The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Upper Body Golf Workout

(a custom approach that gets you results)

In this post, we are going to show you the simple steps that go into creating an upper-body golf workout that is unique to you. 

Most posts on upper body golf workouts are:

  • Boring
  • Repetitive
  • Just a lot of bench pressing
  • Don’t show you progress along the way. 

But we are going to show you how to assess your movement, select your exercises, and finally create an upper body golf workout that will progress align the way. 

On top of that, you can download a sample 4 week upper body golf workout program for FREE!

These are the exact steps that go into creating custom programs for our online golf fitness clients as well as our golf workout program.

Let’s jump in!

Sample Upper Body Golf Workout PDF Cover

Contents

Assessing your movement patterns to create your upper body golf workout.

Chapter 1

Assessing your movement patterns to create your upper body golf workout.

Planning which exercises and stretches in building your upper body golf workout.

Chapter 2

Deciding which exercises and stretches to use in your upper body golf workout.

Now onto actually creating your upper body golf workout program

Chapter 3

Now on to creating your upper body golf workout program

Upper Body Golf Exercises with Bands

Chapter 4

How to plan some warmup routines.

Golf Exercises with Bands Free PDF

Bonus #1

Download a sample upper body golf workout plan  for FREE

Chapter 1

Assessing your movement patterns to create your upper body golf workout.

This chapter will show you how to screen yourself so that you can determine which exercises you need to focus on. 

We will show you where you need to improve and even explain how it impacts your golf swing. 

Let’s begin.

Assessing your movement patterns to create your upper body golf workout.

In our online golf fitness program, we understand that no two bodies are the same.

So we don’t create a blanket program for everyone. 

Quite often different people have different limitations and movement patterns.

So we want to hone in on what is holding them back. 

And more importantly, we want to show them how it is impacting their golf swing. 

And fix it. 

So we have a series of movement assessments that allow us to know where to focus when creating an upper body golf workout program. 

Before you begin you will need just two items:

  1. A tape measure
  2. A wall or doorway. 

Let’s begin by testing your body’s ability to raise your arms overhead and out to the side which is what also occurs in the golf swing.

The first step in creating your upper body golf workout is to assess your ability to raise your arms over your head with our shoulder flexion test.

Some things to note when performing this assessment:

  1. You want to keep the lower back flat on the floor and avoid any hyperextension.
  2. The full range of motion is the ability to touch the floor with your index fingers without pain. 
  3. If you are limited in this range of motion note where you felt it? Front of shoulders, top of shoulders, lats?

From the images below, select the one that best applies to you!

Shoulder Flexion Test Option 1
Shoulder Flexion Test Option 2
Shoulder Flexion Test Option 3

Next, let’s see if you have any limitations to raising your arms out to the side with the shoulder abduction test. 

Perform this assessment and choose the image below that best applies to you.

Shoulder Abduction Test - Rear View - Option 1
Shoulder Abduction Test - Rear View - Option 2
Shoulder Abduction Test - Rear View - Option 3

Then perform the same assessment from the side and choose which image below best applies

Shoulder Abduction Test - profile View - Option 1
Shoulder Abduction Test - profile View - Option 2
Shoulder Abduction Test - profile View - Option 3

A couple of things to note here:

  1. Full range of motion would be your biceps can touch and cover the ears and there is space between your traps and neck.
  2. Note: If you were limited, where did you “feel” it?
  3. Was there a pinching sensation on the top of the shoulder or in the shoulder joint?
  4. When performed from the side, were your biceps not able to make contact with your head? Were you not able to cover the ear?

Next, let’s test some general upper back and shoulder flexibility which is critical in making a good shoulder turn. 

Perform this assessment and choose the image below that best applies. Also note where you feel it most.

Shoulder & Upper Back Flexibility Test Side View - Option 1
Shoulder & Upper Back Flexibility Test Side View - Option 2
Shoulder & Upper Back Flexibility Test Front View - Option 2
Shoulder & Upper Back Flexibility Test Front View - Option 1

If you are able to:

  • touch your elbows together
  • keep your triceps parallel to the ground
  • and externally rotate your hands you are good to go. 

If not, then note that.

Next Up, let’s measure the ability for your shoulders to internally and externally rotate! This is critical in building your upper body golf workout.

First, we will measure shoulder internal rotation

Perform this assessment and choose the image below that best applies to both your right and left arm.

IR Test Right Arm Option 1
IR Test Right Arm Option 2
IR Test Right Arm Option 3

Next, let’s perform the external rotation test.

And pic the image below that best applies for both the left and right arm.

External Rotation Test Right Arm Optoin 1
External Rotation Test Right Arm Optoin 2
External Rotation Test Right Arm Optoin 3

Finally let’s measure the flexibility in your wrist to see if we need to target it for your program

You will need a tape measure and a wall. In this video we use a make shift wall.

