Hit the Gym, Hit a Better Ball

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The end of the golfing season is getting closer and soon my golf shoes will be thrown into the shed, not seeing daylight again until at least March. If like me you’re not a fan of winter greens and playing in the freezing cold then you’ll probably be doing the same over the next few weeks or so.

So what can you do over the winter months to keep your game in check? It’s important to keep yourself ticking over so that come the beginning of next season, you’re raring to go. While we have fantastic driving ranges in Perth such as Noah’s Ark Golf Centre that allow you to keep swinging during the off-season, this break from the course provides the perfect time to get to the gym and do some golf specific workouts.

Tiger WoodsThe gym really has become part of modern golf. Since the emergence of Tiger Woods in 90s, the game has changed significantly. There’s a much greater emphasis now on the athletic side of golf, with more and more players hitting the gym just as much as the golf course to try and get the extra edge.

The likes of Rory McIlroy focus just as much on building certain muscles with their personal trainers as they do practising their golf swing. And the benefits of a good gym routine are more than just being able to hit the ball a million miles – it can also help to remain injury free and avoid missing any rounds during the season. After all, summer doesn’t last very long in Scotland and you need to make the most of it!

To get the benefit for your golf game though, you can’t just do any old exercises in the gym. You need to target the muscles that you actually use on the course and work on a range of game-like movements.

One of the main muscles used in golf is of course your back. The source of pain for many older golfers, it’s important to keep your back in good shape to avoid injury and get the most out of your golf swing. Nearly every muscle in your back is employed when you swing the golf club so it’s important that you build each of them.

While there are many great exercises you can do for your back that you’ll find in a quick Google search, one of the best there is for golfers is the seated row. This targets most of your back muscles and you’ll find the machine in most gyms. Nearly every muscle in your back is employed when you swing the golf club so it’s important that you build each of them. Make sure you keep your back straight as you pull the handles towards you and if the machine allows you to do this one arm at a time this can be more beneficial. Try to focus on high repetitions at a lower weight, as you want to build your muscular endurance in your back.

Your arms and legs are also important when it comes to golf, so you want to make sure you’re training them over the winter months too. Having stronger arms can lead to better club head speed and more control too. It can also help your short game too enabling you to better execute shots from around the green.

Most arm exercises can be done without any equipment but it’s always handy to have a flat bench and some dumbbells at the gym handy. Like the back exercises, repetition is more important than the weight as lifting heavy will build bulky muscles which can actually impede your swing. You want to build lean muscle so keep the reps high and the weight low. Dumbbell curls, press ups and triceps dips are all good exercises that will help to enhance your golf game and build lean muscle in the arms.

The legs are your base and a good, solid base is the key to a great golf swing. During the backswing, the legs are your foundation and are the engine that powers the machine. They also require stamina which can be the difference between a good and a bad round, or between winning and losing a match. Squats, leg-extensions, calf raises and lunges are all exercises that can be beneficial to golfers and help to build that solid base. Having good balance and strength in your thighs, glutes and calves will help lead to a powerful and fluid swing.

Muscles Used in Golf SwingThe final muscles that should be focused on during your off-season workouts are your abdominals. These are your core muscles and strengthening them will support your back (decreasing the chances of back injuries) and can help to add distance and consistency to your swing. The rotation of the torso is enhanced by having strong abdominals and it will increase the speed with which the body unwinds, which adds the extra distance to your shots. Strong stomach muscles will also have stamina, which means even at the end of the round your swing will still be as fluid as if you were teeing off at the first hole. A quick look online and you’ll find a whole host of great core exercises but things like oblique twists, sit ups and planks are all good for increasing the strength of your abs.

So there you have it, there’s no excuse for sitting idle over the winter. While you can keep your eye in by heading to the range, you can also get yourself along to the gym and put in some work that will help your golf swing just in time for the start of the new season. Training the muscle groups mentioned will enhance your game and who knows, the work you put in at the gym between now and next year could be the difference between picking up the club championship trophy or watching on as someone else takes the prize. It’s got to be worth shot!


If you aren't already a member at a gym, Live Active Leisure has facilities based throughout Perthshire where you can train your golfing muscles during the winter months. For more information, visit their website.

Noah's Ark Golf Centre is open all year round and is the perfect place to practice your swing and see your gym work pay off. Visit their website for more details on the driving range and golf lessons.

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