Weight Training Exercises For Strength & Distance In Golf
Golf is a game where we all want to hit the ball further off the tee and by increasing the speed at which we swing the club, the force we generate can help us to get more distance in our drives and more distance in our irons.
Swinging the golf club is a full-body exercise and we want to increase our overall strength and 1 Rep Max in all of the key compound lifts like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press and Military Press with secondary assistance exercises to fully completely hit the muscles and we also want to work on some power movements to get that newfound strength into generating speed in our golf swing.
To Increase Our Golf Swing Distance, we want to increase the strength in our full power and we want to transfer that into swinging the club faster and getting more distance. Many weight training coaches will have you on one leg and doing bicep curls with the opposite hand for golf. They are usually coaches who are not strong themselves. I am here to tell you that good old fashion compound lifting will increase your swing speed better than any gimmicky weight training.
The Goal Of Our Weight Training
A trainer once said to me that you can’t get stronger and look worse in the mirror. When you start out on any training path, you should have clearly defined goals.
Our goal in golf is to be able to swing the club faster. The golf swing uses all of the muscles in the body and by becoming stronger we can increase the speed at which we swing and the force at which we naturally hit the golf ball.
Our goal is to develop our strength, not to pack on useless muscle and we want to transfer that increased strength into our golf swing for extra yards.
Our smart goals might be to increase our 1 Rep Max Weights On All Of Our Compound Lifts By 20% in 2 Months.
Your 1 Rep Max is the maximum weight you can lift comfortably and with good form for 1 rep. We will be usually working in the low rep ranges for our strength exercises to increase strength without adding as much bulk.
How It Works – Intro To The Bodies Energy Systems
The Aerobic System
The Aerobic System refers to the body’s ability to perform tasks fuelled by oxygen. This is like jogging, cycling or even hillwalking where we can breathe normally, and you use the oxygen to recover allowing us to continue. Aerobic exercises usually last from 1 minute to 1 hour+ and this is the building block of our fitness. We should work on Aerobic conditioning in the preseason as a good aerobic system will allow us to develop the Anaerobic system where we increase strength.
The Anaerobic System
The Anaerobic System refers to exercises of a higher intensity where the body can’t replenish the muscle with oxygen. The muscle fills with lactic acid in anaerobic exercises forcing you to stop. This is like sprinting, strength training or doing punching drills on a boxing bag. The Anaerobic System is where we will be working to add strength to the body allowing us to build the Alactic system.
The Alactic System
The Alactic System refers to the max force our body can generate, and it covers all of our movements. The Alactic decreases very quickly and will need to be replenished. By working on exercises in our Alactic System we can transfer our strength gains into a higher 1 Rep Max, swing faster and thus hit the ball further with less effort.
These systems are a scale and sports can work in multiple systems at the same time. Swimming is aerobic and anaerobic like boxing etc. Golf is also aerobic with all the walking but mainly Alactic when we are hitting the ball.
Each system can only build on the development of the system above it. We are going to focus on Anaerobic and Alactic for our strength but you should also certainly develop your aerobic system in pre-season with long jogs, hill walking, cycling, etc
Training Program For Increasing Strength
Increasing strength relies on lifting heavy weights for only a few reps and a higher number of sets than weight training for muscle like bodybuilders.
We can work in the 5 reps for 5 sets range for our compound lifts and 3 Sets of 6 Reps For Our Accessory exercises.
Golf Strength Training Exercises For Legs
This is probably the number 1 compound lift for golfers as it really engages all of the body and allows us to develop the overall strength that we want to put onto the ball. There are many variations on the deadlift but the main thing to keep in mind is that you keep your back straight and use good form. You don’t want to try and lift too much but build the weight up gradually as you move along.
The deadlift will really work the Hamstrings, Glutes, Lower Back and Arms for a thoroughly effective exercise that’s also a favorite of Tiger Woods and Rory McElroy
We can do a little bit higher reps for the lower body so 5*5 or 6*4 are good rep and set ranges to build strength for golf.
Barbell Squats In our high weight, high set, low rep ranges are going to build a ton of strength in the lower body. There’s a reason why all the squat racks are filled with girls squatting these days and it’s because squats are excellent builders for the lower body, particularly the glutes and the quads.
For building strength for most sports, squats would be my number 1 choice but since we are talking about golf, I would have to recommend the Deadlift first because of the muscles it works.
