Most golfers struggle with generating enough power in their golf swing with just about every club. Strength training exercises have been debated for quite some time but what is agreed upon is this:
Golf is a full-body engaged event whether we realize it or not and without the best golf exercises, your golf game will be lacking.
We’ve all been in a golf situation where we have to reach for the rescue club to get out of a terrible lie, right?
That hardship is about to end as we take you through a specific selection of 8 body strength exercises to crush golf games, every weekend.
At the end of the day - it's all about gaining an edge to improve your swing
Searching For the Best Golf Exercise For Total Body Power? We Break Down the Best Workouts For All Level Of Golfer To Strengthen Their Entire Body.
The fitness strength training exercises that result in total body power (if performed correctly) occur in two flavors with an emphasis on swing mechanics:
First, we will target core muscles such as the obliques and abs as well as the stabilizing muscles around your joints. Second, you perform exercises with weights and reps that provide explosive power.
It's the combination of strength and power while stabilizing intrinsic muscles that produces a dynamite golf swing that no number of push up or glute bridge workouts alone will fix.
Why explosive power golf workouts to improve your golf game?
Imagine if you will for us real quick a specific swing like, hitting your favorite golf club aka the driver on a par 5. Is the motion from backswing through impact and followthrough a passive or explosive motion – like a wound spring coil?
If you answered ‘like a spring’ then you would be correct and that right there is explosive movement.
Not so fast though, there is so much more than simply doing an ab workout, lifting some weights, and calling it a day, however!
Golf exercises key exercise game plan
From experience, the best exercises to improve your golf game need to targeting total body power at the very least like this:
- A proper sequence of reps i.e. high reps with low weights
- Engaging the right muscle groups - upper body exercises AND lower body
- Structured Working Time
- Rest periods built into the golf workouts
Best Golf Workout with Exercises to Improve Every Golf Swing Speed
It’s important to understand what muscle groups are used in a typical golfers swing first.
True power exercises target major muscle group regions with an emphasis on generating power without sacrificing flexibility (or mobility). Golf swings that are unbalanced lead to overuse injuries and muscle imbalances that throw swing mechanics off the rails.
The last thing you want to do is bulk up too far where your range of motion through the golf swing is cut off.
The key to a power golf workout incorporates hip flexors, hip rotation, strength and power in not only the lower body but absolutely crush upper body muscle groups as well.
The muscles used in a golf swing are as follows:
- Abdominal Muscles (rectus abdominis, external obliques)
- Triceps and Forearm Muscles – including hand muscles!
- Upper Shoulders (shoulder blade) and Back Region
- Large Leg Muscles – quads, calves, hip flexors
Golf exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles
We’re going to start with strengthening your abdominal muscles first. The level of difficulty depends on the individual golfer’s experience. Please, do not overexert yourself if this is your first time performing these workouts or if you are not a routine gym or exercise participant.
It’s important to move at a pace that is comfortable for you and gently work your way up the intensity ladder as the days and weeks progress.
Pro Tip – do not workout the day of or before a round of golf! Your muscles need to spend time recovering in order to grow.
Two Killer abdominal workouts for golfers:
Do not let these exercises fool you! We are going to be engaging parts of our abdominal regions that are very specific to the golf swing in all phases.
Knee Cap Sliders
For the Knee Cap Sliders, begin by laying on your back in a typical sit-up position with your knees comfortably bent and feet held down by a partner or tucked under some heavier objects (under the couch works if you’re at home).
Place each hand comfortably on your thighs, palms facing down.
To begin the motion, tighten your stomach muscles as you roll your shoulders up and forward towards your hips while sliding your hands toward your knee caps.
As you reach your knee caps (it’s OK if you cannot make it up all the way yet), pause for a count of two seconds and gently slide back down to a resting position.
Repeat this movement in a controlled manner without using your head or neck to gain momentum off of the ground. Remember, the motion begins by tightening your stomach first.
A typical sets/reps combination for this exercise can be 3 sets of 15-25 reach reps with a resting period of 30 seconds in between sets.
Reverse Crunches + Heel Touches
After completing the first exercise, give yourself about a minute’s rest before moving on to this sneaky but effective core workout combination.
The reverse crunches are performed as follows:
Begin in the same starting position as the first exercise except this time, you will want to anchor or weigh down your upper body with your hands holding onto weights behind you or under a couch base.
Allow for your heels to slide out an inch or two past the resting position. Now, just like the first exercise, you will begin this motion by tightening your lower abdominal muscles.
