The 5 Best Exercises for Longer Golf Drives and a Stronger Back

How to go longer, for longer

Never mind Phil Mickelson's marshmallow midriff or John Daly's dough-boy pudge. The flabby, unfit golf pro is a vanishing breed on the PGA Tour, where the average player is stronger, leaner, and longer hitting than ever before. Call it the Tiger Woods effect. Pressed to keep up with the world's best (and most chiseled) player, most pros are now treating golf like a contact sport. "Fitness is transforming the game," says Mark Verstegen, the former director of performance of the NFL Player's Association and the founder and president of EXOS. "Today's pro blasts his tee shot 50 yards farther than players of 15 years ago."

For further proof, take a look at fresh PGA phenom Cameron Champ (pictured above), who isn't afraid to flirt with 400-yard drives with regularity.

Golfers, in other words, are athletes. But you don't have to be a golf pro to reap the benefits of golf fitness. Weave the following exercises into your weekly routine and you'll add another 25 yards to your drive and strengthen your core and back, says Verstegen, who wrote a tome on the matter: Core Performance Golf. "Better still," he says, "you'll play without pain or injuries." And to look your absolute best while you do it, check out these 15 Stylish Golf Shirts Way Better Than Your Average Polo.

One-Sided Dumbbell Bench Press

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Strengthens: the chest, core stability

Lie off-center on a bench so that only your left glute and shoulder touch the bench. Hold a dumbbell directly above your chest with your right hand, and grasp the bench behind your head with your left hand. Lower the weight until your elbow is in line with your shoulder, and then return to the starting position. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.

Single-Leg Romanian Dead Lift

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Strengthens: glutes, hamstrings, lower back

Hold dumbbells in both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms at your sides. Lift your right foot off the floor and bend at the hips, maintaining a straight line from the heel of your right foot to your shoulder as you lower your torso until it's as close to parallel with the floor as you can get without arching your back. Pause, then return to the starting position. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps per side. And if you're looking for a seriously stable spine, Here's How to Conquer Lower Back Pain Forever.

Perpendicular Throws

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Strengthens: hips, torso, arms

Stand four feet from a wall with your hips perpendicular to it, and hold a medicine ball with one hand under the ball and the other hand behind it. Rotate away from the wall until the ball is behind your hip, and then initiate the throw by driving your back hip toward the wall, followed by your trunk and arms. Catch and repeat. Do two sets of eight to 10 reps per side.

Russian Twist

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Strengthens: hips, core

Lie face-up on an exercise ball with your shoulders on the ball, your feet flat on the floor, and your hips in line with your shoulders and knees. Holding a weight plate above your chest with both hands, roll your upper body to the right until your shoulders are perpendicular to the ground (your hips shouldn't move). Twist back to the starting position, then repeat on your left side. Do three sets of eight to 10 reps per side.

Front Pillar Bridge

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Strengthens: shoulders, core

Get into a modified push-up position, supporting your weight with your forearms and the balls of your feet. Lift your left leg into the air; hold for two seconds. Place it back on the floor, switch legs, and repeat 10 more times. That's one set. Do three. And to play your best when you get on the green, steal these 5 Clever Tricks That Will Boost Your Golf Game.

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