Justin James - World Long Drive ChampionJustin James - World Long Drive Champion

Kettle Bells

November 13, 2017 | by Justin James


If your not swinging kettle bells as part of your golf fitness routine, you are missing out, big time.The fitness world is filled with overcomplicated, bloated routines, useless machines and unnecessary exercises. The kettle bell is a simple and effective as it gets. It will get you faster, stronger and more powerful in half the amount of time you currently spend in the gym. If you don't currently have an exercise program, I guarantee you will hit the ball further and more consistently after implementing a KettleBell program.

THE WHY:

As golfers, we are never stationary. We are never performing movements through one range of motion. We are never using one muscle or muscle group to make a golf swing. So why would we train that way? When we swing a golf club, we move through multiple planes of movement using multiple muscle groups at one time through a kinetic chain from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.

When we train, we should simulate these full body movements. This, in essence is "functional" fitness. Doing an isolation bicep curl is not functional. Performing squatting, deadlifting, and pressing patterns along with KettleBell swings are. These are movements we perform in everyday life when we pick up a box, swing a golf club, or get off the toilet.

Much like a golf swing, kettle bell movements combine multiple movements and muscle groups into one exercise. Furthermore, there is a simulation of power and dynamic athleticism in these swinging movements that are not found in any other exercises. While the squat and deadline are certainly king and queen of all exercises, the kettle bell swinging movements are the most athletically dynamic and functional movements you can perform in the gym. They will increase your speed, strength and power faster than anything else.

The reason is that the swing simulates athletic motion. You will become a better and more coordinated athlete by becoming a better and more efficient KettleBell "swinger." In a KB swing, there is a rapid maximal contraction that is required to move the bell, followed by a quick relaxation that is required to let the bell swing. On the way down, the athlete most counter load their body against the rapid descent of the bell, absorbing the weight while loading a massive amount of force into the ground. Ground force production should be one of the premier focuses of a golf fitness program, and no other tool teaches ground force and proper loading like kettle bell training. This synchronization of contraction and relaxation, and rhythm and coordination are what we see in a movement like the golf swing.

THE HOW:

The Goblet Squat is the first place we should begin. This movement will open up the hips, increase our range of motion, and increase the strength of our posterior chain and core. Set up with your feet around shoulder width, toes pointed out 30 degrees, and the kettle bell high and tight against your chest. As you squat, crack your knees and drop your backside as if you were sitting down. Your knees should track outward along the 30 degree line of your toes. At the bottom of the movement, your back should be "flat" with your chest up and knees fully separated. If mobility is an issue, gradually work into the full squat position over time, using corrective exercises such as the "reverse toe touch," "lunging stretch" and "counterweight" squat to assist you.

The Swing is the foundation of all kettle bell movement. This movement is "sort of" a combination of a hip hinge and squatting pattern. It is incredible for your lower back, glutes, adductors, hamstrings, and every other muscle that is used in athletic movement. Mastering the swing will instantly make you a better athlete. When done properly, the swing should feel like a short, tight burst of your hips followed by a loose and fast swinging of the bell. Breathing should be tight and forced, and focus should be in keeping feet grounded and using energy from the ground.

Once the swing is mastered, move into the single arm swing. This adds an element of athleticism and anti rotational training. This forces us to use our hips as our power source even more, as we are only holding on with one arm. At no point should we feel like we are lifting the bell. Our arms should be loose, with all force applied by the hips.

The snatch is the next progression of the swing, as the bell is pulled overhead and "locked" at the top. The bell is then "thrown" down between the legs, generating a massive amount of force into the ground. This movement is extremely athletic, teaching timing, proper force application and coordination. It works the entire posterior chain, challenging the same muscles we use in the swing, but also forcing the scapula to move and stabilize as we catch the bell overhead.

Finally, the clean and press combines pulling and pushing movements into one efficient motion. This movement will massively increase strength when performed properly. The bell is swung in the same manner as the snatch, but only being pulled and caught at the chest. When done properly, the thumb should be able to be pointed into the chest. From here, the bell is pressed overhead, with the elbow staying in your "centerline" while keeping an extremely tight core.

Reps and sets are simple. Listen to your body. 20 swings, 5-10 snatches and a few clean and presses is a great place to start. 2-3 sets. Don't overcomplicate. Always leave a few reps in the tank, and stay fresh. Don't swing a heavy bell fatigued, you'll be asking for an injury. The point is not to grind yourself into the ground, but to teach your body to be quicker, faster and more athletic. Think "practice" instead of "workout."

Men, start with a 35-45 pound kettle bell. The bell should be heavy enough that you cannot simply lift it with your arms, but light enough that it doesn't pull you over. You need a bell heavy enough to force you to use your hips, not arms. Women, try a 25lb bell. Your inclination is going to be using a bell that is too light. Trust me, you are stronger than you think. Again, if you can lift the bell using only your arms, it is too light. You need something heavy enough to force you to engage your lower body.

THE RESULTS:

These are the foundations of Kettlbell training. We haven't begun to cover the endless amount of other exercises we can perform with KettleBells, including stretching and mobility techniques, Olympic Lifting style exercises, hypertrophy and endurance training. However these exercises alone will serve you better than any exercise routine you are currently doing. Instead of paying $99 dollars a month for a gym membership, buy a few KettleBells, and get twice the benefit with half the effort. You will be faster, stronger and more athletic. As a result, you will swing the club faster and hit the ball further with less effort. As you become stronger, you will be a more balanced and stable athlete. When it comes to golf fitness, what more can you ask for?