Golf Performance Training: Stronger…Faster…Longer
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Golf Performance Training: Stronger…Faster…Longer

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Golf Performance Training: Stronger…Faster…Longer

Professional golfers are relying more and more on strength training to keep them playing their best and you should, too. More power may lead to increased clubhead speed, which may lead to increased distance. More distance just might correlate to lower scores. Don’t believe me? Ask Lou Stagner, who recently shared on X (formerly Twitter) that 96 percent of amateur golfers perform better from 40 to 60 yards than they do from 90 to 110 yards. The farther you advance the ball, the better your odds of posting a lower score on that hole.

I’m going to share some exercises to help you become stronger and more powerful. The end result? Increased distance and, hopefully, lower scores.

Strength and Power

What’s the Difference?

It is important to understand the difference between training for strength and training for power. While both overlap, each requires a different approach to training. 

  • Strength
    • The amount of force a muscle group can produce.
    • Primary focus on compound movements like squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press.
    • Lifting heavier loads at lower reps with longer rest periods between each set.
  • Power
    • The ability to produce as much force as possible in the shortest amount of time. 
    • Primary focus on plyometrics, ballistic movements and dynamic effort lifts.
    • Resistance is lighter when training for power; the goal is to move the load as fast as possible.

Why Does it Matter?

While training strategies vary between the two, strength and power are relative in the general sense that those who are stronger are able to generate more power. Strength and power also have a direct influence on the golf swing. Building upon a strong foundation of strength should lead to an ability to optimize power output. Put simply: Get strong, increase your speed, increase your distance.

Building A Base

Being a stronger golfer can lead to being a more powerful golfer so let’s take a look at some exercises to increase strength. For some great core exercises, With most exercises you’ll see in this article, there are progressions and regressions you can perform to meet your fitness level. Not all readers will have access to a fully equipped gym so we will look at exercises that can be done at home with little to no equipment. I will list alternative exercises you can perform if you do have access to a gym, as well as set and rep recommendations for the hypertrophy (muscle building) phase of training. 

This is not meant to be a be-all, end-all list. However, these exercises will make for a great addition to your workout program.

Lower Body

The legs are the foundation of our golf swing so it is important to build a strong base. These exercises will help you work towards accomplishing just that.

Dumbbell Squat to Rotational Press

The dumbbell squat to rotational press is a great option for building strength in the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Additionally, you’re training upper body power and explosiveness with the rotational press. This multi-joint movement will also challenge your core, making it a great exercise to perform for golfers.

Performing the exercise:

  • Set feet to a shoulder width stance.
  • Hold one dumbbell over your shoulder.
  • Maintaining a tall posture, hinge your hips back and lower into a full squat, keeping the chest tall and back flat. Knees should stay behind the toes.
    • Note: You should feel your weight through your heels and midfoot, with the ability to wiggle your toes at the bottom of the squat.
  • Drive your feet through the floor on the way up, rotate your torso and press the dumbbell overhead.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions.

Alternative Lifts: Bodyweight Squat (regression), Barbell Back Squat (progression)

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The RDL develops strength in our glutes, hamstrings and lower back, all of which play a role in the golf posture, specifically at address. You can perform the RDL with dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell. Performing the RDL with kettlebells or dumbbells is the most basic form of this exercise. Progressions are listed below.

Performing the exercise:

  • Set up with your feet about hip-width apart with a slight bend in the knees.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back, brace your core and push your hips towards the wall behind you.
  • Drive through the heels and squeeze the glutes and hamstrings to return to starting position.
    • NOTE: Focus on keeping your lower back flat and your shoulders pulled down and back in this exercise. 
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions.

Alternative Lifts: Barbell RDL, Single Leg RDL

Walking Kettlebell or Dumbbell Lunge with Rotation

The alternating KB lunge with rotation is an advanced single-leg exercise that not only strengthens the lower body but the core. If you do not have kettlebells, this can be performed with dumbbells. Regressions for this exercise are listed below.

Performing the Exercise:

  • Cradle a single kettlebell or dumbbell between your hands at shoulder height, just below the chin.
    • NOTE: To take the intensity up a notch, use two kettlebells or dumbbells carried in the front rack position (demonstrated above).
  • Take a step forward and lower your hips until both knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • As you are lowering into the lunge, rotate your upper body in the direction of your forward leg.
    • NOTE: Your chest, shoulders and core will rotate while your head and eyes stay focused forward. 
  • Keep your front knee over the middle of your foot so it does not pass your toes.
  • Drive through the heel of your front foot to return to a standing position, then repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions PER LEG.

Alternative Lifts: Kettlebell or Dumbbell Alternating Lunge (regression), Bodyweight Alternating Lunge w/Rotation (regression), Front Rack Kettlebell or Dumbbell Alternating Lunge w/Rotation (Progression)

Upper Body

Our arms and hands form the physical connection to our golf clubs. Increasing strength in the chest, shoulders, arms and back will help in optimizing the transfer of energy we generate from the rest of our body to the golf swing. These four exercises target each of those muscle groups. Another thing you’ll want to do is work equal and opposite muscle groups. If you perform a push exercise, make sure you also perform a pull exercise. While they don’t necessarily need to be done during the same workout, it should be within the same week to help prevent developing muscular imbalances.

