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12 Things Every New Archer Should Do or Know

The following is a list of 12 things new archery enthusiasts should do or at least know before they begin the sport of archery.

#1. Find a good archery instructor. Your own personal Yoda.

One of the worst things you can do as a beginning archer is to try and train yourself. This leads to bad habits, and once those bad habits become entrenched they are very difficult to get rid of. It is arguably easier to train someone who is a blank slate and has not yet entrenched any bad habits.

Archers also sometimes develop bad mental habits, so having a good instructor can also help you deal with mental hangups. As you progress archery becomes less about the physical strain and more about mental conditioning.

I should also note that your instructor should be a good communicator. Someone who has difficulty communicating things to other people (due to a lack of people skills or communication skills) may have been trained as an instructor, but that doesn't make them a good instructor. People skills and communication skills are the hallmarks of people who are good instructors, as they convey their thoughts and ideas clearly and in a manner so that students can easily understand what is being communicated.

It doesn't matter who you choose to be your instructor (eg. it doesn't have to be me), but it does matter that it is someone you feel confident about their skills as an instructor. It might be a friend, a relative, a co-worker - but you might also determine that your friend isn't that good at explaining things, which is why having an experienced instructor helps. And it also matters that you do the following...

#2. Find an instructor who teaches the style of archery you want to do.

This is arguably more important than #1.

You wouldn't hire a compound bow instructor to teach recurve bow, and you wouldn't hire an Olympic instructor to teach traditional recurve. The styles of archery of separate, use different archery forms, aiming techniques, and comes with its own set of rules.

For example lets say you want to learn how to use a Mongolian style bow and how to use a thumb ring, well then you need an instructor who knows how to shoot horsebows with a thumb ring.

Myself I teach all five major styles of archery. The only things I don't teach is crossbows and kyudo. The first bow I ever shot was a compound when I was 10 years old, I made my own longbows when I was a teenager, I had Olympic archery lessons when living in South Korea, and I now teach all five styles: Longbow, shortbow/horsebow, traditional recurve, Olympic recurve, and compound.

#3. Be yourself and don't compare yourself to other archers.

Everyone was a beginner at one point and many beginners make the mistake of comparing themselves to other archers who have:
  • Been shooting a lot longer.
  • Shoot a different style of archery.
  • Are physically bigger and stronger.
  • Have better posture.
One of the best things you can do is stop worrying about what other archers are doing and focus on what you are doing. Don't try to shoot like everyone else, because everyone else is different - often focusing on different styles, and you should not try to mix styles.

Example - I know a person who bought a horsebow, but they started comparing themselves to Olympic archers and tried to replicate their shooting style (using Olympic/South Anchor instead of Traditional/North Anchor) and the quality of their accuracy went down because they were using the wrong style of archery with their bow - and consequently an inconsistent draw. Seeing the Olympic archers shoot made them think they were doing something wrong and instead of working on their traditional form, they switched to Olympic anchor and actually saw their accuracy get worse instead of better.

So please, please do not compare yourself to other archers who are shooting different styles of archery. Focus on your own style.

#4. Worry more about your technique than your equipment.

In the beginning it doesn't matter if your archery equipment is frugal or expensive. You will shoot poorly regardless. Shooting form and technique matters more because that is what builds skill, proper form and accuracy. Getting better quality equipment can come later.

#5. Archery is always harder than people expect it to be.

Especially the further you are shooting. Twice the distance isn't twice as difficult, it is exponentially more difficult.

The first things new archers learn is that is that it is always harder to pull a bow than they were expecting, and even harder to hold it steady. Next, learning how to aim (or adjust sights) is really a matter of building clusters of arrows on the target, but if your form is poor then your arrows might be all over the place with no consistent cluster - and that itself will be very difficult if your form is inconsistent due to not understanding how archery form works - which goes back to #1 and #2 above, about finding a good instructor who teaches the style of archery you are learning.

Even with an instructor it will be a hard process, but a very rewarding one as people with instructors learn way faster, break/lose less arrows, and gain accuracy. Not being able to see that increase in accuracy will feel more like defeat than a win, and thus people who are trying to teach themselves will often quit doing archery because they don't think they are very good at it.

#6. Archery does Not Come Naturally - it takes PRACTICE.

Some people even practice during the Winter.
Yes, some people have physical advantages of height, strength and good posture - but that doesn't make them naturally good at archery. Practice is the most important part, as the more you practice the better your archery form becomes consistent and the more accuracy you gain.

Thus even if you feel like you didn't do well the first time, you should also realize that you at least improved compared to the first round. Your first shots will likely be horrible. It is when you finally get an idea of what you are supposed to be doing, learn to relax more, and then you will see your accuracy improve.

In seven years of teaching archery I have had a few students who go the bullseye on their very first shot, but that is not the norm. And they never would have got that bullseye were it not for me carefully adjusting their form before that first shot occurred. It was a matter of patience that they held their shot long enough for me to fix their form, adjust their aim perhaps and then they managed to do so well because of those combined factors.

#7. When shooting compound, use the correct draw length and desired draw weight.

