Archery Exercises and Shooting – Finding A Training Balance
If you’re serious about your training, it’s extremely important to balance both exercises and shooting to progress your archery in the best way. What this looks like depends on your goals. It also depends on your previous training experience, both in the gym and within archery.
In the video below, I answer a few questions from OAA followers. The training balance section starts at 02:56. You can watch the full video below, and there’s also a written summary if you scroll down past the video.
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As I’ve said before, a good general base of strength and conditioning is hugely beneficial for archery. However, it’s very important to start slow to prevent injury. What’s more, exercises and gym work are about more than just strength; they help develop coordination and motor control. This is another reason why even simple exercises can have huge benefits.
Simple but essential skills such as scapula control, shoulder stability and body posture can be accelerated by gym work.
There are great exercises that I’ve put on this site (you can find them in the Recurve Archery Exercises section) which can really help build up a solid foundation. It’s always recommended to start slow and begin with basic things such as fundamental core exercises (front plank, side plank…etc) before moving on to free-weights or large compound exercises. This is especially true for younger archers, or if you don’t have any exercise experience.
These core exercises are extremely important, and for a simple reason; keeping a stable body and posture through the whole recurve shot is essential. As I said, it’s not just about strength, it’s about co-ordination and being able to put your body in the correct position.
Also, don’t neglect your shoulders! Shoulder prehab exercises will help you maintain healthy movement and patterning in the shoulder muscles. Trust me, you want to make these a priority BEFORE you start experiencing any shoulder issues. Again, you can find great shoulder prehab exercises in the Recurve Archery Exercises section.
When it comes to balancing these workouts with your training, start simple. Perhaps do a core circuit 2 or 3 times per week, and a shoulder prehab session 2 or 3 times per week. As you develop you can increase the frequency and difficulty.
Finally, you can also watch a video I made highlighting some Great Stretches For Archery.
More advanced exercises are also great for archery, as long as you balance them properly with your shooting.
I won’t go into which exercises to do, or how to create your gym workouts here. I’ll save that for another post. I’ll assume you’ve got a basic core session, shoulder prehab session, and weights-based session but don’t know how to schedule them in your week.
It comes down partly to experimentation, but there are some guidelines I would recommend trying.
Try and prioritise your days, with some having a physical priority and some having a shooting priority. This doesn’t mean you can’t shoot on some days though, it just means the training will be different.
For example, day 1 could be more shooting focussed where you shoot a higher number of arrows. You can also do higher intensity shooting work on this day. More arrows per end, more scoring drills, perhaps some bow training too. This makes your overall shooting intensity much higher on this day, so obviously it might not be wise to do a heavy upper-body weights session on top of this. In this example a simple core circuit, maybe some shoulder prehab exercises and some stretching would bring a good balance to the day.
Then, day 2 could be more gym focussed as you might need some recovery from the high-intensity shooting and bow training. This day might consist of fewer arrows per end. You might do more close range blank bale instead of target scoring. You could also take more breaks, shoot fewer arrows overall, and make up some of the repetitions with light bow or Theraband drills. This then allows some archery specific recovery, and leaves more energy to do a heavy gym session which can often be very neurally draining.
This is a simplistic overview, but I wanted to describe the general principle here. There’s something else worth mentioning though. It goes without saying that if you’re extremely fatigued from either shooting or gym work, you might need a lower intensity day in BOTH areas to recover. In our example above, the archer has had two demanding training days, especially on the upper body. So it’s likely they might need a more recovery based day 3, in both areas.
As you can see, this is where it becomes very important to be able to listen to your body and know your response to training. There are also other tricks that can help, such as scheduling a leg-based gym session if your upper body needs rest.
I hope this was a helpful introduction to help you consider how you put together your training program – there are also some more videos on this topic on the Online Archery Academy YouTube Channel.