Sure, golf looks pretty chill. But it’s a long game, which means it’s crucial to build your strength and stamina to keep your swings strong well into the fourth hour of play. “Any time you can do any type of training that will increase your awareness of your body’s functionality will give you the best opportunity to create the most power and also the most stability to enjoy playing golf,” says Rose Zhang, a professional golfer and two-time NCAA Individual Champion.
To help the non-professional among us nail this training, Zhang partnered with Apple Fitness+ earlier in January to create new programming targeted specifically for golfers. Zhang and the team at Apple integrated four different pillars when co-creating the golf-centric workouts: rotation, coordination, muscular endurance, and balance and mobility. The result was an upper body workout, lower body workout, rotation-focused workout (meaning it challenges your body’s ability to twist with power and control), and a yoga workout.
“These are the exact movements that really helped me shape my golf game and enabled me to grow without injuring myself,” Zhang says of the program.
“We chose golf because in addition to its global popularity, golf just has such a healthy vibe,” says Julz Arney, director of fitness technologies and Fitness+ for Apple. “It’s a great way to get outside, get some fresh air, meet up with friends to get that camaraderie, and hopefully it includes a lot of walking. It also takes concentration, so you get to have a really fun challenge for your brain.”
Thankfully, there are other ways to up your golf game even if you don’t have a streaming workout membership. “For golf it’s so cool because every single fitness thing is functional to golf,” says golf instructor Gavin Parker. “There are golf specific workouts, and also anything in the fitness realm is going to affect your golf swing, and it will be a positive experience.
And at the end of the day, it’s all about practicing. “It’s really one of those sports where you just have to do it, and do it, and do it to see improvement on the course,” says Kyle Ardill, a trainer for Apple Fitness+. “[Success] comes from really being as consistent as you can on the golf course,” agrees Zhang.
If you’re hoping to be among the one in seven Americans who plays golf every year—or are just looking to up your game—check out these five key strength exercises for golf, straight from the pros.
5 strength exercises for golf you can try at home
You don’t need a full set of clubs to master these strength exercises for golf. Just grab a mat and a light- to medium pair of dumbbells if you have them.
1. Rotational planks
Zhang loves this plank variation. “When I think about training for my golf game, the biggest thing first is injury prevention. The golf swing is a unilateral motion so with that in mind when you’re out there practicing and hitting 300 golf balls or out there for hours, it’s very likely that you could be using one side of your muscles too much, and that creates disbalance in your entire body. So I like to make sure that I’m making all of my movements on both sides when I’m working out,” says Khang.
How to do it: Start by laying on your right side with your elbow under your shoulder. Lift your hips off of the ground to get into a side plank position. (For a modified version, place your bottom knee on the ground as a kickstand.) Take your left arm and thread it under your body, twisting at the core. Return to the starting position. Perform for 10 reps and repeat on the left side. Complete four sets of 10 on each side.
2. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
These exercises really focus on loading the hip. “That for me is one of the things I need to focus on most for my golf game, and it’s definitely something most people can and should focus on,” says Ardill. After all, golf involves a lot of hinging, and keeping spine alignment is a crucial skill, he says.
Zhang adds that single-sided movements that require you to switch sides ((like these deadlifts) are good to practice weight shifts, which you need for a strong golf swing.
How to do it: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart, and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward from the hips while lifting your left leg off of the ground. Trace the dumbbell down the right leg until you feel tension in the back of the right leg. Return to the starting position. Perform 10 reps, then repeat on the left leg. Complete four sets of 10 reps on each side.
3. Overhead press with march
Ardill likes how this move focuses on coordination as well as trunk stability, hip loading, and balance—all of which transfer well to golfing. “I always like to think about weight shift,” adds Zhang. “From our groundwork, that creates the foundational power of our golf swing, and allows us to be stable when we’re out there swinging at over 90 miles per hour.”
How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip width-apart and a dumbbell in each hand at your shoulders. Press your right arm straight above your head while lifting your left foot off of the ground until it’s at hip height. Return to the starting position. Press your left arm straight above your head while lifting your right foot off of the ground until it’s hip height. Return to the starting position. In a marching pattern, repeat for 45 seconds. Complete four sets of 45-second marches.
Parker says push-ups are surprisingly important for golfers because of how many muscle groups they work—which can really improve your form. “You get a little bit of grip strength, the ability to hold yourself up, arm engagement, core engagement, a little bit of your legs from holding yourself up, chest and triceps,” he says. He adds that you can get those benefits from any variation, so pick your preference: knees on the ground, from your toes, you name it.
How to do it: Start in a plank position with your hands just outside of your shoulders. Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle, bringing your chest as close as you can to the ground. Drive through the palms of your hands to bring yourself back to the starting position. Complete four sets of 10 reps.
The lunge is another simple move that can build strength for your golf game. “You’re going to be able to work your range of motion, specifically your ankle joints. A lot of golfers struggle with getting into a good posture because of poor ankle mobility,” says Parker. You can do different variations as well (reverse lunge, walking lunge, etc.). Parker also suggests adding some kind of rotation through the core (say, a weighted lunge with a torso rotation) if you want to increase the challenge.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward with your right foot until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Step your right foot back to the starting position. Perform for 10 reps on the right then switch for 10 reps on the left side. You’ll want to do four sets of 10 reps on each side.