Note:men will need to measure 5.5 inches from the wall and ladies will need to measure 4.5 inches

Perform this assessment and choose the image below that best applies to your right and left arm

Wrist Flexibility Test - right wrist Option 1
Wrist Flexibility Test - right Wrist Option 2
Wrist Flexibility Test - right Wrist Option 3

You are probably asking what all this means in creating your upper body golf workout. 

Well, the answer is we need to know a few things before we decide what exercises and formats to focus on. 

In this video, we explain how your flexibility and movement patterns affect your golf swing.

In summary, your the ability to raise your hands overhead (shoulder flexion test) as well as to the side (abduction test) and internally and externally rotate them will impact the following:

  1. Create a nice wide takeaway on the backswing.
  2. Rotate to the top of the swing.
  3. Your ability to get the hands high for some more clubhead speed.
  4. Set the club on plane at the top as well on in the downsizing.
  5. Your wrist and forearm flexibility affects your ability to create lag in the swing. 

Chapter 2

Deciding which exercises and stretches to use in your upper body golf workout.

Using your assessment we will now build an upper body golf workout program to strengthen the muscles you need most. 

Let’s begin.

Planning which exercises and stretches in building your upper body golf workout.

The first thing you want to do is focus on areas you scored poorly on in the above test. 

From there, we will focus on the exercises to help build you not only improve flexibility but also strengthen them before re-assessing in the future. 

So if you were really poor in the wrist/forearm flexibility test than you want to put most of your attention there during each cycle.

Or if your shoulder abduction and flexion tests were poor then a lot of your focus will be there before moving on to working on your shoulder IR/ER. 

Make sense?

But let’s first give you some exercise ideas. 

Designing your upper body golf workout if you scored poor on shoulder abduction and flexion.

Recall that this measured your ability to raise your arms to the side and overhead which is very critical in the backswing and transition into the downswing to create some clubhead speed

First some stretches to open up the shoulders, chest and upper back area:

(click the images to watch a full video tutorial)

Bar Hangs
Pass Thrus
Seated Wall Slides
Banded Lat Stretch
Reverse Dumbbell Pull Over

And now some exercises to strengthen your upper body:

(click the images to watch a full video tutorial)

Single Arm Dumbbell OH Carry
Single Arm Dumbbell Push Press
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Banded High Pulls
Split Stance Strict Press
Half Kneeling One Arm Press
One Arm High Pulls

Exercises to include in your upper body golf workout if you scored poorly in the upper back test. 

In other circles, this screening is also known as the WEENIS test. 

Yea that’s right your read that correctly!

Anyways, here are a couple of movements and exercises we can use to improve it.

(click the images to watch a full video tutorial)

Side laying Horizontal Adduction Eccentric
Front Rack Static Hold
Thoracic Extension with PVC

Some internal and external shoulder rotation exercises to include in your upper body golf workout

The ability to internally and externally rotate the shoulders is important in getting the club on plane in the backswing and even more important on the downswing.

Resistance bands are great for some of these movements. 

(click the images to watch a full video tutorial)

Banded Shoulder Internal Rotation
Cuban Press
Shoulder External Rotation with PVC
Banded Shoulder External Rotation
dumbbell shoulder internal and external rotation

Finally, some wrist stretches and exercises to include in your upper body golf workout

Strength and flexibility in the wrist not only help you get out of some of the thicker rough but you need both to create and hold the “lag” in the downswing!

(click the images to watch a full video tutorial)

Eccentric Wrist Flexion
Overhead Wrist Extension
Banded Wrist Extension

Now that we know:

  • What movements patterns impact your swing
  • And what upper body exercises and stretches to target

We can start to put pen to paper or keyboard to a spreadsheet and start creating your upper body golf workout program!

Note that, these are not the only movements we could use. In fact, we could go on forever but for time’s sake we kept it brief. 

Chapter 3

Now on to creating your upper body golf workout program

Now that we know where to focus and which exercises to focus on, it is time to put pen to paper in writing your upper body golf workout.

Sharpen your pencil.

Now onto actually creating your upper body golf workout program

For many of you, myself included, you may not have scored well in many of the screens, that’s OK. 

I personally score poorly in shoulder flexion, abduction as well as wrist flexibility.

This causes me to not be able to get the hands as high in the backswing as they could be which leads to some lost clubhead speed.

Our blog post on shoulder flexibility in golf showed a common thing you find with big hitters is their ability to have the trail elbow high in relation to their head as shown below. 

