Do you need to work out to play golf? If you can find a VHS tape of the PGA tour in the 1980s. (if you’re young you may need to ask your parents what a VHS tape is), you will notice that fitness was not something golfers cared about. Even professional golfers rarely exercised and you didn’t see many “buff” players walking down the fairway.
This all changed when Tiger Woods hit the scene. He was an athlete playing golf and he aggressively worked on his body to make himself a better player. He changed the game. Professional golfers now have rigorous workout schedules and college golf teams all have strength & conditioning coaches. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson are all athletes that have spent time in the gym to improve their ability to compete on the course.
If golf workouts have helped the best get better, they can certainly help you improve your game. The key is adding muscle and flexibility. What are the best golf exercises for you? Are there specific exercises for golf, designed to improve your swing? Don’t worry, we can help. We’ve shared below our favorite 18, and feel a combination of these is the best golf workout.
Exercises For Golf
There are several ways that consistently doing a golf workout will help you shoot lower scores. First, building strength in the correct muscle groups will allow you to increase your swing speed and add distance to your shots. Second, improved flexibility and balance will improve your swing and add additional speed. Finally, stamina is more important in golf than amateur players realize.
Do you struggle to finish rounds? You play great for 15 holes, but can’t seem to “bring it home”. More than likely, you’re getting tired. Golf is a physical activity and you’re often in the sun and heat for several hours. By doing the appropriate exercises for golf, you’ll have plenty of energy to finish your round and potentially, go out for that “emergency 9”.
1. Lunges With Rotation
We recommend you use a small medicine ball (heavy ball) to perform this exercise. Stand with your feet together, holding the ball close to your chest. Lunge your right foot forward, with your left knee bending towards the ground. Hold this position and rotate arms, balls, and torso to the right. Rotate back to center and return to the starting position. Alternate legs and perform 20 times.
This golf exercise will help you improve your balance, swing rotation, and strength.
2. Alternate Lateral Jump
A critical exercise for any golf workout, alternate Lateral Jumps will help you develop lower body power that you can leverage for more distance.
Simply put, this is jumping back and forth from side-to-side, but to get the most value from this golf exercise you need to focus on your technique. You want this to be an explosive move. It’s important that you load up for each jump, activating the muscles in your lower body. You don't need to jump an extreme distance back and forth, but you do want a consistent motion back-and-forth, side-to-side.
3. Cat & Camel
The Cat & Camel is a great golf exercise for stretching out your lower back and improving the stability of your core. This is designed to workout your lower back, abdominals, and hips.
To get started, get down on your hands and knees. Your palms should be flat on the floor, shoulder length apart and your knees should be hip length apart. Start by inhaling and arching your back with your head dropping down. As you exhale, bring your back down and try to lift your rear end up towards the ceiling. Try to hold each position for at least 5 seconds and complete 10 reps. You can increase your reps over time.
4. Split Squat
The split squat exercise is designed to build up leg strength and improve your swing speed. An additional benefit will be improved balance.
While not required, we recommend you leverage a bar for this golf exercise and that you hold it behind your head, resting on your shoulders. You will start in a standing position with your feet together. With one leg, take a large step forward. Now lunge down, with your front knee in front of your front foot, and your back knee will almost touch the ground. Make sure during your squat that your head stays up and you are looking forward. Hold this position for a few seconds before coming out of your lunge. Repeat 10 times. As you get more advanced, you can add weight to the bar you are resting on your shoulders.
5. Sword Draws
The Sword Draw golf exercise will help you with external shoulder rotation and can even assist you in keeping your golf swing on plane.
To perform this part of your golf workout, you will need a dumbbell. Pick the correct weight based on your physical condition. Stand with your feet as far apart as your normal golf stance. Hold the dumbbell in your right hand near your left hip with your palm facing your body and your thumb pointing towards your left hip. Keeping your arm straight, rotate your shoulder, and lift the weight above your head and to the right. When you complete this motion, your thumb should be pointing behind you. We recommend multiple sets of 15 and you can increase the weight of the dumbbell over time.
6. Hip Drops
You may not have given it much thought, but lack of internal hip rotation can cause significant issues in your golf swing. The Hip Drop golf exercise will help you improve this part of your body. This is also a great pre-round stretch.
Sit on the ground, with your legs spread far apart, your feet flat on the ground, and your knees up. Place your hands on the ground behind you. One leg at a time, rotate your knee in and move it as close to the ground as you can. You should feel a nice stretch in your hip. Complete a comfortable number of reps on with each leg.
7. Push Ups
We’re sure that you’re familiar with the Push Up exercise, and you may not consider it an important part of a golf workout, but it actually has several benefits. The simple Push Up continues to be one of the best exercises to improve your upper body strength.
Since you already know how to do a Push Up, just a few reminders to make sure your fundamentals are sound. Keep your back straight and parallel to the ground. Your abdomen muscles should stay contracted. Support your lower body weight on your toes.
