Strong Legs, Stronger Swings: The Best Golf Leg Exercises

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For golf, it’s essential to focus on lower body exercises that improve your stability, power, and rotational strength. You’ve probably heard that golf is about “speed“, not strength. Speed and strength are interdependent. You can’t have a lot of speed without strength, and you can’t have a lot of strength without any speed.

There’s a reason the longest hitters on the PGA Tour are gym rats. They know that their speed AND strength is what allows them to hit it so far. There is no stopping a golfer that can combine speed, strength, and good swing mechanics. Take a look at Tiger Woods’ epic run in the 1990s and 2000s.

Why is Leg Strength so Important?

All the force generated in your golf swing comes from the ground. Yup, the ground. The force goes from the ground → feet → legs → hips → core → torso → shoulders → arms → hands → golf club → golf ball. If you fail to generate or transfer the force through one of these steps, your golf swing will lose power.

The legs are critical because they are the first large muscle group to generate power from the ground. The rest of your swing only transfers that power generated by your legs.

The legs are the engine of the golf swing. If you want more power, start with your legs.

Here are the top leg exercises for golf:

1. Barbell Squats

The king of all leg workouts. Every athlete can benefit from performing barbell squats on a regular basis, golfers included. Squats strengthen the quadriceps, glutes, hips, and hamstrings. They are the perfect movement for improving overall lower body strength, stability, and power. There’s a reason they are the king of all leg workouts.

Squat variations like goblet squats or front squats can be effective if barbell squats are uncomfortable for some reason, or if you have limited equipment.

Here’s how to perform a barbell squat:


  1. Find a squat rack and set the pins a few inches below your shoulder height.
  2. Place the barbell on the pins and load them up with a comfortable weight.
  3. Don’t forget the weight clips! The weights can slide off if you get off balance.
  4. Place the safety bars at a height where they will catch the weight if you fail.
  5. If you want, you can use a weight lifting belt. Put it on and tighten it up just above your hips.


  1. Unrack the barbell and stand with the bar on your upper back.
  2. Place your feet shoulder width apart and turn them a few degrees outward.
  3. Stabilize your core by taking a deep breath.
  4. Squat down by pushing your knees to the side and moving your hips back.
  5. Continue down until your hips pass the depth of your knees (“breaking parallel”).
  6. Keeping your knees outward, squat back up by driving your hips forward. Keep your chest up.
  7. Hold the weight at the top and breathe. Find your balance and get ready for the next rep.
  8. Take a deep breath, brace your core, and repeat.
  9. Complete 3 sets of 5-7 reps.

Barbell Squats Tips

Proper squat form is the key to avoiding knee and back pain. It is important to keep your back neutral and allow your knees to track over your feet. Here are some more squat tips:

  • Don’t round your back. If you feel your lower back rounding at any time, please stop. You may need to work on your form with a lower weight, then progress heavier weight once your form is dialed in.
  • Keep trying. You may get frustrated with squats because of lack of flexibility, strength, or discomfort. Instead of missing out on all the benefits of squatting, contact a local trainer to get help with your form.

2. Deadlifts

Have you ever shied away from deadlifts because you are afraid of injury? There are horror stories about the back injuries cause by deadlifts. If you are uncomfortable doing a traditional barbell deadlift, there are less scary alternatives.

Nothing strengthens your back and improves your posture quite like a deadlift. Deadlifts work your entire posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, hips, and lower back. All the variations of deadlifts can be beneficial to golfers – Sumo, Romanian, single leg, or conventional.

Traditional barbell deadlifts will always build the most muscle, but here are some of the deadlift options that put less strain on the lower back:

  • Double kettlebell deadlift
  • Kettlebell sumo deadlift
  • Single leg kettlebell deadlift
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Rack pulls

Here’s how to perform the traditional deadlift:


  1. Place a barbell on the ground (preferably on some mats)
  2. Load up the barbell with a comfortable weight and put on clips.
  3. Put on your weightlifting belt, if you use one.


  1. Stand with your shoe laces (mid-foot) under the barbell.
  2. Place your feet a comfortable width apart. This varies greatly from person to person.
  3. Bend over and grab the bar at shoulder width.
  4. Bend your knees until you shins contact the barbell.
  5. Lift your chest up and straighten your lower back. You are now in the starting position.
  6. Take a deep breath, brace your core, and stand up.
  7. Try to move the barbell smoothly and keep it close to your body.
  8. Hold the weight for a moment at the top, then return it to the floor.
  9. Repeat for 3 sets of 5-7 reps.

Deadlift Tips

Deadlifts are scary because you can move more weight than you should. Check your ego at the door and stay with a comfortable weight. Here are some deadlift tips:

  • Use proper form. Deadlifting with proper form can strengthen your back, improve your posture, and pack on muscle.
  • Use chalk. Try using chalk or placing your hands in a mixed grip if you are struggling to hold onto the barbell.

3. Barbell Reverse Lunges

Barbell Reverse Lunges work all the same muscles as the squat. Your quadriceps, glutes, hips, and hamstrings will feel the burn if you do these on the same day as squats.

Lunges differ from squats because they are a unilateral movement that will force you to maintain your balance. Unilateral movements are excellent for improving your golf swing because they add stability and balance while increasing your strength. They also correct any muscle imbalances that might not be apparent during a barbell squat.

Forward, reverse, or walking lunges all help in developing the strength, stability, and balance you are looking for. I prefer reverse lunges because they challenge your balance in ways a forward or walking lunge can’t.

