Did you know that the pain and discomfort you feel or even the bad games you’ve had the past few weeks have nothing to do with your swing, most if not all times? And that all the bad feelings you harbor right now point to a different cause, something in the lines of body weakness or even inflexibility?
What you might not know as you get into golf is that the game is quite ballistic as it involves very sudden movements and moments of exertion. Golf games are also one-sided. What does this mean? Well, in the golf course, you will swing your club 75 up to 100 times just from one side of your body. The game is also quite demanding physically, and you need to take those swings at a very high speed while keeping your handicap low.
Naturally, the one-sided action and exertion will cause muscle imbalances, or worse, muscle injuries resulting from overuse. And since most of us are not ambidextrous, it means that you cannot play from your right on that front nine and then play lefty on your back nine.
Therefore, you might want to look at your level of fitness before you invest money, time and effort working with a swing coach, but what’s perceived as the best golf gear, or even playing more. You need to identify and enroll for physical training programs that focus on enhancing the mobility and the flexibility of your swings; as long as you are not hurt, in real pain, or injured.
So, even as you work on being the best golf player, working day and night to improve your game, do not neglect your physical abilities and health. Keep in mind that besides your physique, your techniques or golf skills also matter, but none of these golf essentials lead to success on their own. You need to be in excellent physical health and master the right golf skills for top-performance on the golf course.
And even though your accuracy and your on-point hits are crucial when it comes to the distance on the green, your performance against an opponent will differ depending on your strength levels.
The other benefits of golf exercises include:
- Enhanced flexibility – with the proper workout, your muscle mobility increases, and this results in better movements in your swing. The workouts also enhance your spine and hip rotational mobility, the legs’ flexibility, and your arm stretches will become easier.
- Enhanced game discipline – the other advantage of golf exercises lies in their ability to boost your mental strength to greater heights. By now, you know that your mental strength is just as important as physical strength.
- Overall healthier body – Like every other sport, your health should be your ultimate goal. A healthy (healthier) body boosts performance on the course, albeit indirectly, and it will also allow you to have more fun out on the golf course.
First, warmup. Warming up might not feel like an essential ingredient to a good golf game, but it’s fundamental. With golf thought to be a lot like a sprint where your body engages in an anaerobic activity with explosive movements in very short time spans, nothing is more important than the right warm up session.
Why do we say this? Well, as someone who has had their fair (or not so fair) share of injuries because of skipping the warm-up, I can tell you that you should take that warm-up seriously. Warming up lowers (and even eliminates) your risk of injury. So, with the risk of injuries higher in golf because of the constant movements throughout the game and the engagement of your entire body from the back and neck to the shoulders and the arms, warm up first.
The best part is that your warm-up doesn’t have to be too long – you only need 5 minutes, and this will improve your distance by as much as 45 yards. Besides the reduced risk of injuries, the best warm-up session will enhance your overall performance significantly.
So, if you hit a wall in your recent games or you just need to improve your game, then warmup. Now that you’ve warmed up, it’s time to look at the golf exercises you should engage in, and what they should focus on.
Areas to focus on when working out
According to research by the Titleist Performance Institute, more than 60% of golf players alter their posture during and before taking swings. While the alteration in posture seems to be born out of habit, the truth is that the change in posture results from lack of strength and muscle flexibility needed to support a correct and healthy posture.
A flat shoulder plane
With about 45% of golfers having a flat shoulder plane when playing, your exercises should focus on correcting this. In the flat plane, your shoulders tend to cover more of your horizontal movements compared to the spine.
This could cause long-term effects, and it results from the lack of extensive strength training which leaves you with weak shoulder and back muscles.
Over the Top Motion
If you throw your club too wide and outside your intended trajectory, leaving your clubhead to approach your ball from the outside (to inside), then you are either making this motion out of habit, or your arms might not be strong enough to support the weight of the club.
If you find yourself dealing with the premature release of your wrist’s grips when swinging, then it means that you need more strength training focusing on your arms and the wrists.
Early extension is another big problem in golfers, and it’s associated with the extension of the hip and the spine or in other cases, the spine and the hips straighten earlier than they should. This issue also results from weak back muscles.
Note: the issues above will affect your performance on the golf course significantly, and they all have a physical cause. Some of the causes include:
- A bad posture, overall
- An imbalance in body strength between your upper body and the lower body
- Poor or the lack of core stability and core strength
- The inflexibility of the spine and the hips
- Inadequate strength in both your legs and the thighs
- Inflexibility and lack of strength in your wrists and arms
- Low abdominal strength
It looks like you need to work on your whole body for great performance on the golf course! Just make sure that the workout regime you select is ideal with your current level of strength.
The Best Golf Exercises
These are exercises that will work on your back, arms, legs, lower back, core, and your thighs.
With a lack of or inadequate strength as the reason for most issues and poor performance on the golf course, it makes sense for you to focus on strength training. In strength training, you need to use weights that are heavy enough to allow you to do about 8 reps for every set (3/5 sets).
