You can add 20 yards of distance with just 5mph of increased clubhead speed!
Swing speed training programs and training aids for speed are like diets though – they pretty much all work, you just have to find the combination that works best for you.
You’ll need to choose an approach that works within the confines of your physical health, mobility, strength, and any limitations you may have.
Obviously, you want to see massive swing speed gains so you can hit some absolute bombs.
👈 Like this 346-yard drive.
But not at the cost of a knee or back injury.
I’ll share my experiences, both positive and negative, from the various programs and speed training aids I’ve used over the last couple of years.
I’ll also give you tips on how to avoid nursing a nagging injury for half a golf season like I experienced.
Speed Training Options
Don’t make the same mistake I did! If you want to maximize your gains and stay healthy, it’s important to take a holistic approach.
Your golf fitness options to improve your swing speed are:
Flexibility/Mobility – Improving range of motion through stretches, yoga, and dynamic warmups.
Strength/Power – Building muscle strength and explosiveness via weight training, plyometrics, and medicine balls.
Speed Training – Swing tempo, resistance training, and overspeed training to ingrain faster motion.
Assuming you’ve already addressed equipment and techniques to maximize your distance, adding these three will maximize your physical ability to hit bombs!
Yeah, that’s great Tyler, but what do I really need to do?
I think overspeed training and flexibility are the critical components here. You could do strength training, but it will not get you anywhere close to the gains you’d see with overspeed training.
If you simply do overspeed training and neglect the flexibility component, you risk injury.
If you do flexibility/mobility and strength training, you will again miss out on the potential gains that overspeed training brings.
Bottom line, you need to do overspeed work.
Flexibility & Mobility for Golf
To enhance mobility for golf, the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) suggests specific stretches targeting the shoulders, middle and lower back, and hips.
For the shoulders, a cross-body stretch is recommended, where one arm is brought across the chest and gently pulled by the opposite hand for a brief hold.
To improve middle back flexibility, the Cat/Cow yoga pose is advised, involving spinal tilts while on all fours to stretch and strengthen the area.
The lower back benefits from a knee-to-chest stretch, performed lying down and bringing one knee at a time, or both, towards the chest to also aid the hips and thighs.
For tight hip extensors, a kneeling hip stretch is suggested, focusing on leaning forward from the hips to stretch without rotating them
I will emphasize that skipping these may drastically increase your risk of injury with any speed training program.
I learned that the hard way! I thought, “I’m pretty flexible”, “I’ll just take a couple of practice swings before jumping in”…bad ideas, and I paid for it with knee and lower back pain for months. Once I started stretching regularly, all was good.
Strength & Power Training for Golf
The PGA of America emphasizes the importance of golfers training like athletes to add distance to their drives. Dr. Tony Megna, Director of Fitness and Wellness at The Country Club at DC Ranch, advocates for a fitness approach that integrates with the golf swing. Key points include:
Warm-Up: Exercises like ‘marches’ to activate the spine and core, ‘helicopter’ movements to warm up the spine, chest, and shoulders, and weighted extensions to prepare the upper body.
Engaging Golf Muscles: Utilizing a medicine ball in a power-stance to mimic and strengthen the golf swing, hamstring exercises with a stability ball, and rotational exercises with resistance bands to engage the full body and especially the core.
Power Training: Squats on a Power Plate to enhance lower body power and back row exercises to strengthen the back and prevent injuries.
Core Activation: Using a kettlebell to perform controlled roll-ups from a lying position to intensely work the core.
Cool Down: ‘Thread the needle’ stretches and foam rolling to relax the muscles and prevent stiffness.
Dr. Megna stresses the importance of functional training over lifting heavy weights, ensuring that the body is flexible and powerful without being restricted by tight muscles. He also advises that golfers should be accustomed to fast movements beyond just the golf swing to prevent injury and improve power generation.
No matter how much mobility or strength you add, there is no substitute for overspeed training. By training your neuromuscular system to respond and operate at speeds greater than your normal capacity, you push the limits and increase the overall speed your body can achieve.
Although they help immensely, you do not need an expensive swing speed training aid.
Option 1 – Introduce Maximum Intent Drives During Range Sessions
When I first started taking a vested interest in hitting the ball further, I began increasing my clubhead speed with practice sessions where I swung my driver at maximum speed, regardless of the precision of the strike. This was advice I picked up from Martin Borgmeier, 2022 World Long Drive Champion.
As part of range sessions, after getting fully warmed up, I’d hit 10 – 15 balls at maximum speed. Trying to hit each one harder than the last. Sometimes I would hit far more than 15 and I did not have a radar to tell me how fast I was swinging, so it was all based on feel.
I know that I was able to swing faster because of these sessions, and I gradually started to see the results on the course.
There are a couple of downsides to this approach.
It is very difficult to track your true progress.
