Selena Samuela’s Favorite Moves to Improve Her Golf Swing

How Strength Training Can Improve Your Golf Game

Try these exercise moves to enhance your swing, speed, and overall golf performance.

By Eric Arnold and PelotonUpdated November 27, 2023


To the idle viewer, golf may seem like a low-effort activity, but once you pick up a club, you quickly learn how wrong that is. The best golf workouts will help you improve your swing quality as well as your endurance and distance.

Despite the emphasis on physical strength in pro and college golf, “body strength doesn’t necessarily translate directly to speed and length in your golf swing,” says golf-obsessed Peloton instructor Selena Samuela. “Power is generated from the ground up.”

In other words, it’s the kinematic sequence—how you generate and transfer speed throughout your body and get it into the clubhead—that creates a powerful, efficient swing. “Lower body first, then trunk, then arms and last, club head,” Selena explains.

And the trick to generating that power? Strength training. Here are the reasons why getting stronger is the key to getting your lowest score yet, plus six exercises you can do that will maximize your execution of that mechanically sound swing.

What is the Best Workout Routine for Golf?

If you’re looking for golf power exercises, it’s time to head to the weight rack. A weight training program is one of the best workouts for golfers, improving both stamina and strength—and ultimately things like your swing speed.

Why is Strength Training Important for Golfers?

Having more muscle won’t slow you down on the course. It can, however, help you improve both your swing and your overall time.

Enhancing Swing Power and Precision

You don’t necessarily need a golf-specific workout to get your score down; general strength training can still help with your swing. The more muscle you have, the more powerful your movements can be, and the easier it is to do them. You’ll also have better balance, which will allow for a steadier setup.

Building Endurance for Longer Play

You also don’t want to feel your shoulders or core start to ache before the holes reach the double digits. The better shape you’re in, the longer your muscles will be able to work, and the longer your game will be at its top level, rather than lagging on the back nine. 

How Often Should Golfers Strength Train?

Don’t worry, your new training routine won’t take away from your time on the green. It’s important to space out your different workouts for maximum performance.

Balancing Training with Recovery

You don’t want or need to lift weights every day. The ideal amount of weightlifting for most people is two or three days per week. On the off days, you can engage in active recovery as well as passive rest to make sure your body has time to recover and rebuild your muscle fibers.

Periodization for Peak Performance

Doing the same workout every time can also exhaust your muscles. Work different moves into your workouts and make sure you’re focusing all parts of your body, rather than fixating too much on one specific set of muscles.

The Best Workouts to Improve Your Golf Swing

You can get started with the following exercises, focusing more on the muscle groups that you feel need the most work. But remember, there are plenty of moves that work the relevant muscles, so you aren’t limited to just these. 

Neck Rotations

Keeping your head still and then letting your neck move with the rest of your body as you drive through the ball is critical to hitting a long, straight shot. “What’s most important is to do mobility work—neck CARS (controlled articular rotations), chin tucks, and some resistance work,” Selena says. “You want to be able to rotate really well in golf, so neck mobility drills are best for that.”


  1. Elongate your spine.

  2. Bend your neck to one side while maintaining length.

  3. Rotate your neck and head in a circle, staying elongated.

  4. Do 1-2 sets of 2-5 reps per side.

Muscles Worked 


Equipment Needed


Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

Believe it or not, your bicep strength won’t help your golf swing much—it’s your triceps that build power and speed in your swing. “Rows are great!” Selena says. “Make it a single-arm row or offset it—even better, add a bent-over single leg, single-arm row. Get your core work against those flexion and rotation forces while also working other parts of your body.”


  1. Start in a standing position with a dumbbell in one hand.

  2. Step your opposite foot back into a lunge.

  3. Lean your chest slightly forward and place your free hand on your thigh. Dumbbell should be in line with your front knee.

  4. Engage your back and shoulder as you drive elbow back towards ceiling, bringing dumbbell in line with chest.

  5. Return to start. Repeat movement 6-10 times on the same side.

  6. Switch sides and repeat.

Muscles Worked 

Back, shoulders, triceps

Equipment Needed

Dumbbell or kettlebell 

Renegade Row

Your core is arguably the most important part of the body to strengthen, since you need to build torque and power in trunk rotation. “I love chops, Russian twists, any rotation or anti-rotation move,” Selena says, “and I love a renegade row because you hit core and lats with this anti-rotation move.”

