By: Megan Arszman
If you’ve been following along with our Healthy Horse Show Living series (see below), you’ll know that eating a balanced diet is a big part of maintaining an active lifestyle both on the road and at home. But what should be done to maximize leg strength when you’re not in the saddle and maintain endurance for trotting in that deep, arena dirt during showmanship?
The next part of this series is devoted to easy workouts you can incorporate at home and on the road. With the help of Monica Brant, 1998 IFBB Fitness Olympia and 2010 and 2013 WBFF World’s Pro Figure Champion, we’re going to show you how to work on your stamina and strength with fun workouts you can even do in the barn!
“Consistency is key to success, and our bodies and minds work best with routine,” Brant says. “I realize it’s very hard to stay on the exact same routine at horse shows, but it will pay off with a healthy body that’s capable of withstanding all the long hours, providing more mental focus on riding and patterns, and connecting with your coach and horse.”
One common concern about starting a fitness routine is not having the time to workout. Not true. If you have an extra 20-30 minutes, you have enough time to get in a decent workout.
“Unless someone is trying out for the Olympics, there is no need for hours of exercise on a daily basis,” Brant says. “I would recommend two to four times weekly, about 30-60 minutes per session.”
Any equipment needed for these workouts is inexpensive and easy to find. You can find fitness mats and wrist weights at any department store and balance pods and resistance bands at any sporting goods store or online.
First in our workout series, Brant focuses on tips to strengthen the lower body. According to horse trainer, Brad Jewett, who happens to be Brant’s husband, “Strong legs are the foundation of a proper body position.”
Here’s your lower 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!)
1.) Step Back Lunge with Knee Lift
You can do this with or without resistance bands, so it’s great to do in the barn alleyway in the morning before your classes. Without resistance bands, place your hands on your hips while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take your right leg and step back into a lunge position and bend—making sure your front leg is in a straight line from knee to heel (you want to be able to see your toes stick out in front of your knee). Bend your back knee, then drive forward to a stand-up position, hiking that back knee up to your waist. Repeat with your other leg. Do three sets of ten to start out.
If you’re using resistance bands, secure the bands around a pole or stall door and make sure you keep consistent tension on the bands.
2.) Plié Jumping Jacks
A little bit of cardio mixed with lower leg toning is a great way to boost your heart rate with plié jumping jacks. Start with your hands on your hips, feet hip-width apart. Squat down, then explode straight up. Do 20 of these to start out.
If this is a little too difficult to start off with, you can do a combination of air squats and regular jumping jacks to work up to the plié jacks.
3.) Split Lunge with Rotation
Step forward with your right leg into a forward lunge (again, make sure you can see your toes poke out from in front of your bent knee). Then, twist your core as you bend down to touch your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Repeat with the left leg and right hand. Do 15 reps on each side.
4.) Hip Drills—Straight Back
Using a mat, or at least on a soft, clean area, start off on your hands and knees. Your arms should be in a straight line from your shoulders down to your wrist, and your knees should be in a straight line from your hips. Your spine is neutral and flat. Take one leg and kick back, concentrating on tightening your glutes (buttocks), hamstrings, core, and lower back. Then, bring your knee forward to your arms. Repeat 10 times for each leg.
5.) Hip Drills—Out to the Side
Start in the same position as the previous hip drills. Take your left leg and lift up to the side (like a dog hiking his leg), then kick out. Repeat 10 times for each leg.
Bonus exercise: Buddy Walking Lunges
With a buddy, like Miss Maeli, you can add some resistance to your lunges as your fitness improves! There are many ways you can add to these exercises as they start to get easier, but be cautious when starting out.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the nutrition portion of our Healthy Horse Show Living series: