Archery is not as physically demanding as some other sports, but archers can benefit from more than just regular archery tips. Being a good archer requires more than just a good eye; it also demands powerful shoulders, back, arms, and grip. This can be achieved through some simple strength training.
Archery lessons rarely cover strength training, but there are many advantages to it:
- It allows you to increase the draw weight on your bow. A heavier draw weight allows your arrows to have a flatter trajectory during flight.
- It allows you to maintain balance and keeps you steady as you aim due to the muscles being able to handle more weight.
- If you’re into bow-hunting, it allows you to go for bigger game.
- It protects your joints and tendons from possible damage.
There are many archery exercisers out there on the market that can provide a decent workout, but unfortunately, it only allows you to train one specific movement. While it’s usually a good idea to include sport specific training, it is also very important to strengthen supporting muscles, in order to avoid imbalances that can cause injury.
Considering this, one of the most important muscle groups in archery is the upper back. It plays a major role in the pulling motion, and the stabilization of the bow and bowstring. It is important to have a strong back for both archery and regular day to day activities.
There are 2 exercises that I highly recommend for strengthening the upper back: Pull-ups, and bent-over rows.
You can usually do both of these exercises at home. You can get a door-mounted pull-up bar for pull-ups, and all you need for bent-over rows is some weight (usually dumbbells, or preferably a barbell). If you do not have access to dumbbells or a barbell, do not worry, there is a perfectly good replacement for bent-over rows that you can easily do at home.
Pull-ups work a large number of muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms. To perform them, grasp a sturdy bar with a firm overhand grip (palms facing away), hands at shoulder-width, then hang from the bar with your arms straightened. From this position, pull yourself up till your chin is over the bar, and then lower yourself to the initial position.
If pull-ups prove to be too hard, you can try doing chin-ups, which involve grasping the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you). If this is still difficult, then I recommend you start doing negatives where you jump up to the bar, and then hold the top position for 3 to 5 seconds before lowering yourself down. Progress on pull-ups takes patience and time, but they will make you much stronger.
Bent-over rows work similar muscles as pull-ups. To perform them, hold a barbell with an overhand grip, bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist until it’s almost parallel to the floor, making sure your back is straight. From this initial position, while keeping your torso stationary and your back straight, lift the barbell towards your belly while keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body.
If you have a bad back, I would recommend against this exercise. Instead, you can replace it with inverted rows. To do this at home, you need some basic equipment. What you need are 2 flat level surfaces with a space in between (2 chairs for example), and some kind of strong pole (a broomstick base might work). You then lie on your back on the floor under the pole, grab it, make a big chest, and then pull yourself up till your lower chest hits the bar. If you find this difficult, you can bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Make sure your elbows are tucked in, you lead with your chest, and that you stay tight by engaging your abs.
While these exercises are perfect for archery, it is recommended you perform whole body workouts to avoid muscle imbalances. In the meantime, you can include strict push-ups and perhaps overhead presses in your workouts to balance things out.
To avoid muscle imbalance, it is a good idea to counter the pulling motion of these exercises with some pushing exercises. Strict push-ups are great for this, and so are overhead presses.
In conclusion, there are many advantages to strength training when it comes to archery. The combination of strength training and previous archery tips will help improve your archery technique and form with the goal of improving your accuracy and skills.
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