Golf Fitness: Power

November 24, 2010

Much has been written about golf fitness in terms of how to generate power.  My goal is not to advocate a particular swing theory or exercise program, but rather to provide general fitness advice that should be helpful to any swing.  While the average golfer generally wants to get more power in his or her full swing, rarely is that energy properly focused at the gym to develop the right muscles.  Here are some fundamentals to focus on:

1) Mix in both Unilateral and Bilateral exercises – Bilateral exercises use both limbs in unison to move a load, such as barbell squats, barbell bench press, and chinups. If one limb pushes or pulls harder than the other, the load will not move evenly. Unilateral exercises focus on each limb working independently of each other. This can be accomplished by either isolating one limb at a time or by using dumbbells or independent stack cables to push or pull with both limbs at the same time. Examples of these movements include exercises such as dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell bent-over rows, and lunges.  Read more here on these terms.

2) Start with your lower body – the only way to swing faster (not harder) is to have a stable foundation.  Since good footwork is critical to nearly every swing, making sure your legs are strong is a good start to getting more power.  I personally try to work my legs every single time I go to the gym.  For me, mixing squats, splits squats, step ups, and a number of explosive leg exercises has helped improve my stability.  In particular, curtsy squats help replicate the hip rotation that occurs in the golf swing.  For those of you who are uncomfortable with weighted exercises, using an aerobics step for a number of ploy-metric exercises maybe the correct option.  For others, squats and lunges will provide more than enough resistance.

3) Don’t forget your lower back – This area of the body is often  forgotten but critical to maintaining spine angle throughout the swing – another fundamental of nearly every golf swing.  To effectively work your lower back, you could start with an exercise ball and roll slowly backward while lying with your back on the ball to stretch it out.  Most gyms are equipped with some variation of a back extension machine.  Start with the one at a 45 degree angle and work your way up to the horizontal back extension.  This exercise can be intimidating the first time you do it because you may feel as though you can’t support your body weight.  Ease into it.  Soon enough, you’ll be doing this exercise with only one leg supporting your weight.

4) Core strength – instead of just doing crunches, mix this up and use the cable machines to work your full range of motion.  Woodchoppers and bar bell torques are the best for really feeling the burn and can be done with low weight.  Also, don’t forget to work your lower abs.  This will not only supplement the work you are doing on your lower back, but it will prevent lower back pain from carrying your bag around the course (another great fitness benefit!).  One of my favorites is having a partner stand by your head while you are lying with your back on the ground.  Kick your feet up towards your partner while keeping your legs straight  and back on the ground.  Have your partner throw your feet back toward the ground, but don’t them hit the floor.  bring your feet back up to your partner and repeat.  Once this becomes to easy, have your partner mix it up by throwing your feet down at an angle.  This really burns.

5)  Work your back, chest, and shoulders evenly! – don’t over-exercise on any one area in an attempt to “bulk up” because you’ll throw off your natural rhythm.  Also, be sure to mix it up with bilateral and unilateral exercises here.  Doing too many unilateral exercises will definitely throw off your body’s ability to coordinate muscles for a powerful, smooth swing.

6) Work your wrists – an often overlooked area for generating power in the golf swing is wrist strength.  Rock climbers roll a weight that is hung from a dowel up and down while holding at arm’s length.  I also recommend holding a light dumbbell and simply rotating your wrists as long as you can.  These exercises will also help you generate clubhead speed  because your wrists will be more supple during impact.

7) Don’t be discouraged, Keep at it! – soreness from working out and the uneven strength gains you make will likely translate into some initial backward movement in your ability.  You may hit the ball shorter or make less flush contact initially, but give it time.  Exercising will only improve your ability in the long run.  Jokes aside, a good golf swing is an athletic motion that requires precision and balance.  Developing leg and core strength will only improve your ability to swing faster.

When I first started working out, I started with a friend using a program endorsed by Men’s Health Magazine.  You can find that program here.

More to come!   If you’re currently working on your own program, please feel free to post about it!

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3 Responses to “Golf Fitness: Power”


  1. LG: Why are you guys bothering to get golfers fit when clearly ‘the elephant in the room’is: YOU DON’T NEED TO BE FIT TO PLAY GOLF even to the highest level. Take Kevin Stadler for example (ranked around 50 in the world) This Stadler guy is morbidly obese and would kill you & your readers over most rounds. The only core Kevin Stadler works-out comes from KFC. Stop trying to perpetrate the sham you need to be athletic or fit to play golf even as a pro.

    • LG Says:

      GINAS: I’d have to agree with you about many of the things you said: Kevin Stadler would indeed destroy me and many of my readers on the golf course. He also does resemble an elephant. In fact, I’d even admit that you don’t need to be fit to play golf, even at the highest level. What you do with these obvious statements, however, is put words into my mouth. We NEVER say that “you need to be athletic or fit to play golf even as a pro.”

      Our point is that any golfer could stand to be in better shape, and that getting in better shape would help any golfer. True, losing 10 lbs is not going to make you a better ball striker because you lost 10 lbs, but losing 10 lbs might help you have more endurance to hit 50 more range balls which will help you become a better ball striker in the long run. Are you really telling me that you think Stadler is a better golfer BECAUSE he eats a bucket of KFC? Come on, Guy.

      You’ll never find me saying on this site that you NEED to be athletic or fit to play golf, even as a pro. The evidence to support that statement does not exist. What you will find, rather, is support for the statement that any golfer could stand to get a little fitter or work on their strength or endurance as a way to improve their golf game in the future. All I want to do, by posting on this site, is to give people ideas and ways to improve their health in order to live a better life and to enhance their enjoyment of the game.

      Additionally, I might even have to agree with you that golf is not a sport. If you think that means something though, I think you’re missing the point. Who cares whether it’s a sport or not? Does that make golf not worth playing? I suppose it depends on how you define sport? Tiger Woods is the highest paid athlete of all time. It’s kind of sad he makes more than any person that’s ever played a sport, isn’t it? The PGA Tour has given more money to charity than Football, Basketball, and Baseball combined. Pretty big impact for something that’s not a sport. Golf may or may not be a sport, but to me, that’s irrelevant. Golf, to me, is simply the hardest game that’s ever been played. That alone makes it worth playing.

      -LG

      Aside: on your site, you say:
      “Note: There’s no contact details around here either, in case you were wanting-to send me an abusive email. Which I know damn well you were. My life is way, way too busy to waste time corresponding with creepy golfers. So piss-off, puff on a Winfield and play your pathetic old-mans game. Next time you are on the first tee dressed like a sleazy pimp be content in the knowledge people like me are actually laughing at your antics. Wear a pair of thongs, footie jersey and a cap in the clubrooms just for me.”

      I find it interesting you have time to post your gibberish on my site while you don’t have time to answer for the blither on your own site.

    • JK Says:

      Wow.

      [Censored]


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