Weight Training Program and Exercises for Golfers (2023)

Comprehensive training programs for individual sports are “periodized” to provide a progressive and interactive training program. Periodization means the programs are broken up into three or four phases during the year with each phase concentrating on a particular area of fitness development.

For professional sports that utilize weights in their training (which is most sports) each phase will have different objectives and each successive phase builds on the previous one.

For traveling professionals, golf is a little different. If you move from continent to continent trying to get ahead of the weather, you could pretty much play all year round. Wherever you go, a training program is an essential part of your season.

Here's how a weight training program could look if your golf playing season is followed by a closed or off-season in response to snowy weather.

How Periodized Programs Work

Early pre-season

Players are preparing for the season and starting to build up after the break. Emphasis is on building functional strength and some muscle bulk (hypertrophy).

Late pre-season

Players are working up to the start of the season. Emphasis is on building maximum power.

In season

Competition or regular recreational golf is underway and you expect to be in peak condition. Maintenance of strength and power is emphasized.

Closed season

Time to relax for a while but you need to keep active if you want to get a flying start for next year. Emphasis is on rest and recovery with maintenance of light activity —​ cross training, light gym work.

During this time a break from serious strength training is often helpful. As pre-season approaches, more regular gym work can resume.

Physically, golf requires a mix of aerobic fitness and strength. You don't want to fade in the last few holes in a round because you feel tired, which impacts mental as well as physical performance.

While this program is for strength training, you should prepare well for the long days on the fairway with additional aerobic conditioning. Practice rounds might be enough for some players but additional cardio on the road or in the gym could work to your advantage.

Basic Approach to a Golf Weight Training Program

Professional golfers like Gary Player, Greg Norman, and Tiger Woods have made strength training respectable, if not essential, for maximizing achievement in the sport. However, amateur and recreational golfers can also benefit from strength training.

This is a four-phase weight training program that should suit most golfers. The first phase concentrates on building basic strength and muscle. In the second phase, you'll focus on power delivery.

(Video) Dumbbell Workout for Golfers: Complete workout with nothing but dumbbells and a bench

If you play all year round you can just continue with the power program once you build your basics. If you take a break for longer than a month, start again with the strength program.

Consider this program an all-around program that is best suited to beginners or casual weight trainers without a history of weight training. The best programs are specific to an individual's current fitness level, goals, and access to resources and coaches.

If you're new to weight training, brush up on principles and practices with the beginner resources before you get started.

A medical clearance for exercise is always a good idea at the start of the season.

Phase 1: Pre-Season

Strength and Muscle Phase

During this phase, you will build strength and muscle. The emphasis is on lifting moderately heavy weights in order to train the nervous system in conjunction with the muscle fibers to move bigger loads.

Hypertrophy, which is building muscle size, does not necessarily imply strength, although in this foundation phase some muscle-building will serve you well for strength development. Strength will be the foundation for the next phase, which is power development.

Power is the ability to move the heaviest loads in the shortest time. Power is essentially a product of strength and speed.

For golf, power could mean a better tee shot, more control on those tricky approaches, or length on the big par five holes.

Time of year: Mid pre-season
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Days per week: 2-3, with at least one day between sessions
Reps: 8-10
Sets: 2-4

Rest in between sets: 1-2 minutes

Phase 1 Exercises:

(Video) RORY MCILROY FULL WORKOUT ROUTINE

  • Barbell squat, dumbbell squat or sled hack squat
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Dumbbell biceps arm curl
  • Dumbbell bent-over row
  • Dumbbell triceps extension or machine pushdown
  • Cable wood chop
  • Lat pulldown to the front with wide grip
  • Reverse crunch

Points to Note:

