Do Golfers Need Conditioning?

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When it comes to conditioning I think golfers and the general public are going to fall into the same category.

Most people think that they need to start distance running when they feel as though they are not in shape.

In shape is one of my favorite terms. It doesn’t mean anything.

I was having a conversation with a golfer that I played in the club championship with this weekend. He asked me about something a friend of his told him. This friend said that if your back nine is worse than your front nine you lack fitness.

This ignores nutrition, hydration, the talent level of the golfer, luck, and the difficulty of the back nine to name a few.


Some will interpret this info as its time to hit the pavement. I already hate the attitude that someone who is out of shape needs to start running miles. If they are out of shape why are they jumping into an activity that is plyometric in nature and has one of the highest injury rates?

Most people need to train before they get into running.

It also ignores the energy system demands of golfers. Golf is typically one bout of a power effort followed by a couple minutes rest. This can go on for 4-5 hours.

The three energy systems of the body are as follows:

ATP- PC system- short bout of high intensity activity followed by a long rest period.

Glycolytic system- moderate time (~30-90) seconds and intensity. Longer rest periods are usually involved

Aerobic System- long work bouts with short or no rest. This is where distance running falls.

Which one of those systems is most similar to golf? If you guessed ATP-PC then you nailed it. One golf swing followed a break is closest to that system.

Now, the common argument is that golfers have to be able to walk the course. Well, you’re right. I dare you to argue with me now. Obviously a golfer must be able to walk the golf course and not be gassed at the end.

I would also fight that we are not walking for as long as we think we are. Usually, a walking a little bit with a ton of breaks in between.

What we usually fail to address is why is this golfer gassed at the end? Is it poor nutrition, hydration, technique, strength, or aerobic conditioning. Most people are aerobically fit enough to make it through a round. And even if someone wasn’t why would running be the right method of training? I know the only time I run on the course is if my putter cover falls off. Its only a matter of time before my second one is gone, its a piece of crap.

So how should golfers condition?

First, by strength training. Strength training is one of the most effective ways to build up the ATP- PC system. Next, they can work on power training. Medicine ball throws are really good here.

A golfer that can get really strong and powerful is going to use less energy to make the same swing they make now. This means that they will have more energy at the end of the round. This is a sneaky way to get in better shape without aerobic work.

To build up a little bit of work capacity, golfers can work on intervals. Using bouts of higher intensity exercises for 20 seconds of less with breaks can be very helpful for improving conditioning. It can also greatly help with fat loss if that is something you are looking for.

Some good choices for intervals are:

  • Med ball slams
  • Jump Rope
  • Battle Ropes
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Sled work
  • Mountain Climbers

Remember the goal is to keep the intensity high and work on repeating the efforts. Do not forget to train for strength either because you will work less hard and save more energy while on the course with improved strength.

If you are looking for some exercises for golf, get your copy of the 15 Best Exercises for Golf below. It is a free download and should give you some good ideas for which exercises will help you play better.

15 Best Exercises for Golf