Among other things, this requires strength and flexibility in:

  • shoulder flexion
  • shoulder abduction
  • internal and external rotation
  • upper back flexibility. 
  • and even some flexibility in the wrist and forearms.
Long drivers of the pga tour and shoulder flexibility

First some general guidelines to go by

  1. Don’t over complicate your upper body golf workout cycle. Just design a 4-6 week block at a time. Reassess every 4-6 weeks and adjust accordingly. 
  2. We recommend 1-2 days a week of upper body focus. You want to let the muscles recover and build stronger. 
  3. Choose a 1-2 weightlifting movement that will linearly progress over a 4-6 week period. This means gradually increase the reps and/or weight each week
  4. The strength/weightlifting movement of your upper body golf workout will be paired with a stretch. There a bunch you can use from our post on shoulder stretches for golf. You can also find some upper back stretches HERE as well. 
  5. If you have a pressing movement try to pair it with a pulling movement for some variety. Ie single-arm presses with some dumbbell rows. Or overhead carries with some high pulls

Next, we need to pick the set and rep schemes. You have a few options.

  • A simple linear progression of weights and sets.
  • Tempo work – a slow and controlled movement during the eccentric or loading phase of the movement. 
  • Pause work – pausing for a brief period at a certain point in the movement (typically at the bottom and/or end of the range of motion).

In our example, we will just use a linear progression for the first 4-6 weeks but you can always switch up the format in the next cycle.

So for example, I am weakest in shoulder flexion and abduction so we are going to use the following exercises:

Day 1:

  • Bar hangs to increase the range of motion (this opens up the area)
  • An overhead carry to strengthen the shoulder (this strengthens the area now that it is opened up)
  • Finally, some one-arm high pulls (a pulling movement to pair it up with the press above).

Day 2: 

  • Reverse/Eccentric Dumbbell Pullovers (a stretch to increase the range of motion)
  • Half-Kneeling one arm presses (a pressing motion that will help with flexion and abduction)
  • Single Arm dumbbell bent-over rows (a pulling motion that will help with the upper back and rear shoulder)

And we will use the following format. 

  • A simple 4-week cycle starting with reps of 10 in each set. 
  • We will add 2 reps per week or add a little weight every week. 
  • Program 2 days a week of upper body golf workouts. 
  • After this 4 week cycle, I will reassess and then try another pressing or overhead movement and maybe try a tempo format. 

If you want to see what a full 4-week upper body golf workout looks like:

  1. simply click the link in the bonus section
  2. Enter your info.
  3. And you can download a sample upper body golf workout 1 month plan for FREE.

Chapter 4

How to plan some warmup routines.

OK, so you have your workouts as well as your 4-6 week block of upper body golf workouts but wait you forgot a simple thing…the warm up.

Don’t worry we got you covered and it is simple.

Finally after you have created your upper body golf workout we want to create some warmups.

When it comes to warm-ups for a client, we just want to get them ready to move. 

So here are some guidelines we live by. 

  1. include a cardio aspect (running, biking, rowing, jumping jacks) to get the heart rate up
  2. Include about 3-4 movements in the 10-20 rep range. 
  3. Keep it very light. You just want to get the blood flowing.
  4. Try to include simple upper body push and pull.
  5. We like to keep it within a 10-15 minute window. 

To save you the time and energy, below we have written 4 examples. 

There is no right or wrong answer for a warm-up.

The Golden Rule for your warm-up though is to make sure you get a little bit of a sweat and the blood is flowing. 

Upper Body Golf Workout Warm-up #1

  • :30 Jumping Jacks
  • Medium Pec Stretch 1:00 per arm
  • Then 2 Rounds of the following:
  • 5 Yoga Push-ups
  • 5/5 Thoracic Rotations (5 on each side)
  • 10 Shoulder Taps (5 per arm alternating reps)

Upper Body Golf Workout Warm-up #2

  • 1:00 Easy Jog in Place
  • Upper Pec Stretch 1:00 per arm
  • 2 Rounds
  • 5 Yoga Push-ups
  • 5/5 Half Kneeling One Arm Press  (5 per arm, lower DB slower than you press it up)
  • 100m or 1:00 Single Arm OH Carry (switch arms at 50m or :30 mark)

Upper Body Golf Workout Warm-up #3

3 rounds of the following:

  • 30 Plyo skiers
  • 20 band pull-aparts
  • 10 shoulder taps
  • 30s OH dumbbell hold

Upper Body Golf Workout Warm-up #4

3 rounds of the following:

  • 30 Mountain climbers
  • 20 PVC Pass thrus
  • 10 Single Arm Dumbbell Press (light weight)
  • 10 Single arm dumbbell row (light weight)

Bonus

Download a sample upper body golf workout plan  for FREE

Golf Exercises with Resistance Bands PDF Download
Sample Upper Body Golf Workout PDF Cover
Enter your info below to receive a sample Upper Body Golf Workout Program

There you have it, that is a full guide on how to create your own custom upper body golf workout program.

 What do you think? Give it a try and drop us a comment below.