Battle Between your Present Self and Future Self”

You can freeze your credit cards in the fridge to stop yourself from using them, or “tie yourself to a mast” to prevent yourself from doing something you shouldn’t, or you could develop your self control.  Daniel Goldstien, the featured speaker, says developing self control is like developing your physical strength…You have to work at it!  Watch the video and work it out.

It’s a great talk to continue yuor motivation and thought process for you new year’s goals!

New Year's Resolutions

The first of the year is busy time in the gym.  Everyone wants to drop a few lbs., get healthier and improve their athletic ability.  It’s a great motivation to see so many inspired people hitting it hard!  Here are a few tips to keeping that movitation going through the rest of the year:

1) Make a plan- The number 1 reason people come into train is accountability!  I ran into an old client at lunch today, and she said since she has stopped training, she gives herself the OK to finish a workout early, and skip the things she knows she needs.

Solution- If you can get an assessment, see where you stand and get a plan.  Having an organized schedule may help you stay on track, and do what you NEED to do in addition to the things you like to do.

2) Motivation- The first of the year is great becuase more than likely you busted your butt at work or school for the entire calendar year and you made (or allowed yourself) to make some poor decisions and party a little harder than you should have during the holidays.  That mean a few extra pounds, and a few days misses at the gym so Motivation is high.    The problem is we tend to lose that drive as work gears back up and stress hits us.

Solution- Set attainable goals.  Whether your goal is to make it to the gym 3 times this week for the month, or to cut sodas out entirely, set YOUR goal, and track it.  There are apps out there like “Lose It” that will help you write down food and exercise and continue to motivate you and track your progress.

3) Don’t lose sight of what you need- More often than not people want to fall back and go into “Cardio Mode” and live on a treadmill to get back into shape.  Don’t get me wrong, your need cardio but you also need to address your alignment (foam roll) , your core work, and your strength training.  Cardio is just one aspect of your training. 

ADL warm up / cool down from kenneth s nitta on Vimeo.

 

Solution- Finish your workouts with cardio, and set aside a day or two as a “regeneration day” to focus on your foam rolling and longer term, steady state cardio.  

4) Diet or Exercise?- Most often we become 1 track minded and want to focus all on diet or all on exercise, niether is right, and you need both! 

Solution-  You have a few great tips above for the exercise part, but we haven’t addressed food yet.  Check out Food Rules by Micheal Pollan for some great tips and mind changing eating strategies. 

5) Be Realistic-  I will cover a few things under this topic:

ADL food tips 1 from kenneth s nitta on Vimeo.

– Drink your water, and quantify how much you are getting in.  Look to get about 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces per day and add about an extra 10-20 oz for workouts.

– Get your sleep.  You need about 8-10 hrs per day  if you get less you are “draining your sleep savings account” which will limit your recovery and your gains. 

– Limit your stress.  Increased mental or emotional stress in addition to the phsyical stress you are putting your body through during workouts accumulate and will limit your gains.

- Long Term weight loss is really fat loss.  It takes work and dedication, so don’d kid yourself and set reasonable goals when it comes to fat loss.  I tell my clients that dropping fat is a behavioral approach, realize you will have to give somethings up (alcohol, sweets, salty, fatty).  How bad do you want it?

I hope you enjoyed the tips, and the videos are from me and my friends at the Athletic Development Lab.

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VIDEO ON POWER

Over the past year or so, I have partnered with my friends at the Athletic Development Lab (www.athleticdevelopmentlab.com) to discussed and educate on training athletes.  Recently we collaborated and came up with a video on Power Development and we filmed my buddy Kenny Nitta  discussed Power.

 

 

ADL power from kenneth s nitta on Vimeo.

Enjoy!

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WARMING UP AND COOLING DOWN

Here’s a quick video on how to properly warm up and  and cool-down I did with my friends at the Athletic Development Lab !

Having a proper warm-up based on your needs and physical evaluation is essential to having a focus and time effiecent workout.  Using foam rolling, neuromuscular activation, and dynamic stretching all prepare your brain anf body for the work ahead.  Check out the video for more info.

I will post more videos as our series grows.

Enjoy!

ADL warm up / cool down from kenneth s nitta on Vimeo.