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Golf Workouts: Get In Shape and Improve Your Game

By: Holly Smith, D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer,

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

golf workouts

Do golf workouts actually exist? When most people think of serious physical exercise, golf isn’t the first sport that comes to mind.

Typically, casual golfers think of the sport as a time to grab a few beers with friends and cruise around in a golf cart.

But the truth is, golf can be great exercise.

Of course, this means skipping the golf cart and beer!

And not only is golf great exercise, but you can also use certain exercises to enhance your golf game.

Talk about a win-win!

Keep reading to learn more about golf workouts and how your gym time can augment your tee time.

Want more ways to get in shape? Check out our Definitive Guide to Workouts for Men!

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Building Strength to Create the Perfect Golf Swing

You may not realize it, but you work a large number of muscles during your golf swing.

Studies have shown that the key lower body muscle group in the golf swing is the gluteus maximus.

This muscle is responsible for hip rotation and hip extension.

By strengthening the glutes, you can be sure to get your swing in top form.

The most crucial upper body muscles in the golf swing are the pectoralis major (pecs), latissimus dorsi (lats), core, and forearm muscles.

Your pecs and lats (or chest and back) allow you to bring your arms across your body and raise them up in the air with the golf club.

You also need a strong core as you rotate your torso through the golf swing.

Powerful muscles in your abdomen, low back, and hips also enable you to transfer the force from your lower body into your upper body.

On top of all this, you also need strong forearms, a muscle group many guys tend to neglect.

The forearms help direct all the force created by the body into the clubs.

Building strong muscles is not only important to create a better golf swing, but also to help prevent injury.

Since golf is a one-sided activity that requires sudden, quick movements, this can create muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.

Injuries in amateur golfers tend to occur due to an incorrect golf swing.

By improving your strength, mobility, and flexibility you can stay on top of your best golf game.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

Golf Workouts: Top Exercises to Improve Your Game

Leg Swings

While this is a simple exercise, it is the perfect way to improve the mobility of your hips, legs, and lower back.

You can add leg swings to the beginning of any golf workouts as a nice dynamic stretching exercise as well.

  • Stand tall while holding onto a chair or wall for support.
  • Stand on your left foot, and swing the right leg forward and backward, allowing the right knee to naturally flex and extend throughout the movement.
  • Continue for 10-15 swings on the right then switch sides and repeat.

Box Squats

Box squats are a great way to build strength in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

  • Stand in front of a box or bench placed directly behind you.
  • Squat down until you are sitting on the box.
  • Return up to the starting position and repeat.
  • As your strength increases, you can use a lower box or bench.
  • You can also add a challenge by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you as you squat down, or by using a squat rack.
  • Aim to do 3 sets of 12-15 reps without weight, or 8-10 if you are using heavier weight.

Seated Rotations

This exercise will increase your rotational mobility, which is crucial during the turning movement of a golf swing.

  • Sit on a chair or bench and hold a club behind your back with your arms, so it sits in the crook of your elbows.
  • Place the palms of your hands on your stomach while keeping your torso tall.
  • Without moving your hips, rotate your torso to the right and hold for two seconds.
  • Return to the starting position, then continue to the left and hold for two seconds.
  • Alternate sides until you complete 10 on each side.
  • Repeat two more times for three sets total.

Cross Body Chop

This compound exercise will strengthen your upper body, lower body, and core, while also increasing your rotational mobility.

It should be done in a controlled manner so that you can focus on the correct twisting form from top to bottom.

  • Hold a dumbbell by both ends in front of your body.
  • Squat, and twist to the left to hold the dumbbell on the outside of your left leg.
  • Then lift the weight diagonally across your body as you stand twist to the right while bringing the dumbbell above your head.
  • Pivot on your left foot as needed.
  • Slowly bring the weight back down to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Do three sets of 15 reps on each side.

Single-Leg, Single-Arm Deadlift

Deadlifts are one the best golf workouts out there to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes.

