Strengthen Your Upper Body for Better Golf Performance

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For golfers, a strong upper body is crucial for creating power and maintaining stability during swings. Your upper body may not be as important as your legs and core, but it still plays a big role. You don’t need to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you should have adequate strength to deliver the energy from your legs and core to the golf club.

Why Strengthen My Upper Body?

More and more professional golfers look like the stereotypical athlete than ever before. Bryson Dechambeau, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Tiger Woods are all incredibly strong athletes that are more than 6 feet tall. They are a far cry from what a golfer looked like just 3 decades ago.

Tiger Woods was rumored to bench 300+ pounds during his prime. That is incredible for someone of his weight and stature. I don’t need to tell you how far he could hit the ball.

So yes, your upper body is important to your golf swing. Building strength in your upper body will not only add speed to your swing, but consistency. A strong golfer is able to create a repeatable golf shot in a variety conditions better than a golfer with average strength.

Here are some excellent upper body exercises for golfers:

1. Bench Press

The bench press is great for strengthening your chest, arms, and shoulders. It adds overall stability to your upper body and helps create a consistent, effective golf swing. You don’t need to be benching 300+ pounds like Tiger Woods, but incorporating bench press into your routine will help your overall strength.

Here’s how to perform a traditional bench press:


  1. Find a proper barbell and bench rack. Load the barbell with a comfortable weight.
  2. Lie flat on your back on the flat bench.
  3. Place your feet flat on the ground and create a stable platform.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and stabilize the shoulder joint.
  5. Grip the barbell at about shoulder width.
  6. Engage your core and drive your heels into the ground for added stability.


  1. Slowly lift the barbell off the rack. Feel your position and rerack the barbell if you feel uncomfortable. Repeat until you find a comfortable position.
  2. Slowly lower the barbell to your chest, at about nipple level. Allow your elbows to track down out to the sides at about a 45 degree angle.
  3. Lightly touch your chest. Press your heels into the floor and push the bar back to the starting position, keeping your shoulder stable through the movement.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions.

Bench Press Tips

You can perform this same movement using dumbbells if you wish. Try doing one arm at a time for a unilateral bench press.

The bench press is such a common movement. There are countless tips and tricks to help your bench press, but they don’t seem to work for everyone. Here are the main ones:

  • Keep a tight grip on the bar. Don’t allow the bar to rotate or slip from your hands (danger!).
  • Stay tight. Contract your core, glutes, hips, and back to create a stable foundation.
  • Keep your chest up. Don’t round your shoulders and drop your chest at the top.
  • Use your breath. Take a deep breath and hold it after you unrack the weight. This will help your core stay tight. Just be sure to breath between reps.

2. Lat Pull Downs

Lat pull downs target the latissimus dorsi muscle, hence the name “lat” pull downs. The lats begin just under your armpits and spread across and down your back. They are one of the largest muscle groups in your body.

As you move the golf club to the top of your backswing, you stretch the lats and store a lot of energy in that lengthened muscle. That energy is unleashed on the downswing to help create a powerful shot. Bryson Dechambeau has talked about using his lats to create power in several Youtube videos.

Dechambeau says: “It comes from the lats. I’m pulling the club down as hard as I possibly can.”

Bryson Dechambeau is no stranger to hitting bombs on the golf course. He knows a thing or two about how to hit the long ball, and he uses his lats to do it.

Here is how to perform an effective lat pull down:


  1. Find a lat pull down bar at your local gym or home gym.
  2. Sit down comfortably on the seat and adjust the thigh pad, if necessary.
  3. Grab the lat pulldown bar with a wide, overhand grip.
  4. Put your feet flat on the floor and take a deep breath.


  1. Pull the bar downward until it reaches at least your chin, keeping your torso as still as possible.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to keep your shoulders stable.
  3. Slowly return the bar to the original position. Don’t let the weight stack crash down.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Lat Pull Down Tips

You can try a unilateral lat pull down by using a single handle. Switch from side to side to feel for any muscle imbalances.

The lat pull down is more complex than most people realize. If performed correctly, it will grow your lats. If done poorly, it will only work your forearms and biceps. Here are some tips to help perform the movement correctly.

  • Focus on your lats! If your forearms and biceps are feeling the burn, try pulling with your armpits. This will help you get the lats more involved.
  • Use a controlled motion. Don’t use momentum to move the weight, use your lats.
  • Don’t go too wide. You just need to be slightly outside your shoulder width to get maximum effect.
  • Keep your torso stable. You can lean back slightly, but don’t arch your back.

