I think the answer is "No." So here goes:

I want to lift 60 pounds smoothly about 45 times in an hour (to assist with archery target practice with 60 pound bow).

Right now I can only lift 60 pounds about 5 times before I start shaking (read: overbowed).

Once I reach this goal, it is not necessary for me to continue growing in strength or endurance.

Is it possible to train with weights that are around 20 to 40 pounds and reach the stated goal? Or is it inevitable that eventually I have to work out with 60 pound weights?


Indeed, the answer is no.

To be strong, you need to lift heavy weights, there is no way around that. You will never get strong if you limit yourself to light weights with high reps : that will just build up your endurance.

For instance, marathon runners have a lot of endurance, but cannot compete with 100m athletes (which have a lot more power).

In order to get yourself used to lift these 60 pounds, you must train eventually with 60 pounds, but of course you can reach this goal progressively. This is the same in all sports, and to compare again with athletism, a 100m runner will never train himself just for 80m and say "the last 20 meters are easy, no need to train for that".

Once you reached 60 pounds, continue training at that weight to build endurance, your muscles will get used to it, and you won't shake anymore.

60 pounds is quite heavy for one arm (shoulder muscles mainly involved), keep in mind to train the other one!

  • Thank you Boris! I like your analogy about training for 80m sprint. Makes sense and I believe you. Thanks!
    – Xplodotron
    Jun 15 '16 at 16:25

Minor story detour before my answer. I am 5ft5, 80kg, and I work out regularly and have respectable lifting ability compared to the average joe. My friend is 80kg, 6ft and cannot lift their bodyweight in any lift. We did some archery last week, after half a hour I look over and my friend is struggling a lot to keep his shoulders level, chest flat, arms straight, etc. Afterwards we had a chat and he stated that it became really hard to fire the bow after about 15 minutes of doing the activity. I had no such trouble, I could have gone for another half a hour. The only difference was a bit of height and a lot of practice using muscles.

You are correct, the answer is no.

"To get good at doing X activity, DO X activity, a lot."

Your muscle memory, strength and endurance will grow over time with continual practice.

You body takes the easiest route to make any repeated activity require less work and cause less CNS stress. So you should be working out at a weight that is greater than your draw strength. Don't limit your lifting to your sport though, aim for big numbers!

Focus on:

  • Back (weighted rows of any form help here)
  • Chest (to balance back)
  • Shoulders (lateral raises, overhead press)
  • Abs and Oblique's (for stability)
  • Bi's and Tri's (curls and skullcrushers)

Great exercises for you:

  • Dips
  • Chin Ups
  • Pendlay Rows
  • One arm dumbell rows
  • Face Pulls/Lateral Raises
  • Fly & Reverse fly
  • Thank you JJosaur! I knew I need to strengthen antagonist and supporting muscle groups but didn't have list of specific exercises! Your specific tips are very helpful! Also, had never heard of CNS stress. I will look into it. I understand the brain has to send the command via the CNS to activate all the fibers of the muscles and keep them activated against the weight they are pulling.
    – Xplodotron
    Jun 15 '16 at 16:30

There are 2 basic ways to progress training. More reps or more weight. Both work to some extent. You could try doing say 30 reps with 20lbs or 5 reps with 60lbs and get some strength gains as a beginner. But in general keeping the reps in the 4-10 range gives better strength results than doing more reps. For fun try lifting a 40lb weight for reps. You can probably crank out 10+ with the first half dozen feeling super easy. Now imagine you boost your strength so that you can do 5x90. Now when you go to lift 60lbs those first 5 reps will feel super easy. For something like archery where you lift, shoot and then have a decent rest, bumping up max strength can help a lot in terms of building "endurance" and just as important you will be more stable/relaxed when you only need to recruit say 40% of your strength instead of 80%.

  • Thanks! In my ongoing research I realize now that I do NOT want to increase mass, because hypertrophied back muscles will prevent me from fully drawing back the bow! I understand that high reps will help to increase strength and endurance without too much increase in size. But I see your point that low-mid reps (4-10) is needed to get the necessary strength to pull my 60 lb bow with full control and ease.
    – Xplodotron
    Jun 27 '16 at 16:48

No you will not be able to lift 60 pounds by practising with 20 and 40 10 miles pounds, Just continue with the 60 pounds, it doesn't matter for 5 times in the beginning, slowly improve the number of times you lift it. I can't run 10 miles by walking 20 miles a day, If I want to run, I have to start running, it might start with 1 mile but slowly I can increase the distance and speed.


Yes... to an extent, but even then it's very ineffective. Any work under about 15 reps will build your muscle size which will help strength. But not much, and only noticeably whilst you're a relative beginner.

It will be FAR easier, faster and more effective for you to work up to using 100lbs as your maximum weight for low reps, and at that point 60lbs will be an utter walk in the park.

Possible effective method: start off lifting a challenging weight for about 15 reps, then increase the weight every workout (which will force you to drop the reps) until you hit the heaviest weight you can manage a good few weeks later for 1-2 reps


If you are training in the gym for a sport you don't want to spend your time mimicking the exact actions of your sport in the gym. That's a common mistake. Use the gym to build overall muscle and general strength in the basic movements, and this will translate to your sports practice you do outside the gym. Your sports practice is the fastest way to improve at your sport.

(lots of sports science literature on this issue if you're interested)

  • Thank you @hamza_tm! I think I need to avoid hypertrophy though, since a bulky back will prevent me from drawing the bow all the way. Also, I am not in any particular rush to to get to target strength immediately, especially if that will lead to hypertrophy. Your note on doing a variety of movements is well taken. Thanks!
    – Xplodotron
    Jun 27 '16 at 16:52
  • @Xplodotron avoiding hypertrophy doesn't mean what you think it means. I think you're suffering some misconceptions about muscle growth and ideal athletic qualities. You could benefit from some research on hypertrophy and it's effect on athletes and range of motion. Hypertrophy won't reduce range of motion in your case and isn't to be feared
    – hamza_tm
    Jun 28 '16 at 19:04
  • Thank you @hamza_tm I will most certainly look into it. I am definitely newbie to all of this.
    – Xplodotron
    Jun 28 '16 at 20:59

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