Golf is a sport that seems to be very easy to play, but any golfer would tell you that it is anything but easy! Stamina, flexibility, and strength are all integral parts of the game and like any other sport, these qualities can be improved through specific fitness exercises.
So in today’s blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best exercises for golf. Each exercise will target a specific part of the swing or body. To make it easier to understand this post will be broken into three main sections; strength exercises, warm-ups, and swing exercises.
And don’t worry, most of these exercises can be completed by almost anyone and will take only a few minutes apiece. Plus, all the exercises will be super easy to understand and remember.
Without any more delay, let’s get right into the 15 best exercises for golf so you can start improving your golf today! (1)
The 15 Best Exercises for Golf
- Torso Twists
- Alternating Arm and Leg Extensions
- Calf Raises
- Bicep Curls
- Shoulder Circles
- Leg Sweeps
- Simple Shoulder Stretch
- Neck Stretch
- Chipping Drills
- Swinging a towel
- Hitting from Sand Bunkers
- Putting practice
- Delay Drill
Now that we’ve listed them, let’s dive into a detailed explanation of each one – what they are good for and how to do them properly!
A strong core is very important in golf as much of your rotational power while swinging comes from your core. While there are many core exercises that can be done, the easiest and most convenient are Torso Twists.
A Torso Twist is just as the name implies, a simple 90-degree turn of one’s upper body to either the left or right. What’s even better is that Torso Twists can be completed while standing or seated.
Standing Torso Twists are very simple: just face forward with your arms behind your head and turn only the upper half of your body either left or right. Do 15-20 reps then repeat for the opposite side.
Sitting Torso Twists are exactly the same as the standing variety with the only difference being that you should be seated with your feet firmly planted on the ground. A long bar or even golf club can be placed behind the head and across the shoulders to help improve your form. You can add to this exercise with weight if it becomes too easy.
Power in every shot comes directly from your legs and the shifting of weight throughout the swing. Since your legs should already be slightly bent at the knee, strong quad muscles become very important to transfer the most amount of energy to the ball. Squats are some the best ways to improve the strength of your quads.
Squats can also be as difficult or as simple as you like. The easiest version to complete is by simply standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and bending your knees while sticking your butt out slightly to keep balanced. Remember to keep your back as straight and to only go down to 90 degrees (like sitting in a chair).
Weights and bars can be added to the mix to up the difficulty and create a more efficient exercise. The basics stay the same but the weight or bar should add extra resistance when standing back up.
Remember that if you are using added weight to only do so when someone else is with you to help in case you lose your balance.
Alternating Arm and Leg Extensions
Every golfer at some point has hit a shot that seemed to pull a little too much at their back leaving them sore the next day. While this is a common occurrence, it also highlights the need for a strong upper and lower back. Thankfully, one of the easiest exercises to strengthen your back involves no equipment and only a few minutes.
Alternating Arm and Leg Extensions are completed by kneeling down and placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. This should seem similar to a pushup that uses your knees instead of your feet.
Now that you are in position, take your right hand and your left foot and extend them. This should leave your right leg and left hand still grounded for balance. After extending, return to resting position and take your opposite hand and leg and extend them. Continue for 20 or so reps on each side.
This simple exercise will help increase your back strength and stamina in almost no time.
While your calves do play a part in your swing, they are also very important when it comes to walking around the course. Now you might argue that you ride most of the time and don’t need all that much calf strength, but even after 18 holes with a cart, you would still have done a good amount of walking.
Calf raises can be used to help increase the strength and stamina of your calves with the only requirement for the exercise being a slight ledge. Don’t have a natural ledge? Go ahead and create on using a thick piece of wood or by stacking two plate weights.
After you have found your ledge, just step on the lip of the ledge with the balls of your feet while letting the heels of your feet hang over the ledge. Then just “dip” your heels towards the ground then use the balls of your feet to bring you back level with the lip of the edge.
Repeat for 30 reps per foot or double the rep count if using two feet at once.
Big biceps are not as important in golf as they may be in other sports, but they still play a role in transferring energy between arms during the swing. And one of the best bicep exercises, the Bicep Curl, is possibly one of the most well known.
This exercise will require at least one dumbbell that is heavy enough to provide some types of resistance. A plus of this exercise is that you can sit or stand without needing to change up the main exercise.
To complete this exercise grip a dumbbell in both (or one hand) and let your arms relax at your side. Then bend your elbows and move your arms in a slow and controlled movement upward while keeping the top of your arms stationary. After reaching the top, bring your arms back down to the resting position in a controlled manner.
A tip for this exercise is to make sure that you keep your back straight and don’t try to “throw” the dumbbells upward.
Warming up your shoulders before a round of golf is absolutely critical. Shoulders that are not warmed up will not move efficiently throughout your swing causing problems with contact or even injuries. By completing some shoulder circles, your shoulder muscles will be warmed up in only a couple minutes. This exercise is so simple you can do it on the first tee box while you wait for the group in front of you.
Start by taking out a low iron (Pitching wedge or sand wedges are ideal) and gripping down on it. Hold the gripped down club in one arm and extend it to 90 degrees away from your body. Your other arm should be down along your side. Then make small circles with your extended arm until you feel that your shoulder is moving a little more freely. Change arms and repeat.
A tip for this exercise is how far down you grip the club will determine how much weight you feel during the rotations.
While many golfers try to warm up their upper body, very few think about trying to warm up their lower body. A cold lower body will surely spell trouble for all golfers on the first tee box, so here’s what you can do to fix that.
Completing some simple leg sweeps should help get the blood flowing to your legs while also loosening up a majority of your most important leg muscles.
To complete leg sweeps, take an iron and use it to balance your body while you lift one foot out in front of your body. Sweep this leg from side-to-side about 10 times then switch to your other leg. It is just as simple as that!
Do this exercise before you tee off and you will see a huge change in just how well you hit the ball from the get-go of the round.
Another very simple exercise that will help prevent some common injuries among golfers is a neck stretch. What’s even better is that this exercise does not require any other equipment or special movements.
To start, touch with your left or right ear to the corresponding shoulder. Next, press your arm that is opposite to your ear/shoulder towards the ground. You should feel a slight pulling sensation. Hold this for about 5-7 seconds before switching to the other side.
A simple exercise like this will really help cut down on the amount of neck and upper back injuries that tend to be common among golfers. So always remember to do this quick neck stretch before teeing off as it might just keep you from being sore for a couple of days.
Simple Shoulder Stretch
I’m sure that you are familiar with just how important your shoulders are during your golf swing, so getting your shoulders ready to go before a round is a no brainer. Thankfully, the simplest exercise in this entire list is targeted just to your shoulders!
A simple shoulder stretch is just what the name implies. All you have to do is to take an iron and grip the hosel/head of the club with your right hand and place the club behind your back. Next, grab the grip of the club with your left hand and pull downward slightly until you feel resistance in your right shoulder. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds, then switch hands.
As a note, other objects can be used instead of a golf club with a golf towel is the next most used item. If you have no item handy, just put the palm of your one hand on your back and push down lightly on your elbow with your other hand.
While lunges may seem like overkill, a couple of in-place lunges are a perfect way to get your quads warmed up and ready to go. Just make sure that you go slow and try to get more of a stretching sensation rather than a muscle-building sensation.
To perform a simple lunge, just take a large step forward and bend both knees until your back knee touches the ground. At this point, you can either hold this position a little longer or go back to a standing position. Complete a couple of reps then move on to the next leg.
Again, try to go slow with these lunges. It will be much more beneficial to you if your quads get a simple stretch rather than a full workout. Plus, you don’t want to be sore just from warming up before you even hit a shot.
