Best Golf Exercises For You

In this article we’ll cover some of the best golf exercises to improve your golf game. I’ve compiled these exercises into five golf workouts to improve your mobility, strength and power. Use the links below to jump to a particular section. Or feel free to have a good read through each section for more information.

Choosing your ideal golf workout

This article leads on from a previous piece – golf fitness explained. Here we will dive straight into the golf exercises and workouts, 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.

Great golf conditioning should provide the following for a player:

  • Minimise the chance of injury during play and practice.
  • Minimise the effects of fatigue during and post-play.
  • Allow you to 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 and workouts. Generally, we work through the phases in order – mobility > stability > strength > power. You should try to improve any mobility issues first, then increase stability, before you begin strength and power exercises.

How many reps should I do of an exercise?

Repetitions, or reps, refers to how many times you repeat an exercise before having a break. The number of reps depends on what aspect of golf fitness you are trying to develop. Higher reps with lighter weights results in better muscular endurance, fewer reps with heavier weights conditions more for strength.

As a rough rule of thumb 12 – 15 reps will improve muscular endurance, 6 – 8 reps, with an appropriate weight, will develop strength and 4 – 6 reps, with an appropriate weight and velocity, will improve power. At an elite level we sometimes use accelerometers attached to the barbells, to see how each individual athlete fatigues during a set. This allows further refinement in determining how many reps are ideal.

How many sets should I do of an exercise?

For your body to make adaptations (to get stronger, improve muscular endurance) you need to overload the current capabilities – this involves quite a few repetitions of a movement. But the more reps you complete the more your body fatigues, meaning you can’t generate as much force or power.

If you are training muscular endurance, 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps works well. If you would like to train strength or power, you’ll find your output drops after the first 5 – 6 reps. To get around this issue we aim for 4 to 5 sets with 4 – 8 repetitions in each set for strength and power training. This approach gives you enough training volume and still allows a high level of strength and power output for each rep.

How often should I carry out my golf workouts?

If you are training to be an elite athlete, 4 – 5 times a week would be ideal. For golfers with jobs and families you’ll get some great gains if you can fit in 2 – 3 30-minute sessions a week. Under 2 sessions a week is better than nothing, but you’ll progress slowly.

If you don’t know where to begin, you can select one of the golf workouts below and perform it 1 – 3 times a week. As you feel more comfortable, you may wish to select 2 – 3 workouts that best suit you and see if you can complete all three in a week. Either approach will work well.

Before we get going, let me get the important disclaimer out the way. Please do take care and consult experts where necessary.

Exercise Disclaimer
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 UK 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 UK. The authors of any information associated with Golf Insider UK 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.

Golf workout for improving flexibility (mobility)

We all know flexibility is important for building an effective golf swing, reducing the chance of injury and improving our potential club head speed. Below is a golf workout that focuses on improving your flexibility. Once you are comfortable with this golf workout it should take you ~30 minutes to complete. Click on any exercise to jump down to watch a video.

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 have some cross over, the golf workout above focuses on improving range of motion, but will also begin to develop your stability for key joints.

Golf workout for improving stability

Even golfers who consider themselves fit and strong will find the following golf workout highly challenging. The workout mainly comprises of body weight exercises, but this selection of exercises will target some really specific areas to help improve your golf swing and general conditioning.

Just like our first golf workout, this one bridges the gap across stability and strength training. Performing this workout once or twice weekly will improve your ability to swing a golf club and your general wellbeing.

Golf workout for strength

In the modern game there is no doubt that strength is a key component in hitting the golf ball a long way. Equally relevant is that strength is also a critical factor in reducing the risk of injury. Ensuring you are strong and have a good balance of strength between opposing muscle groups can go a long way in performing well and injury-free.

I’ve split the following into upper and lower body golf workouts, but feel free to mix and match the exercises to create your own singular strength workout plan.

Lower body golf workout (strength)

Upper body golf workout (strength)

Golf workout for power

It takes some practice to build up to power exercises for golf. You need to be familiar with the exercise, keep your form during the movement and be able to move yourself or the weight at a good velocity.

Below is a selection of exercises that can be utilised for an all body golf power workout.

Golf power exercises should only be deployed once you have a solid base of conditioning in place. Above we have a few compound exercises for golfers. Compound exercises use multiple joints and non-linear planes of movement to move an external weight or your own body weight. The exercises mimic the movements and forces experienced during the golf swing and, overtime, will allow you to generate more club head speed.

Golf exercise library

In this section you can jump to a video of specific golf exercises. Most videos have some great notes on how to perform the exercise and progressions. A big thanks to all the individuals and organisations that put these together on Youtube.

Bear Crawls

First 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 workout 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 forces you 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 extend your hips and cheat, like the guy in the video does at a few points.

Box jumps with rotation

In the previous golf fitness article we covered box jumps as a great lower body exercise for golf. Once you have mastered basic 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 the muscles involved in hip and torso rotation. They will also enhance the stretch-shortening cycle within a rotational movement pattern.

Cable rotations

Next up, we need to build 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 to make small movements with your arms straight. As soon as your arms come towards your body, stop – this means you’ve tried to rotate too far and the exercise will become ineffective.

Chest and shoulder stretches

This video is 3 minutes long for what is essentially two simple stretches, but Michelle provides some detailed advice on how to perform them. I particularly like the focus on pinching your shoulder blades whilst performing the stretches.

