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Focus on what Matters: The Muscles Used in a Golf Swing

Golf Swing Muscles Used

Fitness will be a key part of 2023. But it wasn’t always the case – as John Daly once said, “You can’t pull fat, that is why I am never injured.”

Tiger’s arrival on the PGA Tour changed everything. He introduced fitness into golf nearly 20-years ago, and now working out is a norm among the top golfers in the World. Not to mention stretching, yoga and intense recovery sessions. 

It is obvious that the world has changed in many ways.

If you don’t take care of your body, you’re not going to get the most out of your game (sorry John Daly). Plus, you won’t hit the golf ball as far either.

What muscles are used in the golf swing and how do they work?

Let’s get into it…

Biggest muscle groups in golf  

Your legs, chest, and your back are the main muscles used during a golf swing.

You can improve your golf swing by focusing on these three areas. But other muscles such as the forearm, core, and others are also important to optimize your swing.

Most golfers and men tend to skip leg days. However, if you want to hit bombs and shoot lower scores, you can’t neglect the lower half of your body! 

Today, we’ll outline the big muscles used in the golf swing and what you should focus on in your gym routine to play your best.

Key Takeaways

  • It is the big muscles that generate power and help you swing the club consistently.
  • Golfers can improve their distance by strengthening their legs, chest, and back.
  • A strong core will also help you to twist and turn the golf club (especially when you play more often). 

Continue reading to learn about the largest muscles in golf, and how you can prepare your body for golf. 

Muscles used while playing golf

Golf swings are complex movements that occur at high speeds. Almost every part of your body has a role – from your feet all the way to your head. If they all work together, it’s a lot easier to swing consistently and play your best. 

With so many moving parts it’s essential to get your muscles working correctly. This British Journal of Sports Medicine The article below explains how to get started. is a great read and shows how each muscle group moves in the swing.

It’s a bit technical but we’ll simplify it to help you learn which muscle groups to focus on to improve your golf swing.

Backswing golf muscles 

The backswing is the foundation for your transition and downswing.

According to the British Journal “During the backswing, the most active muscle in the upper body is the upper trapezius on the right side (52% MMT), with the middle trapezius displaying the second-highest reading (37% MMT).”

The subscapularis muscle, upper body serratus and the long head of the Biceps Femoris are also important on the backswing. The obliques, abdominal muscles and upper body serratus also play an important role at the top of the backswing.

Golf Muscles for Downswing

Once you’re loaded at the top of your swing it’s time to unwind properly and transfer your weight to the lead side. The same article found. “The most active muscle in the upper body during this phase in the upper body on the left side is the rhomboid (68% MMT) and middle trapezius (51% MMT). On the right side, the most active muscles are the pectoralis major (64% MMT) and upper serratus (58% MMT).”

But the most active muscles during the downswing are the lower body (upper and lower glutes). This is why it’s so important to train all parts of your legs as they have a huge impact on your power and acceleration.

Muscles to Add speed 

If you’re like most golfers you’re always trying to add speed in your swing.

The British Journal discovered that the pectoralis is the most active muscle of the upper body. The gluteus maximus, left biceps femoris and abdominal muscles are the most important in creating speed.

The top golfers of the world work constantly on building strength and not just remaining flexible. Plus, a lot of speed training with products like SuperSpeed Golf.

What to do Next

To get the best out of your golf game, you must have a regular exercise routine.

Here’s how to get started:

Start Small (Don’t Overdo it)

If you’re working out now, keep at it and focus on your lower body and big muscles. If you aren’t working out yet, don’t go from not working out to attempting to work out 5-6X a week (this is why NYE resolutions don’t work).

Start by adding in a few days per week, so that you can make it habitual and work on your major muscles. As you progress, you can increase the length of your workouts or try out different workouts.

Stay Consistent

Building key lower body muscle doesn’t happen overnight.

Be consistent and trust in the process to achieve the best possible body shape. Find a golf partner or workout buddy to hold you accountable.

What Muscles does Golf Work

Have Upper and Lower Bodies Days

The chest, shoulders and back muscles are the main muscle groups or muscles to be worked on during upper body days. You can also work on your forearms to improve your grip.

