“Power is nothing without control” is a great statement I always try to keep in mind for fitness training, golf or any other sport for that matter. Doing things the other way round and going for power without control is going to lead to disaster.
In sports it will cause you headaches because you are probably putting a lot of effort into it and getting poor or inconsistent results. In fitness training you ARE going to cause yourself injury. At some point down the line be it a week or a decade, too much power and not enough control to handle it = bad times!
Lots of metaphors pop to mind when trying to get this point across, like: a powerful engine in a car with a weak chassis, or an airplane with no tail fins. If you can picture them they are both going to end badly. In terms of the body, a powerful muscle acting through a poorly controlled or stabilized joint will do two things:
1- Lose a lot of the power it exerts through moving or twisting the joint it is acting on.
2- Damage the joint in doing this.
Imagine two people doing a vertical jump side by side, number one standing on a hard floor and number two standing on a soft mattress. Who jumps higher? Number one, because they can transfer all the power they produce to push themselves up. Who gets grounded by their mom for breaking the mattress? Number two. The mattress in this example is an unstable/uncontrolled joint; the hard floor is a stable/controlled joint.
So what can you do to build strong, controlled and stable joints? You guessed it, stability exercises! Exercises you probably already know, like:
Plank – Great for working the muscles that support the spine, the most complex and injury prone joint in the body. Also good for working subscapularis, the muscle that holds the shoulder blade in place. Golfers, pay attention – this applies to YOU!
Push up – One of the oldest exercises around and still one of the best. The push has all the benefits of the plank plus the benefit of moving the upper arm through a range of movement requiring more shoulder stabilizer muscles to do their job.
Lunges – Again a golden oldie (seeing a pattern here?). Works the three main leg muscle groups – quads, glutes and hamstrings. In a nutshell the quads and glutes do the pushing and lowering whilst the hamstrings regulate the knee, making sure it stays in a safe position.
Squats – Reaps the same benefits as the lunge as it works all three of the main leg muscle groups. WARNING! The leg press machine is not the same as a squat! Although practically the same movement, without the instability of being stood up the hamstrings do very little, resulting in powerful but not controlled leg action.
On that point, as a general rule avoid machines if control and stability is what you need, as they virtually eliminate these factors.
OK, the exercise I mentioned above probably won’t be new to you, but hopefully you can now see they have some extra hidden benefits you may not have known before.