Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

Do This, Not That

The 1 exercise golfers should stop doing right now

Traditional curls are likely doing more harm than good for your game

Biceps curl


It's certainly understandable that you'd like to have well defined biceps, and if you're going to spend time in the gym, doing some type of curl exercise is probably going to be on your workout list. That said, if you play golf, not only are traditional biceps arm curls an inefficient exercise in terms of improving golf performance, they also can exacerbate one of golf's most common injuries—elbow tendonitis.

As golf has evolved into more and more of a power sport, and equipment allows players to swing faster, collisions with golf balls, sand, turf, hardpan, etc., really take their toll on the elbow joints. Having a tight, restrictive grip on the club doesn't help, either. When you add a regular regimen of biceps curls to the mix, you're likely stressing the soft tissue around the elbow beyond its tolerance, says Ralph Simpson, physical therapist and board certified orthopaedic specialist. Simpson has been a fitness advisor for Golf Digest for more than 20 years.

Adding to the argument to stop doing traditional curls, when considering which muscles are most active and responsible for a golf swing, the biceps brachii (as opposed to the biceps femoris thigh muscles) wouldn't even crack the top 20.

If you are insistent on training this muscle group, dumbbell hammer curls are a much better option. Holding the weights with your palms facing each other instead of facing the sky reduces the tension placed on the elbows tendons. This exercise also does a better job strengthening the forearms, and those muscles are much more important in controlling the golf club as you swing.

Jennifer Fleischer, one of Golf Digest's 50 Best Fitness Trainers, is demonstrating a hammer curl in this video (below). She suggests alternating from one arm to the other while keeping your torso as still as possible. For an even greater challenge, you can use a kettlebell with the bell extended away from you.