Archery Exercises: Improve Your Shoulder Strength In 2021

| Last Updated May 16, 2021

You can do many exercises at home or at a gym to strengthen your upper body for archery.

These activities often require some gear, such as dumbbells, but certain ones, such as push-ups, require no equipment at all.

We'll cover why each exercise is good for your archery strength and the benefits of each one.

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Muscles You Use in Archery

You use almost your entire upper body while practicing archery. Your shoulders and back see most of the use. You'll often use your deltoids and trapezius as these are some of the main muscles in your shoulder. These muscles are responsible for holding your bow steady as you draw back the string.

The drawing motion in archery engages your latissimus dorsi, aiding the deltoids. On your bow arm, these muscles work to stabilize your gear using the middle deltoid. Additionally, infraspinatus and teres minor aid your arm as it rotates and draws back the bowstring

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Archery Exercises

These are the nine archery exercises that will help you strengthen your shoulders before you draw back the bow again.


Best For

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Strengthening your back and shoulders, correcting imbalances, and aiding a weak back.

One-Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raises

Building your deltoids and strengthening your shoulder muscles. It also improves bow stability.

Dumbbell Shrug

Building bigger and stronger trapezius muscles, helping steady your arm as you fire your bow. Additionally, the exercise is ideal for relieving neck pain.

Bench Dips

Strengthening muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and arms. Quickly shaping your upper body.


You are strengthening your whole body and improving flexibility. Ideal for quick workouts.


We are building upper body strength such as pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and abdominals quickly.

Rowing Machine

Increasing archery stamina, building your abdominals, pectorals, triceps, biceps, and deltoids.

Romanian Deadlift

Improving your archery stance’s stability and strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, trapezius, core, lower back, and forearms.

Resistance Band Exercises

Strengthening your whole body depending on the exercise. Improves archery stability, stamina, and draw strength.

Archery Exercises

The nine exercises that we explain are great ways to build upper body strength for archery. While many of them require equipment such as dumbbells, you can perform some options without any gear.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

A one-arm dumbbell row is a simple exercise that affects six muscle groups in your upper body. You'll need a single dumbbell and a bench to angle yourself upon.

Position yourself with one hand and one knee on the bench. Stretch out the non-resting leg away from your body while keeping your foot on the ground. You can do the exercise to a lesser extent while standing straight up.

Once your weight is in your hand and you're ready to start, perform a rowing motion that pushes and pulls the dumbbell from your core. During the activity, you shouldn't lean or twist as this dramatically decreases the results you'll see. Ideally, these should be done in sets of 12 before switching sides.


  • Easy to do as it requires only one dumbbell and a bench or platform to lean onto.
  • Scales with your strength through the use of heavier weights. 
  • It strengthens your back and helps remove discomfort from everyday tasks. 


  • Extended sessions will cause your knees to hurt from the pressure of leaning on them. 

  • Arching your back or leaning to the side is easy to do and immediately lessens the exercise's effectiveness.

  • A lack of balance may cause you to fall, resulting in minor injuries.

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Best For

The one-arm dumbbell row is best for training and strengthening your back and shoulders. However, as these are done one side at a time, it's beneficial for correcting muscle imbalances. These imbalances often occur as you only draw the bow with one arm, exercising that side more than the other.

The one-arm dumbbell row is also suited for anyone suffering from a weaker back and frequent discomfort. The exercise focuses on your back and shoulders, strengthening your support.

One-Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raises

The one-arm dumbbell lateral raise is another easy to perform exercise that requires only a single dumbbell. The crucial part of this activity that works on your deltoids is your stance and posture. Practicing the exercise increases your ability to hold and support the bow while drawing back the string.

As you lift the weight, keep your free hand on your hip. Lift the weight slowly and with a straight arm until you've reached the level of your head. Once lifted, return your arm to your side.

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  • Increases shoulder mobility through stretching.

  • You can use the exercise to strengthen your left or right side muscles independently.

  • Maintains the health and stability of your shoulder joint.


  • Performing the exercise incorrectly leads to shoulder pain and can damage your joint.

  • Requires a suitable dumbbell size that won't cause you to overdo the activity.

  • Easy to mistake the posture and hurt yourself.

Best For

One-Arm Dumbbell Lateral Raises are best for building your deltoids, strengthening your shoulder muscles. If you're struggling to hold your bow steady while drawing back the string, this exercise is ideal for you. The lightweights you use will quickly help develop your upper body.

