This guide originally appeared at GolfGuidebook.com.
Because golf is such a technical sport that requires a lot of skill and practice to actually be good, many recreational golf players who want to improve their game make the logical decision to spend more time on the golf course.
Practicing your golf swing, working on putting, and just getting more rounds in is certainly an important aspect of getting better at golf.
However, even though playing on different golf courses and mastering the proper golf swing will help you get better at golf, strength training workouts for golfers can also be an important step in improving your golf swing.
Golf workout programs can also prevent muscle imbalances that occur from the rotational movements of swinging a golf club and can help prevent injuries so that you can enjoy as much time on the golf course for as many years as you hope.
Keep reading for a complete golf workout plan for all levels.
- Do I Need to Follow a Golf Workout Program?
- Benefits of a Golf Workout Routine
- Sample Golf Workout Program
Let’s dive in!
Do I Need to Follow a Golf Workout Program?
Professional golfers like Tiger Woods popularized the importance of strength training for golf.
In fact, Tiger Woods is rumored to have followed a golf weight training program and mobility routine that would take up to three hours per workout ((espn.com article)).
He credits his golf strength training workouts for helping him put on 30 pounds of muscle over his professional golf career.
This muscle mass translated to a powerful drive on the golf course and a robust, functionally strong body that allowed him to practice and play golf for hours and hours every week.
Of course, we aren’t suggesting that a golf strength training plan will have to involve physically and mentally demanding three-hour workouts in the gym multiple times per week.
Even the best strength training plan for golfers is likely far less time intensive while still strengthening the muscles worked by golf (and those that aren’t but need to be to prevent strength imbalances!) and improving flexibility and mobility for your golf swing.
However, even if you are never going to be a professional golfer, adding weight-training golf exercises to your training program might just be the missing link that will elevate your golf game and how your body feels and performs on the golf course to the next level.
Benefits of a Golf Workout Routine
Here are some of the benefits of strength training for golf players:
#1: Golf Strength Training Workouts Can Improve Your Power
In many ways, golf is a sport of finesse. You have to have precision, accuracy, great hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills for chipping, putting, and even short shots.
But, driving the ball down the course at the beginning of every hole is all about power.
It would be shortsighted to say that flexibility, particularly thoracic rotation and shoulder mobility is not also important for a good driving distance, but much of the improvement you can get for increasing the distance of your drive comes from improving your power.
You need to be able to coordinate your upper body through your hips by engaging all of the muscles of your core, hips, shoulders, arms, and back to have a powerful golf swing.
One study looked at the benefits of strength training for golfers by putting participants through an 18-week golf weight training program.
Six weeks into the weight training for golf plan, the participants, who were all low handicap golf players, demonstrated significant improvements in maximum force production and explosive strength, which is to say that maximum strength increased as well as power.
While this is certainly helpful, most people who play golf want their golf resistance training workouts to make them better at golf directly.
The good news is that this golf weightlifting plan indeed yielded performance improvements on the golf course At 12 weeks into the golf workout plan, participants showed significant improvements in their driving performance.
The researchers concluded that the right resistance training for golf exercises could indeed translate to not only improved markers of athletic performance like maximum strength and explosive power, but also actual functional improvements on the golf course.
#2: Strength Training for Golf Can Improve Flexibility
We just discussed the benefits of resistance training for golf in terms of increasing power to improve driving performance.
While plyometrics for golf and the right weightlifting exercises for golf can indeed help you have a more powerful golf swing, it is also important to work on flexibility.
We don’t tend to think of strength training exercises as being geared towards flexibility.
That said, the best strength training program for golf will include exercises that address mobility and the ability to produce force across the full range of motion for the joints so that you have functional core strength and upper body strength combined with flexibility for the best golf swing.
#3: Strength Training Workouts for Golf Can Rectify Muscle Asymmetries and Imbalances
Rotational sports like golf (or baseball, tennis, etc.) can cause asymmetries in the body both in terms of mobility as well as strength because you are always rotating and producing force from the same side of your body.
Unless you are ambidextrous, your golf swing will predominantly be either a right-handed golf swing or a left-handed golf swing, either of which will take one side of the body doing more work and the muscles involved in swinging the golf club than the other side of the body.
Over time, this can lead to significant muscle imbalances if left unchecked and not addressed in strength training plans for golfers.
For this reason, some of the best strength training exercises for golfers are unilateral movements that can work the opposite side of the body to prevent functional deficits.
Golf players often suffer from low back pain and many people who do strength training golf workout programs focus too much on the upper body without thinking about the role of the glutes, hips, and lower body muscles in golf.
Therefore, the best strength training plan for golfers strengthens all of the major muscles of the body, not just the primary muscles worked by golf.
#4: A Golf Workout Program Can Improve Fitness
Even if the fitness benefits of weightlifting workouts don’t necessarily translate directly to improvements in your golf performance, strength training has a wide variety of heath and fitness benefits.
Weight training can increase bone density, improve joint health and flexibility, increase muscular endurance, build confidence, and even potentially improve your speed and accuracy by building better neural muscular coordination.
Sample Golf Workout Program
Below is one of the best workout programs for golf. This golf workout program involves strength training two times per week.
Aim for 2-3 sets of each exercise with a weight you can manage with proper form for 6-12 reps (lower end of the rep range if your goal is getting stronger and higher rep range if you want to build muscle).
Take 60-90 seconds of rest in between sets of each exercise.
- Arm circles and trunk twists for 30 seconds
- Windmills: 30 seconds high right reaching down to low left and 30 seconds high left to low right
- Inchworm walkouts x 10
- Forward lunges alternating legs x 45 seconds
Workout: 2-3 sets of the following:
- Barbell or dumbbell thrusters
- Renegade rows with a push-up
- Ab wheel rollouts or stability ball rollouts
- Side lunge with dumbbell biceps curl
- Single-leg Romanian deadlift with a dumbbell or kettlebell
- Side plank with dumbbell thoracic rotation under your body and then all the way up until the dumbbell is pointing to the ceiling
- Single-arm kettlebell swings 15-25 per arm
- Bird dog
- Single-leg lateral hops 30 seconds per leg
- Resistance band overhead reaches for 20 reps
Workout: 2-3 sets of the following:
- Reverse lunge with single-arm dumbbell overhead press then switch legs and arms and do the other side
- Single-arm balance while performing cable machine or a resistance band Pallof press 12 reps on one leg and then turn around 180° and stand on the other leg and perform another 12 reps
- Single-leg barbell hip thrust
- Sumo deadlifts
- Lateral side step resistance band walks 25 steps in one direction, 25 in the other
- Single-arm kettlebell or dumbbell farmer’s carry (as heavy as you can handle while keeping you are trunk upright and core engaged) 25 steps and then turn around and switch sides
- High-plank position shoulder clocks with a small loop resistance band around your wrists and then stepping one hand out to each position of the clock on the respective side of the body. Do five full rotations of the clock for one set.
For some helpful shoulder mobility exercises for golf, check out our guide to shoulder warm-ups here.