The historic and Olympic sport of archery depends on the archer being able to comfortably pull back the bowstring using muscle power. An archer uses several main muscle groups in the body, including: the triceps, found on the anterior side of your upper arm, the deltoid muscles in your shoulders and the latissimus dorsi (common referred to as lats) muscles located in your lower back. Bowhunters should keep their archery muscles healthy and strong all year long and this does not require stopping by Cabela’s to pick up another piece of necessary gear. So whether you are recovering from an injury that prevented you from shooting or are looking to increase your draw weight or simply trying to keep in shooting shape during the off season, include these five simple exercises in your weekly workout.
A rowing machine is a fantastic full body workout and works all the target muscles an archer uses. Ensure you reach as far forward a possible before beginning your row stroke and pull the handle right into and up against your abdomen when completing. Using these start and end points will guarantee your entire muscle set surrounding your back/shoulders are engaged. In addition, it’s great cardio for extreme bowhunters going on mountain hunts.
Straight Arm Raises
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart holding a 5 to 10 lbs weight in each hand. Do three sets of 10-15 repetitions each of lifting your locked straight arm to eye level and slowly back down to resting position. Lift one arm at a time, alternating from arm to arm. First raise to the front then do another three sets to the side. You should feel the burn in the top or your shoulders.
Stand straight up with your feet together. Extend your arms straight above your head while using both hands to hold a 10 lbs weight. Keep your lower arms beside your head (close to your ears) and slowly resist the weight as you bend your elbow and lower your forearms behind your head until you feel your triceps stretch. Raise your forearms back up above your head. Do three sets of 10-15 repetitions.
The standard push up is simple, does not require equipment and is very effective for strengthening stabilizing muscles which surround the rotator cuff joints. Rotator cuffs injuries can end a bowhunters season instantly. The area of the body around the shoulders and back is strengthened after each push up set. Start by doing as many as possible each and every day and work up to a goal. Document how your shooting scores improve.
If you do the above four exercises without supplying your body with protein within a half hour, you are doing more damage than good. When you exercise and weight train (either with your own body weight or a dumbbell) you are slightly tearing your muscles cells. It is the body’s ability to repair these cells and build upon them that creates stronger muscles. Your body needs protein to rebuild cells so do not ignore this step.
Shoot your bow as often as possible throughout the year. It is not hard for find something to shoot at, whether it be small game, paper targets or 3D foam animals.