Golf is often considered a leisurely sport and if you've played the game long enough you've probably heard the classic golf quote by Mark Twain, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." However, if you're looking to improve your golf game and gain a competitive edge, it's time to jump on the golf fitness bandwagon. From increasing flexibility and strength to improving balance and swing speed, there are a number of benefits that come with adding golf-specific exercises to your workout regime.
In this blog post, we'll explore the best golf exercises that will help all facets of your game. So if you're ready to unlock your full potential on the golf course, let's dive into the world of physical fitness and discover how to get in golf shape!
The Importance of Golf Fitness
The benefits of a golf exercise program can not be overstated. A well-rounded fitness regime will not only have you driving the golf ball further than ever but it will also keep you safe from injuries. It may just be the relief you need from those chronic back issues and troublesome wrist issues.
Golf workouts have become increasingly popular among professional golfers and amateurs alike as the modern game has become all about distance, power, and speed. By focusing on core strength and flexibility along with leg strength and your posterior chain muscles you can transform your golf game and enjoy the many health benefits that accompany a commitment to golf fitness.
In addition to improving your golf performance, golf workouts can also contribute to your overall health and well-being. Incorporating cardiovascular exercises like walking, swimming, and biking, strength training exercises like lifting weights and using resistance bands, and flexibility/stretching exercises such as yoga and Pilates into your routine can help you achieve better overall health. Plus you'll look super sweet in your brand new golf jogger pants.
What Muscles Does Golf Work: The Anatomy of the Modern Golfer
Golf may seem like a simple walk in the park, but golf actually works a wide range of muscles throughout your body. From maintaining perfect posture to bombing long drives your core, legs, arms, and back all play crucial roles in the sport of golf. And let's not forget about the most important muscle in golf - the one between your ears. If you can't learn to control all those negative thoughts then a strong flexible core won't provide much help when you play golf.
So let's break it down by the key areas that you should focus on when it comes down to designing a golf workout.
Building Core Strength: Put Some Backbone into Your Swing
When we talk about the core we are referring to the muscles in and around your torso that help move, support, and stabilize your spine, trunk, and pelvis. This is the center of your body and the powerhouse of your golf swing. The core includes your lower back, your abs, pelvis, and hips.
Developing a strong core is vital for the golf swing - it stabilizes the spine in order to facilitate energy from the lower body to the upper body. A strong lower back and core are essential for generating power and maintaining proper posture during your swing. These exercises will help you strengthen these critical areas, leading to better overall performance on the course.
The Cat and Camel Exercise (7 to 10 reps)
This is all about stretching your lower back and spine - also called the cat and cow.
- Start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Tuck your chin to your chest, arch your back upwards, and inhale.
- Hold for 4-5 seconds, then exhale and slowly bring your back down to its original position while trying to extend your buttocks and head upwards. If you can picture this its the camel position.
Barbell Deadlift (8 to 12 reps)
This weightlifting exercise does it all - glutes, quads, hammies, lower back, traps, and forearms. It's all about the backside and the lower body.
- Place a barbell on the floor in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down with a straight back and pick up the barbell with your hands facing forward.
- Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings and push your hips forward while standing up.
- Maintain your posture by not stooping over. Proceed slowly and methodically.
Single-Leg Deadlift (8 to 10 reps)
Protect your back and improve your balance.
- Take a typical stance.
- Bend forward with a straight back and bend in the knee.
- As you bend forward move your other leg behind you forming a perfect line with your body.
- Lower yourself down to the ground as you feel your hamstring stretching.
- Keep it steady and work on your technique.
Bent Over Rows (8 to 12)
When it comes to strengthening the back it doesn't get much better than this exercise. It will lead to better posture and can help reduce back pain. This exercise can be done with barbells, dumbbells, and/or resistance bands.
- Take your typical stance.
- While maintaining the proper spine angle or straight back bend down and pull the weights up to your chest making sure to retract your shoulder blades.
- Think about maintaining your golf posture at address when you do this exercise.
Squat & Strength Exercises: Power Up Your Swing Speed
Ready to drive the ball further than ever before? These squat and strength exercises are designed to increase your lower body power, giving you the explosive force you need for those jaw-dropping drives.
Split Squats (10 reps)
Strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while improving balance and stability. Even works a bit of your core - your abs will let you know. This exercise can be done with weights or by using your body weight only. You may also want to use a bar or a longer golf club for leverage. Place it behind your head and rest it on your shoulders.
- Position your feet together or hip-width apart.
- Take a step forward on one leg. Your back or trailing leg should be elevated on a bench. Lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
- When you lower your front leg make sure to keep your back straight, and your weight forward.
