The days of golfers like Gary Player and Arnold Palmer smoking cigarettes during a professional tournament are over. Now, the sport is all about the right golf exercises, training, eating the proper nutrition, and taking care of your body.
Golf is no doubt a mental game – but it’s also very physical too. It’s not a full-contact sport like football but swinging at high speeds can wreak havoc on your body. Just ask any golfer who has had to deal with a back injury – it’s no fun.
To help you avoid injuries, play better, and hopefully play golf a lot longer, let’s review some great golf exercise routines. These exercises focus on different core areas and can be done in the comfort of your own home, outside, or at the gym.
Something important to mention, is too many people harp on exercises they think are specific to golf. However, there’s no need to do specific golf exercises. Instead, we’ll focus on major muscle groups and core areas that you’ll find in many gym routines. Don’t worry though, these are still the most important golf exercises for golfers on the green!
Golf Exercises in the Gym
When it comes to effective golf exercises, it’s important to focus on major muscles (arms, legs, etc.) and building a proper foundation.
Here are some of the best golf exercises to improve your overall fitness levels and help your golf swing in the long run.
Compound movements target more than one area, which can strengthen secondary muscles and burn more calories.
A strong core is the foundation of a consistent golf swing and can help you avoid injuries.
Back pain is one of the most common injuries in golf, and a strong core can help stay ahead of these injuries. Developing a strong core is more than just doing endless crunches though – it’s about targeting all areas of your abdominal muscles with various exercises.
Next time you take a swing with your club, try to focus on all areas of your core you feel working. Exercising and training these muscle groups is important when talking about golf exercises for this reason.
Some of the best exercises to strengthen core muscles and improve rotation in your swing include:
- Russian twist
- Leg flutter kicks
- Planks and side planks
- Cable wood chops (change the cables higher or lower to target different parts of your core).
What’s great about these exercises is that they don’t require much equipment (if any). So you can always add these to your at-home routine if you aren’t hitting the gym.
Lower Body Exercises
Your leg strength can have a huge impact on distance and overall power in the golf swing. Power comes from the ground up – just watch guys like Justin Thomas or Rory McIlroy use their legs to generate insane swing speed.
Needless to say, don’t skip leg day guys!
Building a strong base not only adds more power to your golf swing but can improve posture and stability. Here are some of our favorite lower body exercises.
If you had to choose just one lower body exercise for your overall health, it would probably be squatting. As Healthline said, “Adding squats to your workouts can help boost your exercise performance, decrease your risk of injury, and keep you moving more easily throughout the day.”
Other benefits of squats include improved core strength, increased calorie burning, boosts athletic ability, and can be done anywhere. Not to mention there are so many variations of this exercise, you can try something new and see what works for you. Common variations include back squats, forward squats, goblet squats, sumo squats, and more.
If you aren’t working out now, start with body weight squats so you get the proper form. Once you master your form progress to dumbbells and eventually barbell variations for a greater challenge. You can also keep your knees bent and hold this position as well.
Another important lower body exercise for golfers is the lunge. Like squats, lunges target multiple muscle groups and have several variations including:
- Barbell lunges
- Dumbbell lunges
- Body weight lunges
- Side lunges – with or without weights
- Body weight jump lunges – which are a fantastic way to add in more speed and mobility
Training one leg at a time can help improve balance which directly relates to your golf swing too. Just remember with lunges as you step forward, don’t let the front knee go over your toes.
The final lower body exercise to consider is deadlifts which are another amazing compound movement. This exercise essentially trains all your golf muscles – as a Golf.com article noted, “Deadlifts and squats are total-body exercises, relying on the use of your legs, core, and shoulders to maintain proper posture throughout the exercise. What else relies on the legs, core, shoulders, and proper posture? Your golf swing.”
There is a bit of a negative stigma attached to deadlifts and potential back injuries, but when done with proper form and the right weights, it’s arguably the best exercise for golfers. With deadlifts, the key is to start slow, get the form dialed in, then add more weight and try out different variations.
Upper Body Strength Exercises
Training your core and lower body will have a monumental impact on your golf game. But don’t forget about incorporating several days for upper body workouts too.
Focus on these three areas to improve your golf game and overall health.
Every upper-body golf workout should include push-ups.
