Adding clubhead speed isn’t as simple as just hitting the gym and “bulking up”
First, we must examine some principle tenants to generate clubhead speed.
Club head speed is simply the distance traveled divided by time.
Principle #1: To add more CHS you need more room to speed up your downswing:
Provided that things like smash factor (where you hit the ball on the face), launch angle, and weather all remain unchanged.
Since 2007 PGA Tour Players have been gaining clubhead speed (driver) at a rate of just under 2% per year.
This is despite all of the recent pushback in driver technology.
In fact, we analyzed some of the fastest golf swings on tour (in 2019 because last year of full schedule data so excludes Bryson) and found that on average they get from the top of their backswing to impact in about 0.23 seconds
To create more speed in the downswing, we need more room to do so! And that means a longer backswing.
BEFORE STRENGTHENING THE UPPER BODY YOU NEED TO OPEN IT UP WITH THESE STRETCHES
You will need access to a pull-up bar for this shoulder stretch for golf.
Place your hands about shoulder-width or slightly wider on the pull-up bar.
You can use an overhand or underhand grip.
Grasp the pull up bar and let gravity stretch you.
If that is too intense, you can gently place your feet or toes on the floor.
You will feel this stretch in your shoulders, upper back, chest, and forearms.
Eccentric Reverse Dumbbell Pull Overs
Start by laying on a bench.
Use a very light dumbbell and hold it overhead in both hands.
Keeping your arms straight and without arching your back, send the dumbbell overhead.
Let gravity pull the weight down to stretch your shoulders, upper back, and chest.
Hold for a short amount of time before resting.
Set up on the floor by placing your knees out wide and your toes together.
Sit your butt on your heels.
Your hands will be placed right in front of your knees with palms on the floor
Place one hand behind your head.
Then move your other hand to where your aforementioned hand was (see video).
From here, rotate your torso down to the floor before rotating back open as far as you feel comfortable.
Perform an equal amount on both sides.
Set up by sitting on the ground with your back up against a wall.
Spread your legs out in the shape of a V.
Raise one hand overhead and lean to the side.
Relax as you let yourself fall into the stretch.
Seated Wall Slides
Sit against a wall with your lower and upper back flat against the wall.
Legs are straight out in front of you.
Raise your arms so they are against the wall with the triceps parallel to the floor and the arms forming 90-degree angles.
From here, slide the back of your hands up against the wall keeping your back and arms against the wall as well.
Finish with your arms overhead as close together as your flexibility will allow you.
AFTER YOU STRETCH IT OUT TRY SOME OF THESE UPPER BODY EXERCISES TO INCREASE CLUBHEAD SPEED
Single Arm Dumbbell Push Press
Place your feet hip-width apart.
The dumbbell will rest one on the shoulder.
Elbow is slightly in front of the body.
Maintain an upright torso as you dip down 2-3″.
Extend the hips and legs before pressing the weight overhead.
The rep is complete when the elbows, legs, and shoulders are fully locked out.
Split Stance Strict Press
Place one foot forward and another foot back in a split stance.
Keep your core tight and press the dumbbell overhead.
Make sure you are not hyperextending the lower back.
This will test your balance as well.
Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Carry
Grab the dumbbell with a full grip.
Press it overhead, keeping it stacked over your hips and shoulders
Avoid hyperextending your back.
From here walk for a set amount of distance before switching sides.
You may find it helpful to hold one arm out to the side for balance.
One Arm High Pull
Grasp dumbbell or kettlebell with the weight in front of you.
Keep the weight close as you pull the weight up.
Keep your elbow above the weight.
Lower the weight back at a slower pace than when you pulled it up.
NOW SOME UPPER BACK EXERCISES TO INCREASE CLUBHEAD SPEED
One of the best exercises for the upper back to increase club head speed is the basic pull up. And we showed above that pull up strength had a higher correlation to club head speed than most exercises. We are going to review the full range of motion.
Begin by gripping a pullup bar with an overhand grip.
Your grip should be shoulder-width or slightly wider.
Your legs will be straight and knees locked out the entire time.
You will start with arms fully extended.
Pull with the arms and upper back, retracting your elbows down.
The rep is complete when the chin is over the bar.
Lower yourself returning back to arms fully extended.
Many will not have the requisite strength so our post onback exercises for golfers has some scales such as the banded pull up below.
Banded Pull Up
If you dont quite have the requisite strength to perform a regular pull up this is a great alternative.
To set up loop a band around a pull-up bar.
If you need more assistance use a thicker band.
Step one foot into the band
Grab the pull-up bar slightly wider than shoulder-width.
From here perform the points of performance of a regular pull-up apply.
One caveat. When you step out of the band. Make sure you have a secure footing on a box or bench before you take your other foot out of the band
Double Dumbbell Rows
The double dumbbell row is a nice isometric movement that strengthens the upper back.