- Power back up to your original position, repeat, and switch legs.
Lateral Squats (6 to 8 reps)
Target your inner thighs (hip abductors), quads, and glutes for increased elasticity and power during the swing.
- Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Shift your weight and your hips to the right. As you squat and bend the right leg make sure to keep the left leg straight.
- Keep your feet flat and pointing forward.
- Repeat to the left side.
Squats with Medicine Ball Rotations (6 to 8 reps)
Combine lower body strength with core power for perfect balance.
- Place the medicine ball on the ground beside your right foot.
- Squat down maintaining proper form, pick up the ball, and swing to the left with your arms fully extended. This should be done in 1 fluid motion.
- Return the ball to its starting position on the right side.
- Repeat with the left side.
Legs and Lunge Exercises: Leap into Better Performance
Strong, stable legs are the foundation of a great golf game. These lunge exercises will help you build leg strength and improve your balance, making every swing more controlled and accurate.
Backward Lunge with Tilt (6 reps)
This is all about improving your rotation. Engage your glutes, hamstrings, abs and oblique muscles, while improving hip mobility.
- With your arms at your sides, stand shoulder-width apart.
- With your right foot step back and lower your body with your right leg in a lunge position.
- Contract your right glute.
- With your hand above your head, push your left hip down crunching your torso and twisting to the left.
- Repeat to the other side.
Dumbbell Lunges (8 to 10 reps)
Dumbbell lunges primarily target the muscles in your legs and glutes, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteus maximus. They also work your core muscles to a lesser extent.
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with the dumbbells at arm's length by your sides.
- Take a step forward with your right leg (about two feet or so), as you maintain your balance. Don't let your right knee go beyond your toes as you do this.
- Lower your body slowly, bending both knees, until your back knee is just above the floor (or touches it slightly), and your front knee is bent at about a 90-degree angle. Your right knee should be directly above your right ankle, and your body should lean slightly forward with your back straight.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of the lunge, then push off with your right foot, rising back up to the starting position.
- Repeat the lunge with your left leg stepping forward.
Lunge Rotation with Medicine Ball (10 to 12 reps)
Medicine ball core rotations are an excellent exercise for improving balance, flexibility, and rotational strength. It's just what you need in the golf swing.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart holding a medicine ball in both hands. The ball should be at chest height.
- Step forward with your right foot into a lunge position. Your right knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your left knee should be just above the floor.
- When you're in the lunge position, rotate your torso (not your legs) to the right, turning towards your front knee. Bring the ball around with your torso as you rotate. Keep your hips square.
- Rotate your torso back to the center, bringing the medicine ball back to your chest.
- Push off with your right foot to return to your starting position.
- Repeat and switch legs.
If you love walking the golf course this will make your golfing life a lot easier.
Upper Body Exercises: Flex Your Golf Muscles
Your arms and shoulders play a major role in your golf swing, so it's time to give them some love. These upper body exercises will help you develop the strength and control needed for distance and accuracy.
Push-Ups (10 to 20 reps)
A classic bodyweight exercise and one of the best exercises for building chest, shoulder, and arm strength.
They also engage your core and lower body to a lesser extent, making them an effective total-body workout.
- Begin in a high plank position. Place your palms flat on the ground, hands shoulder-width apart with shoulders stacked directly above your wrists. Extend your legs behind you with your feet close together. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the floor while keeping your body straight.
- Continue lowering until your chest is just above the floor. Your elbows should be tucked close to your body for standard push-ups but can be allowed to go wider or closer for variations.
- Push your body up, extending your elbows and returning to the starting position.
Bench Press (8 to 12 reps)
Target your chest, triceps, and deltoids for increased power in your swing. You can also use dumbbells for an increased range of motion. Start with lighter weights and more reps.
- Lie flat on your back on a bench. Your feet should be flat on the ground. Inhale and hold a barbell above your chest with palms facing forward, and hands shoulder-width apart.
- Lower the barbell to your chest in a controlled manner, keeping your elbows at about a 45-degree angle to your body.
- The barbell should lightly touch your chest without bouncing off of it.
- Exhale and push the barbell back up until your arms are fully extended. Make sure not to lock out or fully straighten your elbows at the top of the press.
- End Position - The barbell should be directly above your chest, in line with your mid-chest area.
Sword Draws (12 to 15 reps)
This exercise can help improve upper body strength, rotational power, and balance, all of which are crucial for a powerful and controlled golf swing. It engages the muscles of the shoulders and upper back, and the hip muscles. The exercise is named for its similarity to the action of drawing a sword.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold a dumbbell or resistance band in one hand with a neutral grip (palm facing in). The weight should be down at your opposite hip.
- Keeping your arm straight, lift the weight diagonally across your body while turning your torso and head to follow the motion of the weight. Your palm should rotate during the lift so that it's facing up at the end of the motion. The weight should end up extended above your shoulder like you're pointing a drawn sword.
- Reverse the motion to lower the weight back down across your body, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat the motion then switch hands.
Stretching Exercises: Stay Limber on the Links
Flexibility and stretching drills play a vital role in improving your golf swing, as they help to increase your range of motion and movement. Flexibility is vital for a fluid, efficient swing, and these stretching exercises will help you stay limber, maintain the perfect golf stance, and prevent injuries on the golf course.
Hand Walk Outs
Stretch your hamstrings and lower back for improved flexibility.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Hinge at your hips and bend forward, reaching your hands to the ground. Try to keep your legs straight, but if your hamstrings are tight, a slight bend in your knees is okay.
- Once your hands are on the ground, begin to walk them forward until you reach a high plank position. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders, your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels, and your core should be engaged.
- Walk your hands back toward your feet, trying to keep your legs as straight as possible, and return to the standing position.
Hip Crossovers (6 reps)
Hip crossovers are a dynamic flexibility exercise designed to enhance mobility and stability in the hips, lower back, and core. It's commonly used in rehabilitation settings, perfect for most golfers, who struggle with a stiff back or back pain. There's also a variation of this exercise called Hip Circles or Hip Rotations - in a push-up position bring your leg up to your chest, to the side, and around like a circle.
- Lie flat on your back and extend your arms out to the sides in a T shape for stability. Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Rotation Phase: Slowly twist both knees to the right side, trying to bring them as close to the floor as possible. Aim to keep both shoulders flat on the floor. Rotate your head to the left for a counter stretch.
- Return Phase: Bring your knees back to the center and repeat to the other side.
If you're still struggling with back pain, check out these back braces for golf.
90/90 Stretch (8 to 10 reps)
Open up your hips and improve hip mobility for a better swing. The 90/90 stretch, also known as the 90-90 hip stretch targets the rotator muscles in the hips.
- Starting Position: Sit on a comfortable, flat surface. Bend your front leg at a 90-degree angle with the knee and ankle in line with each other. The knee should be in line with your hip. Your back leg should also be bent at a 90-degree angle, with the knee and ankle in line with each other. The knee of your back leg should be in line with the hip of your front leg.
- Stretching Phase: Keep your spine straight, lean forward from your hips over your front leg. Try to keep your chest in an upright position, rather than rounding your spine. You should feel a stretch in the outer hip of your front leg.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply.
- Switch Sides.
Yoga (Prayer) Stretch
The Yoga Prayer Stretch, also commonly referred to as the Child's Pose in yoga, is a restorative pose that primarily targets the back, shoulders, and hips. This is a great exercise for relieving tension or a tight back.
- Starting Position: Start by kneeling on a comfortable, flat surface or an exercise mat. Spread your knees hip-width apart while keeping your big toes touching. Sit back on your heels.
- Stretching Phase: Extend your arms out in front of you, palms touching the floor. Slowly lower your torso between your thighs, aiming to bring your forehead to the floor.
- Hold: Breathe deeply and hold the position for a comfortable amount of time – anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes is common. You should feel a gentle stretch along your back, shoulders, and hips.
- Release: To come out of the pose, use your hands to walk your torso back up to a sitting position.
And there you have it, fellow golfers, the best golf workout - 17 exercises that could make the legendary Tiger Woods a tad jealous. We've taken a deep dive into power-focused leg workouts, golf-specific stretches, and balance-enhancing drills designed to improve your strength, and flexibility, and heal those common aches and pains.
These exercises are not just about increasing speed and hitting the ball further – they're about creating a comprehensive golf fitness regimen that elevates every aspect of your play. From increasing your rotational flexibility to strengthening your core muscles, each workout is a stepping stone toward unlocking your golfing potential.
So, whether you're prepping for a friendly weekend game or gearing up for your local Club Championship, these exercises are your secret weapon to better more consistent golf. As golf fitness aficionados, remember: consistency is key. Don't rush your progress. Golf is a game of patience, and your fitness journey should mirror that.
Who knows, with a little persistence and a lot of sweat, you might just find yourself giving your scratch golfing buddy a run for his money! Here's to less time in the sand, more time on the green, and a golf game that's better than ever. Keep swinging, stay fit, and continue on your path to golfing greatness!
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