They are not just a golf exercise but great for all fitness routines as you can do them anywhere without any equipment. They train multiple muscle groups and are a solid warm-up before other chest exercises like:
- Bench Press: Use dumbbells or barbells with multiple variations including flat bench, incline, or decline to mix up your routine and target different muscle groups.
- Dumbbell flys: A perfect way to end the chest workout and also target different areas of your upper body.
Back & Shoulder Exercises
Another staple to generate power and improve your fitness levels are pull-ups.
These are a favorite exercise among most trainers as they target many muscles in your back and shoulders. If you can’t do any pull-ups yet start with assisted pull-up machines and work your way up.
Other great exercises for a strong and healthy back include:
- Rows: Use dumbbells or barbells once you have the proper form to target several areas of your back.
- Lat pull downs: This is a great exercise to do in the gym for adding muscle, strengthening your lats, and more.
Don’t forget about shoulders too. Some of the most common exercises include lateral raises, frontal raises, and the shoulder press. These exercises are easy to do with a set of dumbbells at home and should hopefully help avoid rotator cuff injuries.
Golf Exercises at Home
If you don’t have a gym membership or prefer to work out at your own home there are still tons of things you can do for your golf game. Depending on your budget and room space we recommend adding some of the following equipment to your home gym:
- Stability ball
- Exercise mat
- Medicine ball(s)
- Resistance band sets
- Adjustable dumbbells, flat bench, and/or pull-up bar
Full Body Routine
When doing a full-body exercise routine at home, make sure to focus on compound movements that target multiple muscle groups at once. These include some previously mentioned exercises, like push-ups, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, shoulder presses, and bench presses.
Compound movements target more than one area, which can strengthen secondary muscles and burn more calories. For example, a push-up not only works out your chest muscles but also your core, shoulders, and triceps. Simply, compound exercises give you the most bang for your buck.
Here are a few simple full-body routines to make the most of your at-home workouts.
- 5-minute walk to warm up
- Push-ups: 4–5 sets of 10–20 reps then the same reps for pull-ups
- Squats: 4–5 sets of 10-20 reps (body weight, kettlebells, or dumbbells)
- Core: 2–3 sets of 10 reps (crunches, plank, etc)
If you’d like to follow a full at-home routine, check out this video from the Golf Channel.
Flexibility and Stretching for Increased Mobility
Getting into golf shape isn’t just about strength training but improving your flexibility. Since most of us sit a majority of the day at work, tight hip muscles and shoulder blades can lead to bad posture. These imbalances can make it hard to swing properly and with enough repetition can lead to injuries.
Most golfers could benefit from some sort of hip flexibility and mobility training. A tight left hip might make it hard to follow through correctly while a tight right hip might limit your backswing. Hip flexor stretches, hip circles, and other yoga-inspired movements can improve mobility. These types of exercises can also help reduce tension in the back for a more powerful swing too.
Don’t Forget About Cardio
Another way to train your body for golf is to incorporate regular cardiovascular exercises too. Golf is physically demanding especially when playing in hot weather on foot. If you opt to skip the golf cart and decide to walk 18 holes it’s more than four miles!
To keep you energized throughout the round add in some cardiovascular exercises before or after your workouts. Or, train on separate days to stay active. Common exercises include walking, jogging, biking, stationary bike, or an elliptical machine.
To make cardiovascular exercise less boring on a machine, you can turn on your favorite YouTube channel or show to help pass the time. You can improve your body and mind at the same time for your best golf yet.
If you want to challenge yourself more with cardio try out rowing or sprinting. Using these exercises with interval routines can also help develop more speed.
Strengthen Your Body, Strengthen Your Swing
Make golf the motivation to improve your overall health and stay committed to your goals.
A consistent golf fitness routine can help you on and off the course and hopefully avoid injuries. Tiger Woods was one of the first players to get into a consistent exercise routine and now almost everyone on the PGA Tour has followed suit.
Learn from the pros so you can:
- Keep your body healthy and avoid injury.
- Improve your golf posture and mechanics.
- Increase swing speed to add distance and hit it longer than ever.
Find a fitness plan that works for you. Don’t try to adopt a routine of professional golfers (yet) or think there is a “best golf workout.”
It’s all about identifying your current health status, strengths, and weaknesses, and then creating a routine using some of the golf exercises explained here. Start slow if you do not have a consistent exercise routine yet, and work your way up. You’ll be on your way to peak physical performance in no time.