A renegade row is basically doing alternate arm rows while also holding a plank position.


  1. Place your dumbbells or kettlebells on the floor, roughly shoulder distance apart, with handles parallel.

  2. Set up on the floor in a tabletop position with one weight in each hand.

  3. Step your feet back to enter a plank position with your feet roughly hip distance apart.

  4. Shift your weight slightly to one side so more weight is supported on that side, but keep your hips and shoulders square to the floor.

  5. On your other side, pull the weight in that hand toward your chest by bending your elbow. The rest of your body should still be fully facing the floor, while the weight is pulled up to your chest and your elbow is pointing up and slightly back.

  6. Lower the weight to the floor.

  7. Repeat on the other side for one complete rep. Aim for 6-10 reps per set.

Muscles Worked 

Upper back, shoulders, triceps, abs, quadriceps, forearms

Equipment Needed

Two dumbbells or kettlebells

Russian Twist


  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the ground. 

  2. Lift your feet off the floor and lean your upper body back so you’re in a V shape. (If this is challenging, try crossing your ankles when your legs are lifted, or you can keep your heels on the floor.)

  3. Lift your arms so that your elbows are bent and your hands are together in front of you.

  4. Twist your upper body to the side. Make sure you keep your back and neck long, and your legs still.

  5. Repeat on the other side for one complete rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Muscles Worked 

Abdominals, obliques

Equipment Needed

None, but it may be more comfortable on a mat. You can also hold a weight to make the move more challenging.

Single-Leg Deadlifts

Remember how you have to generate power from the ground up? That means leg strength is critical to a great golf swing. “Deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, clamshells for hip power and hip bridges,” is Selena’s leg-strength prescription for generating golf-swing power.


  1. Start by standing with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. 

  2. Holding a kettlebell, a barbell, or two dumbbells in your hands down in front of you, lean forward, keeping your back flat and shifting your weight onto one leg while your other leg engages and starts to extend straight behind you. 

  3. Lift your extended leg and pitch your body forward until it forms a T-shape. Your arms should be hanging straight down as you hold the weight, and you should keep a slight bend in your standing leg. 

  4. Slowly bring your extended leg back to return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. 

  5. Start with five reps per leg and then gradually increase the number of sets.

Muscles Worked

Gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, plus hamstrings, upper back, and core

Equipment Needed

Kettlebell, barbell, or dumbbell 



  1. Lie on your side, with legs on top of each other and your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head on your lower arm, and use your top arm to keep yourself in balance. 

  2. With your feet touching, raise your upper knee without shifting your hips and pelvis. Keep your lower leg off the floor. 

  3. Count a few seconds, then bring your upper leg to the starting position on the ground before repeating for 10-15 reps.

  4. Switch sides and repeat on the opposite side. 

Muscles Worked 

Gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus

Equipment Needed

None, but a mat may make it more comfortable. 

Long-Term Benefits of Strength Training for Golfers

A good strength training regimen doesn’t just benefit you on the course. It can set you up for long-term benefits that will carry over from golf into the rest of your life.

Improved Swing Consistency and Speed

As we’ve established, having more strength behind your swing is an asset to your game. And when you learn how to control your muscle movements during lifting, you can use that same kinetic intelligence to fine-tune the movements of your swing and then drill it into your muscle memory. 

Enhanced Stamina and Reduced Injury Risk

Not only will you be able to play better for longer on the course, but you’ll also be able to play more because you’re less likely to get injured. Strength training helps build bone mineral density, which makes your bones less prone to fractures and other injuries. It also increases the size and strength of your connective tissue, so your ligaments are also less likely to strain or tear.

Boosted Mental Focus and Game Strategy

Some of the most successful pro golfers aren’t the biggest or strongest; they're the ones who have incredible mental focus. “Set realistic goals and build those goals up. That will motivate you and build esteem,” Selena explains. If you know you can’t break 80, don’t try to. Instead set straightforward, attainable targets, she suggests, “like, ‘don’t three-putt for nine straight holes.’” Maintaining the focus to reach those kinds of goals builds the fortitude to create—and achieve—new ones.

After all, most everyone who loves golf will admit that what they truly love is getting better at it over time. Physical and mental strength make that possible.


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