Archery is a relaxing, calming sport, but one that requires incredible strength of mind and body. As you focus on your target, clear your head, and ready for the release, you activate numerous muscles throughout your body that need regular training. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned archer, incorporating archery strength training into your schedule is essential to improve your shot.
Archery training exercises vary greatly and depend on what you are capable of and which muscles you want to work.
To give you a general idea of which types of exercise you should include in your archery workout program, we have compiled a list of 9 diverse movements.
What Muscles Do You Use in Archery?
While at first glance, you may think that only your arms are working when you draw and hold the bow. However, there are about a dozen main muscles throughout the whole upper body that are working together. Some notable muscles include:
- Deltoids in the shoulders
- Latissimus, teres major, and teres minor in the back
- Biceps and triceps in the arms
- Pectorals in the chest
As you stay still and poised, your core and abdomen muscles are activated and help you maintain your position.
Therefore, some of the best exercises for archery focus on the upper body and core. There are some workouts for bowhunters that isolate specific muscles and strengthen them as well.
Tips to Getting Started
Anybody—yes, anybody!—can do archery strengthening exercises. Each of the movements we will look at can be adapted to your strength, ability, and accessibility to workout materials.
Modify the Exercises to Your Ability
If you are new to these exercises, start slow. For a modified version, you can try doing an archer exercise without weights. Just the movement will activate those muscles, and after a few reps, you will still feel a nice burn.
If you can’t do all the recommended sets, start with what you can and work up to longer sessions.
Likewise, if you want to challenge yourself, increase the weight of your dumbbells and the number of reps you do. You can also increase how many times a week you do the exercises.
Remember, you want to focus on strength training for bow hunting, so the results will not always be immediate.
Some of these archery exercises are more effective with equipment, but it is not always necessary. You don’t need expensive archery exercise equipment to do these workouts, although they are helpful.
There are some suggestions listed below on how to activate the target muscles without weights or machines.
Set Your Routine
One final thing to keep in mind is what your bowhunting workout routine should contain. While you may want to start strong with 20 reps of each exercise, make sure to gauge your physical capabilities accurately.
In general, beginners should do 1 set of 8 reps of each exercise. Over time, you can work up to the advanced level of 3 or more sets of 15 reps.
Also, start doing these exercises for bowhunting three days a week and increase it if you feel comfortable.
Strength and Conditioning Exercises
Throughout this article, we’ll focus on these core exercises for bowhunting:
- One-arm dumbbell laterals
- Dumbbell shrug
- Single-arm dumbbell row
- Bench dips
- Back raises
- Archer push-ups
- Overhead tricep extensions
- Rowing machine
One-arm Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Muscles used: deltoids.
Of all the bowhunting exercises, this one may be the most straightforward. Grab your weight (or start without) and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Put your arm that is not lifting the weight on your waist for support. Then, lift the other arm up and to the side at a ninety-degree angle.
Make sure to bring the weight back down slowly, still working those muscles.
The muscle used: trapezius.
Pick up the weights you feel comfortable with and have one in each hand resting at your sides. If you need to, start without weights and work your way up to 10 pounds or more.
The trapezius is the muscle that stretches like a diamond from your head to the center of your back. It also reaches the tips of your shoulders.
To activate it, hold the weights still and just lift your shoulders in a normal shrugging motion. Control each movement, so you are continually keeping your muscles active.
Don’t just let your shoulders fall back to a resting position, and follow the instructions in the video for the correct form.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Muscles used: latissimus, rhomboids, deltoids, biceps, pectorals.
There are a couple of different methods to do this excellent bowhunter workout. If you feel comfortable using weights, go ahead and grab them. However, they are not necessary, especially for beginners.
If you don’t want to use any support, just stretch one leg back to make a straight line from your heel to your head.
Bend the other leg and keep the knee right below your shoulder. On the side of the leg stretched back, take one weight and bend your arm back.
Your elbow should be parallel with your shoulder at the height of the movement. Gently bring your arm back straight, not letting it fall. Your other arm can rest on your bent knee.
For the version with support, use a bed, chair, table, or bench at the gym.
Rest one knee on the surface. Lean forward to place the hand on that same side on the surface as well. Stretch your other leg back slightly and keep your chest high.
Your body should form a 100-degree angle. Take a weight in the arm that is not resting on the bench and pull it back until the elbow is at shoulder-height. Gently lower it and repeat.
Muscles used: triceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectorals.
Bench dips are an effective archery workout that involves zero equipment, allowing you to do them anywhere. All you need is a table, chair, bench, or even stairs with the right height.
You should be able to sit on it and have your legs bent at a 90-degree angle comfortably.
To do this exercise correctly, grip the edge of the bench closest to you with your palms facing backward. Move your lower body off the surface to activate the arms.