Accessory Lifts For Leg Strength In Golf
Our accessory lifts will focus more on isolating single muscles in the legs and we really don’t need a ton of volume when strength training for golf. We definitely don’t want useless muscle or worse, disproportionate muscle.
Dumbbell Lunges 6 Reps Each side in a set for 4 sets will also help us to build the glutes and hamstrings effectively. This could also be an accessory exercise where you hit 7 reps for 3 sets after either squats, deadlift or both.
This is a quality exercise and when doing heavyweights for a lot of sets we really don’t need that many different exercises to build strength in the full body.
Leg Press Machine
Leg Press is perfect for exhausting the glutes and quads after your squatting. We want to hit 6-8 reps for 3 sets as we will already be tired from our strength training exercises.
Other lower body accessory lifts include the leg curl and hamstring machine along with calf raises but they are really not that necessary.
Back Strength Exercises For Golf
Back Strength is going to be our second most important aspect to increasing our swing speed. The Golf swing heavily relies on the back to generate speed and we want to put in work in the gym to increase that strength and ultimately power.
Referred to as the squat of the lower body, Pullups are perfect for building the upper back, primarily the lats and are assisted by the biceps. Pull-ups are key components of any strength training and you want to stay in the 5 *5 or 6 * 4 rep ranges.
Pull-ups should be proportionately easier the lighter you are so if you need to add weight to stay in our rep ranges then that is a good idea. Use a weight vest or attached a dumbbell to a weight vest for maximum gains.
We want to do 5*5 still but if you can only do 5,4,3,2,1 that is still excellent for adding strength and power to your lats and back!
Accessory Lifts For The Back
Cable Rows involve sitting on a bench and pulling the weight towards yourself, working the back muscles horizontally instead of vertically, given exhaustion to the entire back and remember that our deadlifts are also hitting the lower back very effectively. Keep the weight heavy on these and go for 3 Sets of 6 reps for maximum gains.
The bent-over row works very similarly to the cable row except you are bent over on a bench and lifting the dumbbell off the floor towards your body. You use one arm at a time and remember to keep your elbow close to your body and work 3 Sets of 6 Reps for this one as well Max Strength gains.
Best Golf Strength Exercises For Chest
The full upper body strength is going to play a part in how much strength we have to put into our swing. The chest and back are the main muscle of the upper body and it is assisted by the shoulders and the triceps
Bench Press is our go-to exercise when adding strength to our chest and triceps. We like to work on the bench heavy and then exhaust the chest muscles and use or accessory lifts to exhaust the muscle and add strength
5*5 is going to be perfect for the chest. The first two sets should relatively easy and then it should get hard for the final three sets. Your last rep on your last set should be almost failure.
Accessory Lifts For Chest
Close Grip Bench Press
Just like the bench press except the starting position of your arms is much closer together. Try this on a smith machine if you are worried about how much weight to lift. This is an exercise I do religiously after bench to increase strength and power. Go for 3 sets of 6 reps to get the max strength gains.
Dips are a great exercise for hitting the chest and the triceps but, like push-ups, they can become too easy. Add a weighted vest or a belt with a barbell plate to increase the weight and put the focus on building strength. Look to go for 3 Sets of 6 with this accessory exercise.
This is a perfect accessory to completely exhaust the muscles in the chest. Stay relatively heavy on these. Go 6 reps for 3 sets to get good strength gains. You can also do cable flies or the pec deck machine to replace this.
Put a 40lb plate on your back and do Push-Ups for 6-8 reps for 3 sets. This is perfect for engaging the triceps and chest to add strength.
Shoulder Strength Exercises For Golf
Military press involves lifting an Olympic bar with some weight over your head using your shoulders. This is a great compound movement for building strength in the shoulders and the upper body. This one is also going to rely on the triceps secondarily. Go for 5*5 or 6*4 as usual on this program.
Accessory Lifts For Shoulders
Lateral raises are the perfect compliment for exhausting the shoulders after military press. Perfect for hitting the side heads of the shoulder and giving us the rounded look to our shoulders. This one can be painful on the shoulder muscles but don’t worry, they will come back stronger for the next time. Hit 6*3 on this for max strength gains.
