Strength Training for Better Golf

Author: Matt K Training | | Categories: Athletic Performance Coaching , Cardio Training , Certified Personal Trainer , Holistic Nutrition Coaching , Nutrition Coach , Nutrition Coaching , Nutritionist , Online Personal Fitness Trainer , Online Personal Training , Personal Training , Strength Training , Weight Loss Coaching , Wellness Coaching

Blog by Matt K Training

Why am I bringing up golf now, in mid October, when for many, the golf season is just about done? Because, now is the best time to start thinking about an off-season exercise training program to improve performance for next season.

The strongest indicator of golf performance is not swing technique, it’s actually club head speed. A golfer’s handicap is directly correlated with how fast he/she can swing the club when striking the ball. Amateur golfers swing at ~95 MPH and hit ~215 yards, Pro golfer’s upwards of 105 mph and 300+ yards. Pro golfers are more efficient at transferring power, or rather kinetic energy, from their legs, torso, arms, to the club than amateur golfers. Specifically, pro golfers are masters of utilizing the weight transfer that occurs in a golf swing from the rear foot to the lead foot as the ball is struck. Another thing that differentiates amateurs and professionals in golf is the amount of trunk rotation they create in a golf swing, with pros generating almost twice as much. The result of these two things, greater power generation, greater club head speed, mean better performance.

So, how does one go about increasing club head speed? First, there are some myths that need to be addressed.

  • This goes for all sports, not just golfing, you cannot “play yourself into shape”. A club player will take 60 or more swings in 18 holes of golf, each swing involves nearly every joint in the body, as well as the muscles that stabilize the joint, and those creating movement. The muscles of unprepared joints will suffer if they are not properly conditioned, likely resulting in injury and a shortened golf season.
  • The golfer’s swing will not be adversely affected if they engage in strength training. In fact, strength training is exactly what a golfer can do to improve club head speed.

A golf-specific strength training program should address overall strength, with emphasis on the hips, as well as trunk stabilizers. At the moment the club head contacts the ball during a golf swing, the golfer’s body is literally a conduit for kinetic energy. In order for that energy to transfer from the legs to the torso, the arms, and finally the club, stabilizing muscles (such as abdominal obliques, among others) must be as stiff as iron (no pun intended) for efficient energy transfer.

If you are new to strength training (or have participated in regular strength training and conditioning for less than six months) your priority is to build a strength foundation. Start with general strength training involving major muscle groups in the legs, torso, and arms. If intermediate or advanced (you’ve been regularly training for more than six months), then consider adding more advanced exercises that address specific needs of golfers, such as standing hip abduction or wrist pronation/supination. For trunk stabilization, the side plank and its many variations can be effective. Finally, golf athletes who have mastered strength training technique and are considered advanced, may want to integrate explosive training via medicine ball throwing and/or plyometics.


Regardless of the athlete’s strength training status (beginner, advanced) balancing exercise training and recovery with golf skill practice and competition is of utmost importance. During the competitive season exercise training frequency and volume should be reduced, perhaps to 1-2 days per week, with less sets and total exercises in the routine. During off-season, likely the winter months, frequency can shift to 3-4 days per week with increased sets, and/or exercises.

Increasing club head speed as little as three miles per hour can result in 10-15 yards of additional carry distance from the tee. Golf athletes, with a proper golf specific exercise training program can achieve this in as little as 7-8 weeks.

To summarize:

  • Club head speed is vitally important to golf performance
  • Increasing a small amount can result in large gains
  • A proper golf-specific exercise program, addressing trunk rotational power and overall strength can result in significantly faster club head speed
  • Golf-specific exercise program volume and frequency should vary among "in" and "off" season

Hope this helps and thanks for reading! Looking for guidance in improving your athletic performance? Would you like to add some longevity to your golf game? Better yet, ready to make a change in your life? I help folks eat, move, and recover well, contact me here to set up a free consult!

Published by mattktraining

I am currently the Owner of my soloprenuerial company Matt K Training. Through my fitness and nutrition programs I help adults develop skills and practices that help them eat, move, and recover well. Over the past 20 years, in various roles such as a Personal trainer, Exercise Physiologist, Clinical Researcher, and Health Coach I have helped hundreds of adults reach their health and physical performance goals. When not working, I enjoy active pursuits such as playing right field for the Charlton Giants (in a 38+ competitive baseball league), playing tennis, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing. I also enjoy indoor activities such as playing strategy board games, reading and discussing science fiction literature, dabbling with my guitar, finding creative ways to eat oatmeal, and being a good dad.