Sports-Specific Training: Golf

Improve your game on the green with these 14 exercises.

Fall is here, bringing with it all of the outdoor sports we like to enjoy on a nice moderate day. If you’re looking forward to golfing, but feel your skills on the course are rusty, now is the time to start a smart training program – geared specifically for golf.

Become a Better Golfer

Being fit in the gym can certainly translate to being fit on the green, if you train the right way with stability, mobility and strength conditioning. In fact, a surefire way to improve your golfing game is to focus on the three physical qualities needed to be an excellent golfer, which are flexibility, strength and of course, precision.

Start with moves that will strengthen the main muscles used in golf, such as your core, shoulders and back. Strength training will tighten your body control and increase your explosive power for better precision and driving ability – everything you need to play a perfect round.

Try the following movements to target the primary muscles that power your golf game:


1. One-arm Dumbbell Row

Pick up a dumbbell with one hand. Place your opposite palm and knee on a bench and bend over so your back is flat and nearly parallel to the ground. Extend your weight-bearing arm toward the floor, then draw your elbow up until your upper arm is parallel to your back and the dumbbell is level with your side. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat.

2. Kettlebell Pullover

Lie face-up on a bench, feet on the ground, with a kettlebell at chest level. Extend arms straight up above your chest. Keeping arms straight, reach arms back until they are parallel to the floor behind your head. Return to starting position. Avoid arching your back while performing this movement. Dumbbells can be a good alternative to kettlebells for this exercise.

3. Deadlift

Load a barbell with your chosen amount of weight. With your feet hip-width apart, bend over and grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Make sure to keep your back flat and not rounded throughout the entire movement, and keep a slight bend to your knees. Lift the weight, keeping the bar close to your thighs until you are in a standing position, and then lower back down.

4. Overhead Medicine Ball Toss

Kneel or stand facing a wall. Holding a medicine ball overhead, bend elbows and toss ball powerfully toward the wall. Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat at a quick speed.

5. Overhead Squat

Set feet hip-width apart and raise arms overhead beside ears. Sit back into hips and bend knees to drop into a squat. Watch for arms falling forward, arching your back or dropping the chest far forward. Ideally, you want to keep the angle of your shins and your back in alignment. To further engage the glutes, set feet wider during this movement.

6. Push-up with Rotation

Start by performing a regular push-up. When you reach the plank position at the height of the movement, rotate your torso and reach one arm up toward the ceiling, keeping both feet on the ground. Return back to a plank, lower yourself into the push-up position, and then repeat on the other side of your body.

7. Wood Chop

Grab a resistance band and place the center of the band below the ball of one foot. Grasp both handles in your hands and stretch the band across your body from one hip to above your opposite shoulder. Twist your torso at the top of the movement to further stretch the band. Finally, lower your arms back to the starting position as though you were chopping wood. Cable machines can also be an excellent tool for this exercise.

8. Wrist Curl over a Bench

Kneel next to a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Rest your forearms across the bench with your palms facing up. Curl your wrists up until they form a 90-degree angle with your forearm and then relax to the starting position.


9. Yoga

Attend weekly yoga classes to improve your flexibility and body control. Yoga is a perfect lower-impact form of exercise to do in between days when you are lifting weights or doing intense cardio. Stretching is important to help you avoid pulling a muscle caused by the repetitive motions of golf, so get in the habit of limbering up before working out or hitting the course.

10. Self-Myofascial Care (Foam Rolling)

Address areas of tension or soreness with self-massage using a foam roller – more commonly known as self-myofascial release, or SMR. Improving joint range of motion, relaxing tight muscles, and correcting muscular imbalances that can throw off your golf game are just a few of the benefits of foam rolling. To foam roll effectively, identify a target muscle or area of soreness and position that muscle group on top of the foam roller. Roll up and down the tender area until you find the most notable spot. Gently roll back and forth and side to side until the tension releases. You can adjust the intensity by applying more body weight, or by lifting your body weight off of the foam roller.

11. Side-Lying Windmill

Improve your thoracic mobility with this shoulders and upper-back stretch. Start by lying on the ground on your right side. Flex your left leg at the knee and rest it on top of a small medicine ball or foam roller. Extend both arms in front of your body, using your right arm for stability. Slowly arc your left arm up and around your head, keeping your fingertips in contact with the floor. Allow your chest to open up and your left shoulder to roll flat against the ground as your arm moves to the left side of your body. Repeat on the opposite side.

12. Split-Stance Windmill

The split-stance windmill is another good stretch to improve upper-body mobility. Facing forward, step back with your left foot into a split stance and extend your arms straight out to your sides. Without moving your hips and keeping your arms locked into a T-position with your torso, twist at your waist to the right. You should feel the stretch throughout your back. Repeat on the opposite side.

13. A-Frame Stretch

Assume a semi-squat position. Rest your right elbow against your right knee with your right fist against your left knee. Extend your left arm toward the floor and then draw it in an arc up and back above your left shoulder. Turn your neck to face your raised hand and focus on opening your chest and shoulders. Repeat on the opposite side.


14. Elliptical

Use the elliptical either on “quick-start mode,” where you can manually change the incline and resistance, or with a pre-programmed workout. You’ll work out your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes, giving you more endurance, stability and leg force out on the course. You can also use the handlebars to add an upper-body component to your cardio session.

When it comes to improving your golf game, nothing substitutes for actual practice, but if you add these exercises into your weekly routine, you should be physically primed for the first round of the season.

Golf training