5 Best Exercises for Bowhunters

Everybody reading this article takes their hunting seriously, otherwise you wouldn’t be perusing the internet haunts of Bowhunting.com.  But do you take your physical fitness with regards to your hunting activities seriously? Hunting can be a very demanding sport. Being physically up to the challenge only helps stack the odds in your favor. For example, if you’ve got the fastest bow, most technically advanced clothing, and ozone defying devices, what good are they if you aren’t conditioned enough to draw your bow, maintain proper form, breathe, and execute with impeccable fashion? With that in mind, I’ve put together some of the best exercises for bowhunters that you should consider adding to your workout.  If you don’t workout, now is a good time to get started.

As a note, if you have any doubts about beginning an exercise program, please see your doctor to make sure you’re good to go.  And always, put form and execution of the exercise ahead of the amount of weight you are lifting.

Dead Lift

The dead lift is just a fantastic overall body strengthening exercise.  It focuses primarily on your core which is where everything you do physically originates from. The lift will tax your thighs, hamstrings, and glutes which you use extensively when hiking to and climbing your stand. Not to mention executing the dead lift is merely and exhibit of pure strength. What are you going to do once you get an animal down?  You’re going to have to drag it, load it, lift it, quarter it, etc. Make sure your body is conditioned to do so.  Additional muscles that are used that I haven’t even touched on are your back, shoulders, and grip.  All very, very critical to bowhunting success.


Dead Lift

One Arm Rows

Short of drawing a bow, this is the closest thing there is that you can do to increase your draw weight and ensuring you draw in a smooth, consistent fashion.  Just looking at the motion involved should be pretty self-sufficient in explaining why one arm rows made my list. The key when performing this lift is to focus on “pinching” with your back muscles when doing the row. This will build and condition your back to help when drawing as opposed to relying strictly on your arms to do the work. You may think you’ll just exercise your draw side, but that would be a big mistake. Make sure to do this lift with both sides of your body.


One Arm Rows

Bent Over Rows

Bent over rows will aid in your draw similar to what one arm rows will, but with the added dynamic of needing to keep a tight core while performing this lift. It will work the same muscles you’ll be using when that big boy enters your shooting lane. You’ll slowly and smoothly draw back and be able to hold for that extra 10 seconds until he takes that one last step. A couple key points when you do this lift is to start light and work your way up. Hurting yourself now won’t do you any good come this fall. You’ll want to pinch and hold those back muscles when you bring the weight up to your belly. Lastly, make sure you look forward and not down. Looking up will assist in making sure you keep your back straight.


Bent Over Rows

Push Ups

These guys made the list simply because in the world of weight training we need to apply the equal and opposite policy. Since we’re doing rows and working those back muscles, we need to work the muscles opposite of those to ensure good posture and avoid other potential issues. You’re probably thinking, “Why did I use the push up instead of the bench press?” They both work the chest which is what I was intending to target. However, the push up throws in the additional requirement to keep a tight core while performing the exercise. It’s kind of like adding a plank to the bench press. Again, focusing on the core is paramount when applying functional fitness. If you want more out of your pushups, you can always increase the number of reps or add a weighted backpack to really amp up the struggle. The other benefit of doing pushups is the ability to counteract the pulling motion of drawing your bowstring by pushing the bow itself forward. Think about it this way, you couldn’t pull your bow back if you weren’t pushing against the riser.

best exercises for bowhunters - Push-Ups


Russian Twists

I actually had another exercise slated for the 5th spot but realized how important Russian Twists would be to a bowhunter. How many times has your quarry followed the script and shown up exactly where you needed them to in order to simply stand and draw?  Not very often. Probably half of the time we contort ourselves into Twizzler in an attempt to get the shot lined up. The Russian Twist will build those core muscles to get your body into that unique, yet necessary position and hold it until the moment arrives. I would suggest starting with no weight and just extend your arms to provide the necessary resistance.  Once you start building that rotating core strength, then grab a weight and really get to work.

best exercises for bowhunters - Russian Twists

Russian Twists

Best Exercises for Bowhunters – Conclusion

While these are not the only exercises one should be doing in order to build the functional hunting body, they will certainly improve your bowhunting abilities. If you have a gym membership, use it. If you don’t, or are hesitant to join for whatever reason, there are still options. I’m a big fan of sand bags, but any weight will do. Personally, I like having the sandbags around the house so I can get my workouts in whenever the opportunity presents itself. Whether that be at 5 AM, midday, on the weekend, after work, or before my daughter’s late softball game. The important part is you make the decision now for a successful Fall.

We want to hear from you. What exercises would you add to our Best Exercises for Bowhunters list? Comment below and let us know how you prepare physically for opening day.


  1. John Torchick says:

    Outdoor Life had a series of exercises like this but using a weight machine. Had to quit as the pull downs weren’t friendly to my right shoulder. Those are good exercises with a minimum of expense for equipment. Once, I was searching for exercises and an archery shop owner said the best exercise is just shoot your bow. If the bow is adjustable, start at a comfortable draw weight and work up. I have a link for the Korean archers who have a very disciplined exercise program. I’ll see if I can find it and post it on the forum under an appropriate section.


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