Training a golfer? Although golf isn’t the most power-driven sport out there, it’s still imperative for golfers to train optimally to prevent injury and improve their game. Strength training, cardio, flexibility work, and of course, the all-important recovery all play a role in a golfer’s fitness. Here are the most important golf fitness components you need to know for players to get the most out of their training and improve their game on the course!
Strength training is more important than you may think for a golfer. Sure, a large part of golf is more about touch and nuance than it is about brute strength, but you may be surprised at how much your swing improves with a bit of strength training.
Golfers like Tiger Woods and more recently, Brooks Koepka, have made a serious case for strength training (Koepka has one of the most powerful drives out there!).
Aside from building strength and muscle, one of the primary advantages of strength training is that it restores muscle balance; the golf swing is quite one-sided, which can cause muscle imbalances adversely affecting power, strength, and symmetry.
There’s also a saying: power comes from the ground up. While a golfer’s swing might seem like it’s all about the upper body, skipping leg day can reduce swing power drastically.
If you’re training a golfer, the following exercises will help them build the necessary strength for a solid, powerful swing. They cover push, pull, hinge, and squat movements.
- Squats/Bulgarian Split Squats
- Deadlifts including Romanian Deadlifts
- Hip Thrusts
- Military Press
- Dumbbell Bench Press (Flat & Incline)
- Carries (increase grip strength)
Once the golfer has built up a solid strength foundation, you can begin incorporating speed and power drills with explosive exercises like medicine ball throws, box jumps, and cable chops.
A strong core is essential for a strong swing. Core work is often neglected during regular strength training programs, but dedicating time to it each week can significantly improve a golfer’s game.
Developing a strong core not only stabilizes the body during the swing, but it assists with the rotational movement that every shot incorporates.
Core work should be incorporated into a strength training program at least twice a week to get the full benefit.
Some excellent core stabilizing and strengthening exercises include:
- Dead bugs
- Russian Twists
- Pallof Press
- Side Plank
- Weighted Crunch
Despite the ease of zooming around the course on a golf cart, golfers need a decent cardiovascular fitness level. This isn’t just to walk the course, which is a big part of playing the game, but also for stamina as they move through each round.
Incorporating cardio into a gym routine is essential. Three to four times a week is optimal, depending on the time available.
We suggest including a combination of HITT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) aerobic activity. This will help to strike a great balance between building endurance, burning fat, and improving fitness.
If possible, we also recommend varying the medium of training, cross-training between running, cycling, rowing, jumping rope, and using the elliptical.
It’s up to you and your client whether they split their cardio and strength training sessions or keep them together. Splitting is a little more effective, but it’s not convenient for some.
Mobility & Flexibility
While strength and endurance are important, mobility and flexibility are perhaps even more so. Without being able to move through a full range of motion smoothly and pain-free, golfers will never reach their full swing potential. Also, they won’t get the full benefit out of their strength training.
A huge part of flexibility is warming up before training. Dynamic stretching will get the muscles warm and flexible before they’re put through strength training exercises that will have them moving through a full range of motion.
If time allows, incorporating a flexibility and mobility day into the golfer’s training routines can be extremely beneficial. Due to the nature of the motion of a golf swing, flexibility is key. If a golfer is immobile or doesn’t have a full, smooth range of motion, the chance of injury is much higher.
Yoga is an excellent way to develop better flexibility. Just a day of yoga per week can help golfers stay mobile and flexible.
As with any type of training, recovery is an essential component. But it’s often neglected and seen as wasted time. The truth is, the quality of recovery can have a huge impact on one’s physical health and fitness when they’re on the course.
Recovery is a day-by-day thing, and it varies slightly for everyone. But one of the most important things (especially for sportspeople) is rest. That means taking a day off from all exercise at least once a week, structuring exercise so that muscle groups aren’t overworked, and taking a full de-load week every 8 to 12 weeks.
Ultimately, your job is easier when your client is well-recovered as a trainer. Here are some areas you should discuss with your client to ensure that their recovery is an active part of their health and fitness and not a passive one.
- Electrolyte replacement
- Efficient hydration
- Compression treatment
- Foam rolling/massage
- Heat and cold treatment
- Consistent and ample sleep
- Rest days
- Deload weeks
Understanding the fitness components you need to know for golf can help you to train a golfer to new performance heights.
While the fundamentals of strength training, cardio, flexibility, core work, and recovery are the same for everyone, golfers may struggle to understand how lifting weights can help their swing, or why doing core work will be a good thing for them.
Don’t forget to explain each one of these elements to your golfer client. Once they have a full understanding of the benefits of each of these components, it’s easy to see how their swing will improve, their balance will become better, injuries will be minimized, and ultimately, their golf game will get better.
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a golfer and a writer. When he’s not on the course or keeping his fitness up, he’s researching and writing value-packed articles for his website, Golf Influence.