Exercises to Help Golfers Improve Their Driving Distance

By Steve Silverman

Golf ball teed up
Once a golfer has gotten comfortable with the basics of the swing, the goal is all about improving. One of the most noticeable improvements comes in terms of driving distance. While hitting the ball longer won't necessarily lower your handicap or your score by more than a shot or two, every golfer likes to hit longer. It's not a matter of swinging harder. It's a matter of getting more clubhead speed at impact.

Arm and Shoulder Exercises to Add Distance

For golfers looking to add distance to their drives, technique can only take you so far. Ultimately, any golfer should also focus on strengthening their upper body, particularly the arms and shoulders. You can improve strength and 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

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. It doesn't matter whether you do both arms at the same time or you alternate them.

Bench Press

This can be done with free weights or on an exercise machine. If you have a spotting partner, use free weights. Set the weight on your chest -- start off with 150 pounds if you are an adult male -- and press it up until you can lock your elbows. Do this 15 times and take a 30-second break before repeating the set. Start off with 75 pounds if you are an adult female. As your muscles develop, more weight can be added to keep the exercise challenging.

Lateral Raise

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 will be 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.

Shoulder Flexion

The shoulder flexion exercise will strengthen the front of your shoulder. You can use two dumbbells or a barbell. Hold your arms in front of you straight with your palms facing down. Either hold a dumbbell in each hand or hold 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

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

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

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 and fail to see is strengthening the core muscle group of their body. The core muscles are essential to a strong and well-balanced golf swing. Strengthening these muscles will add yards to a golf swing without even having to swing a club.

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 a person's golf swing will greatly increase.

Abdominal 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. Then you simply raise your chest up 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 strength levels.

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 as well as your legs. You then tuck the legs in more towards the 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

A flexible back and strong core are also key to improving clubhead speed. To perform this exercise, 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 any pain is felt. 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 one time, starting at 5-10 reps per exercise depending on your health levels. Increase the reps or repeat the cycle again 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

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

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

This should only be attempted by folks who have sufficient balance and coordination and is not recommended for senior golfers. In order to do this exercise, begin by balancing on 1 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

This is another exercise that is only for people that have a good sense of balance. Begin this exercise with your feet a shoulder-width across 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.