3 Tips on Strength Training for Golf with Mike Carroll

In today’s blog post we interview Mike Carroll of Fit For Golf. Mike is a strength & conditioning coach specializing in physical training for golfers. In today’s interview, Mike answers our questions on whether or not golfers should be doing strength training, and in that case, how.

Mike Carroll Fit For Golf
Mike Carroll of Fit For Golf.

Should Golfers Be Doing Strength Training?

Mike: Strength training should be part of any serious golfer’s overall development plan. A golfer’s quality of ball striking on drives and approach shots has a massive bearing on their scoring potential (and likely, enjoyment).

When golfers engage in an appropriate strength training regimen they often notice rapid increases in swing speed and shot distance. Hitting longer drives off the tee and using shorter, more lofted clubs on approach shots makes the game much easier.

Detailed statistics from “Strokes Gained” creator Dr. Mark Broadie has made it crystal clear the relationship between driving distance and handicap. Lower handicap golfers hit the ball significantly further than high handicap golfers. 

Golf driving distance by handicap

Further benefits of strength training are a reduced likelihood of common overuse injuries in golf (e.g lower back, shoulder, elbow, wrist), and more energy during the round.

One of the most common complaints from golfers as they get older is that they are losing distance and find the golf course more difficult to walk. Strength training can have a profound effect on this!

What Muscles Need to Be Strong for Golf?

Mike: The golf swing is a full-body rotational power movement. At first glance, it can look like predominantly an upper body and arm dominant movement. The role of the lower body and trunk cannot be overstated, however. They are both essential for a high-quality and powerful golf swing. One of the biggest differences between expert and less skilled players is how well expert players can sequence and integrate the use of their lower body, trunk, and upper body.

The glutes, quads, obliques, and lats are some of the most important muscles. Golfers need to be able to rotate and extend their hips and swing their arms powerfully. Training the muscles that control these movements is important.

How Should Golfers Strength Train?

Mike: Golfers should strength train similar to how athletes in other rotational power sports have for decades. Many of the most valuable training exercises for golfers are ones that your readers will already be familiar with.

  • Squatting
  • Hinging
  • Split Squatting / Lunging
  • Rotating
  • Pressing
  • Pulling

By building strength in these exercises in low to moderate rep ranges, athletes will have a fantastic base of strength and muscle mass. This will have a huge impact on their ability to swing a golf club.

I’m also a huge fan of golfers performing exercises that are lighter and faster in nature, and which may involve movement patterns slightly more similar to the golf swing. Different types of jumping, and medicine ball throwing and slamming can be used to cover this element of the training. For people who don’t have the facility to throw and slam med balls, or may have injury issues that restrict jumping, kettlebell swings and high-speed resistance band exercises can be used as an alternative.

For golfers really interested in increasing their clubhead speed and want to make their training even more specific, underload and overload training with sticks slightly lighter and heavier than standard drivers have proven to be a very effective tool.

A balance of heavy strength training and light speed training can yield massive improvements. This has been proven across all age ranges.

Thanks a lot for sharing your insights, Mike! If anyone would like to read more or get in touch with Mike, you can contact him on Fit For Golf.

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Daniel Richter

Daniel has a decade of experience in powerlifting, is a certified personal trainer, and has a Master of Science degree in engineering. Besides competing in powerlifting himself, he coaches both beginners and international-level lifters. Daniel regularly shares tips about strength training on Instagram, and you can follow him here.