5 Exercises to Improve Upper Body Strength for Golf

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Building upper body strength for golfers is important. Strong golfers hit the ball far and play better overall.

There are 2 considerations when choosing upper body exercises for golf: Effectiveness and safety.

Effectiveness is the exercise will do what we want it to accomplish. Safety is assessing the risk vs. reward. A lot of golfers have shoulder pain. There needs to be a balance of no further damage and increasing strength in the joint.


There are a lot of upper body exercises and they often have different goals in mind. We can have exercises designed to help improve size, strength, or function.

There are 5 exercises that I am a particularly big fan of when it comes to building strength.

Barbell Bench Press

This is the most controversial on the list. There a lot of people that have written off the bench press as being bad for the shoulders and non functional.

There are few exercises that are better at building upper body strength than the bench press.

It does, however put some stress on the shoulders. You should never bench press through pain. There are also different bars and grips that can be used to reduce on the stress. Outside of pain, there are few exercises better for upper body strength.

Landmine Press

Most of our athletes no longer overhead press. My reason for that is that 99% fail the overhead reach screen on their assessment.

If an athlete cannot reach their arms overhead without arching their back then I do not want them to press overhead. Instead, I like the landmine press.

It is much more shoulder friendly but allows you to continue to build pushing strength.

SA Cable Press

The single arm cable press is a big time favorite for golfers. This exercise is good because we get to train pushing strength while the shoulder blades move freely, standing up, and with core activation.

When looked as a solely upper body strength exercise it has its limitations. This exercise is limited by your core stability and potentially your bodyweight. The more you weigh, the easier it is going to be build a solid foundation to push from. This is going to be tough without good core control.

Again, the good prevails for this exercise. I like including it as an accessory lift.


Pushups are a very underrated exercise. Maybe it is because they have always been done for hundreds of terrible reps, often as a punishment.

Using the pushup as a strength exercise is hugely beneficial. It allows the shoulders to move freely, activates the core, and is capable of being loaded.

Perform perfect pushups and you can safely add weight to them for a shoulder relieving push variation.

Single Arm DB Bench

This accessory exercise has the same benefits as the cable press.

You also can’t ignore what it means to be good at this exercise. someone that can single arm DB bench 90-120 lbs is a really strong person.

Start adding this in as another upper body exercise.

Want to see what other exercises that I like for golfers to incorporate? Click here to get your FREE copy of the 15 Best Exercises for Golfers.