Whether you shoot a 40, 50, 60 or 70 pound bow you can accredit that ability to your back muscles. Your back is a mass of muscle that works in sync like a well-oiled machine bringing your bow to full draw. The Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) are at the core of your back strength and it’s all about angles when targeting them in the weight room. Bowhunting Strength and Conditioning Part 3 will discuss your lats in more detail.
The Pulldown Has Many Variations
The first and most common back lift is the pulldown. It can be accomplished in many variations and equipment. Of course, we are going to stay with the basics for now. The lat pulldown machine is a common piece of gym cable equipment. Not to mention a very effective one. With a wide bar attached to the cable, seat yourself on the bench anchoring your knees under the brace to keep yourself from rising off the seat. Grab the bar about 10 inches outside shoulder width and lean slightly back on the seat. Slowly pull the bar down to your chest and slowly let it back up focusing on TUT (Time Under Tension). You will feel a squeeze under your shoulder blades with slight bicep activation as well.
Next we focus on the reverse fly. There are two ways to achieve this; one with the cable and the other on a reverse fly machine. Both are the same movement just with different equipment. On the reverse fly machine seat yourself facing the backrest of the bench. Grasp the handles with an overhand grip and with your arms parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep your elbows level and with an outward swinging motion push the handles behind you stopping when your arms are facing straight out. Imagine you’re holding a piece of paper between your shoulder blades and you’re trying to keep it there.
Build Back Strength With An Oldie But Goodie
Finally we are going to hit the lats from a low angle with a dumbbell/straight bar bent over row. This is an oldie but a goodie and will build your back strength immensely. The motion and form is the same for using dumbells or a straightbar. It’s all about lifter preference.
Stand feet shoulder width apart, sink your rear just a hair and keep your back at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Grab the bar or dumbells with an overhand grip and start with your arms fully extended towards the ground. Keeping the bar/dumbbells just off the front of your legs and pulling it slightly above your belly button with one fluid motion will achieve proper form. At the top of the lift your elbows should be tucked next to your sides and head should remain looking forward, be careful only to use the back muscles and not help with your legs.
These three angles and basic lifts will not only strengthen your lats but also greatly improve your form, consistency and stability.
Have you started your bowhunting strength and conditioning?
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