Golfers are not professional lifters and shouldn’t train as such! Does strength carryover? absolutely it does! Strength is vital to clubhead speed, an efficient golf swing, maintaining posture, avoiding lower back injury, hitting out of the rough, even hitting more fairways and greens! But you must make exercise selections that will most effectively carryover to the golf course. When it comes to developing a well-rounded athletic development program, you can’t put in everything you’d like. You have to pick and choose your battles.
When it comes to strength training, I find myself consistently using the same handful exercises that I know deliver superb results for golfers. If you are a client of mine, regardless of age or ability, chances are I will have you perform progressions or regressions of these lifts. Put simply, these are my Top 5 Moves because I have had the most success with them. Feel free to agree with me (or even disagree if you must!)
Before I discuss my Top 5 Moves, keep in mind I’m not saying these are the best lifts for developing pure, unbridled strength. If your goal is to get ridiculously strong, then it’s hard to argue against the powerlifts (i.e. back squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting.) You could definitely make a case for overhead pressing in there as well.
But keep in mind, athletes aren’t just here to get strong. I think something that’s far more important is to choose exercises that:
1. Develop muscles and movement patterns they won’t develop in competition or practice
2. Exercises that will have maximal carryover to their on-field or on-court performance
3. Minimise or reduce the likelihood of injury while training
4. Are easy to coach and cue
No.5 – Chin-up
Chin-ups are obviously a great way to develop strength in the back. When executed well they also teach good scapular control and are a great test of relative body strength, which has been shown to be a key component of speed and power.
Check out this great video from Eric Cressey on cleaning up your chin-up technique…
No.4 – Lateral lunge
I have spoken a lot in previous articles about the importance of getting out of the sagittal plane. Lateral moves are a big part of ensuring carryover from strength gains in the weight room to on-course performance.
No.3 – Push-ups/Weighted push-ups
Push-ups are not only great for developing the pressing muscles of the shoulders, chest and triceps (which according to TPI and Dr. Greg Wells are the most important muscles in developing clubhead speed for men), but also are a brilliant anterior core stability exercise. Think push-ups are too easy? There is pretty much no limit to the amount of ways to add difficulty to a push-up as you can see on this video.
No.2 – Front loaded squat variation
Goblet squats, Front racked kettlebell squats and barbell front squats are all great options for developing huge core strength as well as the leg strength so vital for ground reaction based sports such as golf. I much prefer front loaded squats to back squats for athletes as they are easier to coach and cue. They are also somewhat self limiting; as you fatigue the tendency is to fall forward which will lead to dropping the bar, rather than in a back squat where the bar will remain in place and you can continue to crank out crappy reps. In short the injury risk due to fatigue and poor form is much lower in the front squat
No.1 – Trap bar/Bar elevated deadlift
The trap bar is my absolute favourite piece of kit in the gym. The reason? The trap bar makes a relatively complex exercise like the deadlift virtually idiot proof. Just swapping over to the trap bar seems to magically improve most peoples deadlift form. The bar elevated deadlift is the best alternative is you don’t have access to a trap bar, having the bar elevated off the floor slightly removes the most extreme mobility demands at the bottom position, where people often lose lower back integrity and things often get a little dodgy in individuals lacking good mobility.
Honourable mentions: These go to Pallof presses and weighted carries. These are my two absolute favourite core exercises, they only didn’t make it into the top 5 because I wanted a balanced selection of exercises with a push and a pull for the upper and lower body.
If you just did these exercises each time you went into the gym I bet you’d still have a better program than 90% of folks out there. And, most importantly, make some amazing strength gains that will carryover to your golf game!