While lower body workouts should also focus on quads, glutes, and core muscle groups. You can improve your golf game by doing two upper body days and two lower body days during the week.

Don’t Neglect Core Muscles

Golfers are likely to sit too much during the day at work, which can lead to back injuries. You need a strong core to play golf, so stretch, foam-roll, and do core exercises (I do this on leg days).

Keep stretching

While adding muscle can help, don’t forget to work on your stretching as well. This will keep you flexible, and allow you to move your body properly when you play golf.

Be Careful When Speed Training

While speed training can improve your distance, don’t do it directly after a huge workout. To avoid injuries, make sure you’re well-rested and follow the instructions.

Best Golf Workout

FAQs about Golf Fitness

Do you have any more questions regarding the role of fitness and your golf swing? Keep reading to find out more about how you can train as professional golfers.

What muscles help improve golf swing speed? What muscles can you use to hit the ball farther? 

The Stack System is a great way to improve your speed, but you should also be adding strength and stability. This is why it’s important to do compound workouts like squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, pull-ups, etc. 

Click here to view our complete guide on golf exercises.

What exercises can you do to improve your golf swing?

The majority of compound exercises will strengthen your golf swing. Focus on your gluteus maximus and core, as well as your quads to generate power.

Avoid back injuries by strengthening your lower back and doing extra core exercises. Don’t forget to check out these golf stretches as well. 

What muscles are involved in the downswing?

Your first move is to shift your weight onto your lead foot.

This is why the legs play such a pivotal role in starting the downswing and why you shouldn’t avoid them in the gym. Start training your legs – not just back or shoulder muscles – to unleash speed on your downswing.

What is Bryson DeChambeau’s workout routine?

According to Men’s Health, “He had committed more time to building symmetrical strength in his core through exercises that focused on trunk rotation, trunk flexion, leg flexion, back extension, and side bends. He also overhauled his nutrition plan, which included seven protein shakes a day.”

There’s no doubt Bryson made the most of his quarantine period and it helped him win the 2020 US Open. Now he’s smaller but still extremely fit with key muscles as he’s still one of the longest hitters in the game.

What is Tiger Woods’ workout routine?

Tiger Woods, as I mentioned earlier brought fitness to golf.

In a sport where fitness was not emphasized, he began training specific muscles so he could hit the ball longer than anyone else. Tiger has inspired almost every professional golfer to have a specific workout routine.

His old routine was insane and not something we’d recommend doing. Here’s Tiger’s routine from this Tweet from the PGA Tour.

“I used to get up in the morning, run four miles, then I would go to the gym, do my lifts. Then I’d hit balls for about 2–3 hours. I’d go play, come back, work on my short game, then I’d go run another four more miles. If someone wanted to play basketball or tennis then I’d go play basketball or tennis. This was my daily routine.”

I can almost guarantee you that 99% of golfers would never or have never tried his daily routine. But it’s likely one of the reasons he was able to dominate like no one else in the history of the game.

Others might argue that his dedication (or over-commitment) also led to many injuries. Needless to say, we don’t recommend training like Tiger Woods but it’s a great insight into how he trained 20 years ago.

How do you train for strength in golf?

My Experience

The impact of adding muscle mass and improving your health can be significant on your game. You need to be fit if you want your game to improve. 

This doesn’t mean you need to eat 6,000 calories every day and train like Bryson DeChambeau in 2020. Regular exercise, 10,000 steps per day, and stretching can make a huge difference to your game. The sooner you care for your body, you will be able play this great sport and hit the ball the way you want.

If you want help with your fitness routines and golf practice, check out Under Par Golf app. This app offers you monthly practice plans, coaching and fitness routines for your golf goals. You can train like a PGA Tour pro without breaking the bank. 

Final Thoughts 

You can improve your golf game by spending a few days a week in the gym. For many golfers it’ll lead to big gains quickly, not to mention more golf as you hopefully don’t need to fight off injuries.

To enjoy golf for a long period of time, you will need to be fit. Not to mention, you can also hit the ball further.