Upper Body Strength for Shoulder Health 

Appropriate upper body strength training can be the make or break when it comes to maintaining a golfer’s shoulder health.  How many times have you heard or seen someone in your group complain about shoulder pain?

Creating a well designed upper body training program can give golfers the right balance of strength in the muscles around their shoulder girdle.  This can then lead to playing more golf while avoiding those nagging shoulder pains.

How to Train the Upper Body 

To do this we need to first define two upper body movements involved in strength training for golf.  

  1. Upper Body Push – Exercises where you are moving the weight or resistance away from you.  Example, Bench Press
  1. Upper Body Pull – Exercises where you are moving the weight or resistance closer to you.  Example, Bench-over Row 

In an ideal golf performance training program you should look to double the amount of pulling exercises compared to the amount of pressing.  For example, if you do three sets of five (15 total reps) on a bench press.  You should be looking to do a minimum of a total of 30 reps of pulling exercises.

This is what is called a push to pull ratio, the ratio of any pushing exercises you do against any pulling exercises in any given workout.  In this case, we’re looking for the push:pull to be 1:2.

Push to Pull Ratios for Better Posture 

As the human species evolve we become more upright.  Given evolution takes thousands of years to run its course,means that we all have the natural tendency to slouch forward from time to time.  Take for example someone who works that 9-5 desk job.  There’s a good chance their posture is very subpar.

A slouching posture promotes the muscle located in the front of your body (muscles involved in push movements) to be predominantly stronger than those in the back of your body (muscle involved in pulling movements).  So, to defend against the slouch and create a balanced posture we look to pull twice as much as we push.

Movements for Shoulder Health  

In the golf swing, shoulder external rotation is imperative.  However, combine external rotation with weak posterior shoulder muscles and you have the potentiall for a severe shoulder injury.  Typically golfers will inherit tendonitis, a rotator cuff strain, or an impingement from a lack of posterior shoulder strength.

All too often everyone is very focused on what they can see in the mirror (the front side).  This creates a lack of emphasis and neglect for the muscles that hold the back side of the shoulder together (trapezius, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi)  and puts the shoulder at very high risk for injury.