The Big Three

How to SQUAT, LUNGE SQUAT, LUNGE and DEADLIFT your way to tour-level swing speeds

by Dee Tidwell

Photography by E. J. Carr

Thanks largely to the exploits of Bryson DeChambeau and other professionals on the PGA TOUR, a speed narrative has begun to seep into the amateur golfer’s thought process. Namely, swing as hard as possible to achieve the greatest distance gains.

Speaking as a golf biomechanic who works mostly with amateurs from 32 to +4 handicaps, I can tell you that this trend has led to disasters for most players. Why? Because most amateurs’ bodies cannot handle the stress load of creating and decelerating that kind of speed. And injuries result.

Working on speed without a proper physical foundation can ruin your golf swing. To swing hard and fast, you must first get strong both neurologically and muscularly.


Building that foundation, therefore, is critical. As the performance pyramid below illustrates, before working on “Strength,” you first need to “Rebuild and Restore” (identifying and resolving weaknesses in your physical movements) and “Stabilize and Mobilize” (increasing joint mobility, muscle flexbility and core and body stability).

Once you have done that, you can focus on the third phase—strength—and the three innate athletic movements that can help create it: the squat, lunge and deadlift.

You can do the following exercises in the gym with a dumbbell and kettlebell, or at home with a sandbag, a cylinder block or buckets.Performance Pyramid


The value of mastering these three “lower-body” moves lies in their full-body functionality.

  1. Increase core stability. Since the rib cage (a.k.a. the torso) is not connected directly to your pelvis, the only skeletal part between the two is the lumbar spine. And what supports the lumbar spine? The core musculature of abs, glutes and all the complexity therein.
  2. Increase mobility in the ankles and hips. These are the two main lower-body “mobile” segments that are crucial in your game.
  3. Improve posture. Forcing the body to create good posture and then managing it by placing it under load creates the environment for strengthening.


  • Do all exercises carefully, slowly and precisely.
  • Draw belly button to spine and hold during movement. This “cinches” the core and stabilizes the spine.
  • Keep your chest up with good posture by always working the crown of your head toward the ceiling. This efficiently distributes weight through the entire body.
  • Make sure to align the middle of your kneecap over your index toe (the one next to the big toe).
  • Move slowly and deliberately—without cheating or struggling!

Sandbag Squats/Dumbbell or Kettlebell Squats

1-3 Sets/ 8-12 Reps

Buy a sandbag or a strong duffel bag. Fill with appropriate amount of sand to create the desired weight. Please start light and add sand as you get stronger! The great thing about sandbag training is you can continue to add weight as you get stronger, and it doesn’t cost a whole lot to do so!Dee Tidwell demonstrates sandbag squats

  • Lift the sandbag, draw navel to your spine and keep your chest and head up.
  • Keeping 60 percent of your weight on your heels, hold the sandbag with both arms.
  • With the bottom of your arms (triceps) parallel to the floor through the entire range, squat to just above parallel and then return to the start position.
  • Make sure not to let your knees dive inward, keep the middle of your kneecaps over your second (index) toes.

Cylinder Block or Kettlebell/Dumbbell Thrusts

1-3 Sets/ 8-12 Reps

You can either use a cylinder block or a kettlebell/dumbbell to perform this exercise.Dee Tidwell demonstrates dumbbell thrusts

  • Start with your legs a little wider than the shoulders and hold the object in front of your face.
  • Again, draw your navel to your spine and hold, chest is up, and the weight is 60/40% in your heels.
  • Begin by doing a mini-squat.
  • As you start to stand up, use your hips and glutes to do the work—NOT your lower back.
  • Finish the move by pushing the object toward the ceiling.
  • Once you start your reps, use momentum to help you with the push above your shoulders.

Two Bucket or dumbbell/kettlebell Romanian deadlifts and lunges

1-3 Sets/ 8-12 Reps

Either use dumbbells or fill two buckets with something to the appropriate weight you’d like to duplicate. Do these back-to-back to increase the difficulty and challenge, then take a rest!

DEADLIFTSDee Tidwell demonstrates deadlifts with waterbuckets

  • Stand with feet a little less than shoulder-width apart to accommodate for whichever objects you are using.
  • Align your spine straight and tighten your abs.
  • Grab the bucket handles and stand straight up keeping tension in the upper back and shoulders, then return to floor and repeat.

LUNGESDee Tidwell demonstrates lunges with kettlebells

  • Create a straight spine and active core and upper back and maintain this starting position throughout the move.
  • Grab objects and perform a lunge from a stationary position, moving straight up and
  • down on the same leg forward, then switch the lead leg (i.e. do right-leg forward lunge for 8 reps, then switch and do the left-leg forward for 8 reps).

Dee Tidwell owns Colorado Golf Fitness Club in the Denver Tech Center and has thrice been named a Golf Digest Top 50 Golf Fitness Instructor. He is a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) professional, ELDOA Trainer and has coached two PGA TOUR winners and countless amateur, high school and college golfers.; 303-883-0435.

This article can also be found in the May Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via

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