Powerlifting for Golf

Powerlifting for Golf

So lets squash a few myths before I convince you to slap on a back belt and cover yourself in a cloud of chalk.

  1. Powerlifting is not bodybuilding, but we do lift bro!
  2. Powerlifting is not “Working Out”.  It is training.
  3. Powerlifting is objective.  We train to lift a certain weight.

If you want to label yourself as a powerlifter, or at least train like one, it’s pretty simple.  All you have to do is become as strong and proficient as possible in the Bench Press, Deadlift and Squat.  If you want extra credit, you can toss in the overhead press, which will from now on be referred to as the OHP (it’s all about lingo).  Even though your progress will be determined by the total amount you lift on the Bench Press, Deadlift, and Squat (all future references will be called “The Big 3″…more lingo!), you will still do various accessory movements.  You essentially train the entire body with the primary focus being on improving your “Big 3” lifts.

How is powerlifting different then bodybuilding?  

If you are training like a bodybuilder the primary focus is going to be on the individual muscle contraction.  The goal is to shape and build individual muscles using various amounts of weights, sets and repetitions.  If you put ego aside, which is damn near impossible for some, the weight used by a bodybuilder is irrelevant.  The weight is simply a tool to achieve the ideal and desired muscle contraction.  I feel this is the primary difference between bodybuilding and powerlifting.  A powerlifter is focused on the weight and any aesthetic body changes are a side effect of the pursuit of more weight.  Compared to a bodybuilder who focuses on aesthetics and has the side effect of having to increase weight to achieve the desired aesthetics.

Train like a powerlifter.

Weight training like a powerlifter is like hitting balls at the driving range and aiming at a target, while just working out is spraying balls randomly all over place.  You may get some results, but they will not be as good as they would be if you had a target.  When you train like a powerlifter you are not simply working out, you are working towards a specific target weight.

Powerlifting is objective.

The greatest thing about powerlifting is that it’s completely objective.  You set a target weight and work your ass off until you get there.  Don’t get me wrong the getting there is the hard.

“It’s supposed to be hard…the hard is what makes it great” – Tom Hanks (A League of Their Own)

Not only is it objective, but it’s also personal.  My target lifts are mine and mine alone.  There is nobody judging my appearance or trying to keep me from my goal.  It’s similar to golf where the goal score is relative to the person trying to attain it.  My bench press is nowhere near a lot of people, but I still get to reach for a number that I have never done before.  That’s the beauty of setting personal records.  How often in life do you get to physically perform a feat that you have never accomplished before?

Why should you choose Powerlifting to become a stronger golfer?

If you’ve made it this far then at least you’re open to the fact that weight training can make you a stronger and longer golfer.  So lets get to the reasons why weight training, specifically powerlifting, can help you.  I like to think of the body as a machine.  This machine is of course powered by an engine.  This engine can only produce so much power.  You can make small changes and tweaks, but to truly increase power output you’re going to need a bigger engine.  Weight training can build you that bigger engine.  With the proper type of training you can increase your strength which drives your muscles faster thus exerting more power.  This can result in more clubhead speed and more distance.  It can also lead to more control of the clubface while blasting out of the long rough.  Remember Tiger Woods back in the day?

This takes strength!
This takes strength!


With all this talk about lifting weights you may be picturing Arnold.

It's a little too much!
It’s a little too much!

You need to forget about the bodybuilder image.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I want you to take a look in the mirror and just imagine a stronger version of you.  Can you bench press your body weight?  If you had to pick up a really heavy object off the floor could you do it?  I think most people will say yes, but unfortunately most cannot.  Golf can be a physically demanding game on the body.  So many people have a bad back or knees or you name the ailment.  Take a look around the next time you play and just notice how many golfers prefer to take a cart instead of walk. It’s considered strange for a person to walk 18 holes.  Hell, some courses won’t even allow you to walk!  I can’t even remember the last time I saw a foursome walking 18.  Our bodies have gotten away from us and have begun to break down.  The machine is falling apart.  The good news is it can be repaired.

The beauty of the “Big 3” movements is that they are full range compound movements.  Each one requires the entire body working together and with practice you can become better and more proficient.  This sounds remarkably like a golf swing…weird!  While performing these movements you are going to incorporate so many muscles, large and small, that you will feel and see the differences all over your body.  If you still have any doubt, think of performing the “Big 3” in real world situations.  I’m sure we all know someone who has injured themselves doing everyday tasks.  Whether it’s getting up from a chair or picking up a child off the floor, there are so many different ways a weak untrained body can get injured.  By training in the powerlifting movements you are going to be moving a barbell by using your entire body.  This is going to result in more strength, power and the ability to move your body optimally.  It will also strengthen your body especially in the vulnerable lower back region.  This is the reason Rory McIlroy turned to weight training.Rory Trap Bar Deadlift

Are you sold on powerlifting yet?  If the answer is no then here’s my final pitch.  Do you want to hit the ball farther?  Have you already invested in a brand new driver?  Did it make much of a difference?  Hopefully it did.  I hope you gained 10 more yards.  However, are you still the shortest hitter in your foursome?  Can you still not reach a par 5 in two?  That driver made you a little longer, but you’re still not long!  That Pro V1 you’re playing will help a little but you’re maxed out.  I don’t care what that brush tee says it’s not adding 4 more yards.  There are no more variables left.  There’s no more equipment left to buy.  What are you going to do about it?



It’s time for a bigger engine…Let’s get to work!

Author: Sean Kayea

I've been playing golf for almost 30 years and have been weight training for nearly 20. I'm not a professional golfer nor am I a personal trainer, but what I am is the "Powerlifting Golfer". I've been bombing it past my playing partners for close to twenty years. Which is right about the time I started to visit the weight room just about as much as the driving range. As I've gotten older I've continued to get stronger, which has allowed me to keep adding yards to my drives.