The Best Golf Exercises to Increase Driving Distance

By Steve Silverman

Strong man playing golf

Once you're comfortable with your golf swing, the fun of improving your skills and shooting lower scores really begins. It's been statistically proven that as you hit the golf ball farther, you shoot lower scores and your handicap improves. Adding distance is not a matter of swinging harder. It's a matter of getting more clubhead speed at impact. The most controllable way to increase your clubhead speed at impact is by strengthening the muscles you use to create speed in your swing. Tiger Woods made golf fitness famous and elite golfers have been treating their bodies as golf equipment ever since.

How Driving Distance Impacts Score

To illustrate the impact driving distance has on your golf game, we looked at the average distance off the tee on all par 4 and par 5 holes (with any club) of golfers with handicaps from 0 to 20. While this data, which came from Arccos Golf, may not be surprising, it is certainly telling. Roughly every 10 additional yards off the tee equates to a five-stroke improvement in handicap index.


Distance off the Tee 











You can increase distance by strengthening your upper body, core, and lower body. These exercises are simple and with a mat, set of dumbbells and a medicine ball you can do almost all of them. You can also easily incorporate these workouts into your complete at home golf fitness program.

Arm and Shoulder Exercises to Add Distance

If you want to gain distance, technique can only take you so far. To go beyond great form, you must focus on strengthening your upper body, particularly the arms and shoulders. You can improve strength and add distance by completing these exercises three days a week. Do two sets of 12 to 20 repetitions to improve strength without bulking up.

Curls on Exercise Ball

Woman doing bicep curl on a medicine ball

In order to hit the ball longer, try building your core strength. Sit on an exercise ball and find your balance point. Take 15-pound dumbbells and do 10 curls with each arm. Take a 30-second break and repeat the set. Feel free do both arms at the same time, or alternate arms.

Bench Press

Man doing a bench press

This can be done with free weights or on an exercise machine. If you have a spotting partner, use free weights. Start at a weight that most closely replicates your body weight, and add or subtract from these as necessary. Set the weight on your chest and press it up until you can lock your elbows. Do this 15 times and take a 30-second break before repeating the set. As your muscles develop, add more weight to keep the exercise challenging.

Lateral Raise

Woman doing lateral raise with dumbbells

The lateral raise exercise works the middle portion of your shoulder muscle. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Your arms are straight and your palms are turned inward toward your legs. Raise your arms to shoulder height but do not lift them higher. Bring your arms back to your sides in a controlled motion to finish one rep.

Front Shoulder Raise

man doing front shoulder raise

The front shoulder raise strengthens the front of your shoulder. You can use two dumbbells or a barbell. Hold your arms in front of you with your palms facing down. Either hold a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell with both, shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms straight in front of you to shoulder height, no higher. Bring your arms down straight to your legs to finish the exercise.

Reverse Fly or Bent-Over Lateral Raise

man doing bent over lateral raise

The reverse fly exercise strengthens the rear portion of the shoulder. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend over at the waist. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your elbows slightly bent. Bring your palms together in front of your thighs. Open your arms straight to your sides and pull your shoulders back. Bring your hands back together in the starting position.

Biceps Curls

Man doing bicep curl with barbell

Biceps curls are a basic exercise to strengthen the front of your arm, working the biceps and forearm muscles. Stand or sit holding a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms facing up. Bend your elbows and bring your hands toward your shoulders. Straighten your arms to finish the rep.

Triceps Kickbacks

Woman doing tricep kickback

Triceps kickbacks will tone your triceps muscles in the back of your upper arm. Dumbbells are the easiest to use for this exercise. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bend over with your elbows bent and touching the sides of your body. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing toward your body. Extend your arms straight behind you. Bend your arms back only to a right angle to finish the rep.

Best Core Exercises For Golf

One thing many people overlook is strengthening the core muscle group of their body. The core muscles are essential to a strong and well-balanced golf swing. Strengthening your core is one of the quickest ways to gain distance off the tee.

The core muscles consist of the lower back, abdominal and oblique muscles. There are many ways to strengthen these areas but with just a basic few exercises, the power of your golf swing will greatly increase.

Abdominal Crunches

woman doing crunches

Abdominal crunches are one of the most common abdominal exercises, but at the same time are one of the most effective and simple.

In this exercise you lay on the floor with your feet tucked to your body and knees pointing to the air. From this position, simply raise your chest to your knees. When completing this exercise, focus on the contraction of the lower abs to increase the intensity and strength benefits. Keep your hands by your ears during this exercise and do not pull them behind your neck because this may lead to neck strains.

Complete in sets of three with 15 to 25 reps depending on your strength.

Russian Twists

woman doing russian twists

Russian twists are an extremely powerful abdominal and oblique workout that can be beneficial to a golf swing.

In Russian twists, you sit on your upper butt and very lower back with the upper back off the ground. With your feet off the ground, tuck your legs towards your chest to contract the abdominal muscles and increase the intensity of the workout. Then with a medicine ball in hand, move your arms side to side touching the ball on the ground.

This exercise targets the obliques as well as the lower abs. The movement of the exercise is much like the rotation of a golf swing and will increase power dramatically. This exercise can be done for three sets with 25 reps. If it becomes overly difficult, a medicine ball is not necessary.


Supermans are a simple exercise that develop the back muscles necessary for a golf swing. In this exercise, you lay on your stomach and lift your legs and chest off the ground. This leaves your stomach on the floor and the rest of your body about 6 to 12 inches off the ground.

When doing this exercise focus on the contraction of the lower back. Complete three sets for 10 to 15 reps.

Supine Spinal Twists

three young people performing supine spinal twist

A flexible back and strong core are key to improving clubhead speed. To perform a supine spinal twist, lay on your back with your legs raised at a 90 degree angle. With your knees together, extend your arms out and rest them palm-side down for stability. Then slowly move your legs to the right while keeping your knees together. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, being sure to stop if you feel any pain. Then slowly bring your legs back to the center, pause, then bring the legs to the left. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times.

Lower Body Exercises to Add Distance

The following body-weight exercises are a wonderful addition to your fitness routine. Cycle through each of these exercises at least once, starting at 5-10 reps per exercise depending on your health levels. Increase your reps or number of sets depending on your fitness level and never try and overdo it. It’s always better to do fewer reps and not risk injury.

Lateral Squat/Lunge

Two women performing lateral squat/lunge

Widen your stance to shoulder width and a half, keeping your spine straight. Place your hand on your hips to help keep proper posture and shift your weight over to one side, bending your knee to 90 degrees.

Forward Lunge

man doing a forward lunge

The forward lunge is the “standard” lunge. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your back straight with your hands on your hips. Then take a large step forward and shift the weight into your stepping foot. Bend your front knee until it is over your ankle, forming a 90 degree angle. Shift your weight back and return to a standing position. Repeat the lunge with the other leg.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Single leg deadlift

Only attempt a single-leg deadlift if you have sufficient balance and coordination. This move is not recommended for senior golfers. In order to do this exercise, begin by balancing on one leg. Then bend forward with your free leg acting as a counterbalance as you let your arms dangle in front of you. Go down as far as is comfortable as your body makes a rough “T” shape. Hold it for a second and then return upright and repeat, trying to keep on one leg during all your reps. Rest briefly and then switch legs.

Curtsy Lunge

man doing curtsy lunge

The curtsy lunge is another exercise that's only for people with good balance. Begin this exercise with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on your hips. Then step one foot behind the other like you are attempting a curtsy for the Queen. Keep your weight over your front foot and lower yourself down until your front leg forms a 90-degree angle (if possible) and lift yourself back up. Return to the starting position and switch legs.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.