How to get stronger and fitter at home

Not quite ready to venture out of your winter cocoon and take on the gym? Lucy O’Sullivan says you can still improve your archery

January has been and gone, and we are now into the next phase of the archery calendar, getting ready for the summer!

Many of you had a very intense outdoor season, followed by an intense indoor season, so what have you done at home to improve your archery and general health and wellbeing? There are many exercises you can do at home to improve flexibility and complement other archery training. It is no secret that I am a personal trainer and work in a gym at my home island of Jersey – but what if I told you that you don’t need a gym? All of these exercises to help performance can be done at home (for a couple of them, you’ll just need a sofa).

Bodyweight Exercises: Bodyweight exercises tend to be compound exercises, which means that they encompass whole body movements. These can be the most challenging, and yet the most rewarding of all of the exercises. The simplest exercises (and I think the greatest) are squats, pushups and arabesques.

Push ups

A push up should be completed with the best form you can manage

The perfect push up can be completed by finding your plank position, that is, a core position where your back is flat (not arched up or downwards).

Hold this position up on your hands and all you need to do is bend your elbows and push your chest down to the floor, or an object. Make sure your hips don’t go down first or stay too high up in the air.

Keep your head looking forward to really work your tummy muscles.

To make the exercise easier hold your plank position and just drop your knees down to the floor. To progress this exercise try a clap push up, maybe with your hands on your sofa to start with to make it a little easier and then eventually a clap push up on the floor.

I did sets of 10-20 reps and 100 push ups a day throughout January, I cannot recommend this exercise enough for arm, back and tummy tone in the comfort of your own home!


Squats are a key exercise for almost any sport

Here’s how to perform the greatest squat: pull your shoulder blades together and puff up your chest. Have your feet slightly pointing outwards, hip to shoulder width apart depending on what is comfortable for you.

To descend, move from the hips first pushing them back (as if you are sitting down) and then bend your knees. This is the best way to avoid your quadriceps (the front of the legs) from being over-exerted and causing knee pain.

At the bottom of the squat try and get the top of your legs parallel to the floor –  then you know that your bottom is in the correct position to be working. Your body weight should be in your heels and to recover to the start position, push you weight into your heels and tense your bottom to recover. The motto “pinch a penny” is very apt here, and will help you activate your glutes (bottom) rather than your legs.

If a squat is too hard you can make the exercise easier by just sitting down on the sofa and standing up again without using your hands, if the body weight squat is too easy you can progress this by trying a single leg squat sitting on and off the sofa, and then eventually a single leg squat without the sofa!

Try 10-20 reps, or 30-45 seconds of work, twice, a few times a week.


There are many variations on the arabesque to stretch you further

Appropriately for the Winter Olympics season, this exercise can often be seen performed by figure skaters. It is when one leg is straight and the other leg is kicked out behind you.

Start from a standing position and lower your trunk down as far as your back and hips will allow. Ensure your back is flat, and that your chest is puffed up, pulling your shoulder blades together. You MUST keep your back flat, keeping your head looking forward. Begin the exercise by pushing the hips back first, lower your chest down, and allow one leg to seesaw back behind you.

Imagine your hips are on a pivot: your legs stay straight but your body lowers. To go back to the start position lead with the chest and push your hips forward. If you are struggling only go as low as to the top of your knees to prevent your back looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Try 10-20 reps or 30-45 seconds twice of work a few times a week.

Rear-foot Elevated Split Squat (aka “Bulgarian Split Squat”)

Rear-foot Elevated Split Squat

The RFESS is the hardest form of this single leg exercise, so if you need to you can regress it to a single leg split squat or lunges (you can YouTube these).

But the RFESS is one of my favourite exercises, purely because it targets three things in one go. It’s a stretch of your quadricep (front of the leg), a bottom worker ,and a balance exercise in one.

This exercise will need a sofa. Start with your chest up and pull the shoulder blades together, and get one foot up onto the sofa. Begin by pushing the sofa leg back and down towards to sofa and keep your front leg and knee at a 90 degree angle. Hold at the bottom for a couple of seconds and return to the  start position, pushing from the ground off of your front leg heel.


Reachers will require a towel or similar

Start in a plank position, again with a perfectly flat back with your shoulders pulled together and your head up, with your hands on some towels or flannels. Move one arm out away from your body (not too far) and then return to the plank position, then alternate this with the other arm. If you find this easy, try and move one arm at a time without anything else in your body moving, as far forward as you can before returning to the plank position and trying with the other arm.

Try 30 seconds to one minute of these to feel the burn in your shoulders, back, abs and legs – and you’ll soon be able to ‘wipe the floor’ with your competition!

This article originally appeared in the issue 123 of Bow International magazine. For more great content like this, subscribe today at our secure online store

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