As the lower core muscles engage, steadily lift both knees towards your head until the heels are a few inches from the ground. Then, slowly lower both heels down towards the starting position but without allowing them to touch the ground!
Key Core work + Strength equals a different golf game
The golfer will repeat this motion in 2 sets of 12-20 reps with a 30 second resting period between sets. Once you complete the second set of reps, immediately move on to the second phase, called Heel Touches.
To perform reps of heel touches, you should be laying on the ground after the second set of Reverse Crunches with your heels on the ground firmly.
Next, rest your arms at your sides and take the left hand and reach for the left heel down the leg without allowing your upper shoulders/neck to lift more than a fist-width from the ground.
Repeat the same reaching motion on the right leg side.
Pro Tip as you switch sides:
This is not an exercise that is supposed to trigger hip rotation rather, you're relying on the strength of your external obliques (muscular group on the side of your abdomen) to stabilize you.
Perform the Heel Touches motion in 3 sets of 15 with a 20 second resting period between sets.
You earned yourself a gentle stretching session and if you’re feeling like Bryson Dechambeau at this point, the next session will target triceps and forearm groups.
One of the many benefits of isolating our core in order to deliver strength and rotation into our golf swing is that you'll notice improvements in fitness if you keep it up!
Be consistent with this strength regimen but in order to prevent exercise fatigue, plateau, or injury - only target your sides about 3 days/wk at most with a day of rest in between!
Alright, time to switch sides for this next exercise bundle.
2 Power Moves For Explosive Triceps & Forearm Power in Golfers
In golf, as the golfer engages their core to initiate a smooth backswing, they also fire off their triceps at the same time as well as use the forearms to ‘load’ the tension following into the downswing.
The downswing at the same time, uses the same muscle groups on the leading arm to pull us forward into impact off of the tee.
Isn’t golf beautiful? (As if we really needed more swing thoughts!). You're going to be glad you did this golf workout and in the famous words of Tony Horton (P90X guy) - "Ab ripper X ....I hate it....but I love it."
At Our Golf Clubs, we feel that the best golf exercises where the focus is on our upper body cannot be overlooked. A truly balanced golf workout will rotate from a dumbbell bench press to a split squat, and back to scapular stabilizers, and finish with an emphasis on core.
Here are two power house exercises that will change your game for the better:
Tricep Cable Extension Pulldowns
For this exercise you’ll need to replace any handles or bars on the cable rig with a thick rope where both hands can occupy an end. The reason for using a rope instead of a bar is because you’ll actually engage your forearms much more versus using a straight or even curved bar cheats you out of the full benefits of an extension!
Selecting the right weight to exercise with
Pick a weight amount that does not lift off of the rack when you relax your arms holding on to the rope. Make sure that the rope starting position is at a 45 degree angle to your sternum.
To begin the exercise, tighten your hands around the rope. As your hands tighten, engage the back of your hands (pinky side) and push them towards your feet while keeping your elbows firmly tucked against your body. The move finishes when both hands are pointing at the feet, both arms fully extended.
Repeat this motion for 3 sets of 20-30 reps, with a 25-30 second rest in between sets. Once the three sets are completed, give yourself a 45 second rest before we move on to the next exercise – eccentric pushups!
For the eccentric pushup, begin in a pushup position with the arms already extended. To perform this form of pushup, start to lower yourself towards the floor slowly – to the count of 4 seconds. Once you reach the bottom of the pushup (without resting your body on the ground), quickly or “explode” back to the starting position to a count of 2 seconds.
Why go slow at all - I thought we were strength training here?
Well, emphasizing the lowering – eccentric – section of the movement leads to bigger increases in not only muscle size but true strength according to research studies.
Perform the eccentric style pushup 3 sets of 15 reps with 25-30 seconds rest in between sets.
Congratulations, you are official building explosive total body power with the arms and not risking shoulder injury or forced to do pull ups!
Upper Back & Shoulder Exercises For Golfers
The upper back and shoulder region for golfers is especially crucial in generating swing speed as the arms are anchored in a way, to the shoulder blade or girdle and back muscle.
The best strength exercises for any golfer to generate power from their back/shoulder region involve two very simple albeit – deceptively exhausting movements with weights.
Let’s start with tackling the shoulders with an exercise and switch to the upper back immediately following the last rep.
Standing Shoulder Press
There is no secret to this one. The standard standing (or sitting if you have lower back issues) shoulder press with dumbbells is a powerhouse move.
