Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
I've been an avid golfer since I picked up the sport in the '90s. The game doesn’t require heavy cardio or weight lifting to perform well, so most people believe it’s just an old man's hobby. Yet, it’s a sport that tests your core, shoulders, and lower body in subtle ways—and you can get injured if you’re not careful.
If I had known about this exercise, the half-kneeling windmill, when I first picked up a club, I could have saved myself lots of back, shoulder and hip pain (of course, my faulty golf swing didn't help my case, either). This move will test your spinal and shoulder stability, while also strengthening your core and shoulders. I’ve found it’s the perfect exercise to complement any rotational or racquet sport like golf, tennis, or softball.
To get started, grab a dumbbell or kettlebell (kettlebells, with their teardrop weight distribution, will work better). Get into a half kneeling position, turning your front leg out to about a 45-degree angle and tighten your core. Hold the weight in the same hand as your front leg, and press the weight up above your head.
From here, your goal is to place your left elbow on the ground as you keep the weight elevated. To do so you must hinge at the waist by pushing your butt back toward your heel. As you off-hand lowers toward the ground, tilt and rotate to keep the weight in position, keeping your core braced. Keep your eyes locked on the dumbbell. Once your hand is on the floor, if you’re able, continue to lower your body until your elbow touches the floor. Hold for a moment, then return to the starting position.
The first time I did this exercise I was surprised at my inability to get my elbow down to the floor while keeping the weight elevated. With a very light weight or no dumbbell all I could do it by cheating and not keeping my arm straight up. Don't do that. The point is to keep the weight elevated so you can strengthen your shoulders—so instead, only put your hand on the floor. Once you're able to do so consistently under load, try to work up to the elbow position.
This move takes a great amount of mobility and flexibility in the spine and shoulders. Also your shoulder stabiliser muscles are in play, which can tire quickly during the exercise. Therefore, I suggest using no weight to start, then adding little by little as you progress with the exercise. Try 3 sets of 8 reps each on side to add this to your routine.
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