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Equestrian Exercises: Upper Body Workout

Filed under: Featured,Health & Training |     
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Martin

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Martin

By: Megan Arszman

When it comes to workouts, it’s important to vary your activities. While you’re writing down these workouts, also remember that you should record your workout challenges and improvements.

“I recommend keeping a journal of what was accomplished with each session, so you can see your progress and remember exactly what was performed each time,” recommends Monica Brant, 1998 IFBB Fitness Olympia and 2010 and 2013 WBFF World’s Pro Figure Champion.

Last time, we brought you a lower body workout sure to get your buns and thighs burning. If you missed it, click here to view Healthy Horse Show Living: Lower Body Workout. Now, it’s time to concentrate on your upper body.

You might not think that upper body strength is that important when it comes to riding your horse, but it’s all connected, says horse trainer Brad Jewett. “Much like a dancer needs to hold their body in a frame, with a strong upper body for a dance, a rider needs to also hold their body in a frame with strength for all high level of performance events such as showmanship, horsemanship and equitation.”

Brant agrees. “The upper body needs to be conditioned to hold the chest up and shoulders balanced, because horses are led by the position of our upper body. We need to have connection to each muscle group in order to guide the horse by our movements with our shoulders.”

For your upper body workout, you’ll need resistance/exercise bands and weighted wrist wraps, which you can find at any sporting goods store or online.

Here’s your upper body workout:

(Click on each exercise to enlarge the photos and side description. To help make your workout even easier you can save these images in your phone or pin on your Pinterest account, so you’ll have them wherever you are!)

standing band row

1.) Standing Band Row 

Using resistance/exercise bands wrapped around a secure pole, stand until the bands are taut. Stand with your feet hip width apart, with a little bend in your knees and hips. Starting with your arms straight in front of you, from the shoulders (thumbs up), pull back together, squeezing your shoulder blades back and together, keeping your core tight. Slowly release and repeat 15 times.

A variation could consist of starting with your arms in front of you, palms up. Then, rotate so they’re facing each other as you bring your elbows back.

posture pulls

2.) Posture Pulls

Using resistance/exercise bands, start off standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the resistance/exercise band in both hands in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Raise the band over your head with your arms straight, then pull out, squeezing your shoulders.

You can pull the band in front of you (pull down over your chest) and behind your head. A third variation is to hold the hand in front of your chest and pull out. Repeat 10 times each variation.

superman wide

3.) Superman—Wide

Using a mat and wrist weights, lie on your stomach with your legs and arms stretched out. Start by lifting your chest and legs off the ground (this really works your glutes and lower back as well), keeping your hands in front of your head. Then, pull your hands back and down towards your hips, like you’re flying. Repeat 10 times.

superman narrow

4.) Superman—Narrow

Use the same position as the previous exercise. This time, you will just pull your elbows down, squeezing your shoulder blades down and back. Repeat 10 times.

saddle curls

5.) Saddle Bicep Curls

Think that western saddle is just for riding? Think again! Using your saddle, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Hold your western saddle with your hands on each end. Drop the saddle down to your waist, then, focusing on your biceps, curl the saddle up to your chest. Repeat 10 times.

Repeat these five exercises three times each for a fluid workout. Remember to keep hydrated while working out.

If you have questions for our fitness guru, please send an email to b.bevis@equinechronicle.com.

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