  • Always warm up and cool down before and after a training session.
  • Adjust the weight so that the final few repetitions are taxing but don't cause you to "fail" completely.
  • Although the upper body — the swing — is where the action is expressed in golf, the "posterior chain" of the hips, gluteals (butt) and upper legs and the abdominals are of equal importance in executing the swing. The squats and deadlifts build strength and power in this region.
  • Don't work to failure for the upper body exercises such as the dumbbell press, woodchops, and lat pulldown, and do hold good form. Keep the forearms in a vertical plane with the upper arms not extending excessively below parallel at the bottom of the movement. It's important to protect the vulnerable shoulder joint when training for sports where the shoulder gets a lot of specific "out of gym" work — in this case on the course.
  • If you are unable to recover from a session with only one rest day in between, re-schedule this program to two sessions each week rather than three. Strength training can be physically and mentally demanding — but so can golf.
  • You may be sore after these sessions. Muscle soreness or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is normal; joint pain is not. Be sure to monitor your arm and shoulder reactions to this phase. Back off when any joint pain or discomfort is felt.

Phase 2: Late Pre-Season to In Season

Conversion to Power

In this phase, you build on the strength developed in phase 1 with training that will increase your ability to move a load at high velocity. Power is combiningstrength and speed.

Power training requires that you lift weights at high velocity and with explosive intent. You need to rest adequately between repetitions and sets so that each movement is done as fast as possible. The number of sets can be less than in phase 1. There is no point in training like this when you're fatigued.

Time of year: Late pre-season and in-season
Duration: Ongoing
Days per week: 2
Reps: 8 to 10
Sets: 2-4
Rest between repetitions: 10 to 15 seconds
Rest between sets: At least 1 minute or until recovery

Phase 2 Exercises:

  • Barbell or dumbbell hang clean
  • Cable push-pull
  • Cable wood chop
  • Medicine ball push press
  • Medicine ball standing twist with a partner (6x15 repetitions fast, recover between sets) (or alone)

Points to Note:

  • In power training, it's important that you're relatively recovered for each repetition and set so that you can maximize the velocity of the movement, so take up to 5 minutes between sets. The weights should not be too heavy and the rest periods sufficient.
  • At the same time, you need to push or pull reasonably heavy loads to develop power against reasonable resistance.
  • With the medicine ball twists, do a full set at maximum then rest sufficiently before the next one. If you don't have a partner, use a lighter ball and keep the ball in your hands while twisting from side to side.

Phase 3: In Season

Maintenance of Strength and Power

Alternate phase 1 (Strength and Muscle) and phase 2 (Power) for a total of two sessions each week. Every fifth week, skip weight training to assist recovery.

Points to Note:

  • Try not to do strength training on the same day as you practice on the course — or at least separate workouts morning and afternoon and concentrate on your short game rather than the power drives if you do.
  • Rest completely from strength training one week in five. Light gym work is OK.
  • Use your judgment. Don't sacrifice course technical skills training for weight work if you have limited time available.

Phase 4: Off Season

If you have an off-season, it's the time to rest up. You need this time for emotional and physical renewal. For several weeks, you can forget about golf and focus on other things. That said, it's a good idea to stay fit and active with cross training or other activities you enjoy.

Give yourself plenty of time to rest and get ready to do it all again next year.

5 Sources

(Video) The PERFECT Workout for Longer Drives | Gym Routine from Martin Borgmeier

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Evans JW. Periodized Resistance Training for Enhancing Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength: A Mini-Review.Front Physiol. 2019;10:13. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00013

  2. National Academy of Sports Medicine. Hypertrophy: Back to The Basics.

  3. Hotfiel T, Freiwald J, Hoppe MW, et al.Advances in Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS): Part I: Pathogenesis and Diagnostics.Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2018;32(4):243-250. doi:10.1055/a-0753-1884

  4. Harvard Health Publishing. Power Training Provides Special Benefits for Muscles and Function.

  5. McKendry J, Pérez-López A, McLeod M, et al. Short inter-set rest blunts resistance exercise-induced increases in myofibrillar protein synthesis and intracellular signalling in young males. Experimental Physiology. 2016;101(7):866-882. doi:10.1113/ep085647

By Paul Rogers
Paul Rogers is a personal trainer with experience in a wide range of sports, including track, triathlon, marathon, hockey, tennis, and baseball.