By isolating each side you can help work out any muscle imbalance you may have.

  • Start by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand.
  • Put most of your weight on your right leg as you lift your left leg off the floor.
  • You can hold your right arm out to the side to help maintain balance.
  • Stretch your left leg back behind you as you hinge at your hips and allow the weight to travel towards the floor.
  • Slowly stand back up by activating your glutes and hamstrings in your right leg.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of  8-10 reps on each side.

Dumbbell Bent Over Pulls

Bent over pulls, or lawnmower pulls, are an excellent way to strengthen your lats and isolate one side at a time.

  • Place your left knee up on a weight bench for support with your right leg on the floor beside the bench.
  • Keep your left hand on the bench in front of your left knee and hold a dumbbell in your right hand.
  • Bend over so your back is parallel with the ground.
  • Lift the dumbbell up to your side and then lower it slowly back down.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps with the right arm, then switch sides and repeat 10-12 reps with the left arm.
  • Aim for three sets.

I-Y-T Raises

This is an awesome exercise to help build strong shoulders and increase mobility in the upper body.

You can do these golf workouts with resistance bands or TRX bands if you have these on hand.

  • Lay on your stomach on a mat with your arms extended and palms facing inward.
  • Form the letter “I” (arms straight overhead), by lifting your arms toward the ceiling and then slowly lowering them back toward the ground.
  • Then form the letter “Y” (arms at a 45-degree angle), lifting the thumbs toward the ceiling.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together in the back and slowly lower the arms back to the starting position.
  • To finish, form the letter “T” (arms at a 90-degree angle) by turning the palms toward the floor, and again lift the arms out to the side by squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  • Then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 6-8 times for three sets.

Russian Twists

This core exercise not only strengthens your midsection but also trains the flexibility of your hip and spine rotation, which are the keys to a powerful swing.

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent.
  • You can place your heels on the ground or let them hover above the ground for an added challenge.
  • Lean slightly back as you keep your back straight.
  • You can hold a small weight or dumbbell, or do these without the added weight.
  • Twist to the left, bringing the weight to your left side.
  • Then rotate to the right with the weight.
  • This completes one rep.
  • Continue alternating sides for 10-20 reps on each side for three sets.

Turkish Get-Up

This full-body move may seem complicated at first, but once you master the steps it will be second nature.

The Turkish get-up targets your upper and lower body and also requires core strength to maintain proper form throughout.

This is typically done with a kettlebell, but you can start without a weight at first to master the move.

  • Start lying on your side and roll onto your back holding the kettlebell close to your body with both hands.
  • Move the kettlebell into your right hand and extend your right arm up into the air.
  • Bring your right heel close to your butt.
  • Drive through your right heel and roll to your left elbow.
  • Push down with your left hand to a sitting position.
  • Then bring your left leg under your right leg and behind you until your left hand, left knee, and left foot are in a straight line.
  • Sit on your left heel and go into a tall kneel.
  • Then bring your left leg around until you are in a lunge position.
  • Stand up.
  • Then reverse your movements to go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side of your body.
  • Try to do 6-8 reps on each side for three sets total.

These golf workouts will not only help you improve your swing but will enhance your overall health and fitness.

By targeting your glutes, lats, and core you will be able to perfect your perfect golf swing while also decreasing your risk of injury.

Improve Your Golf Game and Overall Fitness

While you may think of golf as more of a social activity rather than exercise, it really is what you make it.

Golf workouts do exist!

If you are an avid golfer that really wants to improve your game, then enhancing your strength and fitness is a critical part of that.

When you ditch the golf cart and walk the course, whether it be 9 or 18 holes, you will also be adding in a good dose of cardio.

Walking at a decent pace while carrying your clubs will burn calories and increase your aerobic endurance.

Just one more awesome benefit of teeing off with your friends.

So get to work with these ultimate golf workouts and surprise your buddies with your improved golf game this summer!

Holly Smith D.O. - Osteopathic Medicine, B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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