One of the worst things you can do with a compound bow is give it to someone who has a different draw length and a draw weight that they are not used to. They might be under-drawing or over-drawing the bow, and too much weight or not enough will feel foreign to them.

The sights will also be off because compound bows are designed to be adjusted to the user. So the draw length, the draw weight and the sights will all be off.

The same thing goes when using an Olympic bow. If the sights are set for a specific person, they are basically useless to someone who is shorter or taller.

I recall years ago watching a person teaching two friends how to shoot. The person didn't have any experience teaching, but was trying to teach their two friends, which included a tall man and a short woman. They were both using the same Olympic recurve, with the sight set up for the instructor. The tall man was comparable in height to his friend and was able to get his arrows on to the paper target they were shooting at, although not with great accuracy. The short woman however, her arrows were landing two feet below the target because her draw length was different and she wasn't getting the same amount of power as the two men, thus her arrows would arc downwards more and miss completely. The two men couldn't figure out why she kept missing so low, even though she was using the sight - to them, that was all that mattered. It was because the sight was in the wrong spot for her height. It was set up for their friend who was a good foot taller than she was.

#8. Don't rely on gadgets to get accuracy.

Form matters more than gadgets. Gadgets are crutches. A good archer can shoot the target without any need of gadgetry. Focus on learning good form and good habits, and your accuracy improves. Focus too much on using sights, stabilizers, clickers and other gadgets and you will be looking at your equipment for the mistake and not at yourself for improvement.

A good archer seeks to improve their form constantly. A bad archer blames their equipment.

#9. Try to beat your own score, but remember that score doesn't matter.

It is the sport that matters. Don't worry about trying to beat the scores of other people. Try to beat your own score and have fun/relax while doing it. Overthinking the shot, becoming tense or frustrated, these are things that will ruin your accuracy. Relaxation is key. Becoming frustrated will cause you to tense up the wrong muscles at the wrong time and ruin your shot.

Patience and relaxation are two important things for building accuracy. You will get there, but being impatient and frustrated about it will only the delay getting the results you are looking for.

This is especially important for competitive archers, as competitions often spoils the fun of the sport. No fun means less relaxation, less relaxation means you will be overly tense and ruin your shot.

"Fear is the path to the Dark Side [of archery]. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." - Yoda.


#10. If you want to get really good at archery you need to be passionate about it.

Someone who is less than passionate about archery is not going to be practicing very much. In a survival situation it makes sense for a person to be passionate about that which will bring them food, but for people doing archery for recreation, then they might only practice once per year or once per month.

Once per month will allow for a very slow progression of learning. For the truly passionate people once per month is not enough however, they crave to be practicing several times per week because they love it so much. That level of passion drives them, archery becomes an addiction to them, and they improve dramatically within a relatively short period of time because they are shooting so often.

#11. Make Practice part of your Routine.

Scheduling one or two days per week as part of your archery practice routine will allow a beginner archer to quickly build their skills quickly. Some archers may even do 3 or 4 days per week, if their work schedule allows them to be practicing that often. Once you get into the groove, it will become something you just do every week.

#12. Have Fun and Shoot for the Stars.

If you are not having fun, then why are doing this?

And if you are not challenging yourself to shoot further distances with more accuracy, then you won't really see improvement.

It is when you challenge yourself and have fun at the same time that you will see both an improvement in your accuracy and have a great time while shooting.

Even people who are training for a competition should regularly try shooting for fun and giving themselves new challenges, because the joy of a new target to shoot at is good for their mental conditioning. They will go into a competition feeling more relaxed and confident.

Coming up with fun things to try is sometimes a challenge by itself, but when in doubt try the following:

Shoot at a moving target (eg. water bottle on a string works well).
Shoot at a target at a random distance.
Shoot at a tiny target (like trying to pierce a string).
Shoot at a balloon tied to string that is pegged to the ground at a long distance. So not only is it a moving target, but it is further away.
Call your shots on a paper target (eg. Try to hit 3 o'clock on the blue or 9 o'clock on the black.)


Heavier Poundage Bows and Weightlifting for Endurance


The above two shots were done earlier today with a 1975 Browning Wasp traditional recurve bow (50 lb draw weight), at a distance of 20.5 yards. Not bad for an antique bow.

The bottle itself is easy enough to hit with a light poundage bow, especially if you are accustomed like I am at shooting at relatively small moving targets.

However getting that level of accuracy (the cluster is the size of a dime) with a higher poundage bow is a true challenge because it becomes a matter of physical strength to be able to pull - let alone hold steady - a 50 lb bow.

That means that the Herculean effort of pulling 50 lbs and then holding it steady is a matter of both STRENGTH and ENDURANCE.

Hence the title of this post, Heavier Poundage Bows and Weightlifting for Endurance.

Now I have talked previously about the issues of weightlifting for the purposes of doing archery. If you want to read more on this topic I recommend reading the following posts:

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers, Part One

10 Weightlifting Tips for Archers, Part Two

Archery as an Alternative to Weightlifting

And while those posts do talk about the benefits of weightlifting for the purposes of doing archery, it does not really talk about the issues of higher poundage bows - like those in the 50 to 80 lb range, and how to train your body to be able to pull the heavier poundages, and then hold it steady.