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(Video) Rory McIlroy's strength day workout | GolfPass | Golf Channel

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FAQs

What weight training is good for golfers? ›

To create and translate power golfers need to train glute strength, hip stability, and anterior core strength. Exercises like forearm rollouts, side planks, planks with arm marches, pallof presses, lateral band walking, bowler's squats, hip thrusters, deadlifts, and Romanian deadlifts are key.

Do golfers do weight training? ›

When you look at two of the top golf athletes of the past two generations in Tiger Woods and McIlroy, you can quickly see that what they're doing is strength training, lifting heavy weights for a low amount of reps.

What is the best workout for golfers? ›

5 Exercises That Will Improve Your Golf Game
  • Side Step-Ups. The first exercise in this program is the side step-up. ...
  • Lunges with Rotation. ...
  • Medicine Ball Core Rotations. ...
  • Cat Camels. ...
  • Sword Draws (Shoulder External Rotation)
11 Oct 2022

Do pro golfers lift weights? ›

The golf season is a long and grueling one, so it's no surprise that the top PGA stars train hard. Players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, and Jordan Spieth are known for crushing big lifts in the gym, something golfers decades ago would never think of doing.

What is the best exercise to increase golf swing speed? ›

Rotational Squats

When you reach the bottom of the squat, rise up as fast as you can and rotate your upper body into the finish position of your golf swing. This exercise trains the proper sequence of the golf swing and how to use the lower body and ground for leverage.

What muscles increase golf swing speed? ›

Strengthen your golf muscles.

Do workouts that target the muscles you use when swinging — these key muscles are the glutes (butt), pecs (chest), lats (back), forearm muscles, and core. Relevant exercises include shoulder raises, chest flys, and abdominal crunches.

What should golfers do in the gym? ›

In the gym The best golfers will tell you that without a solid base, their swing would crumble. Balance and strength in the thigh, calf and glutes will lead to a powerful, fluid swing. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging will help, but some weight training coupled with stretching is a must for this part of the body.

Does lifting weights mess up your golf swing? ›

Adding weight to the golf swing changes the entire sequence and balance of the movement to accommodate the added resistance. It might look like your golf swing in the mirror, but you'll wind up sending your brain mixed signals about the timing and sequence of your swing.

Are push ups good for golfers? ›

Pushups are a terrific upper body exercise you can do anywhere and modify for your needs. For golfers, pushups strengthen your pectoral muscles and improve the stability of the tissues in your shoulders. Your rotator cuff muscles and deltoids are vital to controlling the club as you swing.

What is the most important muscle for golf? ›

The glutes are the most important muscle in golf, and if yours are not properly activated you will lose distance and power, and put yourself at risk of injury.

What muscles improve golf? ›

The research showed that the key lower body muscle was the gluteus maximus more famously known as (your butt). While the key upper body muscles were the pectoralis major (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), core and forearm muscles.

Are bicep curls good for golf? ›

These are two professional golfers who have shown that adding a workout routine to your golf practice schedule can also help you play better golf. Building your bicep muscles can certainly add strength to your body and help you hit the golf ball much farther.

Is bench pressing good for golf? ›

Focusing on Bench Press will take away the needed shoulder mobility for the swing as it will only tighten the shoulders and triceps and one needs mobility in those areas not stiff. In short bench pressing is a no-go for golfers. We will focus on better exercises to improve your golf swing.

How do I add 10 mph to my golf swing? ›

Gain 10 MPH Clubhead Speed Launch Longer Golf Drives - YouTube

Does lifting weights increase club head speed? ›

This form of training does not alter your swing at all, and instead strengthens the muscles you actually use during the swing. The only thing that changes is how hard you can swing when you go back out to the course.

