Strength & conditioning is becoming a hot topic amongst pro-golfers who are starting to understand the positive impact it can have on their game. But as casual, weekend player would weight-training benefit you too? Quite simply: yes, if you do it right!

There are two very compelling reasons to dedicate some time to the gym if you want to improve your performance on the course: firstly, to increase your power; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to prevent injury. Most golfers will be struck with the odd shoulder niggle or lower back pain at some point and whilst it’s easy to shrug these off as par for the course (excuse the pun!) and to simply numb the pain with anti-inflammatories, if they start developing into chronic pain or tendonitis, you will probably wish you’d paid them a little more attention.

The biggest fear golfers have about weight training is that it will stiffen them up and ruin their swing. So, let’s de-bunk this myth here and now because if you stick to these four rules there’s no reason that should happen:
1. Prioritise playing golf over weight training: if you only have time for one weights session a week then that will suffice;
2. Don’t train to the point that you are so sore every week that it affects your game;
3. Train more for strength than for muscle growth (so on average you would be training under 8 reps per exercise);
4. Most importantly… Do NOT try to replicate the swing in your strength training! This is the most common mistake, made by both players and coaches. Your swing is an incredibly skilled movement pattern which you will be unable to perfectly replicate in the gym, and instead what you’ll end up doing is hundreds of repetitions of imperfect form so that when you return to the course you will have damaged your swing technique. By all means, train the muscles involved in the swing but leave the specific movement for the range or course.

In terms of the training itself, here are my top tips on where to focus your energy:
– Train your posterior chain. As a golfer, your success is dependent on your ability to produce explosive power and the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings and lower back) is the body’s main generator of power meaning it is essential that, like any other athlete, you train this area. These muscles are also some of the most important to condition to avoid injury.
– Strengthen your forearms to help prevent golfers and tennis elbow. My favourite way to do this is with fat grip training where you use dumbbells or bars with a larger diameter (I use Fat Gripz which can be added to any bar). This is a highly effective way to improve grip strength and has also been proven to reduce the risk of tendonitis at the elbow.
– Train the core, but don’t obsess over it! There are some great exercises for the core that are very useful for golf, a few of which you’ll see in the example programme below, however many coaches fall into the trap of focusing too much on specific core exercises forgetting that many of the larger exercises will train the core very hard whilst also improving the overall strength of their athlete;
– Include rotator cuff exercises in your programme. Rotator cuff injuries are extremely common injury in any sport that involves repetitive shoulder movements, meaning they are rife in the golfing world. By training the rotator cuff muscles your shoulders will be better conditioned to handle the repetitive nature of the swing, reducing the risk of such injury.

Now that you know what you should be focussing on, and why, I have written a two-phase weights programme specific for golfers to get you started. The first phase is a general preparation phase with higher rep ranges to allow the body to adapt to the movements and the second phase uses lower rep ranges and is more specifically geared towards gaining strength and therefore improving power on the course.

The programme assumes the time to do two weight sessions a week and ideally each phase would be performed for four weeks each. After this eight week period it would be advisable to consult a strength and conditioning coach in order to renew the programme.