Golf Conditioning: Harder Than You'd Think

Whether you want to add yards to your drive or perform better on the back nine, check out these golf conditioning tips from STACK Expert Aubrey McCormick.

Teeing off

If you think golf involves little more than swinging a club a few times every round, think again. In addition to extreme mental focus, golf demands physical conditioning. Maintaining perfect form throughout a four- or five-hour round is difficult enough. Most competitive golfers repeat that effort between two and four times in a single tournament. When each shot can make the difference between landing your name on the leaderboard or your ball in the water, having the conditioning to maintain your form throughout a long round becomes extremely important.

Golf requires a unique combination of strength, power, flexibility and finesse. Without the proper body mechanics and timing, players can send the ball on a variety of unintended trajectories.

Although a golf swing involves nearly every muscle in the body, the core and lower body play pivotal roles in a golfer's conditioning. With the appropriate strength training for these areas, the rest of the golf swing will fall into place.

Mastering the Lower Body

The lower body is the foundation for the entire swing motion. For a golfer to generate force to drive the ball off the tee, he or she must be properly grounded with a firm base of support. With a weak lower body, a golfer will lack the power necessary to drive the ball a decent distance, and his or her form will falter throughout a round.

To build a strong lower body, a golfer must follow a conditioning program focused on developing a solid foundation in basic movements, including mastering form for Bodyweight Squats, Lunges and Deadlifts. After perfecting form on these starter movements, golfers can progress to more complicated exercises to build strength and coordination throughout the entire body. For instance, a Lunge with Medicine Ball Rotation trains a golfer to ground his or her feet solidly on the floor, but also involves rotation, a key element of golf performance.

Besides mastering complex training movements, golfers should increase the speed of those movements to closely mimic the demands of the sport. If a golfer performs exercises in a slow and controlled manner, he or she will be ill prepared to swing a golf club at maximum speed. To prepare their bodies for the demands of a max effort swing, golfers should include explosive, plyometric exercises like Jump Squats and Lunge Jumps in their routines.

Core As Source of Power

Rotation is at the heart of the golf swing. A powerful twisting motion is used to drive the ball off the tee. Without sufficient core strength, players will find their drives lacking in distance, and they may even suffer a minor injury. With a weak core, golfers are unable to control the full range and power of the rotation generated during a golf swing, leading to potential problems down the road.

Crunches fall short in preparing a golfer for the course. Since the motion of a Crunch is forward and back, it fails to develop strength where golfers need it most—when twisting side to side. Instead, golfers should perform stabilization exercises like Planks and Side Planks to build stability throughout the midsection. These exercises will help them maintain proper form later in rounds, when their opponents begin to fall apart.

To prepare your body for rotation, perform exercises like Wood Choppers and Medicine Ball Slams. Rather than just moving your upper body, both of these exercises incorporate the hips along with the upper body to closely mimic a golf swing.

Find out how PGA golfer Scott Stallings works out to drive the ball farther.

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