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Top 6 Exercises to Improve Your Golf Swing

Top 6 Exercises to Improve Your Golf Swing

March 06, 2024

Top 6 Exercises to Improve Your Golf Swing

By Ryan C. 

Contributor

You can add serious distance to your golf swing by focusing on these exercises at the gym or in your home. 

Table of Contents

 

How Working Out Can Help Level Up Your Golf Game

Man golfing.

I’ve been training people for more than two decades now in the area of health and fitness. It is something that I just enjoy doing and would practically do it for free (don’t tell my clients that) because I love to see how people can improve themselves, both physically and mentally, through exercise. 

In the last ten years, I have been slightly amazed at how many people come in asking for strength-training exercises to improve their swing. Finally, just like how baseball players realized adding some muscle to their frame could turn themselves into better hitters, golfers are now realizing the same thing. Take a gander at some of the top golfers, men and women, currently out there at the moment. Quite a few could be fitness models! (And some seem to be more recognized for their curves than their game. But that is another article…) The key is to add strength without becoming so bulky that your muscles are getting in the way of your swing. 

There are golfers that mistakenly believe they really don’t need any other exercise than golf itself. They think they play golf and that is plenty of activity already. But that is not the case. Sure, you might walk hole to hole and think that is enough cardio, but what about getting physically stronger? 

Consider how often you swing your club over and over. It is a repetitive movement where you could be building up a little muscle here and there, but you also could be neglecting other muscles in your body that could improve your golf game. It’s like if you carried a heavy suitcase on the same side of your body constantly throughout the year and never switched arms. You are doing yourself a disservice. 

 

Best Exercises to Get into Golf Shape

If you are looking to drive the ball further than you ever have before, consider adding these six exercises to your fitness routine. After a couple of months of consistent training, you should see a noticeable difference in your golf muscles and your game. And remember, don’t just show up at the gym and perform these exercises in a dull manner. Arrive at the gym with intensity and a purpose. 

 

Upper Body

Incorporating exercises that target the upper half is essential for building strength and stability in key areas crucial for an effective swing. Movements like dumbbell ab twists and bicep hammer curls not only strengthen the core and arm muscles but also improve rotational power, enabling you to generate more force behind your shots. These exercises simulate the actions involved in a golf swing, helping to develop muscle memory and coordination for a smoother and more powerful delivery.

Dumbbell Ab Twist

Dumbbell Ab Twist

When breaking down a golf swing, there is a twisting motion that provides quite a bit of torque and power for when the club hits the ball. As you notice your body performing this twisting motion, it makes perfect sense that a strong core could help generate more force behind your swing. 

The dumbbell ab twist is something you can do at home or in the gym. All you need is the right weight for a dumbbell and you are off to the races. 

Set your feet shoulder-width apart, grab a dumbbell by the ends so both hands are only holding one dumbbell, and twist back and forth in a controlled manner thirty seconds at a time, engaging your core muscles. Depending upon your level of fitness, you might do this three or four times. Be sure to do this exercise standing up. You will be strengthening your core, building your legs, and doing a movement similar to swinging a golf club. 

You could also do this movement with a weight plate, a medicine ball, or with a cable machine as you hold onto a rope handle. The controlled twisting will strengthen your core and enhance your swing.  

Dumbbell Sword Draw

If this movement doesn’t have a top three exercise name, I don’t know what does. Think of it like being Zorro and unsheathing your sword at your waist. And it might be the best exercise for golf.

Instead of getting ready to do battle, you will hold a light dumbbell at your waist and bring it up across your body in the air and then back to the starting position. You will do one arm at a time for three sets and 10 to 15 reps. It will definitely mimic the movement of your golf swing as it builds the muscles around your shoulders. 

Watch how to complete this move accurately.

Bicep Hammer Curl

Hammer Curl

Any time you pull something towards your body, you are using your biceps. The biceps make up approximately 30 percent of your upper arm. Being able to swing a golf club with authority puts your biceps into action at least a little bit. (Forearms are usually even more important to a golfer.) Strong arms can equal a powerful swing. However, on the other hand, there are those golfers who seem to have noodle arms and can still hit the ball for long distances. 

For the best possible outcome, there has to be a marriage of the two camps. A golfer should have strong biceps without being too bulky. 

The problem some people face when they are constantly swinging a golf club is elbow tendonitis. It is often cited as one of golf’s most common injuries. It is usually caused by repetitive motion of the wrist and arm which causes inflammation. Your swing you have been working on for decades could be causing you some pain. 

Of course, usually taking a break from swinging a club will eventually heal the problem. Speak to a doctor about possible medications that can reduce inflammation as well. Ibuprofen can work wonders for inflammation. In fact, quite a few golfers I know will take an ibuprofen or two before they head out for the day to beat the inflammation before it begins. 

In any case, I am suggesting dumbbell hammer curls because of the whole chicken and the egg conundrum. Do you have elbow tendonitis because you have weak biceps or do you have weak biceps because of tendonitis? 