Here is how to perform a barbell reverse lunge:


  1. Set up the squat rack like you are performing a barbell squat. Add a comfortable weight to the bar.
  2. Get under the bar and unrack it with your upper back.
  3. Make sure are using an overhand grip just wider than your shoulders.
  4. Place you feet about hip width apart and keep your back neutral.
  5. Brace your core and you are ready to roll!


  1. Start by taking a step back with your left leg. Don’t step too far back, but step back far enough that your left knee will be able to drop behind your right heel.
  2. With a neutral back, drop your left knee down until your right knee is at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Light touch or hover the ground with your left knee.
  4. Now it is time to stand back up. Drive upward and focus on primarily using your right leg.
  5. If you lean forward slightly, that is fine. Try to keep your torso upright.
  6. Once you are standing back up, bring your feet together at about hip width apart.
  7. Repeat the movement with the other leg.
  8. Do 2 sets of 6-8 reps on each leg .

Barbell Reverse Lunges Tips

Barbell Reverse Lunges might be the perfect leg exercise if you feel some pain doing barbell squats. They are a bit easier on your lower back. Here are some good tips:

  • Use a slow and controlled motion. You might slam your knee on the ground if you drop too quickly. It’s painful, trust me.
  • Find the right distance for your back foot. If you step too far backwards it can put unnecessary strain on your hips and lower back. It’s all about finding that sweet spot.

4. Single Leg Glute Bridge

The Single Leg Glute Bridge requires a tremendous amount of hip stability. If you can master this movement, you will have the strongest hips and glutes in town. This movement is often recommended for those experiencing lower back pain because it increases your hip mobility while strengthening the glutes.

The glutes are very active during the golf swing. In fact, my golf group says “you hit it with both butt cheeks” when your drive goes 300 yards down the middle. The single leg glute bridge will help you “hit it with both butt cheeks” more often.

Here’s how to perform a single leg glute bridge:


  1. Find a comfortable, clean floor and lie on your back.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground close to your butt.
  3. Tuck your chin towards your chest.
  4. Bend your elbows and make a fist with your hands. Use your arms and fists to brace your upper body by driving them into the floor.
  5. Brace your core and pull your ribs down.


  1. Drive your feet into the ground and raise your hips into full extension. Squeeze your glutes until you reach the top of the movement.
  2. Don’t drive you hips too far upward. Keep your back neutral.
  3. Now lift one leg off the ground, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees.
  4. This will require a lot of strength and bracing of the core. Use your arms to stabilize you.
  5. Drop the hips back down to the floor while keeping the other leg raised.
  6. Do the same thing with the other side.
  7. Repeat for 2 sets of 8-10 reps on each side

Single Leg Glute Bridge Tips

If you feel unstable with the single leg glute bridge, it is fine to perform a double leg glute bridge. You don’t want your hips tilting or twisting to one side during the movement. Once you are comfortable with the double leg you can try the single leg version again.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Focus on your hip drive. You are doing something wrong if you aren’t feeling this in your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. T
  • Find the right spot. Try placing your feet at different distances from your butt until you find the sweet spot.

5. Lateral Step Ups

Lateral step ups can help develop leg strength, hip strength, and explosive power. The golf swing requires lateral stability in your hips, and lateral step ups will help you achieve that stability. If you already have the required stability, these will help you gain explosive power in your swing.

Lateral step ups, as opposed to regular step ups, allow your body to move in a motion that is similar to a squat. Think of lateral step ups as a squat that requires lateral hip stability. They are another unilateral exercise that helps build strength and stability for your golf swing.

Here is how to perform a lateral step up:


  1. Find a stable, elevated platform such as a bench or plyo box.
  2. Stand with your right side against the bench. Place your right foot on the bench by driving your knee upward.
  3. Find a good footing on the bench. Allow your right knee to move over the top of your right foot.
  4. Brace your core and glutes while keeping an upright torso.


  1. Lift yourself off the floor by driving your right foot into the bench and extending your right leg.
  2. Contract your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core until your feet are at the same level.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat on the other leg.
  5. Repeat for 2 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

Lateral Step Ups Tips

Don’t be concerned if you are tipping over for the first few repetitions. You will find you balance if you keep trying. Here are some good tips:

  • Find the right box. If you try to use a box that is too high it will be uncomfortable. Too low and you won’t get all the benefits of the exercise.
  • Descend slowly. Use your core and leg strength to slowly lower yourself back down. The descent is just as important as the ascent for stability.
  • Keep an upright torso. You will be tempted to lean forward, but keeping your torso upright will keep any unnecessary strain off your lower back.

Final Thoughts on Leg Strength

Remember, the legs are the engine of your golf swing. Your focus should be on your legs and core if you are looking for the biggest bang for your buck. These 5 leg exercises will help you develop strength and speed in your golf game.

It’s also a good idea to consult with a fitness professional or a trainer to ensure you’re performing these exercises with proper form and technique tailored to your body and fitness level.

Golf Gains X may provide information related to fitness, exercise, diet, and nutrition and is intended for your personal use and informational purposes only. You should consult with a physician before beginning any exercise, fitness, diet, or nutrition routine, especially if you are pregnant or have pre-existing health conditions. Nothing contained on this website or any other Golf Gains X content should be considered as medical advice or diagnosis. Your use of the Golf Gains X content is solely at your own risk.

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