Crab walks

These exercises target your hip adductions and medial glutes. Both of these muscle groups are involved in rotating and stabilising your pelvis throughout the golf swing.

Dumbbell split-leg squats

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 their forward knee joint.

Instead, try the variation below. Step backwards into position and pay attention to how the athlete in the video below uses their back leg as the driver in this exercise. This is the correct way to perform this exercise.

Glute bridge

Your gluteals are one of the most important muscle groups for performing the golf swing. Not only do they help maintain your posture throughout the swing, but they are a large source of power. Apologies for the slightly hyped up video I’ve found below, but the first four exercises featured are perfect for golf (watch up to the 3-minute mark). Start with double-legged glute bridges on the floor and progress towards single-leg elevated bridges.

The addition of a mini resistance band (exercise 4) increases the activation of your medial glutes – a key muscle group for hip stability and external rotation.

Hex-bar deadlift

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 quadriceps and gluteals. However your lower back, upper back and forearms will also get a good workout.

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.

Hip mobility stretches for golf

Internal and external rotation within your hips makes up a large part of the rotation of the golf swing. They are often areas that are over-looked by golfers – the following video is a great place to start for improving hip rotation mobility.

Hip flexor stretches

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, tightness in your hip flexors will limit your hip rotation, pelvic tilt, and generally lead to compensatory movements that add unwanted strain onto your lower back.

The follow video shows you three great hip flexor exercises that progress in difficulty.

Landmine press

For the upper-body a landmine press, and variations of, provide an excellent set of golf exercises. Landmine presses with a slight thoracic rotation provide a great power exercise. Performing this exercise requires stability and strength in the lower-body, along with the ability to produce power from your obliques, deltoids and triceps.

The video below gives you a nice sequence of progressions to work with.

Lat pull-down

To strengthen your lats you should begin with a lat pull-down machine, then 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 use a wide grip, rather than using a narrow grip. A wide grip will target your lats, more than your biceps. The video below demonstrates the ideal starting point for someone who is new to this exercise.

When you are competent at this exercise, move onto assisted pull ups. These can be done using a gym machine, or using the thick resistance bands.

Lower back and hip exercises

This sequence of lower back and hip exercises are perfect for any golfer looking to improve mobility in hamstrings, hips and lower back.

Medicine ball throws

Next, we have a great set of upper body power exercises involving a medicine ball. If you’re new to medicine ball exercises take it steady, these movements create a lot of force in ranges that you won’t 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, weight and velocity over a few weeks.

Press-up with row

Next, we have an exercise to strengthen your upper back, chest and shoulders all in one. Warning though – it is a tough exercise. A push-up with a dumbbell row is a great exercise to target your shoulders, triceps and lats. Please start with the modified press-up position, with wide knees, as shown towards the end of the following video.

The video below provides strong guidance, but aim to minimise your hip and body rotation as you row the weight back. When you perform this exercise, check your positioning in a mirror. If you have too much rotation, make the exercise a little easier by using the assisted position, widening your stance or using a lighter weight.

Shoulder I’s, Y’s & T’s

This exercise looks simple, but is surprisingly tough. These three shoulder exercises target the muscles that externally rotate and horizontally flex your shoulders. These muscles are really important for controlling the club during the downswing and transferring power from the larger muscles in your thorax to your arms and club.

Side planks variations

I love/hate a good side plank – painful to perform, but you know it is good for your strength and stability. The variations below give you some great progressions from a standard side plank.

If you’re new to this exercise you can begin with your knees flexed, keeping them in contact with the ground, before progressing to the position you see below.

Single arm kettlebell squat

I personally like to perform the exercise below with a dumbbell, rather than a kettlebell, and add in a shoulder press. The video below doesn’t contain that specific variation, but the trainer gives a great introduction into how to perform this exercise safely.

A single arm kettlebell/dumbbell squat provides an excellent strengthening exercise for your quadriceps and gluteals. It’s a good exercise to master before you move into power golf exercises.

Single leg deadlifts

The following exercise is one of my personal favourites. Adding a small weight (2 – 4kg) to 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. Adding a heavier weight helps you progress this into a great strengthening exercise.

Thoracic rotation exercises

This next video shows you three great progressions for thoracic rotation. The first two exercises can be used to gradually improve your mobility, with the last exercise focusing more on stability and strength in your shoulders and thoracic rotation.

Walking lunges

Walking lunges are a great exercise for strengthening your quadriceps and gluteals, whilst improving the stability in your hips. Adding the twist (as shown below) adds an additional challenge.

Best golf workouts conclusion

I hope you’ve found this article useful. Golf strength and conditioning is a big topic to cover, but I feel the exercises and advice featured above is a great resource for developing you as a golfer and as an athlete. Start steady, build a strong base of stability and mobility. As you progress through the weeks, add in a few golf strength exercises.

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Happy golfing – Will @ Golf Insider

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A PGA golf professional, with a PhD in Biomedical Science and MSc in Sports Biomechanics & Psychology. I currently spend my time lecturing part-time at Leeds Beckett University and working with elite athletes. In my spare time I build Golf Insider UK.

3 thoughts on “Best Golf Exercises For You”

  1. Really useful chap. Good to get some flexibility excercise pointers.

    Also handy for my rehab – I’ll be back soon to give you a challenge on the Par-3 course 😉

    Reply
    • Great to hear Joe – It will get another re-vamp for next winter and I’ve got some fun ideas planned.

      I hope you’re having a good time back in Kent.

      Will

      Reply

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