Human beings are competitive, and in pushing ourselves past our limits to reach new heights of performance it’s easy to get yourself hurt. Regardless of whether you’re involved in combat sports, field sports, or performance art, if you overextend yourself you could end up with repetitive strain injury, torn ligaments, and/or reduced cartilage. Some sports are more physical than others, and even ones that seem to require little physical effort on the surface can result in injury or strain over time. Archery is one of those sports, and therefore it’s important to implement bowhunting exercises to stay limber and avoid potential strain on your muscle groups. This being said, let’s have a look at what bowhunting exercises are important and which muscle groups you should exercise to ensure you’re in tip-top shape.
Which Muscles Are Used for Archery?
Before we get into some good exercises for bowhunting, you should know which muscle groups are used to operate a bow. It might not seem like much, but over time the amount of effort used to operate your bow compounds, both building and straining those muscle groups over time. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft, can you imagine how much strain your body would take over that time period?
Let’s have a look at which muscle groups you’ll be using on your archery journey and which ones bowhunting exercises will stimulate the most.
Your shoulders are what connect your arms to your body and the muscles associated with them are what provide movement to the entire arm, as a result, these can be strained severely over time if they aren’t taken care of. When doing exercises for bowhunting, you should ensure that you exercise both of these muscle groups known as your interior and exterior deltoids. Not only will the exercise prevent injury, but it will also improve your strength.
The pectorals are also known as your chest muscles. These are what connect your shoulders and arms to your abdominal muscles, allowing for your range of movement and coordination between your arms and your core. These will be expanding and contracting when taking up your archery stance, so it’s best to ensure they’re in good working order.
Otherwise, you could end up with aches and pains that could be easily avoided.
Your back is just as (if not more) important as your chest as a functional muscle when it comes to archery. Just like when you apply tension to your bowstring and limbs, your back will flex and transfer power from your legs and core to the rest of your body. The muscles in your back used when firing a bow are your Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, and teres. These muscles can be hurt pretty easily so it’s best to be sure they’re ready for action at all times.
Your arms are what most people think of when discussing archery muscles. They are important, but they’re pretty useless without the rest of the muscles we’ve mentioned. The muscles in your arms that you’ll be using for archery are brachialis, triceps, biceps, and brachioradialis for bow drawing and holding the bow once it’s at your desired draw length.
There are dozens of bowhunter workout routines for your arms, and they can all help with your archery ability in one way or another.
Which Exercises Are Best for Bowhunting?
There are near endless bowhunter workout routines for you to choose from to keep your body in top archery form. However, some of these routines require loads of equipment and space, that’s why we’ve created a short list of the simplest, most effective archery exercises you can do on your own, and most of them in the privacy and comfort of your own home!
This being said, let’s have a look at a few of them, which muscle groups they work, and how to do them effectively.
Lateral Dumbbell Raises
Lateral raises are a great archery workout as they work with some of the most important muscle groups involved in the operation of a bow. What exactly is a lateral raise? Well, it involves the use of two weights (preferably dumbbells) being held in bow hands while standing or sitting.
The weights are then raised with your arms outstretched parallel to your sides until they are parallel to your shoulders.
This motion can be repeated for your desired number of reps or until failure depending on your level of fitness and the amount of time you have allotted for your routine. This motion does a great job of exercising your triceps, forearms, and shoulders which should ensure that you are in decent shape for hunting season.
If you’re looking for great weight workouts for bowhunting, lateral dumbbell raises are a great place to start.
Dumbbell Shoulder Shrugs
Dumbbells are simultaneously the simplest and most versatile tool for a good workout, Dumbbell shoulder shrugs are an easy workout, and exercise an important muscle group associated with archery simply by having you raise and lower your shoulders while holding the dumbbells in your hands while parallel to your body.
What’s an easier way for you to work out all those important muscles than simply by shrugging your shoulders up and down a couple of times? The muscle group that receives the most benefits from this workout is the trapezius, which occupies part of your neck, upper back, and triceps, all of which will make drawing and firing your bow easier.
Dumbbell shoulder raises are great weight workouts for bowhunters.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
The dumbbell row is another simple but effective workout that targets multiple muscle groups and is loads of fun too. You will need an elevated surface for this workout at around knee level, so the edge of a bed or a backless chair will do in a pinch. Place your knee on the bench and rest your calf and foot at a 90-degree angle to your body.
