5 Core Strengthening Exercises for Golfers

Nov 22, 2023
core strength for golf

Core strengthening exercises for golfers are some of the most overlooked components in the average golfers' training program. This stems from a lack of understanding of what core strength is and how to train it properly. It’s not just about your six pack! This article will teach you about what core strength means for golfers and how to increase it for longer drives and less injuries.

What Does It Mean to Have a ‘Strong Core’?

Having visible abs on your midsection is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core. It probably means you have a low body fat percentage, but strength is another issue entirely. Take a look at the strongman athlete pictured below. He has the typical build of a strongman, which includes a big belly. Do you think he has a weak core?

For reference, that is over 200 pounds above his head. (Credit: Adobe Stock)

You would be silly to answer, ‘yes’. However, don’t get it twisted. Just because you have a big belly doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong core, either!

A strong core means that the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis are healthy and well-functioning. In terms of golf, that means that you are able to maintain good posture throughout the swing, while at the same time maintaining balance and generating appropriate amounts of power. 

Why Is Core Strength Important for Golfers?

The ability to transfer this power up from the ground, through the lower body, into the core and out into the upper extremities (eventually the club and ball) is what having a strong core is all about. In golf we have to produce tremendous amounts of rotation, while at the same time stabilizing our joints and resisting other types of movement.

It’s a complex movement, and it happens fast—so having a strong core is essential if we are to perform well on the course and mitigate our chances of getting injured while playing. 

Core Strengthening Exercises for Golfers

Each of the exercises listed below serve a purpose in building you into a better golfer! Do them in the order they’re listed, or, simply add one to the end of your next strength and conditioning session! 

Pelvic Tilts

Instructions

  • Start by lying on your back with your arms out to the sides and knees bent
  • Exaggerate the arch in your lower back so there is a gap underneath it
  • Reverse the movement, contracting the abdominals to flatten the lower back against the ground
  • Repeat this movement for 10-15 reps
  • Perform 3-5 sets and rest 45-60 seconds in between sets

Benefits for Golfers

This is a subtle movement that is hard to see even in the pictures we provided, it is easier to feel however when you try it for yourself. Your lower abdominal muscles help to articulate the position of the pelvis and stabilize the lower back. Learning how to effectively contract these muscles and strengthen them is what this exercise is designed to do.

Supine Toe Taps

Instructions

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent to 90° (picture 1)
  • Flatten your lower back against the ground by contracting your abdominals
  • Hold this position, and then slowly lower one foot until the toes tap the group
  • If the lower back lifts off the ground at any point, stop, and return the leg to the starting position
  • Alternate legs while maintaining the flat lower back position
  • Repeat for 10-20 reps (each tap is 1 rep)
  • Perform 3-5 sets and rest 45-60 seconds in between sets

Benefits for Golfers

This exercise is a progression from the pelvic tilts to challenge the strength of your core. A golf swing is incredibly explosive, and there isn’t time to consciously contract the muscles that stabilize your pelvis/spine. Exercises like this create optimal tone in the muscles that make your core stable enough to produce the power necessary for a long drive or otherwise perfect shot.

Alternating Superman

Instructions

  • Lie face down with your arms straight overhead
  • Lift one leg and the alternate arm as high as you can off the ground, contracting the glute, shoulder, and back muscles
  • Pause briefly at the top, then return both limbs to the ground
  • Lift the other leg and alternate arm in the same way
  • Repeat for 10-20 reps (each lift is 1 rep)
  • Perform 3-5 sets and rest 45-60 seconds in between sets

Benefits for Golfers

Moving to the back of our cores, this exercise integrates the shoulders, legs, and torso via the lower back (which is one of the most common sites of pain in golfers). Teaching our body to work together is crucial for overall stability whilst performing complex, total-body movements like swinging a golf club. 

Side Plank Crunch

Instructions

  • Start on your side propped up on your elbow
  • Bend your bottom knee
  • Lift your hips up off the ground, straightening your top leg and top arm (picture 1)
  • Stay in this propped up position, and crunch your top leg and top arm together
  • Return to the start position, stretching the top arm and leg as far away from each other as you can
  • Repeat for 10-15 reps on each side
  • Perform 3-5 sets and rest 45-60 seconds in between sets

Benefits for Golfers

This exercise integrates the hip flexors with the abdominals, and the lower body with the upper body via the midsection. Both sets of side abdominals (obliques) are working extremely hard to maintain the elevated hip position throughout this exercise. The obliques are important for stability and rotation throughout the swing.

Russian Twists

Instructions

  • Start in a seated position with your knees partially bent (or elevated for a harder variation) and arms crossed across the chest
  • Lean back so your torso is at an approximately 45° angle
  • Twist as far as you can to one side
  • Return back to centre, and then twist as far as you can to the other side
  • Repeat for 10-20 repetitions
  • Perform 3-5 sets and rest 45-60 seconds in between sets

Benefits for Golfers

The Russian twist is a classic core rotation exercise that is a perfect complement to the other movements we have listed so far. Golf is all about rotation, and this exercise trains the midsection to be strong while twisting itself in both directions. This translates to more power in the back and downswing while you’re playing.

Train With Us at Dynamic Golfers

If you liked the exercises in this article, you will absolutely love the comprehensive programming we have available for you at Dynamic Golfers. Hundreds of professionally designed follow-along routines available to you 24/7. Sign up for a 7-day free trial and join a community of thousands of golfers worldwide training intelligently for pain-free golf!

Written by Eric Lister – Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist

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