Staple exercises, variations, and stability work for archery and beyond
Affiliate Disclosure: The Outdoor Phoenix Community has affiliate relationships with which it works. If you follow a link, Benoit Outdoor Media LLC may receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase. For more information, please see our Affiliate Disclosure on our policy page.
by Derek Benoit July 28th, 2021
ALWAYS consult your physician, specialist, or appropriate exercise professional before beginning ANY exercise or treatment plan. This content is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. By accessing this content, you agree to hold harmless the-outdoor-phoenix-community.com and Benoit Outdoor Media LLC for any injury, death, or damage to private property that results from performing any exercise, therapeutic exercise, or in receiving medical treatment.
What this article covers:
- My personal outdoor strength goals
- The exercises I perform to reach said goals
- Additional protective exercises
- Alternative exercises for potential plateaus
- How I work strength into my fitness routine
My current Bowlfex routine is designed to accomplish two things: Get as strong as possible while staying lean, and weave archery-specific strength into the mix. My stated goal for those new is to build up to legit mountain hunting shape. Super strong with no extra bulk, plus cardio conditioning. My goal is not to bulk up. I have no use for beach muscles. Functional strength is the goal.
I will be the first to say this: because of the pulley system, the resistance you get with a Bowflex is not simply the number on the resistance rod. You have mechanical advantage at work, reducing the functional weight you’re pulling, pushing or lifting. Having said this, the Bowflex system still does the job well. Beware that if you’re after serious weight, even the 400lb resistance models will leave you wanting. I have a 300lb model currently, but may upgrade to the former limit sometime in the future.
What’s Working Right Now
First, I do a warmup set with lighter weight follow by 4 sets of progressively heavier weight, 12-15 repetitions.
- Box squat
- Romanian dead lift
- by this point, I’m already warmed up. I do 3 progressively heavier sets. 10-12 repetitions
- Lat pull down
- Crossover upright row*
- Crossover reverse fly*
- Lateral raise
- Front raise-30 degrees from 12 O’clock position*
- Rear deltoid extension*
- Crossover victory*
- Chest Press
It should be noted that I use crossover variations for some of these exercises. It makes the movement more difficult, and I feel that I have to focus more on contraction of the shoulder blades rearward, and inward. As a matter of fact, Bowflex makes such easy just as with a cable machine in a gym.
Archery max contraction
First and foremost, this is not a “drawing” movement. This is a heavy isometric holding drill. Feel the classic “back tension” contraction between your shoulder blades. Start conservatively with resistance. You’ll be surprised how hard this one can be if you adhere to the 6-10 hold time. If you can hold longer, increase.
This is VERY archery-specific-full credit goes to Bowmar Archery for their video tutorial of this exercise. 5-7 repetitions of “full draw” position hold. Resistance should only allow 6-10 seconds of the position. Rest for a couple of minutes in between. This is MEANT to be hard.
Protecting Thy Shoulders
Last but not least is shoulder protection. Clearly, many bowhunters are “overbowed.” Ego takes over and we push ourselves to use a draw weight that is… difficult. Form sucks, and the draw process looks like a wobbly 80’s breakdance move. Sadly, I’ve been there. Consequently, damage is not done to the larger muscles of the back or shoulder (the deltoids) but to the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is involved in just about every motion your shoulders can make.
Additionally, the rotator cuff dos not strengthen at the same rate as the larger muscles. With most exercises-the larger muscles like chest, back, and deltoids take over and compensate, up to a certain point. Training rotator cuff muscles is critical for injury prevention and stability.
CAUTION: be VERY conservative with the resistance used. These are small stabilization muscles. Build up cautiously.
In addition to the crossover upright row, rear delt extention, and front/lateral raises, My shoulder protection includes 3 sets 12 repetitions:
- External rotator
- Internal rotator
- External rotator at 90 degrees
- Planks-side and standard
You got me… planks are not rotator cuff specific, but I feel strongly that they bring some extra shoulder stability to the table. Additionally, they “sync” shoulder and core stability together, which is never a bad thing.
For more information on Bowflex, and to choose the right model for your fitness needs, please visit: https://www.bowflex.com/
Planning for the Dreaded “Plateau”
At some point, most of us will hit plateaus. These are those strength limits that are difficult to breach. It’s necessary to mix things up in order to keep challenging the muscles and stimulating growth.
- Zerker squat
- Deficit deadlift
- Simulated chin-up
- Cable crossover chest press
- Decline chest press
- 3-Way shoulder raise