3 Reasons All Riders Should Be Strength Training
Whilst cardio exercise is a great form of aerobic training for riders & can help to maintain the health of your heart & lungs strength training is just as if not more important to help you stay injury-free, support bone & muscle health & help you to be the strongest rider you can be.
Many female riders get put off strength training & the weight room for the fear of looking “bulky” or “getting big”. But this is in fact, a great myth & will only happen if you implemented a consistent calorie surplus & train very heavy multiple times a week. It can help to shape & tone your physique & sculpt muscle in places you’ve never noticed before.
But from a physical health point of view strength training can protect riders from serious injury. These are my top 3 reasons why all riders should be strength training;
1- Weight training helps to strengthen muscles & tendons & helps to increase the flexibility of muscles. In turn, this minimises the risk of a muscle being torn or strained which is key for riders to stay fit. It can help to balance out your body & muscles so you are evenly strong, if you have one muscle far stronger than another then this can also cause injury from the imbalance. Being as balanced as you can through your muscles is important for your balance in the saddle & for your seat to be able to give effective aids as well as keeping your horse balanced & sound.
2-Strength training strengthens your bones as well as your muscles which is essential for riders. When we fall it is our bodies that take that impact when we hit the ground & as we all know that can be pretty hard! By stressing your bones during training you can strengthen your bone density which helps to protect against serious injuries during falls, also minimising the risk of osteoporosis. The stronger your bones are the less likely the chance of a bad injury when you hit the deck, strength training won’t stop you from breaking bones but it sure will help! The stronger your bones the longer your riding career will be as you stay fighting fit & healthy. Training will help to preserve muscle mass as you age which should be a high priority if you want to stay active & living your horsey lifestyle as you age. Studies have shown that how much muscle mass you carry is directly linked with how long you live for.
3-Strength training will improve your physique & body composition. Although appearance is not often a goal for riders let’s not lie, as women we all like to look good. Many riders spend their days on their feet from 6 in the morning till 10 at night racking up the steps & are exhausted when they get into bed. Despite how physically active they are & how much running around they do they still don’t have that “toned” physique they want & don’t get why. Bodies respond to strength training by building & increasing muscle mass. The more muscle you carry the more your metabolic rate increases & therefore how much body fat you burn on a daily basis is also increased in turn. Lifting weights helps to drop body fat, reduce inches & reveal that toned appearance you have always dreamed of. You spend all day looking after your horse to make sure he looks like a carved athlete so do the same for yourself, for all your hard work you deserve to look like an athlete too!
Both strength & cardiovascular training have their places but it is important to understand what you can achieve through each method of training. Aerobic fitness is key for riders to be able to have the endurance & lung capacity to get around the cross country course but strength is equally as important if you’re fit but not strong you will still find you struggle to not lie on the neck 5 minutes in! I hope this helps you to understand the importance of strength training & how it can help your riding!