Back in the Gym
Looking back at my past 200+ posts (yeah, there are over 200 posts to look through here!), I realized that it’s been longer than it should have been since I posted about physical training for disc golf. Considering how much time I spend working out, rehabbing, obsessing over my diet, and otherwise being a health and fitness dork, I should be posting about those things more often. Especially since all of them directly contribute to playing better disc golf!
The squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press have been part of my gym routine for years. They are much more effective than doing a ton of smaller isolation exercises. They help build whole body strength and endurance. They allow me to grunt and sweat and otherwise feel manly a few times a week. They also beat the crap out of my body. Especially my back, shoulders, and knees.
For this reason I started doing kettle bell workouts at home every day. I wrote about that here. I can’t recommend them enough. I enjoy getting up in the morning and yelling at my monkeys while I work out! But even with how happy I am with the kettle bell stuff, I felt it was important to get in the gym and back to those 4 core compound movements.
There is just no substitute for lifting heavy weight. It’s good for you in so many different ways. It’s also really good for your disc golf game, just ask Avery Jenkins. Figuring out how to do that without risking injury is the challenge.
The squat was the first exercise I looked to replace. The squat can put undue stress on your upper back where the bar rests. It can put stress on your lower back as you perform the movement. It compresses your entire spine even with the best of form and technique.
Luckily, there are a ton of variations that don’t involve loading a boat load of weight on your shoulders. It also turns out that there is a variation that’s one of the best disc golf related exercises I’ve found! Funny how that happens in life. You go off looking for one thing and find something completely unexpected instead!
A Great Disc Golf Exercise
The best way to get the benefits of a heavy squat without the heavy part is to do single leg variations. By supporting the weight with just one leg, you drastically reduce the need for a lot of weight. In fact, try to do a single leg squat with just your body weight! A lot of people can’t even do that.
When you do add weight, you do it with dumbbells or kettle bells held in your hands. No big heavy bar resting on top of your spinal column.
Regular squats are great for your legs, core, and stability. All good things for disc golf. Single leg squats add a huge bonus… Balance. All of a sudden, you are recruiting every muscle in your body from your core down just trying not to fall over. These things are tough! In just a couple of short weeks, I’ve noticed a significant increase in my balance and stability. My ankles are getting stronger along with my core. I’ve also seen a bigger improvement in leg strength than I ever did with the standard squat.
Being sure footed with a solid base and core are crucial when it comes to control and power in disc golf. Throwing a disc is a compound movement that starts at your feet and proceeds upwards from there. It only makes sense that strengthening your lower body and increasing your balance at the same time would be beneficial. Once you do a couple single leg squats, you’ll feel exactly what I mean!
Here’s a quick run through of the variation I like the best, the single leg split squat…
- Position yourself roughly 2 feet in front of a bench, or a couch, or a chair.
- Take one foot and kick it back until the toe is resting on the bench behind you. This is for balance, not support. You are now standing on one leg.
- Squat down on that one leg until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Do this in a relatively slow and controlled manner.
- Make sure you are keeping your back straight and your core tight.
- Stand up.
- Don’t fall over.
Once you get the hang of it with your body weight, you can now add the weight of kettle bells or dumbbells. You’ll be surprised at how challenging these are with little to no extra weight. You’ll also be nicely surprised at how they don’t put your back at any risk at all (assuming you maintain a good posture throughout the movement).
When you’ve done these for a few times over the course of several weeks, you’ll be amazed at how much stability you’ve added to your stance. Run ups and stand still throws will be directly impacted. Give these single leg split squats a try. If you spend time in the gym, I think you’ll dig them!
Do you spend time in the gym? Do you do disc golf specific exercises? What are they? Let us know in the comments and we just might write an article about them!
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