Over the past few years, an increasing number of professional golfers have incorporated strength training into their programs to improve their performance on-course.
While golf is primarily a skill-based sport, improving physical characteristics such as muscular strength and power, muscular endurance, mobility, flexibility and aerobic fitness can help improve performance and prevent injuries¹.
Approximately 44% of amateur golfers sustain an injury in a given year, with the most common areas being the low back, elbow and shoulder².
Improving the attributes listed above can help golfers reduce their injury risk, and allow them to play more often¹.
How Does Exercise Improve Golf Performance?
1. Muscular Strength and Power
Improving muscular strength and power has been associated with an increase in swing speed, allowing golfers to hit the ball further and with more accuracy. Additionally, golfers with greater muscular strength and power generally have lower handicaps³.
Strength and power exercise for golf should address the primary muscles involved in generating power and speed in the swing, such as the glutes, hamstrings, trunk muscles (rotation), and back and shoulder muscles³.
Common exercises to improve these attributes include squats, deadlifts, wood chops, medicine ball throws, cable rows and lat pulldowns.
2. Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is the ability of a muscle to repeatedly produce force and resist fatigue. The more fatigue resistant the muscle groups involved in the golf swing are, the longer a golfer can produce a consistent and reliable swing pattern³.
Many golfers often find they “lose” their swing towards the end of an 18-hole round. The exercises mentioned above, performed for a high number of repetitions at a lower weight, will help you develop good muscular endurance to maintain your swing to the end of a round, and help reduce the likelihood of injuries.
3. Mobility and Flexibility
In order to get into the positions required for an effective and efficient golf swing, good mobility and flexibility in the shoulder and hip joints is crucial.
A lack of hip rotation mobility can lead to excess movement coming from the lumbar spine during the swing, which may lead to pain and injury4. Increase shoulder and thoracic mobility may help lengthen the backswing, allowing golfers to produce more force and clubhead speed through the ball to increase shot distance³.
In addition, performing a dynamic warm-up that focuses on joint mobility in these areas may help increase force produced during the swing and improve shot distance³.
Common exercises for hip and shoulder mobility that can be included in a warm up are: hip circles, bodyweight squats, reverse lunges, banded pull aparts, banded external shoulder rotations and thoracic rotations with a club.
4. Aerobic Fitness
While golf is not generally considered a “workout”, research has shown that golfer can walk between 6 and 12km or 11,000 and 17,000 steps during an 18 hole round5. Improving aerobic fitness can also help golfers better manage the general fatigue that accumulates in the later stages of a round, which may translate into improved mental and physical performance.
Any form of low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise will help to improve aerobic fitness, including walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling.
If you are a golfer interested in improving your clubhead speed, shot distance or want to manage and prevent injuries, please make an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists at Inspire Fitness and Exercise Physiology to discuss your needs.
- Ehlert A. The correlations between physical attributes and golf clubhead speed: A systematic review with quantitative analyses. European Journal of Sport Science. 2021;21(10):1351 63.
- Cabri, J. et al. Golf-related injuries: A systematic review, European Journal of Sport Science. 2009;9:6, 353-366, DOI: 10.1080/17461390903009141
- Sheehan, William B.; Bower, Rob G.; Watsford, Mark L.. Physical Determinants of Golf Swing Performance: A Review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2022;36(1): p 289-297. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003411
- Kim S-B, You JH, Kwon O-Y, Yi C-H. Lumbopelvic Kinematic Characteristics of Golfers With Limited Hip Rotation. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015;43(1):113-20.
- Murray AD, Daines L, Archibald D, et al. The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2017;51:12-19.