For beginners, you can keep your legs bent and just bend your arms to lower your body.
The more advanced version extends the legs straight out, and you lower your body as far as you can to the floor. This video shows how to do both forms correctly.
Bent-Over Rear Lateral Raises
Muscles used: deltoid, teres minor, rhomboids, trapezius.
While this exercise for archery is more effective with weights, doing the movements without them will still use and engage the muscles.
Sit down on a bench (or chair) with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Bend over and rest your weights directly behind your feet. For the right posture, watch this short video.
Without lifting your chest, raise both arms straight out, mimicking the movement of wings.
Make sure you lift and lower your arms with control to get as much as possible out of this archer workout.
Variations on Push-ups
Muscles used: deltoid, tricep, bicep, pectoral, abdomen.
Push-ups are probably the most common archery shoulder exercises because they efficiently work so many muscles in the shoulders, upper arms, and chest.
Even though they are popular and supposedly simple, you may need to switch it up a bit to make this bowhunting workout genuinely useful.
If you are new to push-ups, stick to the regular options: with your legs stretched out behind you or on your knees. For these generic push-ups, make sure your hands are placed slightly to the outside of your shoulders and keep your body in a straight line.
Control every movement and ensure you don’t let your hips move up.
Take it up a notch with push-up variations, as shown in this helpful video. One option is a rotational push-up, which includes a twist at the top.
Open your body up to one side, pushing up on your fingers on the outer side. Go back down, and do the same on the other side.
A perfect variation for the shoulders is a crossover push-up. At the top of the push-up, stretch one arm across the other hand and bring it back before lowering down. You can do this with or without a band.
If you want to work your chest muscles more, place your hands on an exercise ball, and do the push-up. The inward force of your arms balancing on the ball will activate more muscles throughout the upper body.
Muscles used: deltoids, rhomboids, triceps, biceps, and latissimus.
Planks are famous for being an easy full-body workout. They are great exercises for bowhunting because they let you focus on the upper body while still activating your core and leg muscles, all of which are necessary for archery.
Two popular planks for bow hunting workouts are on your hands or forearms. For both of these, make sure your body is in a straight line by activating your core muscles.
Keep your hands (or elbows) below your shoulders and hold for as long as you can. You can see the details of how to do the perfect plank with this workout video.
Overhead Tricep Extensions
Muscles used: triceps.
You can do this practical exercise for archers seated or standing and with or without weights. If you opt not to use weights, this is still good for warming up and stretching the triceps.
Extend your arms straight up over your head, then slowly bend your arms until you feel the weights touch your back.
Keep your arms bent and bring them forward before pushing them up and straight again, as shown in this video.
The key is to do this slowly, strengthening the muscle with each rep.
Muscles used: deltoids, biceps, triceps, pectorals, and abdomen.
If you want exercises for bow hunting that use the whole body, the rowing machine is a fantastic option. It uses muscles from the shoulders to the calves and prepares you for an active day of shooting.
Make sure your feet are secured in the holsters and grab the handles. First, push back with your legs, then pull back with your abdomen.
The last thing that activates is the upper body with your arms bending out to your sides and your hands coming into your chest. This video will teach you how to have the perfect form.
If you don’t have a machine, you can still do the same movements at home with bands attached to a door or wall.
Bonus Exercises Just for Archers
Speaking of bands, they are a perfect way to do archery strength training exercises.
While all of the previous workouts targeted the general upper body, there are specific exercises for archery muscles.
One way to activate those muscles is to use elastic bands and create your compound bow exercises. Since the elasticity mimics the bow’s structure, it is a great bow and arrow exercise that you can do anywhere.
The bands are lightweight, and all you have to do is lift and draw them back as if they were your bow.
You can add bands or choose a tighter elasticity to make the compound bow exercise more challenging.
While bands provide great exercises for archery, they still aren’t quite the same as an actual bow and arrow. Instead of getting all your equipment out every time you want to practice, try doing bow trainer strength training for archers.
The bow trainer lets you repeatedly practice drawing and holding your bow without the hassle of excess weight. It is the perfect archery strength trainer, and it will build up your muscles in no time.
If you would like to get the same results as using weights and gym equipment but don’t have access to them, try an exercise bow.
While this simple piece of equipment looks and acts like a bow, you can use it in multiple workouts for archery. For example, it works great for the single-arm dumbbell row, standing shoulder exercises, and even bow exercises.
Build up Your Strength!
Exercises for bowhunting are for everyone, from kids to adults, from beginners to experienced archers. You don’t need equipment to improve your strength and precision, but something like a bow strength trainer is an excellent compromise if you aren’t looking to train at the gym.
Whether you are looking to start learning archery or an experienced bowhunter hoping to finetune your skills, there is a perfect bow exercise for you! Let us know what you think and comment below