Free Weights & Golf Exercises

By Amy Neighbors

When working with golfers, it is important to remember that most do not want to increase their size or bulk because they believe they will lose range of motion in their swings. Remember, body strength, not bulk, enhances the golf game by improving the force of the swing. The American Council on Exercise recommends free weights because they incorporate the stabilizing muscles that help the body produce strength and gains in power. This is important for golfers since the swing requires both stabilization and power from the muscles of the core.


When performed correctly, the squat works all muscles of the lower body as well as the core. A stable lower body anchors a golf swing. The legs provide the base so that momentum can move from the core out through the upper-body extremities. These muscles also play a critical role in stability and power-generation. Golf fitness trainer Mike Pedersen notes that the quadriceps, or muscles of the anterior thigh, are involved 100 percent of the time in the golf swing. Whenever knee flexion occurs, the quadriceps are under tension, and firing. It is critical in the golf swing to maintain the same knee flexion you had at address throughout your swing. Free weights can be utilized for added load and resistance on a squat exercise. To begin, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and with a free weight in each hand. Bend the knees slowly and lower the gluteal muscles toward the floor. Stop when legs are nearly parallel to the ground. Contract the abs and gradually push the body back up to the starting position.

Dumbbell Swing

Since golf is a sport that utilizes muscles in integration, free weight training can be done in integration as well. The dumbbell swing works the muscles of the posterior chain and core. This includes all the muscles of the arms, back and hamstrings. These muscles need to be strong as they are crucial to the golf swing: The power emerges from the core and is transferred out of the body through the extremities. The stronger the golfer's core, the more power produced in the swing, and the farther the ball likely will travel. To do a dumbbell swing, place feet shoulder-width apart, grip a dumbbell with both hands and hold it between your legs. Lower yourself down into a squat position, keeping the chest lifted. As you push yourself back up, swing the dumbbell up over your head. Lower back into the squat and swing the dumbbell back down to the starting position.

Dumbbell Wood Chop

The dumbbell wood chop is another integrated exercise that will strengthen all muscles of the body, including the core. The wood chop is especially significant for golfers as it mimics the same twisting motion as the golf swing. In the golf swing, the body rotates at the waist, and the power generated in the core is transferred out the arms and legs. The dumbbell wood chop is essentially a golf swing performed with added weight and resistance. To perform it, hold a free weight with both hands and extend it over the right shoulder. The body should form a diagonal line from fingertips to feet. Your body will be slightly twisted toward the right. Maintaining a tight core, keep arms straight and lower the body down into a squat while swinging the weight down toward the left foot as if chopping a piece of wood. Push the body back up into diagonal position while swinging arms back to starting position.

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