04 Apr Is Strength Training Beneficial For My Riding Fitness?
It’s common for dressage riders to be unsure of how to improve their fitness to enhance their riding. Strength is one of the key factors that can influence how you perform on your horse.
By strength, I’m not implying we need to be olympic weight lifters and lift crazy heavy weights in the gym. What we do need to be focusing on is enhancing our body’s biomechanics. This will ensure we’re correctly aligned and strong to maintain great posture when we’re on our horse.
Gaining strength can help your riding excel
The force of our horse’s movement underneath us has the potential to impact our alignment and balance. Without the strength to maintain good core position and a balanced pelvis while in the saddle, our alignment is compromised. This can result in poor form and connection with our horse, as well as, leave us open to injuries.
This is where working on your fitness and strength off the horse is beneficial and can enhance your riding. It will also help keep you riding for longer.
Some professional dressage riders can be working up to ten horses a day. These riders generally have the strength they need to maintain the physical fitness required to perform with their horse because they have a lot of hours in the saddle training. These riders may not need to do the additional work off the horse to improve upon their strength, some may…
It’s likely they may be doing other forms of training to improve their mobility and to address any tightness in the form of yoga or specific stretching and strength training.
It’s another story for those people who may be riding two or three times a week while working in a 9-5pm desk job. Doing additional work off the horse to enhance their fitness, strength and balance will be highly beneficial when it comes time to get into the saddle.
I get it, you would rather be riding than working out. Me to!
For some of us your focus may really need to be developing a stronger core, while others will need to focus on creating a neutral spine or loosening up tight areas. It’s about getting the balance between strength and suppleness right and if you are hitting roadblocks in your training, maybe its time to look at yourself before blaming the horse.
If you’re unsure where to start, consider the following things:
How can I enhance my strength?
What areas of my body are tight and lacking in mobility?
Do I need to build upon my core strength?
Am I compromising my biomechanics?
Is my body even on both sides in strength, balance and flexibility?
When you understand where your strength is lacking and what you’re trying to achieve in your horse, focusing on your own fitness off the horse becomes relatively easy and a no brainer to consider as part of the equation.
Understanding your goals as a rider and your lifestyle will help you fill the gaps in your training to ensure when you get on your horse, you’re in the best condition to perform optimally with your horse. When you put the time in and focus on your fitness, you’re less likely to be holding your horse back which will see your riding excel.
This is why I develop our extremely specific Dressage Rider Training program. 3 x 20 minute workouts per week to work on your rider strength, fitness and mobility over 12 weeks. Its about helping you shine as a dressage rider and help you enjoy your riding even more. Learn more about our program here.