Additionally, this exercise is excellent for improving your shoulder mobility, helping improve your posture as well.

Dumbbell Shrug

The Dumbbell Shrug works four primary muscle groups in your shoulders and back. The activity also trains secondary muscles in your forearms and abdominal core. 

Performing the activity is simple as all you need is two dumbbells of equal weight. With your arms at your side, your contract and bring your shoulders up and slightly back. You are squeezing your muscles hard before relaxing and slowly allowing your arms to fall back to their previous position.

Repeating this until you finish your set will build your shoulder muscles.


  • Works on building your back and shoulders, as well as helping with rounded shoulders.

  • Improves posture and reduces the effect of sitting with your shoulders rounded.

  • This exercise affects many primary muscle groups in your back.

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  • Very easy to perform incorrectly and harm yourself. 

  • Requires two dumbbells at a lightweight, which will scale as your strength increases. The gear will require more investment when you purchase larger weights. 

  • You can quickly overwork and harm yourself.

Best For

Dumbbell shrugs are best suited for building bigger and stronger trapezius muscles. These muscles are responsible for holding your bow steady as you take a shot. By strengthening your shoulders and upper arms, you'll aim steadier and for longer before your arm tires.

Additionally, the exercise is great if you suffer from neck pain. The exercise improves everyday movements such as stretching and lifting. This exercise will also help strengthen your shoulders for other activities such as sitting.

Bench Dips

Bench dips are a simple but intense exercise that uses your body weight to strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back. 

The exercise requires you to sit at a bench with your arms at your side on the seating. Push against the platform and lower yourself as far as possible before returning to bench height. However, you need to keep your legs straight during this and not rely on them for support.

For the best effect, your body should get lowered at a 90-degree angle. Three sets of 10 reps is a great goal to work towards every session.


  • Uses your body weight to strengthen your shoulders, making it a high-intensity exercise.

  • Requires almost no equipment except a bench, letting you perform the workout virtually anywhere.

  • High intensity requires shorter training periods, allowing you to work out in even the shortest of free time.

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  • Requires a large amount of upper body strength to perform for significant periods. 

  • Easy to strain muscles if done wrong, especially when lifting yourself.

  • Going too low places strain on your shoulders, lessening the exercise you can do until the pain is relieved.

Best For

Bench dips are best done when you're trying to build up your chest, triceps, and shoulders, as well as your arms. Additionally, the activity can be added into any routine, including regular jogging, if you pass any benches on your route.

Bench dips are a great way to quickly shape up your upper body because it relies on your own weight. If you need to quickly build strength in your shoulders, this is a great exercise to do regularly. 


Planks provide one of the best workouts for your body as it is a bodyweight exercise. The activity uses your weight to build your shoulders, back, abs and even improve your flexibility. This versatility is great for archery as it trains your back and shoulders, helping improve your stance.

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The plank is similar to performing a push-up, where you'll almost lay on the ground on your toes.

However, instead of spreading your arms out, you lay on them and hold your body steadily in one place. It's essential to ensure your back isn't arched when you do this exercise. 


  • Requires no equipment to exercise, letting you workout anywhere.

  • Many benefits aside from muscle strengthening such as improving your flexibility and relieving back pain.

  • Works out a large portion of your body including the shoulder, back, and abs.


  • It can be done without a mat to rest on but will quickly begin to hurt your elbows.

  • Requires conscious effort to keep your back straight.

  • Weak core muscles will result in the inability to perform this exercise for more extended periods.

Best For

Planks are ideal for anyone doing other archery exercises as it's easy to forget about the other muscles in your body, such as your abs. The workout is commonly used in various exercises such as yoga due to its ability to enhance flexibility. 

Additionally, the plank exercise is ideal for anyone looking to perform a quick workout regardless of location. It is easily fitted into any workout routine, and you can extend the duration as your strength increases. 


Push-ups are a common exercise that uses your body weight to build upper body strength. The exercise focuses on your triceps, pectoral muscles, and muscle groups in your back and shoulders. These muscle groups are essential for an archer to develop.

For push-ups, form is a massive part of whether you exercise correctly or not. Perfecting your form is a better aim than attempting to complete many reps. If you have low upper body strength, you can use knee push-ups to make it easier.

Additionally, for a more significant challenge, you can attempt one arm or jumping push-ups. These variations place more strain on your muscles and will build their strength more rapidly.

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  • It can perform the exercise without any equipment as you only need your body, allowing you to train anywhere.

  • Extremely easy to do and features many variations that increase the difficulty or make it easier if you don't have upper body strength.

  • It uses body weight, making it a challenging and rewarding exercise that quickly builds muscle.


  • Incorrectly performing push-ups will lessen their effectiveness considerably, at a calculated rate of becoming three times less effective.

  • Keeping a straight back requires conscious effort and can impact your workout.

  • Push-up variations can be harmful if you lack balance, specifically the one-handed variations and clapping alternatives.

Best For

Push-ups are best suited for building upper body strength in general as it uses your body weight. You can quickly develop upper body strength with proper posture as it works your pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and abdominals. 

Push-ups are a strenuous exercise and require your body to constantly adapt and develop the strength to push yourself off the ground constantly. The activity also helps develop a small balance as you push yourself up, especially with a one-armed push-up. Keeping your body straight and balancing further helps develop your muscles.

Rowing Machine

This exercise uses muscle from your shoulders and arms to your legs. The activity helps you perform at your best when you start your archery session. The exercise increases your stamina for shooting your bow without resting. The machine is only found in a gym, making it one of the least accessible options on the list. 

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To use the machine, simply sit on its seat and place your feet in the pads. Grabbing the handles at the front of the machine, begin by pushing off with your legs. Once fully extended, you'll need to pull yourself back upright using the handles. Once you're ready, repeat this process with an ideal rate of 32 to 36 strokes per minute.


  • It builds up your bow firing stamina, allowing you to shoot for longer sessions.

  • Exercises a large portion of your body from shoulders to your calves.

  • Great to do before shooting as a warm-up for a day of archery, preparing many of the muscles you'll use as you draw and fire your bow.


  • Requires specialized equipment you'll only find in a gym, requiring you to own the machine or purchase a gym membership.

  • Established physical strength is required to properly perform the exercise as you need to pull your bodyweight back up from laying down.

  • The large machine makes it hard to do the exercise anywhere except at a gym or your home.

Best For

The rowing machine is ideal for anyone looking to shoot frequently and for long sessions at a time. The exercise boosts your archery stamina, making it a great practice if you hunt with a bow or compete in competitions. The rowing machine will build your abdominals, biceps, triceps, pectorals, and deltoids.

If you have a gym membership, this exercise is one of the best ways to make use of the pass. It provides a full-body workout that's a great addition to any routine. 

Romanian Deadlift

A staple exercise for many athletes and archers, the Romanian deadlift helps you develop stronger hamstrings, glutes, lower back muscles, and shoulders.

The deadlift is a more straightforward exercise than raising weights above your head, as you do not need to bend your arms significantly. You'll need a barbell with a suitable amount of weight on it to perform the exercise.

To do the exercise, stand upright and keep a slight bend in your elbows as you lift the barbell to your hips. Ensure your posture is correct with your shoulders back.

Bend your knees slightly as you lower the barbell to the floor. Return to your starting position once you've released the weight.

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  • Improves your stability while practicing archery, ensuring you keep the correct posture as you fire your bow.

  • The exercise is easy to scale to your strength level as you adjust the weights on the barbell.

  • Exercises your hamstrings, lower back, glutes, trapezius, core, and forearms for a workout spread across your body.


  • Requires barbells and the accompanying weights for them, which may need you to have a gym membership or purchase the items yourself.

  • Lifting a weight that's too heavy places you at risk of injuries such as back strain or even a hernia.

  • Without grip strength, it's possible to drop the weight mid-way through the set.

Best For

The Romanian deadlift is best for improving the stability of your archery stance. The exercise works a large grouping of muscles as you perform it. You'll build up strength in your hamstrings, glutes, trapezius, lower back, core, and forearms.

Overall, this exercise is best done for beginner archers who need stability in their posture and build up their back strength. The activity will improve your posture as you fire your bow and draw back the string. 

Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance band exercises are a great way to simulate archery as you exercise and allow you to train various parts of your body. You can do multiple activities, such as recreating your standard draw to exercising your deltoids or triceps. Additionally, various warm-up activities stretch your muscles before your whole workout.

One of the most straightforward exercises that improve your bow arm's stability is to stand on the band and grab it with one hand. Lift your hand to shoulder level while keeping your arm straight. Slowly raising and lowering your hand will build up muscles in your arm and shoulder, increasing your ability to hold the bow stably.