While this isn’t exactly an individual drill or exercise, it is important to note that before you begin taking full swings you should do a little bit of chipping. Why? Well, chipping allows for you to get the feel for your swing while also allowing you to get solid contact with the golf ball.
Chipping drills range in complexity but the tried and true method of finding a cup on the putting green and hitting to it may be the best drill of them all. To change it up try to go to different angles or even try different distances. And remember this is to get you some short game practice while also preparing you mentally and physically for full-powered shots.
After you have completed your chipping drill, you should then warm up by stretching before heading to the range. You still remember the drills for stretching from above right?
Swinging a Towel
An effective and consistent golf swing is all about the form and pace. To help increase consistency, many golfers turn to swing exercises that simulate a very light flexed shaft. In this exercise, the shaft will be simulated by a towel.
First, get a towel (thinner is better) and tie a small knot near one end. This knotted end will be the clubhead in this simulation while the unknotted end will be the grip. Next, take your normal stance and grip the towel, knot pointing to the ground. Finally, make your normal swing while moving slowly allowing the knot to move along the swing path gradually.
This drill is a little difficult to master, but will truly help create a smoother more consistent swing. If you are having trouble, make sure that you are going slowly since this type of drill will be confusing at first.
Hitting From Sand Bunkers
Sand is the mortal enemy of many golfers. So it makes sense that a great swing drill is to hit from sand bunkers. This is one drill that will truly help your game once you master it.
Before starting, make sure to practice your sand shot swing outside of the bunker. Go through each step; taking your stance, digging in, opening the club face, and executing the swing.
After you are comfortable outside the bunker, it’s time to get on the beach. Repeat exactly as you practiced outside of the bunker, going through the routine for each shot.
Most people are concerned with only getting out of the bunker, but try to focus on the swing. If you are able to get a consistent swing going, it will be a piece of cake to find the correct speed to get the ball out every time. For an added challenge, try pushing the ball down into the sand a little more than normal.
Increasing Putting Distance
If you are looking for a catch-all putting swing drill give the increasing distance drill a try. The theory is simple; make three putts in a row from the same spot and you get to move back a foot. But if you miss a putt, you move one foot closer to the hole.
This drill should help you find distances that you need to work on and also promotes a putting swing that is mechanically the same with the only change being the distance of each shot. Another benefit is that this type of putting drill can go on as long as you like. Have a couple of minutes? See how far away from the hole you can get. Have a half hour? See what distance you get stuck at.
If you want to add some extra difficulty, choose a spot on the green that has variations in the break over several feet. This will help simulate a putt that has more than one type of break.
This is a drill for all golfers who have a hard time off the tee due to a heavy slice or hook. The idea behind the drill is simple; get the body rotation to match up with the swing. This drill may be difficult at first but the results are worth it.
Start by taking the first half of your swing where you stop with the club at the top of your swing. Count to three then finish your swing as you normally would. This delay at the top of your swing will make your body to catch up with your swing and should reduce or eliminate your slice/hook.
Again, this drill can be kind of difficult since you need to think about stopping your swing and keeping your balance. Perseverance will be rewarded with a swing and body rotation that lines up.
There are literally hundreds of different training exercises that can help your golf. The ones listed in this post are some of the simplest and most effective. These types of workouts will be suited for beginners and advanced players alike. Not to mention, these are some of the best golf exercises for seniors too.
One thing to keep in mind is that all of these work best if they are completed regularly, especially the ones that pertain to strength building (2). Plus, if you perform these exercises regularly, they will become a good habit.
Overall, golf is a sport where you try to improve each and every time you tee up the ball for a round. If you want to truly get better, focusing on golf-specific workout routines will help. Again, this post is merely a place to get you started in creating an exercise program that works best for you. So take some ideas you like here and mix in some other exercises until you have a full golf training routine.
- PGA Tour Staff, The Golf Gym Workout https://www.pgatour.com/news/2007/05/10/golfgym_workout.html
- Michael Easter, The Men’s Health Golf Workout, https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19532580/mens-health-golf-workout/