All Golfers Should Lift Weights

This May Not Be What You Expect

I pride myself on not doing clickbait.  You won’t find headlines like, “Three Crazy Facts About Tiger Woods” on this site.  However, I fear that this article is not going to be what you expect based on the headline.  But expectations be damned, I think this is going to help you play better golf.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You are a golfer

Why All Golfers Should Lift Weights

This lesson has nothing to do with the physical reasons for lifting weights.  There are many, and I may discuss them in the future, but this is about what lifting will do for your mind.  Here are five lessons you will learn from lifting that will make you a better golfer.

Progress Is Not Linear

I’m always jealous of people who are new to lifting.  They get to experience “beginner gains” – that stage where every workout comes with new personal records.

But after that initial burst – however long it lasts – progress becomes harder to find.  You may stall out for a week or a month.  You may not see any substantial progress for a year.  If you’re not willing to change the work you’re doing, you may be at the same level for the rest of your life.

On a more optimistic note, you may also level up when you’re not expecting it.  After weeks of struggling with the same weight, one day it will feel like nothing.

For both good and bad, progress is not linear in weight lifting or golf.

Unexpected Gains and Letdowns

Just as progress is not linear, progress is not predictable.  There will be times when, after a week of stellar workouts, you show up and can barely lift the bar.  On the other hand, you may come back to the gym after a week of being sick, out of town, or injured and hit a personal best.

Knowing this can keep you from getting too high or too low.  Keep your expectations to a minimum.  Give what you have every day.  Enjoy the ride.

Personal Bests are Rare

Once you’re “trained” – meaning that you’ve lifted for a while – hitting personal bests takes substantial effort.  Especially as you get older, you can’t expect to do the same old thing and see big gains.  This means you have two choices.

Option 1: Be content with your current workload and performance level.  There is nothing wrong with this, regardless of what your performance level is.  As I discussed HERE, you don’t need to be Arnold, and you don’t need to be good at golf.

Option 2: Commit to doing all the things necessary to improving.  Work out longer, smarter, and with more intensity.  Get your nutrition dialed in.  Focus on the thing you want and get it.

Personal bests are rare.  When they happen, enjoy them.

For more on breaking plateaus, read THIS

Building Brick by Brick

I know people who work out every day.  I know people who go through spurts of manic working out followed by periods of doing nothing.  The ones who work out every day are the ones who make gains.  Consistency is king.

Consistency is the most important variable if you want to improve.  Consistency is more important than having the perfect workout plan.  It’s better than having great equipment or cool workout clothes.  Consistency even trumps intensity and duration.  If you want to get stronger, be consistent.

Enjoy the Process

If you don’t enjoy being in the gym, you’re missing the point.  This is your time to focus on and do something for yourself.  Whether you’re hitting PRs or just grinding it out, appreciate that you’re lucky to be there.

Matt Saternus
Latest posts by Matt Saternus (see all)

13 Comments

  1. Most definitely true. Am 60 and workout 6 days a week. Run 4 miles 3 days a week while lifting on the other days. Swing speed runs about 108-110 with average drive distance of 274 according to Garmin watch. Handicap is 1.1 and average 3-4 rounds a week. Most of the guys my age that I play with cannot keep up. I keep the amount of weights I use to a reasonable number since am not trying to add bulk. Just enough to stay strong as i get older.

    • Greg Caines

      Just want to let you know your comments were inspiring for me! I’ll be 57 soon and feel my best golf is ahead of me. I work hard at all aspects of the game and love the process! I’m a 4.3 index but have shaved 2 points off my index in each of the last 3 years. Off-season in Canada so strength training and flexibility have been a key focus along with weekly sim sessions to work on face/path awareness. My swing speed tops out at 100 though but I have been making solid gains in the gym so hoping it will translate to a few more mph by start of season. Thanks again for your comments and best wishes for a great 2024!

  2. Matt, timely column. Early ’60s and in. Pretty. Good shape but have slacked off the training over the past 2-3 months. You just gave me a great reminder to get my butt back into the weights!

  3. Lifting my whole life, not a great golfer but have only played last 4 years, I’m a lefty and grew up in a righty family,just picked it up on a regular basis

  4. Great advice. I wish I had started lifting sooner. I loved running, but not lifting until injuries in my 40’s kept me from logging miles. It took a while to learn to love lifting….similar to golf as I didn’t start playing until I turned 30 and didn’t really love it until I was almost 40. Almost 60 now and I really believe the lifting has kept some injuries at bay and allowed me to play and walk 18 without issue. I had slacked off a while ago and I could tell my swing speed dropped off, I was getting winded hiking up the hills on our back 9 and some old injuries were nagging me. I got back into regular workouts and everything cleared up. Exercise is medicine.

  5. greg schulte

    lifting is essential, especially as we age. I’m 63 and do weight workouts 3-4 times a week. With arthritis it’s uncomfortable at times but well worth it as the arthritis is much worse without activity. By the way, very much enjoy your content.

  6. Hi Matt, I enjoy your blog/newsletter a lot, and like the fact that you will offer an expanded set of ideas for us golfers to chew on every once in a while. I’m 74, have had both hips replaced, quad bi-pass, and last winter, lumbar fusion, plus a couple of other minor surgeries, but I still believe in working out. I have been a “serious” lifter in the past, but due to injuries, had to cut the lifting out for many (over 20) years. I did yoga and stretching all along, which helped keep me in some shape. However, I decided to start lifting again a few months ago, and I’m really happy I did. I’m not a great golfer (around a 14 index), but I do have fun beating a lot of younger guys when, I get paired up with them. I’m hoping that the lifting will give me a bit of a boost come spring. My drives are down to around 195 now, and as you well know, longer drives never hurt. Keep up the good work!

  7. Started doing dead lifts and clean and jerks with 10 pounds in each hand last summer last summer. Did them regularly. Playing one day and started getting spasms in my back and was out for five weeks. Now awaiting some kind of injections. Did the weight lifting cause the spasms. Do not know. Just sayin’

    • Matt Saternus

      Douglas,

      I’m sorry to hear that. I’m curious as to why you started doing clean and jerks. Olympic lifts are highly technical. There are many simpler movements with equal or greater ROI.

      Best,

      Matt

  8. Herniated 2 discs doing the exact same weight deadlift as the guy in the picture. I let my ego get the best of me. At 42 I shouldn’t be trying to set PRs anymore. Having surgery in 2 weeks. Haven’t played golf in about 4 months. Hopefully I can get back out there this summer.

    • Matt Saternus

      Brandon,

      I hope you have a successful surgery and a quick recovery.

      I say this second part not to chide you, but for other people reading this who may be concerned about the safety of weightlifting. According to the studies I have seen, weightlifting is safer (fewer injuries per hour of participation) than virtually any other exercise. Weightlifting will also make you more resilient to injuries due to increased strength, improved bone density, stronger ligaments. I get frustrated when people talk about weightlifting injuries and say, “See! It’s dangerous! You shouldn’t do it!” (Brandon, I am not accusing you of saying this, to be clear). Where is that talk about the injuries that golf creates? Basketball? Soccer? Not that my anecdote should be a substitute for data, but I have more long term, painful injuries from golf than I do from 25 years of weightlifting. /rant

      Again, I hope you’re back on the course soon.

      Best,

      Matt

  9. Matt,

    I’m in my 70’s and fairly fit. But, I want to get add weight training back into my fitness regime. Can you offer any specific lifting routine, guideline or a link to a weight lifting program for senior men?

    • Matt Saternus

      Mac,

      Thank you for the question. Just as with club recommendations, I prefer to leave it to people who can work with you one on one rather than making sweeping recommendations. Broadly speaking, I think lifting programs should be built around the big compound lifts: squat, deadlift, bench, rows, but those movements are somewhat technical and coaching on technique is a very good idea.

      If you’re looking for a trainer, you can go back through our Fitness archives here: https://pluggedingolf.com/category/instruction/fitness/
      You’ll find some guest posts written by great trainers who can work with you on creating a sensible program.

      Best,

      Matt

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *