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Staying Flexible In & Out of the Saddle


As everyone knows, a large portion of the United States New Year’s Resolution is to “be more active” and “go to the gym more!” Well yours can be too! If you are a rider-your work-outs can actually be geared towards becoming a stronger rider. Sounds good, right? You can do these simple exercises by focusing on your body even when you are not on the horse. Riding takes a set of very unique muscles that most people don’t normally use every day. A new goal in 2018? Perhaps it should be the year to strengthen all these unique muscles to help you become a stronger rider?! It would be very hard to name all the muscles that riders use while riding since our bodies are doing an immense amount of work all over to help us stay on the horse. I will be honing in on a few of the core riding muscles, and ways that you can strengthen them! The circuits below should be repeated three times! You can choose to do all of them during your workout, or pick the workout based on the muscle you want to make stronger.

*Disclaimer I am not a medical professional or a certified personal trainer! I am just an experienced rider who is passionate about health and fitness and wanted to share some tips :)

Gluteus Maximus: Also known as the butt! The Gluteus Maximus is the largest muscle in the butt, which also consists of the Gluteus Medius and the Gluteus Minimus. While riding this muscle can help give the rider power to send and drive your mount forward and keeping yourself and your mount centered and balanced.

Example Gluteus Maximus Circuit

​Repeat circuit 3x or 4x for an extra challenge!

Weighted Walking Lunges: 24 reps (12 each leg)

​-Start by grabbing a set of weights that you are comfortable with. Start off by doing a basic lunge and place one knee in front of you at a 90 degree angle, and the other one behind you straught back. Repeat this by switching to the next leg, and continuing to move forward with each lunge.

Single Leg Hip Thrust: 20 reps (10 each leg)

-Start with one foot bent on the ground, and the other laying flat on the ground. Push yourself up with your bent leg and keep your leg straight when you are raising. Keep the leg being raised straight and try not to bend it!(Picture shown to the left)

Weighted Step Ups: 24 reps (12 each leg)

-Grab a set of dumbbells or one single barbell and head to an elevated area. A chair can be used or a stool or step found at the gym. With your weights ready to go, step up on the surface with your weights. Repeat 12 times for each leg.

Barbell Hip Thrust : 20 reps

- This exercise is to be done at the gym where a bench and barbell is accessible. Start on the side of the bench with your elbows/forearms resting on bench and your legs extended out in front of you in chair position. Position the barbell across your lap laying on your hips. Once ready grab a hold of the barbell and push the barbell up with your legs and hips.

Gluteus Medius: a muscle none of us probably think about when we are riding, it is also sometimes referred to as the “The Forgotten Butt Muscle”. This muscle is located on the outer surface of the pelvis and is one of the three muscles included in the buttocks. A strong Gluteus Medius will allow the rider to have better control over their mount while using leg aids correctly. A rider with a weak Gluteus Medius, but not be able to use the leg aids properly and steer towards using incorrect muscles like the knee or foot to guide the mount.

Example Gluteus Medius Circuit

​Repeat circuit 3x or 4x for an extra challenege

Side Laying Clam: 20 reps(each side

​​-Start off by laying to one side, with your legs stacked on top of each other and your arms placed on the floor in front of you. Bring your heels together on top of each other, and make a bend in your legs. While keeping your heels together slowly peel your knees away from each other, and then back together.

Side Laying Clam

Donkey Kicks: 20 reps

-Get on all fours and raise your one leg up in the air with a bent knee and lift it about an inch while keeping it in the position(like shown in the picture below)

Banded Side Lying Leg Raises:20 reps

-This exercise can be done with or without a resistance band! Start standing up straight with access to a wall or stable item to lean on. If using resistance band place around your ankles. Slowly move your one leg laterally off the floor, while keeping your other leg stable. Repeat on the other side and make sure you aren’t moving to fast!

Fire Hydrants: 20 reps

-Get on all fours, keep one leg bent on the floor while the other leg is lifted up in the air to the side at a 90 degree angle. Life the bent knee in the air, parallel to the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.

The Abdomen: Having a strong core is extremely important for riders, on and off the horse! As we all know, owning horses requires a lot of heavy lifting including feed, muck buckets and hay bales. There are four main muscles in the abdomen; The internal oblique muscles, the external oblique muscles, the rectus abdominis and the transversus abdominis. Below is a general sample circuit to strengthen all the muscles in the abdomen.

Example Core Circuit

​Repeat circuit 3x, or 4x for an extra challenge!

Side to Side toe taps: 30 reps

-Sit in a slighlty upright position and reach for one side of your toes, and then do the same thing on the opposite side.

Bicycle Crunch: 40 reps (20 each leg)

-Start by lying on your back, hand behind your head legs laying flat on the ground. The opposite elbow will come up and touch the opposite leg, and then to the other side. This exercise might be easy for you, but for it to really work this exercise must be done slowly!