Exercises to Help Golfers Improve Their Driving Distance

By Mike Southern
Natalie Gulbis uses a balance ball as part of her exercise program.
Natalie Gulbis uses a balance ball as part of her exercise program.

Physical fitness vans are common sights at professional golf tournaments, and many pros have their own personal fitness trainers. Weekend golfers have also gotten into the act, as local gyms and fitness centers have been quick to provide specialized programs. But you can improve your golf fitness – specifically your driving distance – by merely adding a few simple types of exercises to your daily routine.

Calisthenics

Don't underestimate the value of simple exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips (all upper body exercises) and squats. These body weight exercises have been a staple of martial arts and military programs for hundreds of years. Most of them require no special equipment, you can exercise every part of your body using them, and you can easily adapt them to your strength level by changing your position. For example, you can do half-squats rather than full squats, or do push-ups on your knees rather than your toes. The "Atlas push-up," made popular by Charles Atlas, involves putting your hands on two chairs rather than on the floor. The higher your upper body is above your feet, the easier the push-up will be.

Core and Balance Work

A golf swing is a rotary motion, and you need a strong torso to make that turn with power and yet avoid injury. Pilates and yoga are two very popular types of core work, but you might be surprised how simple a core workout can be. An inflatable balance ball is a piece of exercise equipment that's easy to move around, and you can use it to work out while watching TV. Many people even use balance balls to replace office chairs, allowing them to improve their balance while they work. You can also get a core workout with a simple movement called a "plank." Get on the floor in push-up position, but lower yourself onto your elbows and simply hold your body straight for a while. Planks can also be done on each side (balanced on one elbow and the side of your feet) or with your face and belly pointed to the sky (balanced on your elbows and heels).

Flexibility Work

Yoga is a well-known exercise system to improve flexibility, but stretching is something you can do during spare moments each day. It can be as simple as standing next to a wall, with your chest, hips and feet perpendicular to the wall. Without moving your feet, turn your upper body so your chest faces the wall. Put both hands on the wall, relax your torso muscles, then hold this position for a few seconds before changing position to stretch the other side.

Weight Work

Weight work is also useful, but you don't need an entire gym. Just one dumbbell can help you work your triceps, the muscles on the back of your upper arms. These muscles are vital to driving distance because they straighten your arms during your backswing, bringing your hands down into the hitting area. Just lie on your back with both arms extended straight up, holding the weight. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows so the weight is lowered toward your forehead, and then straighten them to your start position. Be careful holding weights over your head; don't lift more than you can handle.

About the Author

North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

Photo Credits

  • Victor Decolongon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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