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  • One piece of equipment is versatile enough for multiple workouts over your whole body.

  • Versatile workouts allow you to improve flexibility, bow stability, and archery stamina.

  • The resistance bands are compact enough to take with you to the gym or a park, allowing you to exercise anywhere.


  • Requires equipment that may be hard to stretch out.

  • As the bands come in different sizes, the effects will differ with each piece.

  • As the resistance bands wear out, it becomes easier to stretch them, lessening your workout's effectiveness.

Best For

Stretch bands are an excellent exercise for various reasons as you can target almost any muscle group from your shoulders to your legs. The bands are incredibly versatile and portable, making the best for everyone on any exercise plan. Depending on the workouts you do, you'll build different muscle groups.

Many exercises can increase your upper body and shoulder strength as well as aid your flexibility. You can also increase your bow stability while firing. Additionally, band exercises are best for improving your stamina and allowing you to fire more before you get tired.

Factors to Consider Before Starting a Routine

There are various things to consider before starting any exercise routine and especially an archery one.

Your Archery Equipment

Depending on your archery equipment, you'll want to focus on different exercises over the other options. This difference is due to the varying bow quizzes, weights, and draw weight

The heavier your bow and draw, the more you'll need to train and strengthen your shoulders to hold it properly. If you're using a lightweight bow with low draw weight, you can afford to exercise less. However, having more upper body strength will lengthen your archery sessions before getting tired.

Your Goals

Considering your goals before training is always a great idea and can direct you to the best exercises to achieve your goals. Primarily your goals will determine if you're working up to a larger bow or want to draw the string further back for a more powerful shot.

Another goal that's worth considering is if you have a muscle imbalance due to archery and want to correct it. This imbalance will determine how much effort you put in on exercises that focus on only one side of your body.

The Exercise Gear Available

Many of the exercises listed require equipment such as dumbbells, and often you'll need these in increasing sizes as you workout. 

The gear available to you will determine what activity you do and how you train each time.

If you only have access to small weights, you'll need to exercise longer and perform more sets to achieve the same effect as a heavier dumbbell.

However, if you have no weights to lift, you'll need to use your own body's weight in the equipment for fewer activities. These will work out your body more than weights in many situations but with different targeted muscles.

Your Health

If you have any disabilities or asthma issues, it's always wise to pick less strenuous exercises. Many of the listed activities use the joint in your shoulder and cause strain or injury if the exercise is performed wrong. The harm increases if you have arthritis, stiff joints, or other issues.

Additionally, your weight and strength play an essential part, as certain activities such as bench dips and push-ups rely on your weight. If you're unable to lift your body weight in these exercises, it's best to plan around these and perform lesser variations until enough strength is built up.


Using these nine exercises, you'll notice an increase in your upper body strength. Having the right equipment and training in moderation is key to better exercises and results.

Additionally, you'll need to regularly practice these techniques to maintain good upper body strength and even lose weight through archery.

People Also Ask

The following four points are frequently asked questions that should answer any leftover queries. All the answers are short and condense, directly answering the question itself.

We explain if you can lose weight, build strength, and stay fit from archery and exercises available that require no equipment.

Can You Lose Weight Doing Archery?

It's possible to lose weight through the practice of archery. However, it is less optimal than alternative exercises. A half-hour session at your local range will burn around 100 calories and strengthen your arm and shoulder muscles. While this is less than most 30 minute workouts which burn over 250 calories on average, it's a fun way to lose weight.

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Does Archery Keep You Fit?

Archery is a fun way to stay fit and maintain a strong upper body. However, if you don't pair it with a healthy diet and regular full-body exercise, you won't see a significant effect. The calories burned during archery are only a third of what you'll burn during regular workouts of the same duration.

How Do I Increase My Archery Strength?

There are various ways to increase your strength in archery as there are many exercises available. There are multiple ways to exercise that require equipment and many that require no equipment at all. All the exercises listed such as bench dips, resistance band training, and dumbbell shrugs can increase your strength.

What Archery Exercises Can I Do Without Any Equipment?

There are many exercises you can do that require no equipment. Doing push-ups and planking are two of the most remarkable ways to improve your upper body strength. Additionally, doing pull-ups and one-armed pull-ups are also highly effective ways to increase your strength in archery.

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.