Thus here we go...

10 Tips for Building Strength and Endurance for Heavier Poundage Archery

Tip #1. Get a variety of different kinds of dumbbells.

Don't bother with barbells, dumbbells is what you really need for this. You need the dumbbells so you can focus on the individual muscles, both left and right, without having one side of your body compensating for the other.

You also need a variety of different sizes so you can focus on building different muscle groups, which will often require different weights in order to challenge you properly. If they are too heavy you will be less likely to execute the exercises using proper form, if they are too light they won't be challenging you properly. Thus you need a range of different weights so you can both challenge yourself and focus on your weightlifting form.

Tip #2. Like archery, weightlifting is all about form.

It might not look like it, but professional weightlifters are focusing their attention on making sure they are performing the exercise properly so they can maximize their muscle growth. If they use improper form to lift/move the weight then it is the wrong muscle(s) doing the work, which means that won't be getting the full benefit.

Take the simple dumbbell bicep curl. Done correctly the elbow is kept relatively close to the body. A common beginner mistake is for people to curve their elbows outwards to make it easier, which means they are using different muscles to help lift the weight. Done correctly, it is only the biceps doing the work.

Right: Sample image of a bicep curl. Note how the elbows are kept close to the oblique muscles on the sides and aren't sticking out to the sides.

Note - Good form also includes GOOD BALANCE. Keep both feet on the floor and stay balanced!

Tip #3. While lifting, focus on doing it SLOWLY.

A common beginners mistake when weightlifting is to do 10 reps very quickly, like it is some kind of race and you just want to get it over. However that doesn't actually help when you are trying to build endurance (or strength for that matter). Instead your goal should be to lift the weight slooooowly, hold it there, and then go back down slooooowly. This way you are building endurance more.

Doing weightlifting slowly also gives you more time to focus on the quality of your form. Like archery, shooting too quickly will effect your form. Your goal here is the same, to lift it slowly, focus on your form, and perform the exercise properly. You don't get the reward like hitting the bullseye like you do in archery, but you will see the rewards as your endurance and strength goes up after only a week or two weeks of doing the exercises.

Tip #4. Expand your focus so it covers multiple muscle groups.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Don't just exercise your back muscles. While it is true that your back muscles are important for doing archery, they are not the only muscles that archers use.

Archers use their upper back, their shoulders, their triceps, their biceps, forearms, finger muscles, their lower back, their abdominal muscles, and even their pectoral (chest) muscles. Some are definitely used more than other muscles, but that should not discourage you from exercise them. The muscles of your lower body (legs / etc) are also used for balance and standing still. Thus there is a good argument that archers should embrace a full body workout for improving their overall strength and balance.

Focusing on only one muscle or one muscle group (the upper back for example) may be helpful with one task, but creating too much emphasis on the back muscles will cause other muscles to become overly dependent on that one muscle group and the quality of your accuracy as an archer could actually go down as your shoulders and other muscles cannot hold steady when placed under the strain.

Note - It also helps to learn the anatomical terms for the different muscles. That way when you look for exercises that help your shoulders, you know that you are looking for deltoid exercises.

Thus you need to deliberately pick and choose exercises which will boost the following muscle groups:

Rhomboids (Upper Back)
Front, Back and Upper Deltoids (Shoulders)
Pectorals (Chest)
Triceps (Back of the Upper Arm)
Biceps (Front of the Upper Arm)
Forearms + Finger / Hand Grip Strength (this will mean using Hand Grips and learning how to use them properly)
Abdominals (Belly)
Obliques (Sides)
Legs

Doing all the above means you will be doing a wide variety of exercises and you should try to spread your attention across all of them equally so that the muscles are building in an uniform manner. A common mistake people do is to focus on a single muscle, which will grow up to a limitation - in order to get it to grow further, you need to spread your focus across the whole muscle group so that they all grow as they work more effectively as an unit. To do this properly however means you need to be doing individual exercises which target the individual muscles, and then to do many different exercises so each muscle or muscle group gets its fair share of exercise.

eg. Chest Flyes are really good for the pectoral muscles, as demonstrated here by Arnold:


Tip #5. Pay Attention and Avoid Sports Injuries.

Practicing proper form while exercising isn't just a matter of maximizing your strength gain, it is a matter of avoiding sports injuries. When learning a new exercise, do it slowly, do it properly, and save yourself the trouble of developing a sports injury.

A common thing amongst archers is to improperly draw their bow and then adjust their bow shoulder and drawing elbow after they have drawn back. Ideally they should be pre-aiming, then draw back in one smooth motion. Constantly adjusting the bow shoulder and drawing elbow is bad for those muscles and can lead to sports injuries. In the case of the elbow it can lead to "Archer's Elbow, aka Tennis Elbow".

With weightlifting it is the same problem. Improper lifting and bad form leads to sports injuries. So pay attention and do it properly! Don't say I didn't warn you!

