Ah, the holiday season: a time to drink, gorge, and get out of golf shape. That cup, knife, and fork—no matter how many hours you spend in your office chair while shopping online—can do a real number on your body, and with it, your swing. Use it or lose it, as we say in business.
To stay injury-free and reach your lofty 2023 goals on the racetrack, you’ll need a fitness plan to recover and improve your strength, flexibility, and explosiveness. Lucky for you, we’ve put this plan together using the favorite workouts of the Tour pros we work with at Joey D Golf Sports Training Center in Jupiter, Florida. All you have to do now is get them as they do!
Here are six exercises to get in shape this season.
1. Cup squat
Why: When it comes to energy, it all starts from the ground up—and unfortunately, brisk walking won’t add the strength you need. A strong base is mandatory for a yardage-devouring golf swing, and this exercise adds serious leg strength. Thanks to the band, you also activate the gluteus medius to stabilize the knee and the sacroiliac joint, which connects the pelvis and lower spine.
How do: Place an exercise band just above your knees. Next, have your feet shoulder-width apart and point straight forward—a nice athletic stance. Take the kettlebell in both hands and hold it in the middle of your chest. Sink to 90 degrees, as if you were sitting in a chair, and then rise to the initial position.
how many: Start with 6 to 8 reps, building up to 10 to 12, three to four times per week.
Preferred by: Lucas Glover
2. Hip circles with a slider
Why: Excessive time in the office and a lack of regular exercise can lead to tight thigh muscles. This exercise increases hip mobility, reducing the chance of injury and making it easier to load into your right side on the back swing and unload into your left side on the downward swing and follow through.
How do: Start in a push-up position with your hands under your shoulders. In one smooth motion, lift your leg toward your chest, then out to the side and then around, to return to the original position. (Tip: A drink coaster works well as a slide, allowing your foot to glide across the floor.) Remember to keep your core engaged throughout the workout.
how many: Start with 8 to 10 on each side, building up to 12 to 15, three to four times a week.
Preferred by: Jessica Korda
3. backswing trail loading leg with band
Why: Sometimes exercises in the form of a golf swing are just what your body and mind need to wake up those golfing muscles if you haven’t been swinging a club in a few weeks. This one teaches (or just reminds) your body how to properly load into the backswing. It keeps you in position as you activate your upper half with the belt, and increases thoracic and lumbar stability as well as external rotation.
How do: Place an athletic band under your left foot (for right-handed golfers) and get into a golf setting. Pull the bar up to the “swing,” keeping the lead arm straight, and return to the starting position. Then pull back up again, with little to no rest in between, so you also get some cardiovascular work.
how many: Start with 6 to 8 reps, building up to 10 to 12, three to four times per week. (A symmetrical body is a healthier body, which is why we often do exercises all the way around, but that’s not necessary with this particular golf move.)
Preferred by: Harold Varner III
4. Load and blast from trail leg to lead leg
Why: This exercise works all of your pulling muscles – the entire posterior chain, glutes, hamstrings, lats, rhomboids. It’s another great “feel and real” exercise, simulating what it should feel like to have a golf swing in terms of loading on your right side and blasting on your left side.
How do: Stand parallel to a wall, holding exercise bands in a golf stance. Pull your right hip back as you pull the right bar back while keeping your left arm in front of you, simulating a backswing. Once you complete this pull, explode and simulate your downward swing, dynamically shifting energy from the right side to the left side. Remember: load up…and explode!
how many: Start with 5 to 6 reps, and work your way up to 10, three to four times a week.
Preferred by: Justin Thomas
5. Split band position rotation
Why: Think of seated dumbbell crunches or leg presses—they’re slow. People don’t understand that if you want to swing faster, you have to move faster. This means not only training the body but also the brain. The central nervous system needs to get used to fast, and if you haven’t trained fast, you won’t be able to swing a fast putt effectively. Also, the stepped stance challenges your stability, which slows you down quickly, too. If you can’t slow down quickly, you will lose balance when you finish.
How do: Secure an exercise band around something stable. Place your elbows close to your sides. Drop your right foot back, knees now bent in an athletic stance, and perform a super-rapid series of 90-degree turns across the midline to the left while keeping your core engaged. Then reverse the exercise by dropping the left foot back and rotating it to the right.
how many: Start with 8 to 10 reps, and work your way up to 10 to 12, three to four times a week.
Preferred by: Max Homa
6. Reverse slide lunge with T spine rotation.
Why: Injuries occur when there is a defect in the kinetic chain, and this movement addresses the kinetic chain from A to Z. Activates the glutes and increases thoracic stability via a more stable lumbar spine. It also teaches you, neuromuscularly, how to load a trail leg, adding speed and power, and creates the X-factor: the separation between the upper and lower body, which adds more speed and momentum.
How do: With feet narrowly apart and arms extended out to the sides, create tension on the exercise band. Slide your right foot back with the coaster, then rotate your chest to the left — a “T-shaped spine rotation” — while keeping the ligament taut. Reverse with left foot back and chest to right.
how many: Start with 6 to 8 reps, then work up to 10 to 12, three to four times a week.
Preferred by: Lexi Thompson