Swing into fitness: Golfers benefit from strength and flexibility training

by Karl Lenser

Summer is in full swing (sorry, I couldn’t resist), and the golfers in the 501 are busy with open play, leagues and tournaments. Although golf as a sport does not really qualify as a true cardiovascular activity (especially with cart usage), it does require a certain amount of fitness – including strength and flexibility.

Golfers in the past rarely became involved in a golf-specific fitness program, but this has changed over the past two decades. Golf and fitness have rarely been associated with each other, but more and more players have begun to realize the benefits of being more fit.

If you are old enough to remember Gary Player, he was the first golfer that firmly believed in getting in and staying in shape. Others have jumped on the fitness bandwagon and have been helpful in motivating many golfers to begin an exercise program.

Research as far back as the mid-90s showed that golfers who combined strength training and flexibility training significantly improved their club head speed. One study showed that the golfers experienced a 6 percent improvement in driving power. Another study discovered that after an eight-week strengthening and flexibility program, the golfers obtained a 24 percent improvement in their shoulder and hip areas. These benefits were achieved by working out only three days per week with each session lasting only 40 minutes.

End result: More distance off the tees and fairways!

It was once thought that athletes who performed strength training would become “muscle bound” and develop excessively tight, inflexible muscles and joints that would decrease their range of motion and hamper their performance. This myth was busted many years ago when research proved that individuals who incorporated strength training on a regular basis significantly improved their strength and flexibility.

Another benefit that golfers can obtain by strengthening and stretching their muscles and joints is a significant reduction in the risk for getting injured. The golf swing places a tremendous load on the middle and lower back regions in addition to the shoulder joint. Golfers who invest in a consistent, golf-specific strength and flexibility program will gain strength and will also see an increase in their range of motion that will allow them to increase their club head speed and driving power.

Other benefits that can be obtained from a consistent exercise program include an improvement in function and an enhanced sense of well-being. Golfers who are in good cardiovascular shape will have greater endurance, and this extra stamina may come in handy by the time the 15th hole rolls around. Being in good shape has many benefits to golfers.


• Leg press (horizontal or 45-degree incline)

• Leg extensions (single leg to better isolate
   the quadriceps)

• Low back extensions

• Seated or standing cable rows

• Lat pulldowns

• Wrist curls (to strengthen forearms)

• Pushups and pullups

• Abdominal crunches/planks

• Standing twists holding a medicine ball (make
   sure knees are slightly bent)

• Simulate a golf swing using rubber tubing or
   a Functional Trainer machine