As the name suggests, strength training involves the building of strength. And for the best effects from strength training, you need to focus on your movement against any and all forms of weight resistance, including all your body weight. The training also involves progressive overload where you need to do more today than you did yesterday.
Note that you can start strength training from dumbbell training. When starting, your focus should be on weights that are heavy enough for you to force your body, but not extremely heavy to cause injuries.
Circuit training refers to the workout style that requires you to cycle through a number of exercises from 5-10. When it comes to exercises for golf, you might have to cycle through about 9 circuits, with a 30-seconds break between the circuits. These workouts tend to focus on different muscle groups, and they are quite taxing on endurance, the cardiovascular system, and muscle strength.
One of the reasons why circuit training is the top-recommended exercises for golf is because the exercises are great for overall bodybuilding. The other reasons include the improvement in athletic performance, enhancement of your general preparedness, and the exercises are fun (well, kind of).
For the best results, focus on circuit training at least thrice every week, resting between each workout.
Cardio & Weightlifting
These two workouts can be combined in any way for the desired effects, but you want to consider starting by training only one muscle group every day. You could also do your cardio exercises before and then after your weight training.
The benefits of these exercises are far-reaching, from weight loss to enhanced body strength. These reasons come from the fact that weight training builds muscle and the extra muscle you build enhanced fat burning.
Studies also show that weight training exercises (strength/ resistance training) enhance the strength of your lower body. As mentioned above, you need to use weights that you are comfortable with for 10 Reps in 3 sets. And don’t forget to rest between the sets.
The Swiss Ball Russian Twist
This targets your abs and the core muscles, as well as the hamstring, glutes, the back, and hips. Thanks to this exercise, you can look forward to the increased flexibility of your spine and hip rotation, the key ingredients for the perfect swing.
How to do the Swiss Ball Russian Twist
- Lie on the medicine ball then raise the hips with your knees, making a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- Cup your hands together and raise them above your chest straight.
- Next, twist your torso towards one side with your feet grounded and the hips raised. Now inhale to allow your core muscles to contract and for stability. Pause in this position or about 1-3 seconds before returning to the start position as you exhale.
- Repeat these steps on the other side. And remember to engage your core and abs rather than pushing back with your hips or back.
Arm Bar with the Kettle bell
This is an exercise that mainly targets the stability of your shoulders, as well as the abs, hip flexors, and the core. The exercise will enhance your shoulder’s strength and stability while strengthening your hips and core at the same time. All you need is a kettlebell.
- Lie down on your right side, in the fetal position and hold your kettlebell using the right hand, as close to the chest as you can, with your right elbow closed tightly.
- Next roll on your back (facing the ceiling) as you keep the kettlebell close to the chest.
- Lift your kettlebell, making your right arm extend forward, towards the ceiling. You could use both arms if you need more balance when lifting the kettlebell.
- Now bend the left knee, making a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- To repeat, keep the right arm extended then rotate clockwise and counterclockwise if possible.
- Repeat the set thrice for each arm.
Single-Leg Single-Arm Deadlift
The single-leg single arm deadlift targets your upper legs, glutes, and the hamstrings; as well as the shoulders, arms, and the core.
- Hold a kettlebell or a dumbbell in the left hand, then allow it to hand right in front of your thighs.
- Next, shift all your weight to your right left then left the left leg off the floor a bit. Note that this is your starting position. In this position, stretch out your opposite arm to your side for balance.
- Make sure to maintain the lower back in a natural angle, lifting your left leg out straight behind you with your toes pointing to the floor.
- Note that your dumbbell or the kettlebell needs to travel as far down towards your floor, as possible.
- Now go back to the starting position. Repeat these movements 8 to 20 times.
- Leg Swings – this exercise targets the flexibility of your hips and legs, as well your lower back.
- Mini-Band Walk Forward – this is an exercise that targets your glutes, the hamstrings, and your leg muscles. It promotes good posture, and it also improves your breathing.
- The Hip Flexors Stretch – This exercise targets your hip flexors – the muscle area around your lower belly.
- These muscles protect your lumbar regions and the lower back. On the golf course, the exercises will enhance your distance and overall performance while also preventing injuries to your lower back.
- Lower-Trunk Rotation – If you are looking for a great exercise that targets the obliques, hips, lower back, and the shoulder muscles, try the lower-trunk rotation. This exercise will give you more endurance and balance on the golf course.
- Hip Crossovers – The hip crossovers are great for your hips and the lower back. It strengthens the tendons and muscles even as it increases your rotational flexibility allowing you to create more torque on backswings. It also improves your follow-throughs.
- Inverted Hamstring Stretch – Besides the hamstring, this exercise also works the hips, core, lower back, and the glutes, enhancing the speed and the accuracy of your swings.
These are just some of the exercises you could try. The others include:
- Seated rotations
- Standing Ys
- Hand walks
- Lateral Pillar Bridge
- 90/90 Stretch
- Medicine Ball Perpendicular/ Parallel Throw
- Dumbbell bench presses
- Physioball pushups
- Glute Bridge
- Supine spinal twists
- Standing wood chops
- Lateral lunges/ Glute Activation Lunges
- Front and side planks