Tip #6. Do More Reps to Build More Endurance.

Remember how I mentioned above to do the exercises slowly? Well here is your next challenge. Do more repetitions - still slowly - and do more of them.

Week One start aiming to do 20 reps of each exercise.

Week Two up it a little by increasing it to 25 reps of each exercise.

Week Three increase it to 30 reps of each exercise.

Week Four increase it to 34 reps of each exercise.

Week Five increase it to 37 reps of each exercise.

Week Six increase it to 40 reps of each exercise.

Now did you notice what I did? At the beginning it started off with an increase of 5 reps per week, but after it hit 30 I reduced the increase to 4, and then 3, and then 3 again. Why did I do that? Because the constant equal amount increase in repetitions becomes unsustainable. Once you real a certain point when the number of reps seems like too much, decrease the incremental amount to a more sustainable level and gradually proceed from there.

Weeks Seven to Eleven increase the reps by 2 reps per week. Doing that allows for a nice slow incremental increase in endurance, allowing your body more time to play catch up with building new muscle.

Remember also that your goal is still to be doing the exercises slowly, you should not be racing to complete them. Also note that the above schedule is just a sample. It will not necessarily fit everyone's exercise routine, and they will want to customize their increase in repetitions to fit their own needs.

Tip #7. Eat Healthy to Build More Muscle.

Any true athlete also makes a solid effort to eat a healthy amount of vegetables and protein. Avoid the sweets. You will still need carbs for energy, but focus on eating healthy and you will see faster returns on muscle growth.

Also allow yourself a cheat day (aka, a High Carb Day) once in awhile that will boost your metabolism. A higher metabolism speeds up muscle growth and boosts energy levels. Having a High Carb Day once per week will keep your metabolism from crashing. The boosted energy levels once per week will keep your metabolism higher, while you are still building muscle and keeping your diet healthy and balanced.

Tip #8. Don't Weightlift Every Day when you are first starting out.

A common beginners mistake is to be weightlifting every day in an effort to build muscle faster. However the problem here is that you end up ripping muscle tissue (hence the term "ripped") and it takes 48 hours (sometimes more) to heals properly and build new muscle tissue.

Thus if you rip the muscle tissue, it repairs a bit and builds new tissue while you sleep, and then you rip it again 24 hours later when it is not fully healed and new tissue is not properly grown, what happens??? The answer is that any new muscle tissue rips again, and you've just wasted any growth you could have potentially had.

Instead here is what you should be doing. Weightlift every two days. eg. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Give yourself 48 to 72 hours between weightlifting sessions so the muscles can heal and grow properly. A Monday, Wednesday Friday schedule for example allows you to be building muscle over 48 hour periods twice per week, and an extra long 72 hour period over the weekend.

Tip #9. Sleep!!!

Getting a good night's rest is extremely important for weightlifting and building muscle. Your body only builds new muscle tissue while it is at rest, and the most effective form of rest is sleep. If you are not sleeping properly, then you are not healing properly.

Tip #10. Motivate Yourself to Weightlift Regularly.

This is arguably the most important part of weightlifting regularly. If you only do it for two weeks and then stop doing it, then any gains you made will slowly disappear. Becoming an Avid Weightlifter is about making a lifestyle change so that weightlifting becomes part of your weekly schedule, so that eating healthy and getting a good night's sleep is also part of your routine.

Building strength and endurance will boost your archery accuracy with the higher poundage bows, and you will see benefits with your health, your emotional independence / confidence, and even perks for your sex life. (For both men and women.)

How you choose to motivate yourself to make archery part of your weekly schedule is really up to you. You could:
  • Hire a personal trainer who understands the value of weightlifting.
  • Hire an archery instructor who also teaches weightlifting techniques.
  • Listen to music while weightlifting.
  • Watch your favourite TV show while weightlifting. (My preference is Game of Thrones.)
  • Reward yourself emotionally after weightlifting. (Never reward yourself with unhealthy foods.)
  • Practice weightlifting with a friend or family member so you keep each other motivated.
Still need more ideas for how to Motivate Yourself? Good thing I have long list of posts on the topic for you to browse.

BONUS TIP

During the off season for archery (Winter) try to make an effort to do weightlifting to keep your body in good shape so that you are in excellent shape when Spring comes, and then once Spring does come make the effort to keep weightlifting so you can continue to improve your physical capabilities.

You don't need to do your weightlifting outdoors during the Winter like the fellow below, but hey, to each their own.

Optional Archery Equipment, Need or Don't Need

There are many things that not optional when doing archery. For example the bow, arrows, bowstring, shooting glove or tab. All the basics.

But there are also lots of optional items that not all archers get. Or sometimes decide to make their own, as many archers have more of a Do-It-Yourself approach to some of the more optional equipment they know they don't actually need.

#1. Archery Backpack or Case.

Like the pink and black one below. Many different options out there for colours, designs, etc. In theory you could always just use a normal large backpack however. Having a specially made one is not a necessity. Years ago I even looked into having a wooden case for archery equipment made, similar to the one further below.



#2. Bow Sock.

A bow sock can also be used to transport your bow, and only your bow. It is basically exactly what it sounds like, a very large sock made for carrying your bow inside. The one below was made by someone on Etsy apparently. To make your own a quick way to do so is to employ an old scarf, sew up one side of the scarf together, and sew the bottom together. Add a handle or shoulder strap (or both), voila it is done.


#3. Paper Targets.

It isn't necessary to have a paper target to shoot at. Many people I know in Toronto shoot at brown Tim Horton's lids. Or if they are like me, at objects dangling from a string because they love the challenge of a moving target.


#4. Moving 3D Targets.

So optional I almost forgot to add this in here. There are many ways to make your own moving 3D target. I favour a low tech approach, but other people have gone full DIY mode and decided to have motorized moving targets like the two examples below. And further below that, a set of round throwing targets.





#5. Armguard / Bracer.

There are some extremely decorative armguards out there, but it doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to work.


#6. Hip Quiver.

There is no rule saying you have to buy a fancy Easton or Hoyt hip quiver. There are traditional designs available, and many people go the DIY approach as well. I personally hate quivers and avoid them entirely.


#7. Back Quiver.

If you do decide to get a back quiver, at least try to get one which makes it easier for you to get your arrows out of it quickly and without breaking your spine. Try to get one with adjustable straps so it is easier to use. Tip - Roll up some fur or faux fur and stuff it inside your quiver, it will prevent your arrows from rattling around or falling out of the quiver so easily.



#8. Ground Quiver.

Ground quivers are one of the few quivers I do like. Sometimes also called a Field Quiver, they are designed to hold your arrows for you when standing at the firing line.


#9. Bow String Dampeners.

Sometimes also called String Silencers. Dampeners are often made of fur, yarn, plastic or other materials. Plastic is the most common these days. The purpose of dampeners is to reduce the amount of noise your bow makes when it is shot. I favour fur myself, but hey, I am a traditionalist.


#10. Stabilizer.

Stabilizers come in two main styles. Hunting and Olympic style. Hunting Stabilizers are shorter, often heavier, and commonly used on compounds but can also be used on recurve bows. Olympic Stabilizers are primarily used on Olympics recurve bows and are significantly longer and sometimes come with side stabilizers which give it a Y shape. There are also recreational stabilizers and people who make homemade stabilizers. Like many things in the world of archery, they often come in a variety of colours too.


#11. Decorative Limb Skins.

This is something you add to personalize your bow a bit in terms of appearance. Camo is a popular choice for hunters, despite the fact that deer are colour blind and only notice motion.


#12. Decorative Wooden Handles.

These are usually more for compound bows, but it really depends on the type of riser being used on the bow as some other types of bows may be compatible if the riser is designed to take them. They are not necessarily wood either, they might be made of faux wood, plastic, carbon fibre, etc.


#13. Wrist Strap.

These are to prevent you from accidentally dropping your bow. I never use mine - mostly because I never drop my bow in that manner, so for me it is unnecessary. Look at the silly person below, he is wearing two of them. Is he worried one of them is going to break?


#14. Portable Archery Target.

Lots of people like using portable archery targets, but mostly hunters. I personally favour an archery target ball like the one further below made by Rinehart. I like throwing it at random distances and practicing figuring out where to aim at strange distances. It also works well on unusual terrain like shooting downhill or uphill.



#15. Bow Racks and Bow Stands.

Bow racks come in two varieties, those that stay at home for storing your bow(s) on (partially for display purposes), and those you take to the range with you for holding your bow when you are not shooting it - which are properly known as Bow Stands. Bow Racks are usually for storing multiple bows, usually at home. Bow Stands are more commonly used at the archery range, and usually with only one bow on it.

Bow Stands for Recurve Bows

Bow Rack at Home
After reading this you will probably have seen some things that you might want or have decided that you don't need for your own personal use. To each their own. Archery is very much about making personal decisions as to what kind of archer you want to be.

Want to learn more about archery? Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto.

Happy shooting!

20% Seniors Discount for Archery Lessons, May 1st to June 20th

For a limited time I am offered a Double Seniors Discount for Archery Lessons, starting May 1st and lasting until June 20th. My normal Seniors Discount is 10%, but I am doubling it to 20% off during this time period.

This offer is valid for weekday lessons only (mornings and afternoons) and only for lessons booked between May 1st and June 20th. For lessons further into the future the normal seniors discount of 10% applies.

Discounted Senior Rates (at 20% off) are as follows:

1 Student
$48 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $136; 5 Lessons - $216; 10 Lessons - $416.

Discounted Senior Rates (at 10% off) are as follows:

1 Student
$54 for 90 minutes; 3 Lessons - $153; 5 Lessons - $243; 10 Lessons - $468.

Now you might wonder, why do I give discounts to seniors? Honestly, because I love teaching seniors. They are simply a joy to teach and a joy to talk to. Teaching someone I enjoy teaching is pure bliss, and I don't mind giving a discount to attract more seniors to the sport of archery. The more seniors, the better in my opinion.

It is never too late to do archery.
 


Girl Pushups and More

The "Girl Pushup"
What is so bad about a "Girl Pushup" ?

It is exercise after all. And lets face it, some people cannot do normal pushups because they haven't reached that stage of athletic fitness - including some men.

It is not a "feminine thing" to be doing so-called "Girl Pushups". It is an "I am out of shape and cannot do a normal pushup yet style of pushup."

You will notice I underlined the word yet. That is the operative word. Do "Girl Pushups" often enough and you will eventually be able to do regular pushups.

Do regular pushups often enough and you will likely also try Incline Pushups or Decline Pushups. Or even One Hand Pushups.

Do various different styles of pushups often enough and you will eventually be able to do Handstand Pushups. Like the woman below is doing.


Clearly this means that Girl Pushups is just part of a gradual process of becoming better at pushups.


My point here is that you should never let embarrassment prevent you from doing exercises. Sometimes things are just names, and there is nothing wrong with doing a Girl Pushup - especially since people (men and women) do them all the time when they are rolling out of bed to get up in the morning.

When you do eventually get good enough to do regular pushups you will want to focus on the quality of your form. Keep your back straight and lower yourself so your chest is nearly touching the floor.

While it is more difficult to do proper form with a pushup, you get more benefits from doing the exercise properly.




Post #700 + Exercise Quotes

It has been awhile since I have made a post containing exercise quotes, and seeing as this is also the 700th post I felt it was time to do another Motivational Exercise Quotes post at the same time.

"Think working out is painful? Try liposuction and find out how painful that is."

"Anything worth having is worth working hard to get it."

"No one ever regrets being healthier."

"Every one breaks records when they strive to do their best - and beat their own records."

"The only way to have pride in yourself is to do something you didn't think you could do."

"Don't wait to make yourself a better person. Start today and become better by tomorrow."

"Sweating is easy. If exercising is hard, then it means you are making progress."

"Go outside. Do stuff you enjoy doing."

"Persistence doesn't come easily. You have to do it again and again and again."

"Even a baby can exercise. It is called baby steps."

"Facing challenges changes you - one step at a time."

"Exercise like you mean it."


A few statistics...

Since its first post CardioTrek.ca has been visited by over 1.6 million visitors, mostly from Canada and the USA.

Most of my clients live in Toronto, but the website gets visitors from around the world. Outside of North America, visitors are most likely to come from: United Kingdom, France, India, Germany, Australia, Russia, Taiwan + Mexico.

Not sure why CardioTrek is so popular in France, but sure. Whatever. I am okay with that. Might have something to do with the words "cardio trek", which means exactly the same thing in French. Apparently I picked a name that was perfectly bilingual. Maybe in the future I should make CardioTrek bilingual so it is also available in French? Hmm. Although truth be told my Korean is better than my French.

Archery Trivia

France has over 72,000 registered archers. More than any other European nation. France even has more archers than the USA.

There is a rumour (unsubstantiated) that French forces sometimes cut off two of the fingers of captured enemy archers so that they wouldn't be able to fight against the French later in the future. This supposedly led to the phrase the "Two Finger Salute", however there are many historians who question the accuracy of this rumour.

The phrase "keep it under your hat" speaks of an ancient tradition of archers keeping a spare bowstring under their hat so it doesn't get wet.

The phrase "playing fast and loose" refers to archery jargon for "fast" which was traditionally used to mean "stop shooting fast" and the word "loose", which means to loose your arrows at the enemy. "Playing fast and loose" thus originally meant a person who would stop and start things quickly.

The phrase "a bolt from the blue" refers to a person struck by a crossbow bolt launched from a long distance, coming out of the proverbial blue sky from an unknown crossbowman.

It could also be used to shoot broken or damaged arrows whenever the archer started running low on arrows.

Is Canada's Wonderland cheaper than a Toronto Gym?

Okay, stay with me on this one...

How much does it cost you to get a 1 month membership at a Toronto gym?

Well lets look at a few big box store style gyms around Toronto...

Extreme Fitness... Cost? ~ $70 to $100 per month.

Recently got bought out by GoodLife Fitness, is referred to as an Extreme Ripoff by a BlogTo.com review. They try to sucker people in with 1 month free deals or "$8 per month" deals that later turn out to have hidden fees, even though they claim there is no hidden fees. They also claim there is no annual contract, which is bogus because everyone who signs up at their gym is automatically put on the annual contract (it is in the fine print). Learn more about this by reading Extreme Fitness, Extreme Ripoff. For fun try contacting Extreme Fitness and try to get them to tell you their normal monthly rate over the phone and discover how evasive they are about answering that question. Extreme Fitness also has a notorious reputation for overcharging people, double charging people, and refusing to stop charging you even after you cancel your gym membership. They routinely overcharge customers on purpose.

GoodLife Fitness... Cost? $63.92 + HST per month.

Spoke to the nice lady on the phone and she quoted me the above price. However having read reviews and some of the info on the GoodLife website, that price is the bare minimum. GoodLife likes to add extra fees for everything you can think of. Towel service. Access to the pool. Access to tennis courts. Day Care services for your kids if you bring them to the gym with you. GoodLife is all about gouging you with the extra fees. With tax included the total is $72.23 per month.

Next lets look at an organization that should be cheaper because in theory they're supposed to be a non-profit.

YMCA... Cost? $48 to $58 + HST per month.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto operates 8 locations with a range of different facilities, some with both gyms and pools. The prices vary on what is available at the location. The price is above is the normal Adult rate for people 22 years old or older. Unlike other gyms however the YMCA also offers family rates with prices varying between $81 to $97. Thus if you are a couple and have kids, you can truly save a bundle. We should note that the YMCA also charges a signup fee when you become a member.

And finally lets look at something that isn't even a gym...

Canada's Wonderland... Cost? $89.99 for a season pass + $45 for all season parking.

And yes, you read it correctly. Canada's Wonderland is arguably cheaper to use as your own personal gym if you don't mind driving there and paying for parking. The $89.99 is the normal rate for an adult season pass. (It is fairly easy to get a discount however as they do promo codes on a regular basis.) The season pass gets you roughly 4 months of access to the park, the splashworks pool, all the rides, etc. Certain things which are optional are clearly going to cost extra, oh and you should really bring food with you because the food prices inside Canada's Wonderland are ridiculously expensive.

Thus a person could theoretically go there, exercise, go on rides, stand in long line ups regularly, go swimming, completely avoid the fattening / overpriced food, and ultimately only pay $89.99 +$45 + HST = $152.54 for the 4 month stay.

Compared to 4 months at the Toronto gyms mentioned above you would be spending:

Extreme Fitness... $280 to $400 for 4 months.
GoodLife Fitness... $288.92 for 4 months.
YMCA... $216.96 to $262.16 for 4 months.

So Canada's Wonderland is cheaper than all the above examples, you will clearly have more fun there, and it is ultimately the more frugal choice (even with the all season parking pass).

Want to know what is even cheaper?

Toronto Parks and Beaches... Cost? Zero $s per year.

Parking is free. Swimming is free. Ice cream is extra. All the sand and beautiful skies you could want. Many of Toronto's parks have many unusual amenities.

Unusual Amenities

The Toronto Archery Range at E. T. Seton Park.
Sunnybrook Stables at Sunnybrook Park (where you can take horse riding lessons for a reasonable fee).
Riverdale Farm Petting Zoo and Dog Park.
High Park Petting Zoo and Fishing Pond (and Swimming Pools, Tennis Courts, and more).
Mountain-bike Trails / Hiking Trails at Don Valley Brick Works Park.
Allan Gardens Conservatory and Dog Park.
Centennial Park Conservatory.
Centennial Park Ski and Snowboarding.
Earl Bales Park Ski and Snowboarding.

Toronto Parks also are home to beaches, pools, skateboard parks, mountain-bike / hiking trails, ice skating/hockey rinks, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, football/soccer/rugby fields, wading pools, water parks and more.

And the vast majority of Toronto Parks services are free.

Oh and lastly Toronto Parks and Recreation operates 81 community centres which have gyms and a wide variety of fitness options. If you live in Toronto then you probably live near one of them. Just register as a member and then just go.

Lastly universities often operate gyms which also open to the community, for a comparatively small fee. So if you live near Ryerson, U of T or York University those are also great options.

Exercising and Dehydration Vs Over-Hydration

Is it possible to drink too much water while exercising?

The short answer is Yes.

It is rather difficult, but still possible. All that is really needed is for a person to think they are dehydrated, drink too much water, and keep drinking because they think the symptoms they are experiencing are from dehydration - when in fact the symptoms of over-hydration are remarkably similar to dehydration.

The long answer requires us to explain the effects of dehydration and over hydration, especially the symptoms.
Dehydration is caused by the excessive loss of water from the body, which causes a rise in blood sodium levels. Since dehydration is most often caused by excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea, water loss is usually accompanied by a deficiency of electrolytes.
Mild to moderate dehydration symptoms
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness — children are likely to be less active than usual
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • No wet diapers for three hours for infants
  • Few or no tears when crying
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness or lightheaded
Severe dehydration symptoms
  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme fussiness or sleepiness in infants and children; irritability and confusion in adults
  • Very dry mouth, skin and mucous membranes
  • Little or no urination — any urine that is produced will be darker than normal
  • Sunken eyes
  • Shriveled and dry skin that lacks elasticity and doesn't "bounce back" when pinched into a fold
  • In infants, sunken fontanels — the soft spots on the top of a baby's head
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears when crying
  • Fever
  • In the most serious cases, delirium or unconsciousness
Over-Hydration is an excess of water in the body. People can develop over-hydration if they have a disorder that decreases the body's ability to excrete water or increases the body's tendency to retain water. Drinking too much water rarely causes over-hydration because normal kidneys easily excrete excess water.

Mild to moderate over-hydration symptoms
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • changes in mental state (confusion or disorientation)
 Severe over-hydration symptoms
  • dangerously low levels of sodium in the blood (hyponatremia)
  • muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • coma

Preventing Over-Hydration

Endurance athletes such as long distance runners can reduce the risk of over-hydration by weighing themselves before and after a race to determine how much water they have lost and need to replenish.