You risk damaging your club
You’ll look like an idiot on the range when you start shanking balls
Option 2 – Use What You Have and Create Your Own Routine
Dr. Sasho MacKenzie, a biomechanist, discusses the importance of swinging with both lighter and heavier weights during swing speed training (i). You can accomplish this by just using the shaft of your driver, or adding weight with a cheap golf weight ring. You can also add weight by wrapping a hand towel around the clubhead.
Here is a speed training workout plan you can use. I would recommend 3 days per week, with at least a 1-day break in between each speed training session.
Warmup: Don’t skip this step! To prevent the risk of injury a proper warmup is critical. I like this routine by Jeff Cavaliere, a pro-athlete physical therapist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dT4KHtMM-A
Set 1: 8 “Full-Intent” reps with a 10-second break between reps. Weight = Driver
Set 2: 8 “Full-Intent” reps with a 10-second break between reps. Weight = Shaft
Set 3: 5 “Max-Effort” reps with a 10-second break between reps. Weight = Weighted Driver
Set 4: 8 “Max-Effort” reps with a 10-second break between reps. Weight = Driver
Full-Intent = The fastest you would ever swing on the golf course. Pretend you are in a 4-person scramble and you are trying to hit the ball as far as you can for your group. It will be much faster than your average speed, but still in control.
Max-Effort = The fastest you can possibly swing the club while still maintaining balance.
You can modify this plan based on your own limitations/abilities. The key components are using both lighter and heavier weights. If you are a beginner, consider scaling this back and focusing on the foundation of your swing. If you are a seasoned golfer in good shape, consider adding more max-effort reps.
Option 3 – Use a Swing Speed Training Aid
Training sessions with a specific training aid that is designed to increase your club head speed will provide you with the biggest gains. When I first started working to gain more speed, I progressed through the options I have laid out for you.
I started by introducing max effort swings on the range. Then I started doing speed training sessions with the things I already had, just as I’ve laid out above. Once I finally decided to pony up the money for The Stack System, I wished I had just taken that approach from the beginning.
Using a training aid that is specifically designed to help you increase clubhead speed, along with the workout programs they provide, is by far the best way to gain more speed. The downside is in the cost, they can be expensive.
After using the stack system for a couple of months, my driver clubhead speed increased by 7mph. And this was after I had already worked to increase my speed on my own. I felt that I had reached a plateau, and the stack got me over it quickly.
There are plenty of swing speed training aids out there, but I think the stack system is by far the best.
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How much can I realistically expect to increase my swing speed?
5 – 8mph over a two-month period for the average golfer is reasonable.
This can vary greatly based on the individual. You should ask yourself, “what percent of your theoretical maximum clubhead speed are you currently swinging at?” For example, lets say you trained your entire life for maximum speed, you would hit a peak at some point. Where are you relative to that peak today? What is your age? What do your swing mechanics look like? Can you improve your swing mechanics?
Is swing speed training suitable for golfers of all ages and skill levels?
I certainly think so! As long as you are healthy, incorporating swing speed training can absolutely help golfers of all ages and skill levels. If you are new to golf, it will be really important to focus on the mechanics of your swing. As you do, you’ll likely see much larger gains than seasoned golfers.
Let’s say you are 60+ and have been golfing for many years, you likely have some muscle memory from your earlier days. Adding speed training can help you get some of that speed back.
Can swing speed training be done at home, or do I need access to a golf course or driving range?
I do all of my speed training at home in the basement. As long as you have adequate ceiling height and surrounding space to swing a club, you are good to go. If you don’t have the space indoors, finding a space in your yard is another option.
What are the risks of swing speed training, and how can I minimize them?
As with any workout program, there is a risk of injury. Knees, hips, shoulders, back. I have experienced both knee and back problems over the last couple of years from swing speed training.
I underestimated the need to do regular stretching, and failed to adequately warm up. Once I started taking those things seriously, I’ve had no problems.
You can also minimize the risk of injury through proper rest and nutrition. Taking days off between sessions is also important.
Do I need special equipment for swing speed training?
Although special equipment is convenient and can absolutely lead to better results, it is not necessary. I have provided a full workout plan above, it does not require anything other than what you already have.
How do I measure my progress in swing speed training?
You can use a swing speed radar, the PRGR is a great option. This allows you to track each session, and each swing. You can track them over time to see your progress.
If you do not have a radar and/or do not want to get one, you can keep track of your driver distances on the course or driving range. Keep in mind that weather conditions will affect distance, so you’ll need to compare distances in similar circumstances.
If you know your distances, but don’t know what your swing speed is. You can use this swing speed calculator.
Adding a mere 5mph of clubhead speed can add 20 yards of distance to your drive. And, golfers of any skill level or age can reasonably achieve that in just a couple of months.
That being said, as with any workout program it is important to evaluate your own health and physical abilities to reduce the risk of injury. A proper warmup routine and regular stretching can help.
Increasing your flexibility and strength can lead to gains in swing speed, but overspeed training is by far the best way to maximize gains. You can accomplish this with available equipment at home, or through the use of specific training aids.
If you have found this article helpful, or have specific questions, please comment below.
Good luck with your training!