Bent Over Rotational Row

The bent over rotational row will not only strengthen the muscles of your arms and upper back but also challenge your core to maintain a strong posture. Allowing the chest to rotate as you pull during this exercise will help to improve your thoracic mobility, which plays a role in increasing your turn in the backswing.

Performing the Exercise:

  • Grab a set of dumbbells and set up with feet in a wide stance (you’ll need room for the dumbbells to travel without hitting your knees).
  • Slightly bend your knees, pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core and hinge at your hips by pressing your butt towards the wall behind you as you lower your chest to the floor.
  • Keeping your head and neck in a neutral position, pull one dumbbell upwards, driving your elbow towards the ceiling, while letting your chest rotate open. The opposite dumbbell may move closer to the ground as you do this.
  • Begin to pull the opposite dumbbell upwards as you lower the first.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions per arm.

Alternative Lifts: Bench Supported Single Arm Dumbbell Row (regression), Inverted Row (progression)

Dumbbell Chest Press w/Stability Ball

The dumbbell chest press is a great exercise to target the pectoral muscles. Most players who generate a high level of clubhead speed do so by having the ability to pull the club through the downswing with a high rate of force. The golf swing starts from the ground up when it comes to generating power and stronger pectorals will increase energy transfer to the club.

Performing the Exercise:

  • Grab two dumbbells and a stability ball.
    • NOTE: You may use a bench if you do not have a stability ball.
  • Start in a seated position on the ball, brace your core and slowly walk your feet out until your upper back is supported by the ball, engaging your glutes and hamstrings to stay in a bridged hip position.
  • Press the dumbbells towards the ceiling and lower them in a controlled motion.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions.

Alternative Exercises: Push – Ups (modify if needed), Single Arm Dumbbell Bench Press (progression), Barbell Bench Press (Progression)

Dumbbell Bicep Curl

A staple exercise of beachgoers everywhere, the bicep curl is not just an aesthetics-only lift for golfers. As with the pectoral muscles, the biceps play a large role in the transfer of force and energy into the golf club.

Performing the Exercise:

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart in a tall posture with your hands at your sides, palms facing your body.
  • Keeping your shoulders down and back, bend at the elbows and rotate your wrists as you bring your hands to your shoulders so that your palms face them.
  • Lower the weight in a controlled manner, allowing the wrists to rotate back to starting position.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions.

Alternative Exercises: many to choose from. Pick which works best for you!

Dumbbell Skull Crushers

The skull crushers target the triceps and it is my favorite to perform for this muscle group as it allows us the ability to focus nearly all of our work solely on it. With overhead extensions, it is easy for some of the workload to shift to the shoulders. With bent-forward variations, focus needs to be placed on the lower back and core to maintain proper posture. While these are not inherently bad things, I prefer the majority of the focus and stimulus to go directly to the muscle group we are working.

Performing the Exercise: 

  • Grab one or two dumbbells and lay on the floor or a bench, if you have one.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back, then press the dumbbells toward the ceiling with your palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your upper arms and shoulders still and stable, bend at the elbows to lower the dumbbells towards your forehead.
  • Extend your elbows to return to the starting position.
  • Perform three to four sets of 10 repetitions

Alternative Exercises: Many to choose from. Pick which works best for you!

Make It Count

If you’re a golfer who is not strength training, you’re leaving potential speed and distance on the table. As I mentioned, this is not meant to be the be-all, end-all list of exercises. They are also not meant to be “the no-question best exercises for everyone” as we are all different and may require different training plans to fit our personal needs. They are, however, a great starting point to improving not only your performance on the golf course but your daily life as well. Give these a try the next time you hit the gym to get on your way to faster swing speeds and longer golf shots!

For You

For You

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Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason Noble

Jason is a mid-handicap golfer chasing single digits who calls Wisconsin home. When not on the course, you can find him at the lake spending time with his wife and two children or in the woods chasing whitetails.

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Jason Noble

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      Paul

      2 months ago

      Good article. Everyone benefits from distance. But unless you can square that face up, you will just be further offline. So don’t forget to take a lesson and work on that clubface control.

      Reply

      Chris F

      2 months ago

      Terrific article. Well done and thanks for sharing.

      Reply

      Michael

      2 months ago

      Looking forward to adding these into my mourning routine. Definitely going to start off slow with the first few gos as I get the form correct and then turn on the jets

      Reply

      BH

      2 months ago

      Some of these are making my bulged disk pucker… especially the dead lifts. Everyone be careful if you haven’t done these kind of lifts before. Form is key to not hurting yourself. The more tired you get, the more your form will suffer. DON’T NARF UP YOUR BACK!!!

      Reply

      cksurfdude

      2 months ago

      Yeah second that! Those RDLs look dicey for this old guy but will give it a try.. with very light weight .. moving very slowly .. and concentrating on keeping good form! And stopping after only a few reps the first few times trying it.

      Reply

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    Drivers
    Jun 11, 2024
    Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Ti 340 Mini Driver
    Putters
    Jun 11, 2024
    Triple Black Evnroll 38 Tour Spec Putters
    FootJoy limited FootJoy limited
    First Look
    Jun 11, 2024
    JUST DROPPED: FootJoy Red Clay Premiere Series