It is a physiological fact that we lose between five and seven pounds of muscle during every decade of our adult life--even in our twenties. This results in a significant amount of strength loss which can have a negative affect on your ability to shoot your bow. Your accuracy is greatly dependent upon being able to hold steady at full draw from a stable base, and if you are becoming weaker over the course of each year--at the rate of a half pound of muscle loss or more per year-- then your accuracy is going to suffer. A half of a pound doesn't seem like much, but it translates into a substantial amount of strength loss.Often when we aren't shooting well we analyze our technique or tinker with our equipment, but rarely do we recognize that our draw weight may be gradually becoming too much for us to handle.
Over time--despite hours of practice--our performance suffers. When we don't understand why we are shooting poorly, or how we can fix the problem, it can be very frustrating.The act of drawing your bow, regardless of how often you do so, is not enough to overcome the loss in strength to the muscles of upper body. Additionally, it will do nothing to maintain the strength in the important stabilizing muscles of the torso, lower back, and legs. The muscles around your mid-section--also known as the core muscles--along with your legs, may be just as important to your performance with a bow as the muscles of the upper body.
In fact, a study done prior to the 1984 Olympics found leg strength to be a determining factor in target archery success. Your legs provide the base from which you shoot, and if your base is unsteady, you are not going to be as accurate--especially during a long day of competition shooting. These supporting core muscles, when strong, will help you maintain good posture and a healthy lower back.
Strength training solves the problem of age-related muscle and strength loss and may even have a dramatic affect on your ability to shoot your bow. With proper training, it can improve your ability to smoothly draw your bow and hold with better control resulting in improved accuracy. Furthermore, as you get stronger over time, you may decide to move up to a heavier draw weight. Strength training will allow you to have complete confidence in your physical ability which will give you the freedom to focus your full attention on the process of shooting.
This loss in strength happens to all of us, which is why athletes in all sports are supplementing their practice time with strength training. Major League Baseball is in the midst of a controversy over steroid use which underscores the lengths some athletes will go in order to get stronger. They do this because strength training not only compensates for muscle loss, but it has been proven to improve athletic performance.Many people are concerned--and rightly so--over the perception that they will need to purchase special equipment and spend several days per week working out in order to get stronger.
In fact, it is a myth that an effective strength training program needs to be expensive, time consuming, or completed in a gym. A well designed program can make you incredibly strong and can be done at home in as little as one day a week.More and more research is coming out regarding strength training and the little amount of time required to effectively build muscular strength and endurance.
For example, we are learning that in order to make the greatest amount of improvement, less is more. The trend is for less time working out in duration, as well as for fewer number of times working in frequency. Researchers are discovering that after a certain amount of fatiguing is done to your muscles--which is best accomplished through short, yet intense workouts--any more can be detrimental to your progress. It doesn't take much to stimulate muscle tissue, and a few carefully chosen exercises each week is all that is needed to see improvements in your archery strength.When strength training for a specific purpose like improving archery performance, some training programs are better than others.
Any type of strength training can be helpful and beneficial to your health, but to truly get the most out of your efforts, it is best to employ exercises that fit the neuromuscular requirements of your chosen sport or activity. The best exercises for performance enhancement are ones that strengthen many different muscles at the same time while mimicking some of the same attributes of your sport--in this case archery. This integration of muscles saves time, and when combined with exercises specifically designed for archery, the benefits are tremendous. This type of training is called functional strength training.Functional strength training is becoming very popular because the strength gained directly improves one's performance.
The exercises are chosen for a particular purpose, and because many muscles are being exercised at the same time, the training becomes very efficient. There is no need to spend hours in the gym. One day a week for 20 or 30 minutes in your own home is usually enough to see excellent results. This is especially important for archers because it gives them plenty of time to shoot their bows, and at the same time it allows them to enjoy the performance benefits of strength training.Besides helping to improve your archery strength, strength training has many other healthful benefits. It helps protect the body's joints, prevents injuries, and increases your metabolic rate--which is the rate at which you burn excess body fat.
It can lower blood pressure and help improve your good cholesterol. It also works as a great stress reliever. People have been known to sleep better after starting a strength training program. You will have more energy and feel better and stronger when doing everyday activities like working around your house, or bounding up a flight of stairs. Strength training is recommended for adults of all ages. Studies have shown people to increase their muscle mass into their eighties.
Of course, it is always a good idea to see your physician before beginning any exercise program.Functional strength training is a common and accepted method of performance improvement for all sports, and a well-designed program specifically for archery will have a positive impact on your ability with your bow, allow you to overcome age-- related muscle and strength loss, and give you the confidence to shoot accurately for many years to come..Michael Linsin is a contributing writer for US & International Archer and is the author of Archery Strong.
Archery Strong has consistently been among the top selling archery books since its publication in May of 2004 (see ArcheryStrong.com for more info). Michael is also the creator of the Push Release, a new DVD set for release in May of 2006.
For information about a strength training program designed specifically for archers visit http://www.ArcheryStrong.com.
By: Michael Linsin