In every compound movement there is a pushing and pulling motion. In the golf swing the right arm is pushing through impact while the left side is pulling. In the gym, it’s even easier to see this relationship, your quads are pushing weight up during a squat, but hamstrings pulling the weight during a deadlift.
In 2017, I competed in the Rockwell Blast in Salt Lake City, UT and the Long Drive competition really demonstrated to me that my pulling muscles are weak compared to my pushing muscles. After the competition, my hamstrings were very sore and tired, but my quadriceps felt fine. This suggested to me that my hammies were weak in comparison to my quads. Not only was I losing efficiency in my golf swing, but I was also putting undue stress on my lower back because my posterior chain was breaking down. In order to fix this problem before the World Long Drive Championships, I worked on improving my hamstrings. To this day, hamstring strength is something I have to focus on in the gym every week. It is a muscle that is unfortunately glazed over in many training programs, but I have to continue to work on them in every workout to keep the symmetry between my quads and hamstrings.
According to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (ncbi.com), the quadriceps to hamstring ratio should be at least 3:2. Many other professionals, like Kim Nunley with Livestrong (Livestrong.com) suggest that it should be closer to 75%. Most athletes work to have strong quadriceps in order to help reduce knee pain and injury. That being the case, the best way to reach the optimum ratio, especially for female athletes, is to strengthen the hamstrings.
One of the best ways to strengthen hamstrings is doing hamstring curls. There are many ways to do ham curls, such as with a TRX, on a machine, or even using bands. But after working with Joey Scorza at Dynamic Spine & Sport my new favorite tool for ham curls is a swiss ball.
To perform Swiss ball ham curls, lay on your back with your feet on top of the ball, keep your abs tight and your glutes tucked. Then use your hamstrings to curl the ball toward your bottom. Your goal starting out is to try three sets of ten. To regress this movement, try to just hold yourself steady for thirty seconds in the starting position. And to progress this movement, remove the support of your arms from the ground, or even go to single leg curls to make it even harder. If you’re able to work up to full sets of single leg curls, then your quadriceps to hamstring ratio should be approaching the optimum numbers which will help make your body and your golf swing more efficient. As always, an efficient golf swing means more control on the tee and more distance off the box.
Have fun, and let me know how these work out for you!