If this was for boxing or swimming, we would be saying do 2 sets of 15 for the accessory lift to build endurance but we really don’t need that for golf which is why we are also going heavy on the accessory lift.
Another quality accessory exercise. Raise a dumbbell plate (40lbs if you can) straight up in front of you and quickly turn it left and right like a steering wheel for total exhaustion of the shoulders. 6 * 3 will be perfect hereafter we have done military press for our main compound lift
We should not forget the core as part of our full-body strength training. Sure, the muscles do a lot of the heavy lifting but the core is the solid foundation that is part of the bridge between strength and power.
A lot of our compound lifts will also work on strength but we also want to include the plank and variations of it to our strength and power training.
The Plank is our friend here. We can put a 40lb plank on our backs and hold it for 30 seconds or we can do our plank variations.
Do all the variations without stopping or taking a break
Normal Plank: 10 seconds
1 Hand Raised: 10 seconds – Switch hand and repeat
1 Leg Raised: 10 seconds – Switch and repeat
Side Plank: 10 seconds – Switch sides and repeat
1 Hand and Opposite Leg Raised: 10 seconds – Switch sides and repeat
Normal Plank Again: 10 Second Hold
Putting It All Together
For A Strength Training program, we really don’t need crazy volume and with strength training make sure to take plenty of rest between sets to allow your muscle fibers to recover and give you maximum strength for the next set.
If you want to put this into a program we suggest doing the compound lifting for every body part and mix it up with 1 Accessory lift. If you can’t do any of the particular lifts, you can always replace it with a machine variation to target that muscle group but keep the weight heavy and the reps low.
You can fit all of your strength training into 2 days or 3 days in the gym. Whatever your schedule allows or what your personal preference is.
2 Day Split Looks Like This
Deadlift 5*5, Squat 6*4, Lunges 6 * 3 (6 Reps Each Leg)
Military Press 5*5, Lateral Raises 6*3
Pullups 5*5, Cable Rows 6*3
Bench Press 5*5, Weighted Dips 6 * 3
The 2 day split here is actually handy because you would probably have another day to work on your strength exercises. We are going to give you the power exercises here but the turning strength into power will be another post. We have Youtube videos coming and we have some downloadable programs coming too, so stay tuned.
Building Our Power For Golf
Building power is about increasing our 1 rep force or our overall strength so we can swing the club head faster and get more distance with every club in the bag. The strength training on its own will give us some yards but there some effective power exercises we can use to increase our hits even further.
We need to remember, we will be in the Alactic Energy System for our power exercises and that can only output max force for about 5 seconds so we only want to perform a couple of reps or seconds before we take a break. And we should take a good break
Power & Strength Exercises
Push The Sled For around 5/10 seconds with a good heavyweight to build power in the lower body, rest for a minute and go again. Do three runs total
Grab some heavy dumbbells and repeat the 3 sets for 5/10 seconds and the weight should feel very heavy to carry. This will build strength and power in the legs, grip, and forearms.
Medicine Ball Twist Slams
This is the twisting, hip movement that we can carry into our golf swing. Do 3 sets of 5 reps on each side and take a good break between sets 60 to 90 seconds.
Cable Wood Chops
This is really good for simulating the actual golf swing. You don’t need a huge weight, you want to put max force into it for 5 reps, take a good rest and do 3 sets in total.
Sledge Hammer On The Tire
Swing a sledgehammer onto a tire like they do for boxing. 5 reps with each hand for 3 sets.
Medicine Ball Slams
Lift the medicine ball high over your head and slam it down as hard as you can. 5 reps for 3 sets with a good break in between.
Look out for our full article on power exercises for golf but if you try out all of these exercises, you should get good distance benefits in your golf. If you go to a trainer and they have you doing stuff that isn’t that difficult, you should probably run a mile and be honest with yourself.
Good old fashioned lifting in the strength rep ranges is what is going to have the biggest impact on your swing speed and the easy power moves are just a way to convert that strength into actual speed power but the power will come from the strength and that is what we need to build up.
We keep the weights high and the reps low because we are not trying to build useless muscle, we are trying to become stronger golf players with more distance and more control.
Remember that you can’t get stronger without looking better so improved physique, improved health and improved golf is what you can expect if you stick with this lifting program for at least three months. Nothing worth doing is easy and greatness takes time so best of luck with the training and let us know how you get on.
Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!