In this article we’ll cover the best golf exercises to improve your game. We’ll also cover golf training equipment that is currently available on the market and assess its usefulness.
This article leads on from a previous piece – golf fitness explained. Here we will dive straight into the best golf exercises, but please have a read through the previous article for a full explanation of why we focus on these body parts and understanding the concepts of mobility, stability, strength and power.
An optimal golf workout should provide the following:
- Minimise any chance of injury during play and practice
- Minimise any effects of fatigue during and post-play
- Allow you swing the golf club in the way you wish
- Maximise club head velocity and distance
The aim should be to achieve these four goals in the fewest sets of exercises. We’re looking for the maximum gain for your investment into your golf exercises.
Click here if you want to jump straight to the golf training equipment that you may find useful for your golf conditioning.
Before we get going, let me get the dull, but important disclaimer out the way. Please do take care and consult experts where necessary.
The information found within this site is for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for advice from your own doctor or Physiotherapist. The exercises and other advice described are not suitable for everyone. You should not begin any exercise routine without consulting a qualified health practitioner particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of exercises suggested is at the reader’s sole discretion and risk. Golf Insider accept no responsibility or liability for any loss or injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of any exercises given within this website or associated material produced by Golf Insider . The authors of any information associated with Golf Insider do not guarantee that any recommended exercises will work, or that you will produce benefits for yourself. Always consult your own GP, if you’re in any way concerned about your health or anything associated with it.
Best golf stretches – mobility
The first two stages of golf fitness require you to have good mobility (range of motion) and stability (the ability to hold a joint position whilst other body parts are moving).
These two areas do have some cross over, in the following section I will list golf exercises that help with mobility and stability. There is not always a clear distinction between to the two – If you hold these stretches for longer, and focus on increasing the range of motion in a particular joint you’ll be swaying more towards mobility. Whereas, shorter holds, more reps will focus towards stability.
This will become clearer as you read through the following two sections.
Hip and lower body stretches for golf
Internal and external rotation of the hips make up a large part of the golf swing’s rotation. They are often over-looked by golfers, the following video is a great place to start for hip rotation mobility.
If you would like a great dynamic hip mobilising exercise look no further than the video below. Please remember this is an elite full-time player. Start small and work your way towards this range of motion.
Hip flexors are another set of golfing muscles that are often missed by golfers. The hip flexors, by themselves, are not a prime mover for the golf swing. However, too much tightness in your hip flexors will limit your hip rotation, pelvic tilt, and generally leads to compensatory movements that add un-wanted strain onto your lower back.
The follow video shows you three great hip flexor exercises that progress in their level challenge.
Lastly, you’ll want a set of stretches to lengthen your hamstrings and gluteals. Both of these muscle groups take a considerable amount of load during the golf swing. Therefore, it is important to keep them lengthened and in good shape. The following video will give you a nice little three-minute routine. The last stretch featured below for hamstrings is a little advanced, but a towel or stretching band loped under your leg will help you ease into position.
Upper body stretches for golf
The golf swing requires your upper body to make many complex movements. This link is one for you golfing nerds who want a little more on kinematics of the golf swing. We are going to focus on three key areas/muscle groups for mobility – 1) Thoracic spine rotation, 2) Latissimus Dorsi and 3) Anterior (front) Shoulders / Pectorals.
This isn’t a complete list, but these are three common areas that limit golfer’s ability to swing the club the way they intend to. The following video is a little ‘home made’ but I’ve selected it as they make a really important connection between thoracic spine extension and your ability to rotate your thoracic spine.
They gloss over the definition of thoracic extension in the video, but the freeze-frame below shows thoracic extension (a lengthened, neutral spine) . Thoracic flexion would be the opposite – a hunched forward ‘C – shape’ spine position. Many golfers suffer from a hunched (flexed) thoracic spine if they’ve spent many years sat at an office desk.
Use the stretching exercise below to lengthen the latissimus dorsi and improve your upper body mobility.
Your thoracic spine is really important for minimising many sites of injury – lower back, shoulders and neck. Here is a great additional read if you want more detail and a few more exercises.
Golf stability exercises
The next requirement is to improve your stability in key golfing ranges. These exercises provide you with a strong base-line of strength. Many golfers would benefit from spending far more time on these stability exercises than on gym machines.
You might be thinking that you are not using any weight, but your body weight will be sufficient resistance for many of these motions.