3. Cable Rows

Cables rows are one of the best movements to strengthen your overall back. They help maintain a proper posture and add stability by growing your lats, rhomboids, and all the muscles surrounding your spine.

Cable rows take the stress off your lower back, too. Because they are performed in a seated position, unlike a bent over row, they are less likely to cause lower back issues. Cable rows also strengthen your shoulders and prevent the shoulder “rounding” that comes with poor posture.

Here’s how to perform a cable row:


  1. Sit down at the cable row machine. Lift your feet onto the foot platform and place them about shoulder width.
  2. Lean forward and grab the cable handle.
  3. Sit up stall with a slight bend in the knees.
  4. Engage your core and roll your shoulders back and down.


  1. Pull the handle back towards you, focusing on using your back muscles.
  2. The handle should end up just above your belly button.
  3. Keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together, slowly return the handle to the staring position.
  4. Relax your shoulders and prepare for another rep.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Cable Rows Tips

There are many variations to the cable row that you can try, but please start with simplest row. Here are some tips to make cable rows effective and safe:

  • Control the movement. Don’t use momentum to perform cable rows. The slower, the better.
  • Engage your core. Your core will protect your lower back from injury. Keep the core tight and stable through the whole movement.
  • Don’t lean back. Cable rows aren’t intended to be a deadlift motion. Focus on strengthening your mid-back and leave your lower back out of it.

4. Face Pulls

Face pulls use a cable machine and rope attachments to train the muscles in your upper back and rear shoulders. Performing face pulls on a regular basis helps improve your posture, stabilize your shoulders, and grow overall upper back strength.

The rear deltoids are located on the back of your shoulder and get neglected by most exercise programs. They are important for proper shoulder movement during your golf swing, so golfer’s shouldn’t neglect them. Face pulls will improve you strength, mobility, and posture if you give them a chance.

Here’s how to do a face pull:


  1. Set a cable machine to somewhere between chest height and head height.
  2. Grip the rope attachment at the very ends with your palms facing each other.
  3. Take a step backwards and find a comfortable stance while keeping your torso upright.


  1. In a controlled motion, pull the rope towards your face while pulling the rope apart.
  2. Allow your elbows to track to the side with your forearms pointed upward.
  3. Squeeze your upper back together.
  4. Return the rope to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 2 sets of 12-15 reps.

Face Pulls Tips

Face pulls won’t make you feel strong. They are better when you use light weight and aim for more repetitions. Here are some tips to make face pulls great:

  • Find the right grip. Using a grip with your palms facing each other offers the most range of motion. There are other grips you can take, such as palms down, if you are feeling discomfort.
  • Use light weight. This exercise isn’t for showing off. It’s for creating shoulder stability and improving posture.
  • Don’t swing. Your body will want to rock forward and backward while you are doing face pulls. Don’t let it move too much.

5. Shoulder Press

Shoulder presses are an incredible exercise when performed correctly. They strengthen your shoulders and upper back while also working your triceps, pecs, and deltoids. They challenge your stability and balance throughout the entire movement as well, which is great for the golf swing.

The shoulder press can strengthen and coordinate your entire body if you give them a chance. Much like the golf swing, they are performed in a standing position and require your entire body to be in sync.

There are many variations to the shoulder press. The military press, Arnold press, dumbbell press, seated shoulder press, and so on. I suggest starting with the dumbbell press and progressing from there.

Here’s how to perform a dumbbell shoulder press:


  1. Find two dumbbells that are a comfortable weight for you.
  2. Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand about should width apart.
  3. Raise the dumbbells so they are just above your shoulders at about ear height.
  4. Take a deep breath and engage your core, keeping your back neutral.


  1. Extend your arms and press the dumbbells up and over your head. Try to keep your weight evenly distributed on your feet.
  2. Return the dumbbells to the starting position in a controlled motion.
  3. Repeat 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Shoulder Press Tips

Shoulder press is another exercise where you don’t need to lift heavy. Just find a comfortable weight and focus on stability, form, and your posture. Here are a few more tips:

  • Keep your core tight and your back neutral. If you feel your back beginning to arch, lower the weight.
  • Keep your wrists straight. You want your hands lined up directly over your forearms.
  • Bend your knees. Keeping your knees slightly bend will allow you to balance with the weight above your head.

Final Thoughts on Upper Body Strength

Upper body strength will keep your swing strong, fluid, and consistent. It may even add a few MPH to your clubhead speed if you follow Bryson Dechambeau’s advice. Upper body strength may not be the most important part of your golf swing, but it also can’t be ignored.

Be sure to include core, leg, and mobility exercises in your weekly routine for overall golf fitness.

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