Hammer curls, holding the dumbbell handle like you are gripping a hammer with your palms facing inward while in a standing position, reduce the amount of tension on the elbow tendons. Plus, it does a better job strengthening the forearms instead of the palms facing upward grip you will often see for curls. Strong forearms will have you controlling the golf club much better throughout your swing. 

Bench Press

It may come as a bit of a shock to some people, but a strong chest could be one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your golf game. Remember how in Rocky IV they hooked up all of those gadgets to the Russian to figure out his punching power? They can do the same thing for golfers as it analyzes their swings. 

The research has shown that those elite golfers with developed upper-body chest strength can drive the ball farther and faster than their counterparts. Regardless of handicap, those who were strong on bench press hit the ball further. 

It’s not too late to add chest training to your workout routine. When I say bench press, I am asking you to do either a barbell bench press, a dumbbell bench press, a seated bench press machine, or even pushups. All of these movements will develop a strong chest. 

 

Lower Body

A strong lower body is fundamental for generating power and stability throughout the swing. Exercises such as dumbbell good mornings and bodyweight squats are highly effective in building leg and glute strength while also enhancing balance and flexibility. These movements mimic the bending and rotational actions required in the swing, helping to generate power from the ground up. By focusing on strengthening your lower half, you'll not only improve your ability to drive the ball further but also maintain stability and control during each swing.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell Deadlift

The deadlift is a simple yet highly efficient exercise that will strengthen your back, legs and core. Research has dictated that leg and trunk strength is key to hitting with power. The dumbbell deadlift is a great variation to the standard barbell deadlift. As you should be lifting less overall load with dumbbells than barbell deadlifts, they have less impact on your lower back, but can still help increase strength and range of motion.

Get into the starting position with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist with your knees bent just slightly, and bow. Hold a dumbbell in each hand as you do these with your arms hanging down but slightly in front of your body. Touch the fronts of your dumbbell heads to the floor at the bottom of each rep. Your legs should be at power squat depth (quarter or half squat) at the bottom of your reps, not at full squat depth. Be sure to keep your back straight through this entire movement.

If you're looking to hit your hamstrings more, perform a Romanian deadlift with your dumbbells instead. This means the bottom of each rep will end with the dumbbells at mid-shin, with your knees only slightly bent (higher than power squat depth). It is still critical to keep your back flat and core engaged whether you perform a standard dumbbell deadlift or a Romanian dumbbell deadlift.

Stand up with hips and knees fully extended to complete each rep. Keep the dumbbells close to your body regardless of which deadlift version you are attempting. If you round your back at all you are lifting too heavy and risking injury.

Bodyweight Squats

Body weight squats are something you can do regardless of your age or fitness level. You don’t need any weights or special equipment. Have your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back straight, and bend at your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your legs essentially form a 90-degree angle. Your legs and glutes will definitely feel this movement as the number of reps increases week to week. If you can, do three sets of ten reps every few days to build up strength. 

And for those of you who do not believe bodyweight squats can build muscle on your lower half because you don’t have hundreds of pounds on your shoulders, do three 50-rep sets and check back with me. Bodyweight squats are legit. If you feel you need more, hold a weight plate to your chest while doing these or do a sumo squat with a dumbbell. 

 

Conclusion

Integrating targeted exercises into your fitness routine can significantly enhance your swing and overall performance on the course.

And there is no need to feel overwhelmed or intimidated in doing these golf exercises. Start slowly and work your way up. You are not competing with anyone else in the gym. You are just looking at improving yourself. Before you know it, with patience and commitment, you'll soon see tangible improvements in your golf game, resulting in greater distance, accuracy, and overall performance on the course.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Targeted Exercises Enhance Performance: By focusing on movements that target the muscles and movements directly involved in the golf swing, you can enhance your power, control, and overall efficiency while playing golf.

  2. Focus on Key Muscle Groups: Strengthening specific muscle groups involved in your swing is vital for achieving optimal performance. These muscle groups include the core, arms, shoulders, legs, and glutes, which play essential roles in generating power, maintaining stability, and controlling the swing.

  3. Mimic Golf Movements: Incorporating movements that replicate the rotational and swinging motions of golf helps to improve muscle memory, coordination, and technique. Movements such as dumbbell ab twists, sword draws, and bicep hammer curls closely mimic the actions

  4. Balanced Strength Matters: Developing balanced strength across the body is key to preventing imbalances and reducing the risk of injury. Exercises that target both the upper and lower body, such as bench presses, dumbbell good mornings, and bodyweight squats, promote overall strength, stability, and flexibility, contributing to a more fluid and controlled swing motion.

  5. Consistency is Key: Consistent and dedicated training is essential for seeing tangible improvements in your game. By committing to a regular fitness routine and gradually increasing the intensity and complexity of your training over time, you can steadily enhance your strength, endurance, and performance on the course.




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