I featured the following video in the previous article on golf fitness. I’m putting it here again because it’s simple and dam good. A few repetition of this each week will really aid your hip stability.
The following exercise is one of my personal favourites. Adding a small weight (2-4kg) into your arms may actually help you balance throughout this range of movement. This exercise will improve your lower-body stability and help strengthen your hamstring.
Next up we have Bear crawls. Bear crawls are incredibly useful for golfers. The video below shows some excellent variations, but please master the basic static bear crawl position first.
This exercise provides an excellent challenge for any level of golfer. Maintaining good form is key. If you do so you’ll improve the stability of your hips, knees and shoulders, whilst providing a serious work out for your obliques.
Keep your spine in a neutral position, keep your core engaged (pull your belly button in) and take deep breaths in and out throughout the exercise. Taking deep breaths actually make the exercise more challenging and force your to engage your oblique muscles.
One other quick note – keep your knees just off the ground if you can and under your hips. It’s easy to lengthen out and cheat, like the guy below does at a few points.
Last up we have a great little exercise for strengthening the muscle surrounding your scapular, whilst you work on stabilising your posture. The weight needs to be light and you should focus on a strong athletic, slightly squatted stance throughout (like Mr Poulter below. When you are in this position aim to pinch your shoulder blades together as you pull back.
(sorry for the Ryder Cup reminder for any Americans reading this 😉 )
Golf strength exercises
Okay here we get onto the fun stuff. I will reiterate my warning. Please seek advice of an expert and master your form before you attempt any of these. The first aim of golf fitness is to keep you healthy, fit and in fine form.
Lower body golf strength exercises
There are around 30 exercises I could put into this section. However, the selection I have made below should target the key muscle groups in the fewest amount of exercises. We’ll start with a great exercise for your quadriceps and gastrocnemius.
Many people perform split leg squats incorrectly. They aim to lunge forward as they move down. Their weight shifts forwards and places excess strain on to their forward knee joint.
Instead, try the variation below. Step backwards into position and pay attention to how the athlete below uses their back leg as the driver in this exercise. This is the correct way to perform this golf exercise.
The next key muscle groups are your gluteals and hamstrings. Apologies for the slightly hyped up video I’ve found below, but the first four exercises featured are perfect for golf (watch up to 3-minutes). Start double-legged on the floor and progress towards single-leg elevated bridges.
If you want a little extra spice in your lower body golf exercises try adding in the following exercise. I personally like to perform this with a dumbbell and add in a shoulder press. This video doesn’t contain that action, but the trainer gives a great introduction into how to perform this exercise safely.
A single arm Kettlebell / Dumbell squat provides and excellent strengthening exercise for your quadriceps and gluteals. It is a good exercise to master before you move into power golf exercises we feature in the next section.
Upper body and core golf strength exercises
Next, we need some core strength. Many wood-chop exercises ask you to rotate your entire body. This will work, but for most golfers I feel the golf exercise below is a better variation. As it targets the muscles that specifically strengthen thoracic rotation.
Aim to keep your lower body stable (hips pointing forward) and rotate (disassociate) your upper body. This will isolate the muscle involved in thoracic rotation.
Remember, small movements with your arms straight. As soon as your arms come towards your body stop, you’ve tried to rotate too far and the exercise will become ineffective.
Next, we have an exercise to strengthen your upper back, chest and shoulders all in one – warning it is a tough exercise. A push-up with a dumbbell row is a great exercise to target shoulders, triceps and lats. Please start with the modified press-up position, with wide knees, as shown towards the end of the following video.
This video gives a good explanation, but aim to minimise your hip and body rotation as your row the weight back. Check in a mirror when you perform this exercise. If you have too much rotation, make the exercise a little easier by using the assisted position, widening your stance and using a lighter weight.
We’ll finish off the golf exercise strength section with a classic – pull ups, or pull downs. Begin with a Lat Pull-Down machine, progress to assisted pull-ups, before moving onto full body weight pull-ups. These exercises are great for strengthening your lats and biceps, whilst providing an excellent shoulder stability workout.
At each stage focus on using a wide grip, rather than using a narrow grip. A wide grip will target your Lats, more than your biceps. The video below is the ideal start point for someone who is new to this exercise.
When you are competent at this exercise move into assisted pull ups.These can be done on a gym machine, or using the thick resistance bands featured at the end of this article.
