Today I’m going to show you the 10 best golf exercises with dumbbells.
These are the exact same exercises I use with my clients to help them gain clubhead speed, improve consistency and even prevent injuries.
In fact, one of my clients, Tim, said exercises like these had given him “a new lease of life in the game”:
Aches & pains are much reduced, I’ve regained distance off the tee, and I’m also able to play 36 holes per day when required. This was unthinkable a couple of years ago.
The best part about these golf exercises with dumbbells is that they are so simple just about anybody can do and benefit from them.
Let’s dive in.
The Best Golf Exercises With Dumbbells
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1. Single-Leg Deadlift
In 2015 Tiger Woods withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open because his “glutes (butt muscles) were shutting off”.
Lots of jokes were made at his expense.
But Tiger, along with every other top golfer, knew:
The glutes are the most important muscles in the golf swing.
Strong glutes protect the lower back, prevent swing faults and produce more speed and power than any other muscle group.
The single-leg deadlift is a great exercise for developing glute strength while simultaneously improving your balance, which is hugely important for consistency of strike.
Other variations to try: Single-Leg Deadlift with Reach, Hip Hinge
2. Goblet Squat
The limiting factor in a single-leg deadlift will normally be balance, rather than strength.
That’s where goblet squats come in.
Goblet squats allow you to use heavier loads to develop your glutes and overall lower body strength.
But the best thing about goblet squats is they are far easier to learn and master than other types of squat (like barbell squats).
Holding the weight on your front encourages you to stand up straighter, get your upper back tight and puff out your chest which gets you into a great starting position. As you squat down, the weight acts as a counterbalance which encourages you to sit between your legs and not over your knees.
For most golfers, the goblet squat is the only type of squat you’ll ever need.
Other variations to try: Heels-Raised Bodyweight Squat, Front Squat, Squat Knee Drive
3. Reverse Lunge
Lunges work many similar muscles to squats including the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves.
However, lunges differ in a few ways:
- They help train smaller stabiliser muscles.
- They improve balance.
- They can help address imbalances between legs.
My favourite type of lunge is the reverse lunge because it’s easy on the knees.
Other variations to try: Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat, Lateral Lunge, Forward Lunge
4. Side Plank Rotation
Along with strong glutes, strong trunk (or ‘core’) muscles are essential in the golf swing.
Your core is the vital link between your lower and upper body. Not only does a strong and stable core allow you to create more force and speed from the ground and transfer it into the clubhead, it also helps stabilize your lower back and protect it from injury.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to train your core.
If you’re doing lots of sit-ups and crunches, then you’re going about it in the wrong way. If you have any sort of back issues, these are the last exercises you should be doing. Even if you don’t, there are better options available.
Two such exercises are side plank rotations and standing dumbbell rotations (below).
Other variations to try: Side Plank, Side Bend and Reach
5. Standing Rotations
This is one of my favourite golf exercises with dumbbells for developing rotational strength.
But that’s not all the exercise does.
As you get to the end range of the movement your core has to ‘put the brakes on’ to stop you from turning too far.
The ability of the core to resist movement is key for golf as it will help you stay in posture and prevent excessive movement in the lower back, which in turn helps to keep your lower back free from pain and injuries.
Other variations to try: Med Ball Speed Rotations, Med Ball Crossover
The key upper body muscles (other than the core) used in the golf swing are the pecs, lats and forearms.
The dumbbell pullover works all three of those muscle groups.
Not only that, but dumbbell pullovers are also great for shoulder mobility and stability which is extremely important for golfers.
This used to be an extremely popular exercise but, for some reason, nowadays you see very few people doing it.
But I firmly believe this is one of – if not the – best golf exercises with dumbbells.
Other variations to try: Push-Ups, Band Pulldowns, Flyes
7. Archer Row
Rowing exercises are great for two reasons:
- They help develop and strengthen the upper back which, as mentioned above, is crucial if you want to maximise your distance off the tee.
- They help keep your shoulders healthy. The general rule of thumb is that you should do twice as many rows and you do pressing exercises (shoulder press, bench press, push-ups, etc).
The archer row involves adding some rotation at the top which helps strengthen some of the smaller muscles in the upper back and makes the exercise a little more golf-specific.
Other variations to try: Suspension Trainer Single-Arm Row, Stork Stance Row, Band Power Row
8. Address Position Scapular Retraction
Two of the most common issues I find in my Golf Fitness Evaluations (enquire about booking yours here) are C-posture and lack of shoulder external rotation.
C-posture can be seen in the image below:
You can check your shoulder external rotation by watching this video.
But here’s what you need to know:
Both C-posture and lack of shoulder external rotation limit the size and shape of your backswing, which ultimately means less distance off the tee.
Scapular retractions are one of the best golf exercises with dumbbells to remedy both of these issues by bringing your upper back into a more neutral position.
Other variations to try: Unweighted Scapular Retractions, Seated Scapular Retractions, Prone Scapular Retractions
9. Double Dumbbell Swing
Many of my clients have hip, knee and ankle issues so traditional exercises to develop speed and power – like squat and box jumps – are a no-go.
Fortunately, we can get the same benefits with low-impact exercises like this one and the one below.
The double dumbbell swing is a great option for golfers for a number of reasons:
- It helps develop the entire posterior chain including important muscles in the golf swing like the glutes and lats.
- It helps develop power in hip extension, which in turn gives you more swing speed and distance.
- It helps build core strength.
Other variations to try: Squat Thrust, Kettlebell Swing
10. Rotational Dumbbell Press
This is one of the best golf exercises with dumbbells.
Because it accomplishes so many things at once:
- It helps you develop a proper weight shift.
- It helps develop core stability since you have to resist twisting when the dumbbell is overhead.
- It helps improve your ground reaction forces by teaching you to push through the ground, resulting in more speed in the golf swing.
If you hang back in your golf swing, this is the exercise for you.
Other variations to try: Squat, Clean and Press, Kettlebell Squat and Press
What are the best golf exercises with dumbbells for YOU?
These are the 10 golf exercises with dumbbells that I use most with my clients.
However, the best exercises for you depend on your individual movement mechanics and strengths/weaknesses.
We can only identify those by taking you through a Golf Fitness Evaluation.
Armed with that information, I can then provide you with a fully personalised golf fitness programme to help you gain distance, improve consistency and prevent injuries… Allowing you to play your best golf for years to come.
To check my availability and find out whether you might be a good fit to go through my Golf Fitness Evaluation, click on the link below: