Bowhunter’s Workout – Part I: Archery Muscles

July 24, 2015 — 5 Comments
Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

When you start getting ready for your bow hunt, what muscles do you train? If you do actually train, you probably focus on your upper back and shoulders. That would make the most sense since those are the primary muscles that are clearly involved in drawing your bow. However, it may come as a surprise to you that your entire body is involved in drawing your bow. To only focus on one small area of your body is selling yourself short in your preparation. If you only train your back and shoulders and neglect the rest of your body, your training efforts will not be as effective as they could be. In this article, we will discuss all of the different muscle groups involved in the process of drawing and shooting. Part II will detail a workout plan that you can implement to fully prepare your body for that critical moment.

The Obvious

Let’s look at the obvious muscle groups involved in drawing and shooting a bow:

Back muscles


The trapezius and latssimus dorsi muscles are heavily involved in drawing and holding the draw weight of your bow. It only takes drawing your bow once to understand this fact very well. If these muscles aren’t strong enough, you might as well put the bow down until they get stronger.


Your shoulders are involved in drawing a bow just as much as your back; however, your rear deltoid is primarily involved In drawing your bow while your anterior and lateral deltoids (side and front muscles of your shoulder) are primarily involved in holding the weight of your bow with your support arm. Since your rear deltoid muscle is directly involved in drawing your bow, focusing on that muscle with help build strength. Focusing on your front and side deltoids with isometric training will help you to be able to hold at full-draw.

Photo Credit: athlete.lo

Photo Credit: athlete.lo

When it comes to holding weight with your upper body, your forearms are always directly involved. While you shouldn’t have a tight grip on your bow with your support hand, your forearms are still involved in keeping your bow steady and in place.

The Less Obvious, But Equally Important

While it is clear to even the most beginner of archers that the aforementioned muscles (back, shoulders, and forearms) are involved in drawing a bow, your upper arms, legs, and abs are also heavily involved in drawing a bow.

Posterior Chain

Posterior Chain

In a previous article, we discussed the posterior chain and the muscles involved. As a means of review, the posterior chain is the system of muscles that run along your lumbar spine and the backs of your legs (pictured above). Your stability is crucial to a quality shot and your posterior chain is central to your body’s stability.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Your support arm is just as important in the draw process as your draw arm. When your support arm begins to fatigue, your bow shakes, the pin moves, your grip tightens, and your arrow misses the mark. The tricep muscle of your support arm is central to the stability of your bow.

photo credit:

photo credit:

Think of your body position when shooting a bow: shoulders squared with your hips, support arm extended, draw arm back. This is a position that causes your body to have to stabilize from top to bottom; this involves your core muscles. Your abdominals and obliques make up your core muscles. Your core is central (no pun intended) to the individual muscles working together. If your core is weak, everything else will fall apart.

These are the muscles that are involved in drawing a bow… Clearly, training will involve quite a bit more than just doing some pull-ups. In Part II, you will get a workout routine for properly training the underlying muscles involved in shooting a bow.

5 responses to Bowhunter’s Workout – Part I: Archery Muscles


    This is fantastic! It seems that this topic is getting a lot more popular lately. Not to say that bowhunters of previous generations didn’t talk about hunting fitness, but it seems to be happening more these days. It’s great to see a whole blog focused on this.



      Paul, Thanks for the comment! I noticed that there was very little info on getting in shape for hunting while at the same time being out of shape was one of the largest contributors to going home empty handed. This site is intended to be a resource so I am glad to see that it is helpful!

      Liked by 1 person


        Yes I agree. I’ve had some people tell me they don’t actually see why they would need to workout for hunting, but then when we get chatting about it, they do realize how physically demanding it can be. I have an article coming out in a brand new magazine here in Ontario about this: why we need to prepare ourselves physically for hunting, and some ideas of specific exercises people can do. These eastern forests are a lot of whitetail hunting, so very different from hiking up and down mountains, but a lot of it still applies!

        Liked by 1 person


    Very detailed discussion, thanks for not having a bunch of fluff. When’s part 2 coming out?


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