Golf exercises for power
Golf power exercises should only be deployed once you have a solid base of conditioning. Here we’ll look at a few compound exercises for golfers. Compound exercises use multiple joints and non-linear planes of movement to move and external weight or your own body weight. They better mimic the movements and forces experienced during the golf swing.
Our first exercise is the hex-bar squat. This really falls closer to a strength exercise than power. However, I feel it should only be used once golfers have mastered the lower body exercises in the strength section.
The hex-bar provides a much safer way to lift heavier weights than a standard back or front squat. This exercise is one of the best all-round conditioning exercises out there. The prime movers are your Quads and Gluteals. However, your lower back and
You can increase the range of motion by building a platform under your feet. If you want to transition this into a power exercise just lower the weight and extend upwards at a greater velocity.
For the upper-body a landmine press, and variations of provide an excellent set of golf exercises. Land mins presses with a slight thoracic rotation provide a great power exercise. It requires stability and strength in the lower-body. Along with a requirement to produce power from your obliques, deltoids and triceps.
The video below gives you a nice sequence of progressions to work with.
In the previous golf fitness article we covered box jumps as a great lower body exercise for golf. Once you have the basics of box jumps, you can start to progress to the exercises below.
Straight box jumps are best for developing power in your quads and gluteals. Whereas the variation below will better target muscles involved in hip and torso rotation. They will also enhance the stretch-shortening cycle within a rotational movement pattern.
Last up, we have a great set of upper body power exercise involving a medicine ball. Again, if you’re new to medicine ball exercises take it steady. They create a lot of force in ranges that you will not be used to. It is easy to overload anything from your hips to your forearms and hands. Take a light weight and perform a few reps. Gradually increase the repetitions and weight over a few weeks.
That sums up the golf exercises for power. Hopefully that provides you with a depth of exercises to add to your current golf work out. Before we wrap up we’ll cover some of the golf training equipment that may help you perform the exercises we’ve covered above.
Golf training equipment review
There are many pieces of golf training equipment that promise the world. To wrap up I’d like to have a look at what is of use and what isn’t.
Ps – You can click on the titles or pictures to see products prices. These are affiliate links. If you click and purchase the product via these links it does not cost you any extra, but as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps me fund and grow this blog. Please feel free not to use the links if you wish. Thanks and happy golfing, Will.
These are an obvious choice, and if you can’t get to a gym they will perform the basis of your golf workout. I’d like yo consider myself in reasonable shape and I’ve found that a 20kg (40lb) set have done me well for many years.
This isn’t a lot of weight, but it is enough when you begin to perform many uni-lateral exercises, like our one-arm squat and press.
Just to finish off this section, I can’t help but to put these dumbbells in for you to look at. If you have $300 – $500 to blow and don’t like the hassle of changing weights check out these.
These are really popular within sport and conditioning right now. Although their popularity will surely reduce, these do have good merit. As the video below shows they are a really useful way to activate your gluteals (medial in particular) during a squat. These muscles are not only important for a good squat, but also a key muscle in external hip rotation and the golf swing.
If this is new to you, you’ll find the mini bands ideal for a good year of use. If you are already a gym-freak and are used to conditioning you may want to double up with thicker bands as shown above.
A quick note – wear long bottoms, or be ready to lose some leg hair when you perform these.
Medicine balls provide a great tool for golf power exercises. Along with the exercises above, there can also be used for med ball slams and as a small mass for squats and other body weight exercises.
I own a 5kg and a 3kg (11 & 6.6lb) medicine ball. When I’m in need of a powerful golf work out and can’t get to a gym they are of use. However, I wouldn’t say they are a ‘must have’ for golfers.
Amazon’s basic range of medicine balls are great value as a start point.
Last up in this list are the TRX bands. I haven’t discussed them in this article. However, they can provide some really nice additional exercises if you go to the gym. Or can be used when you can’t get to the gym – A decline row and assisted single-leg squats are just two options.
Golf exercise conclusion
I hope you’ve found this article useful. This is just the tip of the iceberg for golf exercises. However, I feel the exercises I’ve featured above are a great core for optimising your golf workout.
Start steady, build a strong base of stability and mobility. As you progress through the weeks add in a few golf strength exercises. After a few months of work you can then start to implement some of the golf power exercises.
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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider