To have a strong core you need to strengthen your 6 pack
Yes your core is made up of your 6 pack (rectus abdominus), however it is just one muscle of many. They work togther to function as your core. As riders, our 6 pack is not of high importance - it is a power muscle, which is not relevant most of the time when riding. However it does provides a support function, so needs to be as strong as the other muscles.
When trying to engage your deep core muscles, you must press your back into the floor
No no no, please don't do this! Your spine, as we have learnt, is an 'S' shape, so by pressing the back into the floor, we are stretching out the curves and flattening, so the vertebrae that make up your spine are no longer in alignment. Instead think about keeping your spine in neutral - where the pelvis is parallel, and not tilted forwards or backwards, and the spine has its natural curves.
When trying to use your core, we should brace and suck in our stomachs
Yes we do need to engage our TrA, but gently so that it is activated, but not so much that we are engaging everything so that our core becomes tense and immobile, we restrict our breathing and we lock down the pelvis. When your core is on correctly, you should feel it working but should still be able to breathe easily, move naturally and easily move the pelvis. This does take practice though
Lots of Ab Curls, Sit Ups and Planks will give me a strong core for riding
Yes these exercises do strengthen your core, but as riders, we need more functional exercises. When we are riding, our core is working whilst we are in a seated position - holding our body up, and allowing our pelvis to move. The other exercises are working with gravity in a different way and don not require the same pelvic control. A good core programme will incorporate a range of exercises that will function your core in a variety of positions
The Swissball is the best way to start strengthening our core
Yes the swissball is a great tool for working your core, but ONLY once the basics have been grasped. If you hop on a swissball before you can fire up your core properly, keep the spine in neutral and the pelvis controlled, you will just reinforce old habits. Start with the basic floor lying exercises and progress on to the ball once the basics are well established.
Fitness watches, smart watches and apps are all the rage at the moment with new ones appearing on the market all the time. Most of you may know that the recommended daily number of steps is 10,000, but why should you brave the weather, get out of your chair and stride those pavements, just to hit that 10k target? Health Benefits To reduce your risk of a stroke, getting diabetes or heart disease, it is recommended that we all do 150 accumulative minutes of moderate exercise a week, which equates to 30 minutes each week day. 10,000 steps a day has been calculated to equate to 30 minutes moderate exercise a day, helping you to hit your target
Following on from my previous blog on where to start your winter training, you should now have a clear understanding of what areas you need to focus on. However, where do you now start? Whenever I am building a training plan for the winter, we always start with the basics. If the basics aren’t good enough, we should not be progressing them on to more advanced and performance enhancing exercises. Doing so would only lead to a higher risk of injury, and also incorrect technique, which would reduce their performance gains. But what basics do we need to grasp?
Have you every had to compete after a session at the gym, or had an intense dressage session, and then need to head to the gallops the next day, or even just get out of bed, ready to face the day. Muscles soreness from exercise (DOMS) can be a killer, making even the simplest tasks like getting out of bed, sitting on the toilet and walking up the 5 stairs at work, a complete nightmare. But what if you could reduce those days, enabling you to train more frequently and more effectively!! Every time we train we fatigue our muscles and other elements of our body, making them weaker for a short period of time. Ideally we want them to have recovered and feel stronger before we next train, and recovery is the key ingredient.
Winter is a great time to focus on yourself. "Why?" I hear you say. Simple. Normally there are fewer competitions, so it frees up a little time to do some exercise. The days are shorter, with longer periods of darkness, so less time to ride, and hopefully a little more time to improve your riding with work off the horse. Finally, it is a great time to make changes without worrying about what effect it is going to have on the body and your performance. During the season, you don't want to make big changes to your current regime, a bit like you may not want to go and teach your horse changes, or complex movements that might upset their way of going. So how do you decide what to work on?
I love a good warm up before riding, but today mine was somewhat different. It started well - a few squats whilst mucking out, some walking lunges and I was about to start my dynamic stretches when the girls' demon pony escaped. I say escaped, but what I actually mean is that she whipped past Elly as Elly was opening the door to play with her. And play she did, first we had a bit of hide and seek in the other stables, followed by a bit of tag, finishing off with Grandma's footsteps until the speed merchant was caught. I ignored the smirks as I put her back in the box, and told Elly to not let her out again. She promptly replied 'But Mummy, you had some much fun playing with her, and it was so funny to watch. You should take her running with you Mummy as she is faster than you."
So after my slightly manic warm up, I finally got back to my proper warm up, and yes I did continue it, because although I had got my heart and lungs going, and my muscles warm, there are more benefits to a riding warm than just getting warm.
Since I started in the fitness industry over 10 years ago, combining fitness and riding, it is really interesting to see how much has changed - riders are so much more aware of their core; there are pilates courses designed for riders and there is even specially designed equipment for riders to work their core. But why is your core so important for riding?
Research has shown that readers do improve their fitness when riding. Our heart rate levels average at around 60-85% of our maximum heart rate, so will improve your general fitness levels. However do riders need to do other forms of cardio exercise to improve their riding?
There are so many ways to improve your cardio fitness these days, but what are the best methods for riders? This week's blog explores the pros and cons of each element, as well as giving you some simple top tips.Read More...
We all know that sitting down all day can reduce our flexibility and mobility, reduce our fitness levels, and help us gain a few pounds, but unless you have a massive career change around the corner, or hit the jackpot on the lottery, chances are you will still need to sit at your desk and work. So what can you do whilst working at your desk?
Christmas only comes round once a year, so we all like to indulge. However, without realising it, we can have put on a few pounds, so we are share some simple ways to burn off those extra calories without going to the gym
Yes, the photo above is me on my first pony at Pony Club, and yes, apparently I can still look equally stuffy when I ride. You see I wasn’t born into a horsey family - my mum loved riding but my grandfather was in the Royal Marines so they travelled too much for her to develop her passion for riding. However, what we lacked in knowledge, we made up for with sheer effort.
Do you want to be able to improve your riding?
Do you want to be fitter and better?
Do you want to train like an athlete?
Winter may seem long, but I always find that you reach Christmas and then realise there are only a few weeks left before the season is getting read to start again. The best way to make the most of your winter is to have a plan, and w rare going to help you to compile your plan today.
1) Look over your seasons results
Grab your dressage sheets, or look up your results, and properly evaluate how last season went - what went week, what didn’t work, and what areas do you need to work on to get better results. This is the best way to decide what your winter training plan needs to focus on.