Fitness for golfers

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This exercise is meant to develop control of rotation. She is in a golf posture slowly straightening her arms and resisting the pull of the cable from the side. Again you need to stay in a good neutral stable position. | Courtesy of Golf Fitness Chicago

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If you are trying to improve your golf game, it can seem like everyone is trying to sell you something – equipment, accessories, even lessons.

But trainers say the first step starts with you. Your body, which controls every aspect of your swing, may be the perfect place to start when trying to lower your score.

A fitness program with golf-focused exercises can help strengthen muscles that are essential to the game.

“Make sure your fitness program includes flexibility, mobility, stability, strength and cardio,” said Mark Tolle, golf trainer at Golf Fitness Chicago.

Tolle and Ron Munvez, a sports performance trainer certified by Titleist Performance Institute, shared some of the best exercises to enhance your performance.


1. Foam back rolls (See gallery for details) – Improves thoracic spine mobility.

“Golfers need overall muscle flexibility and joint mobility in order to load and unload the body properly during the golf swing,” Tolle said. “Good upper-back mobility is needed to have the correct posture that is needed throughout the swing.”

2. Lying shoulder rotations (See gallery for details) – Helps improve the shoulder turn in the golf swing.

“The rotation of the swing should come from the upper back vs. the low back,” Tolle said. “That’s why we emphasize upper-back mobility and trunk stability.”

Hip stability and strength:

1. Glute bridges – While lying on your back, keep your knees bent and lift your lower back off the ground by squeezing your butt together.

“Really good glutes are the key to a good golf swing,” Munvez said. “Good, strong glutes help keep good posture throughout the swing.”

2. Dead lift (See gallery for details) – Strengthens the lower legs.

“One of the best ways to develop hip strength and power is by using the dead lift exercise,” Tolle said. “The great thing about the dead lift pattern is it mimics the golf posture.”

3. Single-leg dead lift - Use a kettlebell and lift one foot backwards while pulling the weight up. This exercise increases the stability in the hips.

4. Pelvic rotation – Get into a golfer’s stance and cross your hands over your chest. Twist upper-torso left or right without moving your lower body at all.

“This creates nice separation of the upper and lower-body,” Munvez said.

Trunk stability:

1. Floor plank with stability ball (See gallery for details) – Helps strengthen the core, which controls motion during the golf swing.

2. Side plank (See gallery for details) – Develops lateral flexion in order to better control your trunk.

3. Golfer’s row (See gallery for details) – Assume a golf position and pull a cable side-to-side as if you are swinging.

“The musculature and fascia in the midsection of the body have the job of protecting the lumbar spine and transferring energy through the body during the golf swing,” Tolle said.

Perfecting a routine to help your golf game is something that takes practice and most of the time should be done under professional guidance.

“Obtain some guidance from a golf fitness specialist so you develop a plan and perform the right exercises for your situation,” Tolle said.

“And stay away from doing the coolest new exercise you see in a magazine.”

Follow Matthew Schwerha on Twitter @MatthewSchwerha