8. Single Leg Deadlift
The Single Leg Deadlift golf exercise will strengthen your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. Performing these on a regular basis will not only help your swing, but they will also protect your back from future injuries.
Start in a standing position with your feet together and a dumbbell in each hand. The dumbbells should be hanging down in front of your thighs. Bow forward, letting one leg kick back behind you. Keeping your back straight, lower down until the dumbbells get as close to the floor as possible. Return back to your starting position. Try to do 3 sets of 10 on both legs, and you can increase the weight over time. It is more important to do these with good technique than adding a bunch of weight.
9. Pelvic Tilt
Every time you swing a golf club you put pressure on your lower back and pelvis muscles. If not properly managed, these areas can become tender and sore. The Pelvic Tilt is a simple golf exercise to help your pelvic and lower back.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head (this position is similar to the starting position of a Sit Up). Tighten your abs, buttocks, and thighs to press the small of your back against the floor. Perform 10 reps and try to increase this number as you continue your golf workouts.
10. Squat With Medicine Ball Rotations
This is a great full body exercise that will improve your core and work on your balance. You’ll need a medicine ball and you should pick the most appropriate weight for you.
Start in a standing position, with the medicine ball on the ground, next to your right foot. Squat down low and grab the ball with both hands. In one motion, stand up and lift the ball to the left of your hand, with your arms fully extended. Squat down to return the ball to its original position. Do as many reps as you are comfortable performing and make sure you do both sides.
11. Seated Rotations
One of the best golf exercises, the Seated Rotations will allow you to increase your rotational mobility. A critical component of your swing if you are interested in more speed.
Sit straddling a bench and hold a club behind your back in the crook of your elbows. It's important to maintain your posture. Without moving your hips, rotate your torso to the right and hold for several seconds. Return to the starting position and then do the other side. Complete 10 in both directions.
12. Side Step-Ups
Here is another simple golf exercise that will strengthen your glutes and provide hip stabilization. Both will help you generate more power.
You will use a step or a 8”-12” platform to do your Side Step-ups. Stand sideways to the step and place one foot on the step. Now step up so all of your weight is on that one leg on the stair or platform. Now return to your starting position. Do this 15 times one each leg.
13. Hand Walk Outs
The Hand Walk Out is a great way to stretch out the lower back and the upper muscles in your legs. Tension in this area can lead to injury, so it is important to work on these areas.
Keep your legs as straight as possible. Lean forward and use your hands to “walk out” until you are in a plank position, now “walk” your hands back until you return to your starting position. If you struggle to get your hands to the ground, try widening your stance. You’ll definitely feel the stretch when performing this golf exercise.
14. Bent Over Rows
Bent Over Rows are an important exercise to include in your golf workout to strengthen your back muscles. This seems like an easy exercise, but you may fatigue quickly when you first start. You will work muscles that often get ignored.
You’ll need a therapeutic band for this activity. Wrap the band around the bottom of your feet. Take your golf stance and hold the ends of the band in your two hands like a golf club. It’s important you keep your spine angle and golf stance during this exercise. Now pull your arms back and pinch your shoulder blades as you stretch the band.
15. 90/90 Stretch
As Chubbs Peterson says in Happy Gilmore, “it's all in the hips”. The 90/90 stretch will help you improve the mobility of this important joint.
Sitting on the floor, place one leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle and your other leg out to the side at a 90-degree angle. Rotate your hips to sit up over your front leg, using your hand for balance (if needed). Repeat this movement 10 times. Reverse your legs and perform this stretch another 10 times.
16. Single Leg Butt Lifts
Single Leg Butt Lifts are a critical golf exercise as they strengthen the muscles that support your hips during your swing and during the 5-6 mile walk on the course.
Lie on the floor with your feet placed flat on the ground and your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. From this position, lift your hips and butt without rotating your spine, until your hips, knees, and shoulders form a straight line. Hold this position for a few seconds and return your butt to the floor. Try to do 3 sets of 10.
17. Dumbbell Bench Press
The one-handed Dumbbell Bench Press allows you to strengthen your upper body while also working on core stabilization. A great 2-for-1 golf exercise.
You should lie on a weight lifting bench or the floor with an appropriate weight dumbbell in one hand. Simply perform a bench press with this one arm. Do 3 sets of 10 and then switch arms.
18. Medicine Ball Core Rotations
Also known as “Russian Twists”, Medicine Ball Core Rotations are great for your core and for teaching your body to properly rotate with balance.
Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and the medicine balls against your chest. Lean back slowly until you are balanced on your butt and your feet are slightly off the ground. While holding the ball close, quickly rotate back and forth, trying to keep your feet off the ground.
Exercising To Better Your Game
The best golf workout will be different for every player depending on age, physical fitness, and overall body coordination. Give these golf exercises a try, but if you find one that's too challenging it's ok to skip it and try it at a later date. The goal is get your body healthy and fit for the golf course.
Develop a fitness plan that works for you. Create a routine and complete some version of these exercises each week. Your body will feel better, you’ll hit the ball farther, and you may prevent future injuries.