Strengthen Your Archery Muscles With These 10 Exercises

Archer aiming at his target at a shooting range outside.
Archery works your shoulders, back, arms, forearms, core and hips. Train for it with these exercises.
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Hitting a bullseye involves a lot of skill — and muscles.

Archery requires full-body strength, and works the deltoids, latissimus dorsi, traps, biceps, triceps, forearms, core and hip muscles, according to USA Archery.

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Here's everything you need to know about the muscles used in archery and how to build them for better performance.

1. Shoulders

Shoulder stability is an important factor when training both your bow and draw hand. Your ability to hold your arm and the bow still is fundamental to your aim.

Your deltoids and rotator cuff muscles are in charge of stabilizing your upper arm bone, the humerus, in your shoulder socket (aka the glenohumeral joint). Wrapping around your shoulder blade, your rotator cuffs include the subscapularis infraspinatus, teres minor and supraspinatus, per a January 2021 ​StatPearls​ article.

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The best exercises for these archery muscles include scaptions and wall slides.

Scaption

  1. Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your sides, palms facing in.
  2. Brace your core and lift the dumbbells in front of your body at about a 45-degree angle.
  3. Raise the weights as far as comfortable or until they're at shoulder height.
  4. Pause, then lower the weights back down with control.

Wall Slide

  1. Stand with your back flat against a wall and sink down into a slight squat.
  2. Place your arms and elbows against the wall in a goalpost position, bending your elbows at a 90-degree angle. The back of your hands should touch the wall.
  3. Keeping your back against the wall and not arching through your lower back, slide your hands up as far as you can overhead.t
  4. Pause, then return to the starting position.

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2. Back and Biceps

The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in your back and is one of the main archery muscles involved in drawing. Using your traps, especially your lower traps, may significantly improve performance, according to the December 2018 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy. Your rhomboids, other upper-back muscles and biceps also help.

Spending time on a rowing machine can help you build endurance through your lats, traps and biceps. Meanwhile, you can load the lat pulldown and lat pullover exercises a bit heavier to train your maximal strength.

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Try adding isometric pauses to your back and biceps exercises. Your need to be able hold your arrow at full draw.

Lat Pulldown

  1. Sit at a lat pulldown machine. Place your feet flat on the floor and grab the attached bar with your hands just farther than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away from you. Brace your core.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together as tight as possible then pull your elbows to your sides to lower the bar to your collarbones.
  3. Pause, then slowly extend your arms back to the starting position.

Lat Pullover

  1. Lie face-up on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a short barbell, EZ bar or dumbbell with both hands straight up over your chest.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, lower the weight back behind you as far as comfortable and without arching your lower back.
  3. Pause, then raise the weight back to start, still keeping your arms straight.

3. Triceps

It is important to train the muscles responsible for the majority of the movements a sport requires. However, it is also important to train the antagonistic muscles for each movement, according to the American Council on Exercise. For example, drawing the bow involves the biceps. To prevent overuse injuries, you should also train the triceps.

Bonus: your triceps are what keeps your front arm and elbow straight at full draw. So when doing exercises like triceps kickbacks, add a short hold to each extension.

Triceps Kickbacks

  1. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge your hips back, keeping a straight spine. Your upper body should be at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  2. Bring your arms to your sides, pretending your elbows are glued to your body. This is the starting position.
  3. Extend your arms straight back with control and squeeze your triceps at the top.
  4. Bend your elbows and slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.

4. Wrists and Forearms

Don't forget your wrist stability and grip strength. All of the forearm muscles work together to draw a bow.

The muscles of the anterior (front) forearm bend fingers and wrist while the muscles of the posterior (back) forearm straighten the wrist and fingers. Both are needed to best draw and stabilize a bow. Working both sides of the wrist and forearm can help you avoid imbalances and injury, per ACE.

To increase wrist strength and build your forearm muscles, try the wrist curl and reverse wrist curl.

Wrist Curl

  1. Sit on a bench or chair and hold a light dumbbell in your right arm with your right forearm resting on your right thigh, palm facing up.
  2. Allow the dumbbell to roll out of the palm down to the fingers.
  3. Raise the dumbbell back up by gripping the dumbbell and pointing the knuckles up as high as possible.
  4. Lower the dumbbell back to the starting position.

Reverse Wrist Curl

  1. Sit on a chair or bench and grip the dumbbell with an overhand grip, hand facing down toward the floor. Rest the forearm on the thigh and keep your wrist below the knee.
  2. Contract the extensors of the arm and raise the dumbbell up by pointing the knuckles up toward the ceiling.
  3. Return the knuckles toward the floor.

3. Hips and Core

Your upper body holds and draws the bow, but your hips and core are your base. You want it to be strong and stable.

A long archery session requires endurance in the muscles responsible for extension and stability in your torso and hips. These include the gluteal muscles, the transverse abdominis and obliques.

Some great exercises to train them to work together include the hip thrust, Pallof press and horizontal wood chop.

Barbell Hip Thrust

  1. Sit on the ground with the bottom of your shoulder blades on the edge of an exercise bench, couch or box.
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you and roll a barbell up over your hips, placing a cushion, such as a pillow or rolled-up towel, underneath the bar for comfort.
  3. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
  4. Keeping your neck long and back neutral, brace your core and press into your heels to raise your hips. As you come up to a bridge, your shoulders should move onto the bench.
  5. Pause here for a moment, squeezing your glutes at the top. Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  6. Lower back down.

Pallof Press

  1. Loop a resistance band around an anchor. (If you don't have a middle-height attachment, you can get on the floor in a kneeling position with the band under your right knee.)
  2. Stand with your right side facing the anchor, far away enough so that you're pulling significantly on the band. Situate your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  3. Hold the band with both hands at your chest or abdomen (depending on the height of the band).
  4. Brace your core and lock out your glutes.
  5. Extend your arms out in front of you until your elbows are straight.
  6. Bring your hands and the band back into your chest or abdomen. Throughout the movement, use your core muscles to keep your torso from rotating.
  7. If it feels too easy, walk farther away from the anchor to increase the resistance.
  8. Complete all reps, and repeat with the other side facing the anchor.

Horizontal Wood Chop

  1. Loop a resistance band around an anchor. (If you don't have a middle-height attachment, you can get on the floor in a kneeling position with the band under your right knee.)
  2. Stand with your right side facing the anchor, far away enough so that you're pulling significantly on the band. Situate your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  3. Hold the band with both hands at your chest or abdomen (depending on the height of the band) and extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  4. Brace your core and lock out your glutes.
  5. Twist your torso to the left, pivoting onto the ball of your right foot and keeping your arms in the same position so that they simply rotate with your midsection.
  6. Slowly return to the starting position.
  7. Do all reps, then repeat on the other side.

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