July 20 Advanced fitness tests

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Eight advanced fitness tests

In the August issue of Today's Golfer Paul Casey's peronal trainer Darren Roberts shows you how to test your golf fitness ability - skills like balance, flexibility, strength and agility come under scrutiny. If you've already mastered the eight simple exercises then now's the time to push yourself one step further. Roberts has prepared eight advanced tests to boost your conditioning and performance.

TEST 1: Deep squat
Advanced test: Squat with arm stretch
To increase the difficulty of the squat hold a golf club and raise your arms straight above your head so that your hands are wide apart, then squat down. If you can't perform the squat with your arms raised then you have a shoulder weakness and won't be able to make a full shoulder rotation in your swing - key to generating torque and power.

TEST 2: The lunge
Advanced stretch: Lunge with extension.
Step forward into your basic lunge position. To increase the intensity of the stretch push your knee and body forward (without bending at the waist) until your knee is touching the club. Try to push the club away from your foot without your heel coming off the ground. You should be able to push the club at least three inches. If you can't you have tight muscles.

TEST 3: Shoulder flexibility
Advanced stretch: Squat with shoulder rotation.
To take the shoulder stretch one step further squat down low and then raise one arm up straight and reach as far away from the side of your body as possible. The arm should form a 45-degree angle with the body. Keeping the thumb pointing upright, gently rotate the arm around the joint to increase the stretch. Then repeat this exercise raising the opposite arm.

TEST 4: Disassociation test
Advanced exercise: Twist with a club
Learning to move your upper and lower body independently is easy for some golfers. If you're one of the lucky ones then this challenge can be made harder. Simply place a golf club across your chest and turn the upper body keeping the lower body still. Try to get the clubhead pointing forwards in your backswing to ensure you have reached a full 45-degree shoulder turn.

TEST 5: Touch your toes
Advanced exercise: Step up
If you find it easy to reach down and touch your toes then you can increase the intensity of this stretch by raising your toes up onto the edge of a step, then reaching down to touch them. If you still find that relatively easy then take this one step further by placing a cushion between your legs, squeeze them together, then bend forward and touch your toes.
TEST 6: Pelvic tilt
Advanced exercise: Sit in a chair
If you spend your weekdays sat in front of a computer screen in an office then your office chair is a great practice tool. Poor posture is common amongst office workers. Sitting has the effect of either weakening or tightening the various muscle groups that would normally maintain a neutral pelvis position. Stand in front of your chair, rest your arms across your chest, keep the pressure on your heels and sit down into the chair. The movement you make to sit down is the same movement you need to get into good golf posture. Practice it until it feels natural, but remember not to bend your back.
TEST 7: Core strength
Advanced exercise: Side ab bridge
Your core muscles (the group of muscles that run down the centre of your body) are the most important in the golf swing. All the energy in the swing has to be transfered through the core if you want to generate meaningful power. If you find the Ab Bridge easy, try holding it for longer. If you can hold it for two minutes then you are at an elite level. Take this test one step further by performing the bridge on your side. Lie on your left side and raise up onto your left forearm. Keep the body in a straight line. Hold the bridge for 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat on the right side.
TEST 8: Balance test
Advanced exercise: Eyes shut
The best golfers in the world have perfect balance. If you can stand on one leg easily then challenge your balance instincts even more by shutting your eyes and holding the balance. If you still find this easy do the same by lift your leg right up into the air. Time yourself holding this balanced position and see how long you can last. One minute or more and you're at an elite level. Make it even harder by balancing on an agility disc (inflatable rubber disc).