It is pretty incredible how much muscle tone you can get without lifting a single weight! I absolutely love workouts in which I used my own body weight to tone, sculpt, and strengthen my body. I feel that body weight exercises help my riding more than any other type of workout, particularly because I gain so much control over my body. Being able to control your body is essential when guiding a 1,000 plus pound partner! I also love the strong, yet lean and agile feel I get.
What are body weight workouts? Think yoga, pilates, piyo (a fusion of the two), tai chi, and even many cardio or strength based workouts. Basically, “body weight workouts” are workouts in which you use your own body (no machines, weights, or equipment besides perhaps a yoga mat) to strengthen and tone your muscles.
- No equipment (besides maybe a yoga mat) – Obviously this can save money, if you work out from home, and you can also do body weight workouts from anywhere! Since you don’t need equipment, or a ton of space, you can easily keep up with your routine while on the traveling on the show circuit!
- Softer on your joints – Yoga and pilates (and similar workouts) cause very little impact on your joints, yet create just as much strength as you get from lifting weights!
- Body control – Using your own body, gives you so much insight into how your body works. You also learn how to isolate different muscle groups, and develop so much control and agility. This is so helpful when you are on a horse, especially green horses. I also find that I am more in tune to what my horse’s body is doing than I used to be!
- Flexibility – The value of flexibility is more than being able to show people how far your body can bend. The greatest value of flexibility is injury prevention. Think about it, if you have greater range of motion then you have more protection in falls. Your body can bend more. I am not saying that you will never get injured if you are flexible, but you will lower your risk of injury in falls – as well as decrease wear and tear on your joints!
- Core strength – Exercises like yoga and pilates will work your core throughout just about the entire workout! When you’re working your legs, you’re also working your core. Moving through a sun salutation works your core. Core strength is so important for riders!!! It protects your back, as well as helps you to maintain your equitation!
I highly recommend body weight exercises for riders, even if it is just a few moves here and there or a yoga class once a week! Remember, we are athletes just like our horses are and we need to take care of ourselves as such!!!
(P.S. If you would like to know more about what I offer as a fitness coach, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)