Coach Jamie Greaves excels in golf fitness, having worked with a number of tour players and reached a handicap of scratch. We recently caught up with him to discuss the best upper body and arm exercises for golf and how golfers can ensure they remain in tip-top shape.
In this article, Jamie shares a mixture of seven upper body and arm exercises for golf that can be done easily at home. All of the exercises have been put together with an eye on having very minimal kit.
The best upper body and arm exercises for golf
Jamie said: “There is a
misconception that if you train your upper body, you’ll be too stiff to swing a
golf club, but that isn’t going to happen.
“Someone doesn’t just do a few
push-ups and then lose the ability to swing a golf club—instead, it will
improve your range of motion, which in turn improves your golf.
“The body likes movement, but modern life is quite static—so the more you can move, the better you will perform.”
1. Yoga push-ups
“I am a big fan of push-ups—they are
a staple exercise. We also know that pushing strength and power correlates to
clubhead speed, so it’s crucial that golfers work on this.
“This exercise encourages more
freedom through our shoulders and scapulas, in particular, so there’s an added
benefit from that. If you can’t perform push-ups from the floor, elevate the
hands instead. The higher they are lifted, the less percentage of body weight
that you have to push.
“Find things around the house (like a coffee table) and find the appropriate level for you. I still do push-ups myself, and, for tour players especially, this is one of the first things I tell them to do.”
2. Banded Z Press
“This is a similar kind of exercise to
the push-up. Many people have shoulder aches and pains—for instance, a typical
office worker will be sitting at a desk all day, so they won’t tend to feel too
great come the end of the week.
“I use the Z Press in a lot in
warm-ups, as it’s a great way to restore some movement through the shoulder and
strengthen the back part of them. It helps with that ‘proud’ chest feeling
rather than the rounded position many of us struggle with.
“I like to call this a ‘shoulder health exercise’ as it helps the shoulders to feel and move better. It’s a great option at home or as a warm-up before doing heavier upper body weights in the gym.”
3. Banded Low Row
“Pulling movements when we don’t
have much access to kit are more of a challenge, but, with a resistance band, they’re
very easy to carry out.
“I like the low row motion as it’s
tricky to cheat because of the seated position on the floor. You can’t use any
leg drive, so you must use your upper body. It challenges the back part of the
shoulders, and you get that nice feeling of the shoulder blades being pulled
back, too. I’m a fan of encouraging freedom through the shoulder blades—but
not a fan of pulling the body into a certain position and holding it.
“I like the freedom through the body, and this is a great exercise for getting into the back and rear parts of the shoulder.”
4. Banded Single Arm Row & Reach
“This is a great way to improve upper body rotation. In golf, we hear a lot about thoracic rotation through the trunk, but many of us don’t have the ability to rotate the rib cage and get that big turn in the swing. However, this is one of the best ways to get the benefit of strength training and still target the back and rear part of the shoulders—and it also adds that side reach.
“Here, you are creating freedom through the rib cage and trunk and helping with the mobility side of things, too. So, it’s a strength exercise that doubles up as a trunk mobility one, too. I use this a lot in the gym with cable machines, but you can replicate it well at home with the band.”
5. Bear Taps
“This exercise works on shoulder
stability and your core. In golf, we also love talking about the core, and rather
than sit-ups, I prefer to challenge myself differently.
“I do a lot of warm-up drills in this position, and it’s great to challenge the core in anti-extension. Sometimes, I’ll also put a weight on my client’s lower back (you should be able to do this exercise without it falling off).
“You should be so stable through the core, hips, and lower back area that you’re not twisting as you do this. This challenges the shoulders quite a lot as you’re in a three-point contact position with one arm pressed into the floor, but you’re also working your core hard as well.”
6. Banded Torso Rotation
“This is a rotational movement
against some resistance.
“You’re using your core to produce
the movement, but there’s also full tension before moving back. You have to
control the movement, which makes this almost two exercises: generating force
as you move the band and, once at full tension, controlling and resisting the
“This is helpful for mobility in the trunk area, and you should feel the core working pretty hard. Once you’ve got the movement down, you can add more explosiveness into it and use it more as a speed exercise. I often start slowly and increase the speed in time.”
7. Low to High Chop & Stop
“You don’t have to use a medicine
ball or anything fancy for this—even a football will do. This is all about
working on speed. You want to be strong through your upper body, stable enough
through your shoulders, and explosive.
“Throwing balls around is great for developing that, but be careful doing this in your home. Act as though you are going to throw it but then stop, so you’re working on de-acceleration, too. Think of it almost like the emergency stop exercise in your driving test—you get things up to speed, and then you have to hit the brakes suddenly. Make it as hard as possible and stop fast. Being able to slow down is really important, and this exercise allows you to work on that specifically.”
About Jamie Greaves
Jamie is a strength and conditioning coach and keen golfer, having reached a handicap of scratch at 16. He has worked with a number of tour golfers, including Charley Hull, and he has his own golf fitness app to ‘help golfers move better, get stronger and swing faster’.
For more on Jamie, visit www.jggolffitness.co.uk.
With a proper training routine that includes regular upper body work and specific arm exercises for golf like the ones detailed above, you can ensure your body remains in the best condition it can be at all times—which can massively improve your game.
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