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3 at-home exercises to get in golf shape for under $100

March 19, 2024
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Photographs by Kaare Iverson

Most commercial gyms are packed with expensive equipment to, well, get you to buy a membership. It’s a logical marketing strategy, but the reality is, once you’re in the door, you’re much more likely to brush past nearly all that equipment than you are to use it.

Candidly, most golfers need very little to get a good, well-rounded workout that boosts performance on the course and helps avoid injuries, says Jennifer Fleischer, one of Golf Digest’s 50 Best Fitness Trainers in America. “You’d be surprised how far you can get with a pair of dumbbells, a medicine ball and a resistance band,” she says. “Even doing body-weight exercises with no equipment is super helpful.”

If you’ve been cleared for exercise by a medical professional, here are two things to consider when building a workout, Fleischer says. The first is to include training from four subcategories: pushes (think bench presses or squats), pulls (rows, arm curls, etc.), core strengthening (planks, bird dogs) and lower-body training (deadlifts, lunges). The second is a program that encompasses all three planes of motion. Exercises that have you moving forward and backward, side to side or rotationally—or a blend of all three planes.

To get you started with your program, Fleischer (below) demonstrates three moves that meet many of these guidelines while requiring less than $100 of gym equipment.

SINGLE-LEG, TABLETOP CHEST PRESSES

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Lie back on a bench or ottoman with your head and upper back fully supported but most of your body suspended off the ground like a tabletop. Extend one leg and perform a rep by pushing straight up with the dumbbells. Keep your hips from sagging, and do several reps alternating the extended leg. This enhances power and stability in the swing and strengthens key areas, including the chest, core, glutes and hamstrings.

SPLIT-STANCE MEDICINE-BALL CHOPS

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Get into a split stance and hold a medicine ball near the hip of the trail leg. From this stance, rotate your torso and raise your arms until the ball is on the opposite side of your body at about head height. Then reverse the motion until the ball is returned to the start position. Do several reps, then switch hand and leg positions and repeat the “chops” in the opposite direction. This exercise improves lower-body stability and allows you to swing a club across your body under control.

COILING SLIDE BACKS

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Get into your golf posture, feet together, and step on a band while holding one end with one hand so that it’s taut. Perform a backward lunge with the opposite leg while hoisting the band upward and rotating at the same time toward the pulling arm—then return to the start. Do several reps, switch hand and leg positions and repeat. This exercise improves coordination and function between the actions of the lower and upper body during the swing.

MORE HELP TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR WORKOUTS

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Perhaps the worst word in fitness is “routine,” says top trainer Jennifer Fleischer. It evokes feelings of boredom and discouragement and might lead you back to the couch. To combat this, Fleischer has designed a variety of programs in her new video series on Golf Digest: “Custom Golf Workouts.”

Whether you have 15 minutes or an hour, there are several circuits to meet your goals (and time constraints). Mix and match any of the exercises to keep your body fit and your workouts fresh. Check out the full program with Fleischer’s step-by-step videos.

JENNIFER FLEISCHER, who trains in the San Francisco Bay area, is a Golf Digest Certified Fitness Trainer. For a directory of certified trainers, go to golfdigest.com/how-to/certification/directory/fitness-trainers