Golf Exercises: Big Lifts for Big Drives

Golfers: add distance to your drives with multi-joint exercises recommended by STACK Expert Nick Buchan.

The stronger your muscles, the faster you can swing a golf club. While many golfers shy away from big barbell movements in their golf exercises, these lifts are essential for better distance off the tee.

Increasing muscular strength increases clubhead speed and is related to lower handicaps. Stats systems such as Shots to Hole have demonstrated that a golfer's shot gets closer to the hole as his or her strength level increases. Put simply, getting stronger result in longer drives, closer shots and lower scores.

If you want to get strong, look no further than the big compound moves of Squats, Presses, Deadlifts and Pull-Ups.

WATCH: Increase Your Driving Distance With Med Ball Slams

Golf Exercises


Whenever you swing a golf club, you generate power from your hip muscles. Your glute muscles are primarily responsible for movement at the hips. Weak glutes therefore compromise essential skills in the golf swing.

The Back Squat is a fundamental movement that engages and challenges the glutes, strengthens the entire body and transfers to almost all athletic endeavors.

  • Assume an athletic stance with the bar on your back and feet slightly wider than hip-width.
  • Keeping your back straight and knees traveling over your toes, sink your hips back and lower into the squat until the crease of the hip is lower than the knee.
  • Extend your hips and knees to drive up out of the squat position, keeping your knees out and your chest up.

WATCH: The Best Squat for Golf


Much like the Squat, the Deadlift challenges a large amount of muscle mass and develops the hip musculature through hip extension. It also builds great core strength and overall athleticism.

  • Step up to the bar so your feet are approximately shoulder-width apart and the balls of your feet are underneath the bar.
  • Bend from the hips, allowing your knees to bend just enough to allow you to reach the bar.
  • Grasp the bar, straighten your back and look straight ahead.
  • Forcefully extend your hips to stand up with the bar.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Strengthen Your Deadlift


The chest and triceps are among the major muscle groups recruited during the golf swing, and strong, healthy shoulders are also important. So yes, even golfers should be pressing! Overhead Pressing goes far in creating shoulder stability and strengthening the pressing muscles, while also providing a tremendous core challenge. Bench pressing allows you to place more load on the pressing muscles, particularly the chest and triceps.

Bench Press

  • Lie on the bench with your shoulder blades pulled tight together and your lower back slightly arched.
  • Grasp the bar with a grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Have a spotter help you un-rack the bar.
  • Lower the bar slowly to your chest before extending your arms and pressing the bar back up to the start position.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor, your shoulder blades retracted.
  • Maintain the slight arch in your lower back through the lift.

Overhead Press

  • Take an athletic stance with the bar resting on your shoulders, arms fully flexed and grip wider than your shoulders.
  • Press the bar upward, fully extending your arms, keeping your chin and neck tucked.
  • Lower the bar the same way you raised it.


Pull-Ups round out the program, guarding against physical imbalance and challenging the upper back musculature, vital for developing correct posture and transferring power during the golf swing. The Pull-Up is also one of the best core exercises.

  • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, wider than shoulder-width.
  • From a dead hang, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  • Keep strict form, with body movement and kipping to a minimum.
  • Feel free to experiment with different grip widths as well as underhand, overhand and neutral grips.

Putting It All Together

Compound movements of Squats, Deadlifts, Presses and Pull-Ups develop total body strength that leads to more distance off the tee. Add some dedicated rotational and power work, and you have a complete program for becoming a better athlete and golfer.

Workout A

A. Squat

B. Bench/Press

C1. Glute Bridge with March
C2. Pallof Press

Workout B

A1. Rotational Medball Toss
A2. Lateral Jumps

B. Deadlift

C. Pull-Ups

RELATED: Practice Tip to Improve Your Driver


Fletcher & Hartwell. "Effect of an 8-week combined weights and plyometrics training program on golf drive performance." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2004; 18 (1): 59-62

Doan, B.K., Newton, R.U., Kwon, Y.H. and Kraemer, W. "Effects of Physical Conditioning on Intercollegiate Golfer Performance," Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2006; 20 (1): 62-72

Callaway et al. "An analysis of peak pelvis rotation speed, gluteus maximus and medius strength in high versus low handicap golfers during the golf swing." Int. Journal Sports Physical Therapy. Jun 2012; 7 (3): 288-295

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