Golf might not get your heart pumping the way soccer or basketball can, but it still calls for plenty of athleticism. The slowed-down nature of the game is actually one of the reasons people love the sport so much. It might be one of the best ways to unwind during vacation or over the weekend. But a round becomes significantly less relaxing when your score starts to suffer.
Hitting the driving range and practice greens can definitely help, but you also need to think about what you’re doing away from the course. If you really want to see an improvement in your handicap, you’re going to need an exercise routine geared toward making you a better golfer. In order to get the best results, you need to build strength, flexibility, and power. It doesn’t do you any good to have massive arms if you can barely twist to the side or generate a fast swing. When you work on all three, though, you could see some impressive results. We’ve rounded up five great moves to help you on your way to golf greatness. You might just become the man to beat.
1. Standing Cable Wood Chop
It probably comes as no surprise that core strength is pretty important for golfers, yet many don’t spend enough time working their midsection and lower back. Healthline said good strength and mobility in your core helps decrease the load on your arms and also reduces the likelihood of a back injury. Classic moves like crunches and planks will help with your overall core strength, but they don’t do much to improve your flexibility. That’s where the standing cable wood chop comes in. Because this exercise incorporates movement from your hips, back, and shoulders, it’s ideal for golfers.
Using a cable tower or a resistance band affixed to a high point, grab the handle with one hand and walk to the side with your arm outstretched until you begin to feel resistance. Reach your other hand across your body and clasp the band with both hands, both arms fully extended and pointed slightly upward, feet facing forward about shoulder-width apart. In one smooth motion, pull the band in front and across your body in a diagonal motion, keeping your arms extended, as you twist your lower body and pivot the foot closest to the band. You should keep your back and core tight and end with your hands above your front knee. For more detailed instructions, check out Bodybuilding.com.
2. Drop-Step Lunge
Everyone knows the classic lunge, an excellent exercise for strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. You can supercharge the basic move by crossing your feet as you step. This one simple change will pose a serious challenge to your hips, which is an area that lacks flexibility for many guys. That stiffness could be one of the reasons your game is suffering. Men’s Health explained hip flexibility helps generate the power you need for an impressive swing since it increases your range of motion.
Begin in a standing position with your hands clasped in front of your chest. Step your right leg backward and across so it’s positioned about three feet behind and one foot to the side of your left foot. Drop back into a controlled squat, then carefully raise yourself back to the starting position. Repeat, alternating legs after each repetition. You will likely feel a bit unstable, but try to keep your hands clasped in front of you to work on your balance.
3. Goblet Squats
If you’re not getting the distance you want on the course, hitting the gym to work out your arms might seem like the most natural solution to the problem. While strong arms are one component of a good swing, a solid lower half is just as important. Men’s Fitness said strong legs and glutes are the foundation to a solid swing because these muscles generate power and help you develop consistency. You’ll also be a lot less likely to hurt yourself.
The goblet squat is similar to a basic squat, but you’ll hold a dumbbell in front of you. The added weight will increase the intensity of the move, forcing your muscles to work harder. Additionally, Golf Digest explained the positioning of the weight engages your core in a way that nearly guarantees perfect form. That means this move is just as good for veterans as it is for newcomers to the strength-training scene. You can also use a kettlebell for the same results.
To execute a goblet squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Use both hands to cup the top end of a dumbbell directly in front of your chest, just under your chin. Your fingers should be pointing up. Keeping your core tight, lower yourself into a squat, then push straight back up to the starting position. Bodybuilding.com recommended starting with a conservative amount of weight. You can always increase the amount if you find the load is too light.
4. Dumbbell Chest Press
It’s time to talk about working your chest, because it’s another area that can make or break your game. Golf Digest said your pecs need to be able to expand and contract forcefully as you swing in order to attain impressive distance. You’ll also develop better form and control, which translate to a more consistent swing. While many exercises target this area, dumbell chest presses are one of the most straightforward.
Lie flat on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand, weights resting on your thighs until you are stable. Raise the dumbbells to either side of your chest with your palms facing forward and the length of the dumbbells running perpendicular to the length of the bench. Push your arms straight up until they’re fully extended and the ends of the weights almost touch. Hold the position for a moment, then lower back to the starting position in a controlled movement.
5. Front and Side Leg Swing
This is actually two moves, but the method is the same for both and a combination of the two will give you the best results. Anyone who’s ever competed in track is probably at least vaguely aware of leg swings. Hurdlers are especially familiar with these exercises as they help loosen the hips, which allows them to leap over the obstacles during a race. Having plenty mobility in your lower half is just as important for a good golf swing. Men’s Health explained this fluidity in your hips helps you rotate during the backswing and downswing to transfer more power from your glutes to your ball strike.
Though leg swings are great for improving balance, you’ll want to have something like a chair, wall, or even a golf club handy. The motion is aggressive enough that you may topple over during the exercise. For the front leg swings, use your left hand to stabilize yourself with whatever is available. Lift your left leg off the ground and slightly bend your knee. Swing back as far as you can, then forward as far as you can. Your repetitions should flow together in one, fluid movement. Switch legs, then move to side swings. The idea is the same, but your left leg will swing straight out to the side, then in front of and to the side of your right leg. Once again, perform the move on each leg.
If you’re new to leg swings, make sure to take it easy at the beginning. AZCentral said it’s better to think about relaxing your hip as opposed to lifting your leg, because trying to force the movement too vigorously could lead to injury. As you practice, you’ll be able to increase your range of motion.