3 Myths and Truths About Weight Training and Golf

Man walking on the golf course carrying bags.

Jopwell x PGA/Pexels

Asking whether golfers qualify as athletes is a good way to start an argument. But there's no question that today's golfers are in better shape than ever before: fitter, stronger and paying much more attention to strength and flexibility than did golfers of yore.

In decades past, many golfers feared resistance training, or weight training. Working with weights, many golfers believed, would only tighten up their golf swings, reduce flexibility, cause them to become "musclebound."

And many myths about weight training and golf emerged. Besides, it can be a very intimidating thought for a golfer to ponder heading to a gym full of "muscle heads."

But what about those myths: Are they true? Take a look at several myths about weight training and golf to find out.

Myth No. 1: Weight Training Will Cause You to Get Too Bulky and Hurt Your Golf Swing

Truth: Training regimens designed specifically for golfers remove the threat of bulking up to the point of hurting your golf swing.

Pedersen says:

"Resistance training specific for golf will not result in muscle gain that will alter your swing mechanics. Increasing muscle size involves lifting increasingly heavier weights with lower repetitions, increasing your calorie intake dramatically, and spending a couple hours per day lifting weights.

"But a golf-specific conditioning program incorporates moderate weight, with medium (12-15) repetitions, and in a time frame of 30-45 minutes. This type of program is designed to improve your golf-specific strength and endurance, not build muscle."

Myth No. 2: Weightlifting Will Cause You to Lose Flexibility

Truth: Wrong again, so long as your weight training regimen is geared to golf. Pedersen says:

"In fact, the opposite is true! Weak muscles are also tight muscles. When you do resistance training, you are increasing blood flow, working through a functional range of motion specific to golf, and strengthening the tendons and ligaments in every joint of your body. In conjunction with a stretching program, strength training will improve flexibility, not hinder it."

Myth No. 3: Weight Training Will Cause You to Lose Feel In Your Golf Game

"Feel" is that elusive but all-important element every golfer wants: It means having great touch on shots and being able to notice and interpret feedback offered by the feelings and sounds of impact.

Does weight training kill feel in golfers? Pedersen says no:

"Truth: By strengthening your muscles specific to golf, you will have better control of your body. A sport-specific program trains your body specifically for your golf game. When you improve functional strength, you have more control and balance, which will improve your feel. Strength training involves body awareness, muscular control and coordination. These are all key elements for enhanced golf."

Getting Started With Weight Training for Golf

"Strength training can be done when you are in your early teens (with supervision), or into your late 80s," Pedersen says. "I have personally worked with people in their 70s and 80s who increased their strength dramatically. This was partly due to the initial level of fitness being so low. But the point is that it is never too late to start."

There are many fitness professionals today who offer programs designed for golfers, or even specialize in golf-specific weight- and strength-training programs. Call around, or ask around at your club or golf course if you are interested in getting started.

There are also many golf trainers making DVDs these days to help golfers with their fitness