How To Tell If You Need More Strength - Golf Weight Training

One of the hottest topics in the media right now is the question of whether golf weight training is detrimental to a golfer’s success at the professional level.

Everyone – the media, swing instructors, strength & conditioning coaches, retired professionals, people on social media, the players themselves, and even the waitress at my local coffee shop has an opinion on the topic. 

First, it was Tiger Woods; he ruined his back by doing the Navy Seal workouts. Ask Hank Haney; he’ll tell you that’s what happened.

Now it’s Rory McIlory; he is too buff (not for my waitress), and according to the TV announcers he’s hurting his swing, the fans on Twitter are saying he should spend more time on the practice green instead of the gym. Everyone has an opinion.

I heard this little tidbit on one of The Master’s telecasts.

“Sam Snead never lifted a weight why should these guys.” 

What is Wrong with These People?

Do you think for a moment, that Rory McIlroy, who’s playing for prestige, a million dollars a tournament, and tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements is going to let a Napoleon complex stop him from earning that?

The professional game has every device known to man, and maybe a few that are secret, that track and record every movement and change of angle in his swing. Rory knows to the half-yard how far he hits every club and his ball flight tendencies. 

Don’t you think they would notice any change in his swing and his golf performance and figure out what is going wrong? These guys have a bigger team working for them than NASA did to send astronauts to the moon. 

Why do these guys have to lift weights? It isn’t to hit the ball farther; it’s to protect their bodies from the constant stress of having to play at such a high level all the time.

Scroll down and take a look at the video of Sam Snead swing a golf club compared to Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Look how much more power today’s players generate on the downswing than Snead did. They need weight training to protect their back from those forces.

Well, all know that Jason Day has a new issue every week. Lately, it has been his bad back. 

Maybe the cause of Jason’s back problem is that he doesn’t lift weights as heavy as Rory. 

Do You Need a Golf Weight Training Program?

I expect most of you are playing for $5 Nassau’s and not millions of dollars.

It’s also doubtful that your clubhead speed is anywhere north of 100-mph. So slowing the club down isn’t as much of an effort as it is for the professionals.

Since you don’t have the pressures of losing tons of money or stopping 120 mph swings, do you need to add a golf weight training program to improve your golf conditioning and performance?

I Think You Do

For a variety of reasons. 

If you go to the gym two or three times a week and workout hard, this may not apply to you. Generalizations aside, very few people say

“I wish I could lose some strength.” 

Don’t think lifting weights is going to turn you into a bodybuilder; that takes dedication and time that most of us don’t have. Gaining strength is going to make you feel better and improve your confidence, as well as protect you from injuries.

To get the most out of rotational and power exercises, it’s helpful to have a degree of strength and joint stability. Adding strength training will pay off in spades down the road. 

Anyone that is overweight should be lifting heavy things. Having more muscle mass on your frame will cause you to burn more energy throughout the day and night. Forget running on a treadmill, pick up some weights and you’ll lose more fat.


Let’s not forget that as we grow older, we will lose muscle mass; this is called sarcopenia. I discussed it in the first of a series of articles called Supplements for Golfers

To counteract the effects of aging we need to be active and provide our body with the exercise it needs to build muscle. In today’s world, most people are pushing paper or analyzing data at their desks and not getting enough daily exercise to slow down sarcopenia. To retain muscle mass, we need to challenge our strength by lifting weights at least two or three times a week.

The majority of us, and I include myself, need to lift weights, not for golf performance, but to counteract the effects of aging and our inactive lifestyle that our careers force upon us.

Maybe the top golf athletes are approaching the point where they’re overdoing it, but honestly, can you say you’re doing enough heavy weight training to harm your golf game?

Point of Diminishing Returns

There is a time in any golf weight training program where the effort and time to get stronger reaches a point of diminishing returns. 

At that point, you should direct your training effort at functional exercises, rotational power, and increasing mobility & stability. 

The exception to this is the deadlift. Golfers should be deadlifting weekly to increase glute & core strength.

The Glutes are the King & the Core is the Queen of the Golf Swing – TPI

Have You Reached the Point of Diminishing Returns?

Here are the criteria that I use to determine when a golfer has come to that mythical point of diminishing returns.

Why Mythical?

Because as we move through the golf performance program, the golfer is going to realize that they become stronger without focusing on pure strength exercises. 

However, to start, golfers will need a certain level of strength and more stability before they start a rotational and power based golf conditioning program.

Here are my criteria for passing a golf weight training program.


Be able to perform two sets of elbow down planks for 60-seconds with a 30-second rest period. 

From the side, I want to be able to trace a straight line from the ankle to shoulder that bisects the hip.

No lifting or dropping the ass.


Be able to perform two sets of ten pushups with 30-seconds between the sets. 

Elbows should be close to the sides, not out like an alligator. Hands placed shoulder-width apart. 

The body must not arch or sag, and the chest must be lowered within an inch or lower to the floor. 


Perform walking lunges for a length of 60-feet without losing balance or having to use the knee to gain balance.

The forward knee should be pointing straight ahead (not to the side), and the trail knee should be within an inch or touching the floor without using it for support. The body should remain upright.

When you step forward, your stride must be long enough so that your knee doesn’t go ahead of your shin. At the bottom of the lunge, the thigh and shin should be at a 90-degree angle to each other. 

It isn’t necessary to use dumbbells in the test, but light weights often help with balance, and during training, they make the exercise more challenging.

Elevated Deadlifts

Using a trap-bar with high handles or an Olympic bar on boxes, you should be able to deadlift 1.25 times body weight for five reps with a solid hip thrust and lockout at the top of the move. 

For those carrying extra weight, I usually don’t dimish the weight as deadlifts are a great muscle builder. When you lose weight it lowers the diminishing point.  I’m a hardass, I know. 


The pull-up is the hardest exercise for people to complete.

Two sets of 5 pull-ups with 1-minute rest between sets. No kipping allow and chin has to be at least to the bar. 

People have significant issues with pull-ups. Especially those that like food (myself included) so to train we use thick bands or a strap on the functional gym with added weight to reduce the effort of the pull. Once we can do five pull-ups, we change to a lighter band or take weight off the stacks to make the pull-ups harder. 

The pull-up is good for the core, back, shoulders, and arms sand is a good indicator of overall fitness. 

Front & Lateral Raises

I like people to be able to do two sets of ten lateral raises followed by ten front raises with 30-seconds of rest using 15-pound dumbells. 

The starting stance is an athletic position, similar to the stance you take with a driver. The lateral and front raises are done one after the other without rest. Then repeated after 30-seconds.

Complete the exercises to shoulder level with minimal body sway. 

You Can’t Meet the Minimums of the Golf Weight Training Program?

No problem, keep working at it. 

Be careful with the deadlifts. If you can’t touch your toes you shouldn’t be doing deadlifts, regardless if you are using the trap bar or boxes to lift the Olympic weights off the floor.

 Remember, don’t add strength to dysfunction.

Download my guide Don’t Add Strength to Dysfunction to learn more on why. 

Click to Download the Guide

Keep Going

If you have worked on mobility correctives, and you have eliminated most of your mobility limitations keep working the weights.

Here is where my philosophy is a little different than other golf fitness trainers.

I see no problem adding old fashioned bodybuilding strength exercises to workouts as long as you’re doing other exercises that are functional multi-joint exercises.

Isolation exercises obviously increase muscle or bodybuilders wouldn’t be doing them. More importantly, they add variety to the workout. Adding more exercises to a workout program confuses the muscles and they don’t get used to patterns, and it keeps the golfer interested as well.

During a workout include one or two of the exercises in the golf weight training program to practice the exercise and see if there are any improvements. 

Before you know it you will be able to do the golf weight training program and move on to rotational and power workouts. 

Test Yourself with the Golf Weight Training Program

Use the button below to down a checklist & guide for my golf weight training program.

It is a print out of the requirements, it has spaces for you to write down your progress, and links to videos to show you how to do the test exercises. 

Click to Download the Checklist

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