How do I increase my golf swing power? ›

How to Generate Power in a Golf Swing
  1. Use practice drills to increase clubhead speed. ...
  2. Experiment with your feet alignment. ...
  3. Brace the right knee. ...
  4. Create a wider swing arc. ...
  5. Lead with your feet on the downswing. ...
  6. Develop a stronger release.

Does faster backswing increase speed? ›

Speed accumulates throughout your swing, so the faster you move the club away on your backswing, the faster your club will be traveling as it comes into the golf ball.

What is the most important component of fitness for a golfer? ›

Flexibility, Power and Strength Are Important

Our first analysis of fitness components for golf, a 1 to 5 rating list of selected components of fitness, found that flexibility was rated the most important, followed by muscle power and strength (see results).

Should you lift weights during golf season? ›

1) In-season is NOT the time to stop your golf fitness program. 2) In-season is NOT the time to drop strength training from your golf fitness program. However, continuing to train in-season also represents something of a balancing act between fitness and fatigue.

What components of fitness do golfers need? ›

Flexibility: Rotators and Iron Cross Strength: Bent Knee Marches and Medicine Ball Rotational Squat Power: Power Swings and Standing Medicine Ball Throw Again, these are not the only golf fitness exercises that can benefit your golf swing, but they are ones that can absolutely improve your levels of flexibility, ...

Should you squat in golf swing? ›

What you want to do is squat as you swing into the ball. This move is similar to what any athlete would do before leaping. Many long-ball hitters drop several inches as they start the downswing. Tiger Woods has been doing it throughout his career, and it has served him well.

Are deadlifts good for golfers? ›

Builds The Forearms And Grip Strength

The deadlift is the best lift for building grip strength and probably the number 1 reason why we rank it above the squat as the best lift for Golf.

Do you lift arms in golf swing? ›

In making a full and powerful backswing, your arms lift about 90 degrees, swing across your chest about 15 degrees, and rotate open (clockwise) 90 degrees more.

Are planks good for golfers? ›

The plank can be one of the best ways to strengthen your core. Learn how to plank the right way, and begin building your body for better golf.

How many miles do you walk for 18 holes of golf? ›

The World Golf Foundation estimates that golfers who walk an 18-hole course clock about 5 miles and burn up to 2,000 calories.

Are situps good for golf? ›

Sit-ups and Crunches

Just about every golf fitness resource recommends staying away from sit-ups and/or crunches. A golfer needs to protect their spine from unnecessary flexion, and crunches can often increase back pain.

Which leg is more important in golf? ›

In fact, lead leg strength may actually be more important for a golfer as it is responsible for creating force in the downswing yet from my testing experience is often the weaker leg.

What is the secret to a good golf swing? ›

Here's the fix: Keep both knees gently flexed throughout your entire swing. Let your lower body relax and support your upper body as you swing the club. Just like shocks, they'll smooth out your swing and keep you level for more consistent strikes.

How do I strengthen my arms for golf? ›

The Best Upper Body Workout For Golf - Golf Fitness Tips - YouTube

How do I strengthen my arms in my golf swing? ›

EXTEND YOUR ARMS FOR MORE POWER - YouTube

Are leg presses good for golf? ›

Improved stability: exercises such as the leg press and torso extension specifically train the leg, posterior, lower back and abdominal muscles. Those provide more stability to the golf player throughout the golf swing. Additionally, the hip rotation is noticeably improved.

What is Tiger Woods max bench press? ›

In fact, Tiger worked on his bench press and was able to hit a personal record of 255 pounds.

Is CrossFit good for golfers? ›

Functional, complex movements lend themselves well to the complexity of the golf swing. Many CrossFit workouts include explosive, plyometric movements that can help build power and increase driving distance.

Does benching hurt golfers elbow? ›

Unfortunately, due to the required rotation of the forearm to grip the barbell, barbell bench pressing can exacerbate the lifter's elbow symptoms by requiring greater range of motion from the shoulder, forearm, and wrist than the individual may possess.