Begin by selecting a weight that is lighter than an amount you can curl with your bicep without ‘hoisting’ your whole body into it. The reasoning here is that in order to get the dumbbells up into the starting position for this exercise, you will need to perform a modified curl.
Heavy weight lifting Pro Tip:
For those who are using heavier weights in a seated position, you can ‘kick’ the weights up with your knees.
Ready, Set, Shoulder Press
Begin by resting the dumbbells on your shoulders with the palms facing inward/towards each other. Next, without any momentum from the lower body (keeping the heels on the ground!), press both weights above the head – but not over your head – for safety reasons.
You will press the weights upward to a count of 2 seconds and lower them back down to the starting position on the same count.
Complete 3 sets of 15 reps with a goal of completing each set unbroken without rest. Take a breather for 25 seconds in between sets before continuing right into the next exercise – a Tabata of Planks!
Tabata of Planks: How to do it
At this stage, not only are our triceps really feeling it but our shoulders just enjoyed unbroken weight lifting for at least 2 minutes in a row. This is the perfect moment to engage our complete body, including the shoulders in a Tabata format.
What is Tabata?
Tabata is a four-minute workout consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work at maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Only this time, our maximum effort will be in the form of a plank position.
How to keep time with Tabata
You might be wondering if a workout or training partner is needed for Tabata to work and the answer is - nope! The best way to gain the most strength from these 8 rounds of 20 seconds is to go all in - meaning push ups or pull ups as hard as you can for all 8 rounds. In order to do that, we find these playlists not only play upbeat songs per round, but a voiceover counts down for you!
If you are more advanced, you may consider placing a heavier weight on your upper shoulder region but be careful of hurting your neck!
Make sure at this point that you are actively consuming water to remain hydrated and remaining mindful of how your body is feeling – it’s OK to feel uncomfortable during the workouts but not to a point of injury!
As you take a breather, it’s time to move on to the final workout split in this 8 part series of the best exercises for golf!
Say hello to your legs!
A golfer’s true power is their legs?
It’s true that a golfer’s power in large part comes from their legs therefore, we finish our exercise journey together with two intense leg workout splits.
Leg Pro Tip:
Make sure you have adequately warmed up your lower body for these two workouts, the leg muscle groups are LARGE muscle groups.
The Russian Kettlebell Swing
The Russian Kettlebell Swing begins with either the kettlebell below the groin or above the hips, it’s really a dealer’s choice. The important takeaway from this specific workout is to maintain an engaged gluteus region as well as a tight core to protect the lower back while simultaneously firing your leg fibers.
Depending on the golfer’s level of comfort and experience with free-weights, the count should range from 2-5 sets of 30-45 Russian Kettlebell Swing reps with 20-30 seconds of rest in between sets. Once the last swing is completed, take a 2 minute break to round the corner of this total body workout!
What better way to generate total body power through the use of your legs than to explode off of the ground and defy gravity for a few minutes, right?
For these box jumps, if you already completed the first 7 exercises then your count will be in the form of AMRAP or – as many reps as possible in a 2 minute window. Specifically, set a timer on your phone or watch for 2 minutes and jump onto an elevated platform or box hovering at 18-24 inches.
If this is an isolated strength leg workout for you then complete a full Tabata (four-minute workout consisting of 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work at maximum effort) of box jumps at 18-24 inch box jumps.
Return to the starting point
Now that you have had a chance to go through and not only survive but thrive from these eight power loading rounds, it's time to return to the starting reason we are here:
The best type of exercise or physical activity that a golfer can sign up for does two things:
i. Allow for the development of explosive strength from a total body approach
ii. Maintain mobility or rotation and flexibility in the back, knees, sides - all with one goal:
"Hit Bombs" - Phil Mickelson
Bonus Workouts To Consider
In a perfect world, we would avoid suffering the aches and pains in our knees or back or side or even leg (whole body aches, why not ) after a long day out golfing. Because of this reality a lot of us share, it's important to know that you can rest parts of your body, while still continuing with power training.
Golfers should NOT overlook this workout substitute
If your knees ache then the following options may be for you:
Swimming - If you ever watched "The Rocky" movies then you might remember that Rocky trained in a pool quite a few times not only to gain speed and agility but to develop raw power. The same idea can be applied to golf body training.
Even running laps or performing body squats in the shallow end of the pool may take off enough pressure from your knees for you to still develop explosive power in your lower body.