Begin with a dumbbell in each hand.
The arms will start fully extended.
Bend at the hips
Keep the lower back nice and flat.
Your weight will remain in your heels.
Pull the dumbbells to your torso using as little body english as possible.
Single Arm Bent Over Rows
You want to set up by forming a nice tripod with one knee on the bench, one arm holding yourself out in front, and the other foot planted on the ground.
Try to have your back parallel to the floor and as flat as possible like a tabletop.
The single-arm row begins with the arm fully extended.
Pull the dumbbells up to your chest holding for a half-second.
Return to the start position by lowering the weight back down.
And as you saw in chapter one this is where a lot of the work in the golf swing is generated.
Let’s dive in.
FIRST SOME ANTERIOR CORE EXERCISES TO INCREASE SWING SPEED
The abmat situp is a great place to start when building up some core strength to improve your swing speed.
Sit on the floor and feel free to place an abmat or a rolled-up towel to fit between the floor and your lumbar curve.
You can have your feet together or underneath a pair of dumbbells.
I like to keep the arms extended in front of my body as shown in the video but some like to rest them across the chest.
Brace your core and sit up until your shoulders are stacked over your hips.
Lower yourself back down until your shoulder blades touch the ground.
To perform the reverse crunch you will need a stable object such as a kettlebell or dumbbell to hold onto.
Lay face up on the ground gripping the kettlebell that is behind your head.
Extend the legs keeping them hovering off the ground.
Make sure that when your legs are extended, you are also exhaling and the core is nice and tight.
From here attempt to bring your knees to your elbows and in the process, you will roll your lower back up slightly.
Hold the top of the rep for a half-second before returning to the start position.
Abs with a Plate Switch
Abs with a plate switch will really test the stability of your core.
Start by sitting on the floor with a small 2.5-5lbs plate in one hand.
Start in a hollow body position which means your legs will be slightly extended and the plate is out to the side.
Then we move into flexion by raising your torso up and tucking the knees.
As you move into flexion, pass the plate underneath your knees to the other hand.
Move back to a hollow body position with the weight plate in the other hand.
This one can be difficult to explain via text so watch the video.
Planks are one of the few static exercises to increase club head speed that we program for our golfers. It will help you develop some core strength needed to achieve that hollow body position we pointed out in Chapter 1.
Setup with your forearms and toes in contact with the ground.
Keep the core braced and your body in a straight line from toes to shoulders.
You want to avoid the hips being too high or low. You want to maintain a straight line from shoulders to toes. You will hold for a set amount of time before resting and repeating.
Exercises to strengthen your lower body
Time to move into some lower body exercises that are going to help you utilize the ground to generate some club head speed.
We will break these up into a few sections:
First some posterior exercises.
Second, some basic level leg strength exercises to generate some speed.
Finally, some more advanced lower body exercises to increase clubhead speed.
FIRST SOME POSTERIOR CORE EXERCISE THAT INCREASE SWING SPEED.
Kettlebell & Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
To set up place your feet hip-width apart with a kettlebell or dumbbell on the outside of your stance.
Get a full grip on the weights.
Lift the weights, pushing through your heels keeping the lower back flat the entire time.
The hips and shoulders will rise at the same rate.
The rep is finished when your knees, hips, and shoulders are locked out and over each other as you stand tall.
To return to the ground, keep the knees back and lower the weights down as far as possible while maintaining a nice flat back.
You can take the bar out of a rack or pick it up off the floor.
If picking it up off the floor, the same cues apply as the conventional deadlift.
The dimmel deadlift begins with the bar at the hip level.
Send the hips back keeping your weight in your heels and lower the bar until it is just above your knees.
The lower back stays nice and flat.
To return to the top, focus on squeezing the glutes.
We typically program these at higher rep ranges (15+ per set) but lighter weights.
Set up with a hip-width stance.
Your hands will be about shoulder-width apart, gripping the barbell just outside your hips.
When viewed from the side, the shoulders will be slightly in front of the bar.
The lower back is nice and flat the entire time.
The Head is neutral to keep pressure off the upper spine area.
Hips and shoulders come off the floor at the same rate.
Weight stays in the heels.
Rep is finished when hips, knees, and shoulders are locked out and in one straight line as you stand tall.
To return to the floor, send the hips back first putting your weight in the heels.
Then send hips and shoulders down at the same rate.
The Romanian deadlift uses little help from the legs and really recruits muscles in the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. You will want to start out light and make time to get in a hamstring or lower back stretch afterward.
Set up is the same as with all our deadlifting movements.
Hip width stance, flat back, weight in the heels.
Hands gripping the bar just outside the hips.
But for these, the hips will be slightly higher than normal.
You will feel as if you are only hinging at the hips using your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back to lift the weight as opposed to the legs.