Individuals exercising should avoid drinking more than one liter per hour of fluid. Drinking more fluids before and during a race or an intensive athletic exertion can also help you avoid the need to drink too much water afterwards. Sports beverages that contain the electrolytes sodium and potassium are also recommended, as both are lost in sweat.

If you have an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, or kidney problems, talk to your doctor about the best treatments for those conditions. If you experience excessive thirst or an overly strong urge to drink water, contact your doctor before you develop symptoms - it could indicate a problem that requires treatment and careful monitoring.

Drink healthy!

Bullseye at 195 feet with an Antique Recurve

Personal Note

Today for fun I decided to try shooting an antique recurve bow at 65 yards (195 feet) on a windy day (gusting 15 to 25 kmph).

Now it should be noted that antique archery equipment doesn't always stand up to the test when being shot for accuracy, especially at longer distances - but the bow in question is a true beauty. A 1975 Browning Wasp, a 50 pounder.

On the right here is three Browning bows, all of them antiques. It was a rare coincidence when three archers with older Browning bows were all at the Toronto Archery Range together and we decided to take some photos of the three bows together.

On the left is a 25 lb Browning Cobra.

In the middle is my 50 lb Browning Wasp.

And the bow on the right is a 55 lb  3-piece Browning recurve bow (model name forgotten, I shall find out the next time I see the archer who owns it).

Now you might wonder - why I am shooting such an antique bow? It is literally older than I am. Well, I firmly believe that the older bows are both beautiful to look at and will often surprise you with their quality and accuracy, even after 41 years like the Browning Wasp does for me.

I had also never shot a 50 lb bow at 65 yards ever before, and I wanted to see just how much accuracy I could get with the antique - despite the strong winds. Had I picked a less windy day to try this on I might have fared better, but not much better than a bullseye I would wager. (A warmer day would have been nicer too.)

I have had bullseyes before at targets between 50 and 70 yards, so that is nothing new, but achieving that on a windy day - with a bow most people would be skeptical about - had me so happy I was grinning like a Cheshire cat and hopping up and down (as one friend pointed out later) like "a kid in a candy shop". Nothing like a long distance bullseye to make you very happy for the rest of the day.

Note - I don't always get so excited about a single bullseye. It was the combination of wind, long distance, older bow and other factors that made that one shot so much more interesting.

Maybe next time I shoot at that distance the wind will be more cooperative and I will get multiple bullseyes. Won't know unless I work at it. During the summers I routinely like shooting at longer distances because it forces the archer to concentrate harder on their goal in an effort to attain ideal form and thus execute more controlled and accurate shots. The added concentration levels of facing a difficult challenge I find is beneficial to improving the quality of one's accuracy.

Below my bullseye of the day. Huzzah!


If you are looking for archery lessons in Toronto or if you need some archery advice, feel free to ask.

Five Exercises for Increasing Your Metabolic Rate

Increasing your metabolic rate is one of the easiest ways to get in shape and lose weight. Below are five exercises that boost your metabolism - and they're frugal, using only your bodyweight.

The primary purpose of these exercise is to get your heart rate up, which kickstarts the Afterburn Effect - a major boost to your metabolic rate and starts a fat burning process in your body. You should do the exercises until your heart feels tired, and then rest.

Best of all, these are exercises you can do every day, for 1 to 2 minutes each. 5 to 10 minutes per day isn't much, but if you are getting Afterburn Effect going then it will give you more energy for the rest of the day as you will feel more energetic, more alert, and you will be burning fat for approx. 24 to 48 hours after the exercises. Do them every day, and the Afterburn Effect is extended and multiplied, causing rapid fat burning.

Note - If you have a known heart condition you should consult your doctor before doing any exercises which could effect your heart.

Step-Ups - use a step or platform that is about 4-6 inches high. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and jump onto the step or platform at least 15 times. Repeat after walking around the platform in a complete circle.


Squats - stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your arms to your side. Pretend there is a chair behind you and almost sit bringing your arms out in front keeping your back flat and abdominal muscles pulled in.


Push-ups - begin on your knees or feet and place your hands shoulder-width apart on the step or platform. Inhale as you lower your body to the step and exhale as you push yourself up. Repeat for 15 repetitions. Pay attention to your form while doing push-ups, you want to do them properly to get the full effect.



Tricep Dips - sit with your back to the step and place your hands behind you on the step. Lift and lower your body using your tricep muscles to do the work keeping your elbows in line with your wrists. Repeat 12 times.


Lunges - stand with one foot on the step and place your other foot behind you so that your front knee is over your heel. Lower your body keeping your shoulders in line with your hips at least 12 times for each leg. Repeat on the other leg.


BONUS EXERCISE

Jumping Jacks - These old school exercises are actually amazingly effective as they get your heart racing fast, use both upper body and lower body simultaneously, and they require minimal space to do. Jumping Jacks are amazing at boosting heart rate and consequently your metabolic rate.


Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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