Next, place your corresponding hand down on the surface of the bench/surface so you appear to be kneeling with half of your body. You should be looking at a 110-degree angle if you’re interested in perfection, but regardless of this, you should be able to lean over and touch the floor with your free hand once you’re in position. The movement for this exercise involves picking up your dumbbell with your free hand, pulling it up toward the side of your body (or chest), and then back down again.
This movement is repeated for your desired amount of reps, but we wouldn’t recommend doing it to failure could result in you dropping your dumbbell could result in damage to your foot and/or flooring.
Bench dips are a quick and easy way to get your upper body in shape for archery season. All that you need is an elevated surface with an edge you’re basically good to go. What is a bench dip you ask? With your back facing the elevated surface, place your hand on the edge and lower yourself into a sitting position. Next, extend your legs so that they’re at a 40-degree angle and push yourself up until your arms are parallel to the edge of the surface.
This can be repeated as many times as you see fit, but if you’re relatively fit and are capable of lifting your own body weight, around 20 reps per set should be effective. What muscle groups does this exercise work on?
Bench dips stimulate the shoulder, pectoral muscles, and triceps throughout the dip and rise process.
Bent Lateral Raises
As far as weight exercises for bow hunters go, this is by far one of the most challenging. Since we have already covered what a lateral raise is, you can think of this as an added degree of intensity to the aforementioned. Instead of targeting your core, forearms, and back, this workout is designed to target your shoulders and back too. Bent lateral raises are performed much the same way a traditional lateral raise is with the only difference being that your abdomen will be bent over at a 45-degree angle.
Push-ups are one of the most fundamental parts of any regular exercise routine, regardless of whether you practice archery or not. If you’re not too keen on the aforementioned weight exercises for bowhunters, you should consider push-ups as a great alternative to these.
Push-ups work well because they are focused entirely on stimulating your core and upper body.
While wide-armed push-ups exercise your shoulder, pectorals, biceps, and triceps, close-arm push-ups are capable of stimulating your forearms and back as well. There are loads of push-up variations to choose from and trying out each one will give you an idea of your range of motion and indicate which muscle groups you should focus on.
Whether you’ve been working out consistently your entire life or you’re entirely new to the fitness scene, planks are almost always challenging. A plank can be characterized by you laying down facing the floor with your arms outstretched, assuming the push-up position, and then lowering each arm so that you’re resting on your forearms and elbows.
While in this position, your body should be kept as straight as possible while maintaining this position for an allotted amount of time. How much time, you ask? Well, we recommend starting off with one minute and if that’s working out for you, feel free to increase the interval to suit your comfort level. This exercise stimulates your core, back, shoulders, pectorals, biceps, and triceps.
Overhead Triceps Extension
If you’re not in the mood for bench dips, we would highly recommend trying out an overhead triceps extension instead. This workout, as the name suggests, focuses on the triceps which are critical muscles involved in drawing your bowstring. This exercise can be done with a kettlebell or dumbbell depending on what you have available, and which one is easier for you to grip.
How do you do this exercise? Well, start by picking up your weight of choice with both hands at one end, and stand up straight. While still holding the weight, raise it up over your head and then lower it over the back of your head until you feel it line up with your neck and upper back. Raise the weight over your head again and repeat this process for your desired amount of reps.
Now that you know which muscles are important for the practice of archery and which exercises are a good choice for maintaining them, it’s time for you to get out there and put your newfound knowledge to the test. Remember to stretch before lifting any weight and to work within your physical limitations to avoid injury.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You also Train at Home?
Yes, that’s possible, for example with a 4-day workout routine. Doing workouts at home will save you time and let you maximize the time you have.
Do You Need to Be Fit to Be an Archer?
Contrary to what those who have never fired a bow before might believe, archery requires an impressive amount of physical strength and endurance to become proficient. It requires hand and eye coordination, good eyesight, strength, fitness, balance, and a fair amount of flexibility.
Is Archery an Expensive Hobby?
The initial purchases for archery can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are loads of reasonably priced beginner archery sets that are sold with arrows, wrist guards, release mechanisms, and even little targets.
What Do Archers Wear on Their Chest?
If you’ve watched Olympic archery competitions, you may have seen archers wearing a sort of half vest. These are known as chest guards and can be found on both male and female archers to protect and insulate the pectoral muscles. They also help keep any loose-fitting clothing from fluttering about while you line up your shot and engage your target.
Which Country Is the Best at Archery?
The United States of America is considered to be the best archery nation on the planet. The US has dominated the archery scene since 2008 and has received many awards and commendations from the World Archery Organization due to its impressive and consistent performance in the sport. This ranking is determined by the performance of athletes that compete around the world in international archery competitions.