› thelocker › best-golf-workouts... ›

PGA coach Dave Phillips discusses the muscles used to swing a club, and shares specific workouts and golf exercises to strengthen them.
The key is adding muscle and flexibility. What are the best golf exercises for you? Are there specific exercises for golf, designed to improve your swing? Don&#...
The weakest part of most golfers' bodies is the part they need most: the core. Without strong, pliable muscles in your stomach, hips, butt and lower back, y...

How do golfers train in the gym? ›

In the gym The best golfers will tell you that without a solid base, their swing would crumble. Balance and strength in the thigh, calf and glutes will lead to a powerful, fluid swing. Cardiovascular exercises like jogging will help, but some weight training coupled with stretching is a must for this part of the body.

Should golfers do deadlifts? ›

For golfers, deadlifting activates the glutes and encourages more athletic movements to be initiated from the hips. It also creates a more stable base for your swing, helps correct early extension and encourages hip first rotation. Deadlifts are a great exercise that will help your golf swing in the gym.

What muscles do golfers use most? ›

The most important muscles for golf are located in your core—which includes your chest and back—your forearms, and your butt. These muscles allow you to control the force and rotation of your swing, giving you more power over the ball itself.

Are bicep curls good for golf? ›

These are two professional golfers who have shown that adding a workout routine to your golf practice schedule can also help you play better golf. Building your bicep muscles can certainly add strength to your body and help you hit the golf ball much farther.

Are push ups good for golfers? ›

Pushups are a terrific upper body exercise you can do anywhere and modify for your needs. For golfers, pushups strengthen your pectoral muscles and improve the stability of the tissues in your shoulders. Your rotator cuff muscles and deltoids are vital to controlling the club as you swing.

Are pull ups good for your golf swing? ›

Are pull-ups good for golf? Buchan says that pull-ups guard against physical imbalance and challenge the upper back musculature. This, he says, is vital for developing correct posture and transferring power during the golf swing. “The Pull-Up is also one of the best core exercises.”

What is the secret to a good golf swing? ›

Here's the fix: Keep both knees gently flexed throughout your entire swing. Let your lower body relax and support your upper body as you swing the club. Just like shocks, they'll smooth out your swing and keep you level for more consistent strikes.

Should you squat in golf swing? ›

What you want to do is squat as you swing into the ball. This move is similar to what any athlete would do before leaping. Many long-ball hitters drop several inches as they start the downswing. Tiger Woods has been doing it throughout his career, and it has served him well.

How do I increase my power in golf swing? ›

Move your arms as far away from your body as possible without moving your head. Let your feet lead the downswing. On the downswing, plant your left heel and roll both ankles toward the target line. Allowing your feet to lead pulls your knees in the same direction, creating a more powerful hip rotation.

Are planks good for golfers? ›

The plank can be one of the best ways to strengthen your core. Learn how to plank the right way, and begin building your body for better golf.

Do strong forearms help golfers? ›

The forearms generate speed in your swing, help you to control the clubface and rotate to set the club on the proper plane. Strengthening your forearms can improve your distance and accuracy as well as help you make a mechanically solid swing.

What is the most important muscle in the golf swing? ›

The glutes are the most important muscle in golf, and if yours are not properly activated you will lose distance and power, and put yourself at risk of injury.

What is the most fundamental skill in golf? ›

Golf's 7 Essential Skills
  1. Pre swing fundamentals - Grip, Aim and Setup. Grip – Most golfers have never held a golf club properly. ...
  2. Club face control. Accuracy is a combination of aim and clubface control. ...
  3. Strike, don't scoop. ...
  4. Swing Plane. ...
  5. Pivot. ...
  6. Effortless power, not powerless effort. ...
  7. Width in your golf swing.
29 Jun 2015

Which leg is more important in golf? ›

In fact, lead leg strength may actually be more important for a golfer as it is responsible for creating force in the downswing yet from my testing experience is often the weaker leg.

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