Make sure to not have your weight shift into your toes and let the back round.
The lower back is nice and flat throughout.
The rep is complete with knees, hips, and shoulders locked out in one line.
To return to the floor, send the hips back keeping the weight in the heels.
Hinge at the hips.
If you are just starting out, build the bar up off the floor by placing it on some weights.
Barbell Good Mornings
To set up, stand upright with the barbell resting on your traps.
Unlock the knees slightly and have a slight flex in the knees.
Send the hips back as you lower your chest to the floor
Always keep your lower back nice and flat
The degree to which you can lower yourself will depend on your flexibility and ability to maintain a nice flat lower back.
Only go down as far as you can maintain a flat back
Return to the starting position by squeezing the glutes and lower back.
NOW FOR SOME LOWER BODY EXERCISES TO BUILD SOME FOUNDATIONAL LEG STRENGTH TO GENERATE SOME SWING SPEED AND POWER.
We begin with the air squat (which you can do at home) because it is a foundational movement in developing leg strength for creating more club head speed. Plus we will build off this over the next few movements as we add loading
Set up with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
Hands can be out in front.
Unhinge at the hips sending them back slightly
The hips and shoulders will move down at the same rate until your hip crease is below the knee.
It is important that your knees point in the same direction as the toes. For many, you will need to feel as if you are pushing your knees out to engage your glutes to accomplish this.
The chest remains nice & tall.
The lower back remains as flat as possible
Avoid letting your weight get into the balls of your feet or your toes.
To return to the start position, push through the ground so your hips and shoulders rise at the same rate.
The air squat is complete when hips and knees are fully locked out and in a straight line with the shoulders.
When an athlete first starts out with me and can show me they can perform a proper air squat then it’s time to add some loading. But I like to add a simple dumbbell or kettlebell before adding a barbell. I like to do that in the form of goblet squats
The same points of performance apply as above so I won’t repeat.
But you will be holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of you.
You can hold it anyway but focus on keeping the weight close to your chest.
With a weight in the frontal plane really focus on keeping your weight in your heels and not tipping forward.
The back squat gets a bad wrap by pundits that in my opinion, just don’t know about proper technique. You will be adding weight on your back so this will also recruit the muscles in your lower and upper back as well as hamstrings.
The bar will rest on your traps.
Use a shoulder-width or slightly wider stance. Most people will turn out their toes slightly. This is a matter of preference.
Full grip on the bar with elbows pointed back and down.
To begin the movement, the hips descend back and then down.
Knees will always remain in line with toes. This recruits the glute muscles.
Keep the back and flat and the chest tall.
Descend until the hip crease is below the knee. YES! You should use the full range of motion!
Hips & shoulder will both descend and rise at the same rate.
Finish fully standing with the hips & knees fully locked out.
Whereas the back squat recruits more muscles in the posterior chain, the front squat involves the quads and abdominals a lot more. So it is also a core strengthening exercise for us golfers. Similar to the goblet squat, we will be adding weight in the frontal plane but in the form of a barbell which will require more upper back, shoulder, and forearm flexibility. All of which are beneficial to the golfing community.
Set up is the same as other squats but the bar will rest on your collar bone.
Hands will be outside the shoulders resting in the fingertips.
Fight to keep the elbows high so that the triceps are parallel to the ground
Really focus on filling your midsection with mass as if you were going to get punched in the stomach.
From here all other points of performance remain the same.
Dumbbell Box Step Ups
This movement really works the glutes, legs, and hamstrings. You can use a pair of dumbbells or kettlebells.
Grip the weights on each side of the body.
Step one foot on top of the box keeping the knee over your foot.
Press through your forward heel and stand all the way on top of the box.
The chest remains tall the entire time.
Place both feet on top of the box as you reset.
Step down and unless otherwise stated, alternate feet on each side.
NOW FOR SOME LOWER BODY EXERCISES TO BUILD SOME FOUNDATIONAL LEG STRENGTH TO GENERATE SOME SWING SPEED AND POWER.
Single Leg Bulgarian Split Squats
The single-leg Bulgarian split squat is in our list of single-leg exercises to increase club head speed because it is great for developing unilateral balance and strength in the glutes which play a big role in your golf swing.
To set up, find a step, bench, or pad to rest a foot on.
Begin in a forward lunge position with the torso upright.
Brace your core with the hips square.
The back foot is elevated on the bench.
Lower yourself until the front thigh is almost horizontal or parallel with the floor.
Keep the forward knee in line with the toe and don’t let it pass the toes.
Drive through the forward heel back to the starting position.
Front Squat to a Box
These are great for generating vertical force because you are lifting from a dead stop.
All points of performance of the front squat apply.
Set up the box so that it is right behind you. Be careful when first performing these.
