I just came home from a daylong (amateur) archery tournament with aching back and shoulders. I regularly do strength exercises with a Theraband™ but now I thought that I should probably do some exercises that stress the "archery muscle agonists".

Two questions:

  1. Which muscles would that be?
  2. Which (Theraband) exercises would be appropriate?
  • Can you have some pictures? Or can you be more specific? Pain could be due to wrong technique, overdoing or intensive training or some other reason. Deltoids, triceps, lats, other? I would check up this in Pinterest: pinterest.com/pinkbumblebee/archery where some archer has gathered different fitness movement. Does it help? And I found this: livestrong.com/article/521937-muscle-exercises-for-archery from the Pinterest listing, I find that useful and interesting personally. Yes as I expected: barbell exercise, rowing -- chin-up with holding it still trains for coordinati
    – hhh
    May 4, 2014 at 20:21
  • 2
    I am doing these exercises (from some FITA archery book). Honestly I have no idea how the aching muscles are called. The area below/between the bladebones.
    – Florian
    May 4, 2014 at 20:31
  • It is lats, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latissimus_dorsi_muscle -- check up images there at the bottom. I would watch videos in Youtube with the word "upper lats". If you have pain, I would start to work on the whole fitness level getting higher in a gym or well-chosen bodyweight exercises. The Therabands help in stretching but getting the muscles to become more endurance and stronger may also help. I will come back to this later, considering some movements!
    – hhh
    May 4, 2014 at 20:41
  • Hmm ... actually that's what an orthopedist told me some years ago. Since then I began climbing and thought I'd be in a better shape now ;)
    – Florian
    May 4, 2014 at 21:05
  • 1
    @Florian - The muscles are listed in that PDF, and most are shoulder. If you've been doing those, my guess is that a) You need to progress more in the endurance, and that b) you aren't really used to a daylong competition environment. Most likely you just need "more". :) You've got triceps/biceps (upper arm) rhomboid (back/shoulder), deltoid (shoulder), brachialis (upper arm under biceps), trapezius (neck/shoulder) and serratus (ribs/shoulderblade).
    – JohnP
    May 5, 2014 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


When I was shooting in college, improving archery stamina involved a lot of shooting and something we called SPT or Specific Physical training.

There's not much to increasing shooting capacity. You need to shoot a lot. A standard FITA is 144 arrows + warm up + maybe sighting rounds. So practice for competition should included at least 200 arrows as often as you can manage. I could only ever manage 1200 - 1600 arrows a month and that is fairly low. Your aim here is to be comfortable shooting significantly more arrows than a tournament in a single session.

In between shooting you can do SPT. This involves drawing your bow with no arrow and holding your form correctly for 30 - 60 sec (or as long as you can). Then rest for double the hold time. Go again. Try and do this for 30 mins. This is pretty hard so slowly build up to it. Don't expect to complete the exercise as prescribed initially. You may want to do the other arm just to keep things even.

Ki Sik Lee's website and book Total Archery are also worth reading. http://www.kslinternationalarchery.com/

You'll also want to do some general physical fitness to even out all that pulling and also cardio.

  • Actually we don't do FITA but traditional archery, but same things will apply :)
    – fho
    Jul 23, 2014 at 8:57

As noted in the comments, increasing your Theraband repetitions and doing more archery will both be beneficial in strengthening your upper lats. To supplement this training, however, I recommend incorporating weighted exercises as well.

Using the adjustable tricep pulldown machine found at many gyms, you can set up an exercise which closely mimics that of archery. If you adjust the pulley so that it falls in line under your shoulder where the bow would go, you can line up facing the machine, and then do weighted pullbacks. You can also do a pullback and hold, just like you would with archery. The increased weight will help you to more quickly gain the strength you need to shoot off arrows for an entire day.

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