Everyone knows how important it is to disassociate upper and lower body movement in the full golf swing. But torso stability is also key during chipping and putting.
Lower body stability is often delegated to the legs, but being able to hold and control the movement of the pelvis and lower torso is vital to controlling the distance on your short chips. Even more so for half wedge distance control where extra hip movement can easily add 5 to 10 yards to your shots.
But back to my point on upper body diagonal motion, besides your golf swing, in what other aspects of your life do you reach your hands up over your shoulder in a diagonal motion?
Unless you burn wood for heat and still use an ax to chop wood, there probably aren’t many activities where you use this motion.
Since you don’t regularly use diagonal motion, chances are the proper diagonal movement pattern will need to be reinforced and strengthen.
The supine chop is an exercise that will help your upper body diagonal proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and strength.
The first of a progression, the supine chop is the easiest to eliminate any lower body movement and help establish lower torso stability and allowing the upper body to do all the work in moving the resistance over your shoulder and across your body to your hip.
Below are step by step instructions and a video showing you how to do the supine chop.
How To Do The Supine Chop
The only equipment needed to do the supine chop is a resistance band or a cable machine.
My recommendation for resistance bands is Bodylastic Bands. They’re inexpensive, durable, come with all the attachments you need to do 100’s of exercises and will last a very long time if you store them out of the sun.
Take a Bodylastic resistance band and attach it to a very low anchor point.
Attach a D-handle or short straight stick to the other end of the band as the handle makes it easier to grip and rotate your wrist around during the chop.
Lay down on the floor at a steep angle to the loose end of the band. This should place the band over one of your shoulders. You need to position your body far enough away from the band so that when you reach over your shoulder and grab the band with your arms extended that the band is under tension.
The start position is with your arms and hands reaching over one of your shoulders, holding the band with some tension. If you continued a line along the band, it would bisect your shoulder, chest and run just above the opposite hip bone.
The Key to the Exercise
Once your body is in position, all of your backsides should be touching the floor. Your head, shoulder blades, lower back, butt, and the backside of your legs should be in contact with the floor.
You may have problems keeping your lower back on the floor, but you’ll want to remove as much arch as you can by tilting your pelvis posteriorly. Posterior tilt is tucking your tailbone underneath yourself. Rotating the top portion of the pelvis toward the floor and the lower part will feel like it’s lifting.
This motion will lower your lumbar spine toward the floor.
The key to this exercise is to keep your lower body and torso stable. It shouldn’t move. Pretend it’s glued to the floor.
The only moving parts in the first part of this exercise are the arms and shoulder joints.
Doing the Exercise
Now you’re ready to begin the exercise.
While keeping the body still, including the head, pull the resistance band to your chest, keeping your hands low. You’ll have to lift them somewhat, but don’t raise them in an arc.
Once the band is at the chest, chop your hands down to the opposite hip. So, if the band is coming over your right shoulder, you push your arms down to the left hip.
It’s a staggered motion. Your hands are holding the band over your shoulder; the next move is to pull them to chest level, pause, then push the hip. At the hip, pause again, holding the position for a few seconds before returning the hands to the chest, pause, then over the shoulder.
The motions from shoulder to the chest and chest to the hip are quick, but there’s a pause at each point.
Your lower body and torso remain stable and glued to the floor. Your eyes are always staring at the ceiling.
Hands and arms stay low during the movements.
The movements are quick, but there’s a slight pause when fully extended, at chest level and again down by the hip. You’ll need the pause to readjust your grip and wrist positions.
After doing 10 repetitions or so, you can add a little complexity if you want.
The keys are to keep the lower body and lower torso still glued to the floor, but you can now move your eyes to follow your hands. What this will do is lift your shoulder up off the floor as your hands travel to your hip. In a way, it’s an oblique crunch.
Don’t forget the other side. Rotate your body so the attachment point is over the other shoulder and repeat the steps.
You’ll see this in the video below.
How Much Resistance?
Once you have the motions of the exercise down, it’s time to make this a strength exercise.
Use as much resistance as you can handle and keep your lower body and torso stable.
The problem you’ll run into with resistance bands is the stronger bands also don’t stretch as far. For some people, this won’t be a problem, but for taller people, it will be.
You have two options.
Instead of using a stronger band, add resistance bands with lighter resistance. They will stretch as far as the medium band but still add increased resistance.
Even though the 12-piece Bodylastic band set is a good starter set, it might be more advantageous to purchase a Bodylastic set with more bands so you have more resistance levels to choose from by adding multiple bands and yet still be able to stretch out the bands.
The second option is to use a cable machine.
Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but I like to know exactly how much weight I’m moving. Whether this is my analytical side or the fact that it’s easier to see improvements with known weights instead of perceived resistance I’m not sure, but I love me a cable machine.
The short answer is to chop as much weight as you can while keeping the lower body still. Once you’ve mastered a resistance or weight, add more.
Improve Your Golf Game
The supine chop will help you increase your lower body stability and give you more control of pelvic positions. The extra stability will also help protect the lower back from injury during the golf swing.
A stable lower body will make it easier for your upper body to rotate during the backswing, providing more distance and better control of your golf club at impact.
The strength aspect of the exercise will help protect your rotator cuffs and add power to your golf swing.
For a simple exercise, the supine chop is very beneficial to your golf game.
The Supine Chop is Part of a Progression
The supine chop is the first of a progression of chop exercises to help lower body stability and upper body strength. In fact, there are over 30 variations of chop exercises that each add a bit of complexity to the exercise.
Specifically, the Tall Kneeling Chop and the Half-kneeling Chop have variations that build on the supine chop. Each of these exercises can be done without or with rotation, some have pattern assistance, which helps activate the muscles that hold the lower body stable.
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