Send your hips back and then down as you sit on the box/bench/mats.
Pause on the box/bench/mats for 1-2 seconds.
Lean forward ever so slightly before contract your glutes and hamstrings to initiate the movement off the bench.
Drive your hips forward at the top and squeeze your glutes hard.
This is one of the few exercises to increase club head speed that we included on this list that uses a barbell and band to provide accommodative resistance. It really helps develops hip explosiveness. The width of your band will depend upon your strength levels. Start out light and build up as you progress.
Place the band over the bar making sure it is evenly spaced.
The arches of the feet are standing on the band about hip-width apart.
From here setup is the same as the regular deadlift; flat back, shoulders slightly in front of the bar, bar close to the shins.
Activate your core by pressing out as if you were about to get punched in the stomach.
From here perform similar to a conventional deadlift.
Weight in the heels as you drive with the legs keeping the hips and shoulders rising at the same rate.
When the barbell gets above the knees you will really start to feel the resistance of the band.
Really try to explode at this point by squeezing the hips and glutes.
Stand to full extension.
It is helpful to watch our demo video.
The clean pull is an exercise Olympic lifters use to develop hip drive. We love to program these for our athletes to do the same. But before we assign these, athletes must have great deadlift form.
Set up as you would a deadlift with a barbell over the mid part of the foot. The grip is just outside the hips, shoulders slightly in front of the bar, and back nice and flat.
Perform a deadlift with the hips and shoulders rising together.
You want to feel as if you are “pushing the floor away.”
As you pass the knees you want to feel as if you are driving or “jumping the barbell up with your legs and hip drive.
The body and barbell should remain as close to each other as possible.
Feel as if you are driving the weight with the legs and not pulling with the arms.
This will take some time so start light and be patient.
Watch the tutorial video.
Hang Power Cleans
The hang power clean may be the most difficult movement on this list. It is a very dynamic movement that recruits the legs, back, and even arms. It is similar to the golf swing in that the power will come from the hips and legs first before finishing off with the arms. And similar to the golf swing, an early arm pull will result in a loss of power.
Set up so your feet start hip to shoulder-width apart.
Hands are about one thumbs distance from the hips.
Lower the bar to just above the knees while maintaining a flat lower back.
Heels remain down with straight arms.
Your torso will then rotate to a vertical position before “exploding” with the legs and hips.
The shoulders will then shrug, followed by a pull of the arms to get the barbell to land on the collar bone.
Turn the elbows around the bar quickly.
Catch the barbell in a partial squat before standing all the way up.
Plyometric Exercises to help you generate club head speed
As you saw from chapter 1, a training program that involves plyometric can really help you to add some clubhead speed.
We like to pair these with a weightlifting movement such as a trap bar deadlift or a box squat or a front squat.
Feet are set in a hip to shoulder-width stance.
Dip down and jump as high as you can making sure you extend the hips and knees.
The focus is to use the stretch-shortening cycle.
Seated Dynamic Box Jumps
The seated dynamic box jump is great for developing explosiveness in the hips and legs.
For the seated dynamic box jump you will need a box or bench to sit on.
Bring your feet off the ground before forcefully bringing the feet back to the ground to initiate the jump onto a plyo-box.
Make sure to reset on every rep.
Single Leg Box Jumps
One foot is planted on the ground while the other is elevated behind you.
Use your arms and the momentum to jump off one leg and onto the box.
Start out with a low box and as you develop confidence increase the height.
Dynamic Lateral Box Step Ups
Dynamic Lateral Step-Ups are an awesome exercise for increasing club head speed.
Stand to the side of a knee-high box holding dumbbells in each hand.
Place one foot on the box.
Begin the movement by stomping on the box immediately followed by a dynamic extension of the hip and knee.
Immediately squeeze the quad and glute that are on the box to drive up onto the box.
Keep the torso upright the entire time.
This mimics the extension that is created by the lead leg during a golf swing.
Rotational Box Jumps
Now it’s time to combine the explosiveness of a box jump with some dynamic rotational work to really add some club head speed.
Stand to the side of a box.
Begin by rotating with your torso and arms to the side that is furthest from the box.
Add a slight squat to the movement as well.
From here we want to mimic a golf swing.
Rotate towards the box by shifting your weight to the lead leg.
Then rotate the torso and arms towards the box.
Jump up onto the box by using the quads and hips.
Land on the box with both feet.
Reset and step down.
Don’t forget to perform an equal amount on both sides.
Rotational exercises for more swing speed.
Now for the final piece in the puzzle of finding the right exercises to add some speed.
This chapter focuses on the rotational aspect of the game of golf.
If you want a more complete list, see our post on these rotational movements in the golf swing.
FIRST SOME INTERNAL HIP ROTATIONAL WORK TO ADD TO YOUR REPERTOIRE