Fitness is a big part of the game in 2023. But it wasn’t always the case – as John Daly once said, “You can’t pull fat, that is why I am never injured.”
Things changed when Tiger got on the PGA Tour. He made fitness a part of golf nearly two decades ago and now working out in the norm among the best golfers in the world. Not to mention flexibility, stretching, yoga, and intense recovery sessions.
Needless to say, times have changed a lot in the world of golf.
If you don’t take care of your body, you’re not going to get the most out of your game (sorry John Daly). Plus, you won’t hit the golf ball as far either.
So, what are the muscles used in the golf swing?
Let’s get into it…
Biggest Muscles Groups in Golf
The biggest muscles used in the golf swing are your legs, chest, and back.
If you train those three areas more than anything else you can gain power and stability in your swing. But forearm muscles, core muscles, and others also play a role to optimize your golf swing.
But a lot of golfers (and men in general) tend to skip leg day. However, if you want to hit bombs and shoot lower scores, you can’t neglect the lower half of your body!
Today, we’ll outline the big muscles used in the golf swing and what you should focus on in your gym routine to play your best.
- Big muscles are responsible for generating power and swinging the golf club consistently.
- Golfers should train their legs, back, and chest to improve distance and avoid injuries.
- A strong core can also help with the twisting and turning of the golf club (especially if you play more frequently).
Keep reading to learn more about the biggest muscles in golf and how to get your body ready for golf.
Muscles Used While Playing Golf
As you know the golf swing is a complex motion that happens at high speeds. Almost every part of your body has a role – from your feet all the way to your head. If they all work together, it’s a lot easier to swing consistently and play your best.
With so many moving parts it’s essential to get your muscles working correctly. This British Journal of Sports Medicine article is a great read and shows how each muscle group moves in the swing.
It’s a bit technical but we’ll simplify it to help you learn which muscle groups to focus on to improve your golf swing.
Backswing Golf Muscles
The backswing sets up your transition and downswing to create power.
According to the British Journal, “During the backswing, the most active muscle in the upper body is the upper trapezius on the right side (52% MMT), with the middle trapezius displaying the second-highest reading (37% MMT).”
Other important muscles on the backswing include the subscapularis, upper body serratus, and long head of the biceps femoris. While the obliques and abdominal muscles also play a big role as you finish the top of your backswing.
Downswing Golf Muscles
Once you’re loaded at the top of your swing it’s time to unwind properly and transfer your weight to the lead side. The same article found, “The most active muscle in the upper body during this phase in the upper body on the left side is the rhomboid (68% MMT) and middle trapezius (51% MMT). On the right side, the most active muscles are the pectoralis major (64% MMT) and upper serratus (58% MMT).”
But the most active muscles during the downswing are the lower body (upper and lower glutes). This is why it’s so important to train all parts of your legs as they have a huge impact on your power and acceleration.
Muscles to Add Speed
If you’re like most golfers you’re always trying to add speed in your swing.
The British Journal found that the pectoralis major is the most active in the upper body. While the left bicep femoris, abdominal muscles, and gluteus maximus play the biggest role in creating speed.
This is why the top golfers in the world are constantly working on building strength, not just staying flexible. Plus, a lot of speed training with products like SuperSpeed Golf.
What to Do Next
To build a powerful golf swing you need to get into a consistent exercise routine to get the most out of your game.
Here’s how to get started:
Start Small (Don’t Overdo it)
If you’re working out now, keep at it and focus on your lower body and big muscles. If you aren’t working out yet, don’t go from not working out to attempting to work out 5-6X a week (this is why NYE resolutions don’t work).
Start by adding a few days in each week so you make it a habit and work on major muscles. Then as you get more advanced you can make workouts longer, test out different workouts, etc.
Building key lower body muscle doesn’t happen overnight.
Stay consistent and trust the process to get your body in the best shape possible. Find a committed golf buddy or workout friend to keep you accountable as well.
Have Upper and Lower Body Days
On upper body days the key muscles or muscle groups to work out are chest muscle, shoulders, and back. You can also improve your forearm muscles which can help improve your grip and hit better from the rough.
