Muscles: Which ones do you use in archery?

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So what tendons do you use as an archer for holding the bow? A fact is that archery provides you with a full-body workout with the most involved muscles found in the upper body, legs, and trunk. Here we will focus on the archery muscles to help you hold the longbow for accurate shooting, especially if you are a hunter.

Which muscles play a role in using a bow and arrow?

There are quite a few tendons involved in the sport; however, you do not use them all daily. As archery needs considerable strength and focus, it is one of the best activities to stay fit and healthy. You need loads of power to generate the force to pull the arrow using your upper tendons and shoulders. In contrast, the tissues in your stomach area and legs provide secondary generated power. For this reason, using your hunting bow needs several muscles as follow to work together to produce the draw to make a clean shot:

  • Biceps
  • Back Tension Muscle Group (Levator Scapulae, Rhomboid, and Trapezius)
  • Deltoids
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Rotator Cuff Group (Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus, and Teres Minor)
  • Triceps

For this reason, you need to do exercises and practice your shooting from different angles and positions to help with actual shooting scenarios. Your form needs to remain the same in your shoulders and upper back with an angle made at your waist, but it takes practice.

muscle workout archery

The Upper Body Muscles

Biceps – these muscles help with bending to flexing your elbow and helps lift the arm forward. The tendons work together with the posterior deltoid to help with the drawing motion. Keeping them working in top shape helps to do a bicep curl as an archery exercise. It helps strengthen the fibers. You can use the same exercise to help with the triceps.

Back Tension Group – these tendons are essential for your archery movement and help bowhunters maintain a steady stance with their bow at full draw. The Rhomboids create pressure to work to pull your shoulder blades towards your spine. The Levator Scapulae also helps tighten the shoulder blade inwards/upwards and is found on each side and around your neck. The Trapezius muscle is made up of three sections that look like ropes. To exercise these muscle groups, you can do strength training by doing the rowing exercise. You can do this standing or seated.

Deltoids – these triangular-shaped tendons are in the (anterior deltoid) shoulder and helps with arm rotation. The tendons help with extending your drawing arm to pull the bow to a full draw. You can do lateral/backward shoulder lifts/pulls and forward shoulder elevations.

Latissimus Dorsi – the lats are your large back muscles and helps pull your arms to the side and extend backward while rotating inward. These muscles help with the bow draw and help with stability. To strengthen these tissues, you can do the lat pull-down exercises. These exercises will also improve arm strength for archery.

Other Muscle Groups

Rotator Cuff Muscles – you need to pay particular attention to this group of tendons as they get injured in archery quickly. Supraspinatus lifts the arm out and to the side and pulls the arm’s head into your shoulder socket. The best exercise is to hold your arm to your side with the thumb pointing down and lift the arm to eye level and back down. The last two tendons, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor, control your arm’s outward rotation, and you can strengthen them with shoulder outward rotation.

The Tricep muscles help your bow arm extend the shoulder and elbow during the pull phase, pushing it to full extension. Furthermore, it keeps your arm straight during the holding of the bow. You can do triceps presses with extensions for strengthening.

Preventing  bow injuries and avoiding muscles imbalance

To prevent common archery injuries, do your archery exercises correctly by stretching and follow through with the workouts mentioned. As you start with the sport, you need to increase the number of repetitions and draw weight to prevent strains. The most essential equipment for archery workouts to have at home is exercise bands and hand weights for training your muscles. Weight lifting helps strengthens the elbow and back tendons, while the resistance bands work well for the rotator cuff.


I'm Isaac Murphy and at the moment I am a student. I took up archery as a hobby about 3 years ago and built this blog to share some of the things I have learned and to help those starting out in this sport. Check out my bio here

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