While lower body days should have a focus on glutes, quads, and core muscles too. If you can do two days upper and two days lower during the week this can have a huge impact on your golf game.
Don’t Neglect Core Muscles
The average golfer probably sits too much at work during their day and creates all sorts of imbalances which lead to a lot of back injuries. Plus, when playing golf you need a strong core so make sure to stretch, foam roll, and do plenty of core work (I like to do it on leg days).
While adding muscle can help, don’t forget to work on your stretching as well. This will help keep you flexible and allow your body to move properly as you play golf.
Be Careful With Speed Training
While speed training can improve your distance, don’t do it directly after a huge workout. Make sure you are well rested to avoid injuries and follow the protocols provided.
FAQs About Golf Fitness
Do you have more questions about the role of fitness in your golf swing? If so, keep reading to learn more now so you can train like professional golfers.
What muscles improve golf swing speed? What muscles help you hit the golf ball farther?
While speed training with something like The Stack System can help, you also need to add more strength and stability for your speed. This is why it’s important to do compound workouts like squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, pull-ups, etc.
What exercises strengthen your golf swing?
Most compound exercises will help strengthen your golf swing. Focus on your quads, gluteus maximus, and core to generate power.
Plus, doing extra core work and strengthening your lower back to avoid those pesky back injuries. Don’t forget to check out these golf stretches as well.
What key muscles start the downswing?
The first move on your downswing is shifting your weight to your lead foot.
This is why the legs play such a pivotal role in starting the downswing and why you shouldn’t avoid them in the gym. Start training your legs – not just back or shoulder muscles – to unleash speed on your downswing.
What is Bryson DeChambeau’s workout routine?
According to Men’s Health, “He had committed more time to building symmetrical strength in his core through exercises that focused on trunk rotation, trunk flexion, leg flexion, back extension, and side bends. He also overhauled his nutrition plan, which included seven protein shakes a day.”
There’s no doubt Bryson made the most of his quarantine period and it helped him win the 2020 US Open. Now he’s smaller but still extremely fit with key muscles as he’s still one of the longest hitters in the game.
What is Tiger Woods workout routine?
As I mentioned earlier, Tiger Woods brought fitness to golf.
In a sport that had little emphasis on fitness he started training specific muscles to hit it longer than anyone. Now, pretty much every professional golfer has a workout routine thanks to Tiger.
His old routine was insane and not something we’d recommend doing. Here’s Tiger’s routine from this tweet from the PGA Tour.
“I used to get up in the morning, run four miles, then I would go to the gym, do my lifts. Then I’d hit balls for about 2–3 hours. I’d go play, come back, work on my short game, then I’d go run another four more miles. If someone wanted to play basketball or tennis then I’d go play basketball or tennis. This was my daily routine.”
I can almost guarantee that 99% of professional golfers have never or would never try his daily routine. But it’s likely one of the reasons he was able to dominate like no one else in the history of the game.
While others might argue that his commitment (or over commitment) led to a lot of injuries as well. Needless to say, we don’t recommend training like Tiger Woods but it’s a great insight into how he trained 20 years ago.
Adding muscle and improving your overall health can have a big impact on your game. If you want to hit it longer, play more consistently, and avoid injuries, you need to work out and have good overall fitness.
This doesn’t mean you need to eat 6,000 calories every day and train like Bryson DeChambeau in 2020. But regular exercise, hitting 10,000 steps per day and stretching can do wonders for your game. The sooner you take care of your body, the longer you will be able to play this great game and hit the ball like you want.
If you want help with your fitness routines and golf practice, check out Under Par Golf app. This all-in-one app provides you with monthly practice plans, coaching, and fitness routines to hit your golf goals. You can train and practice like a PGA Tour player without breaking the bank.
A few days in the gym each week can help build important muscles that will take your golf game to the next level. For many golfers it’ll lead to big gains quickly, not to mention more golf as you hopefully don’t need to fight off injuries.
The force created in a golf swing is a lot on your body so make sure to improve your fitness to keep enjoying this game for a long time. Not to mention, hit it longer too.