Strength Training for Improved Energy: The Mitochondria Connection

How incorporating strength training can impact your energy levels to help with the demands of life with horses.

Discovering the role strength training can have on your riding and overall energy levels is something I am passionate about.

I get emails from clients regularly asking for ways to improve overall energy and stamina. Clients who feel like they are running on fumes, no matter how much coffee or sleep they get.

Owning horses requires a great deal of stamina and strength. Not just for the riding, but the general chores and maintenance. Then if you add on top of that property work and your day job, you need all the energy you can get just to get through your day.

First of all, it’s important to know that everything matters, your nutrition, your sleep, your habits and your daily stresses all impact your overall energy. For this article though, I want to zoom a lens in on strength and the role your muscles play in your energy.


Muscle Mass and Overall Energy

When you are tired the last thing you want to do is spend any of your precious energy on making your body sore from strength training or have those sore muscles prevent you from doing your chores or slow you down.

Trust me, I get it!

However, one thing to understand is that our muscles require us to use them and challenge them in order for them to maintain their strength, and produce energy and power. If we don’t we lose it. Fast. You only need to look at a muscle when it has been injured when it comes out of a cast.

When you are tired, it’s hard to even comprehend that doing exercise let alone strength training could shift you out of this exhausted cycle you are in.

But it can.


The Aging Process

From the age of 25-30 our body starts its natural decline, its part of life. We begin to lose muscle mass at a rate of approx 1% each year. This muscle mass is what helps us create energy.

When we are tired and mentally exhausted it can cause us to become inactive, and resort to the couch and a glass of wine after a long day at the office.

The last thing you feel like doing is something like exercise, however, the less we use our muscles, the less energy we have.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The great news is though, you can increase your strength no matter your age. There is more and more evidence of this and I see it every day with our DRT participants.

The biggest thing that changes as we age is how much we need to do to maintain our muscle mass because we lose it faster. So while your younger self may have had a good baseline of strength, you today may need to work more to keep that baseline you once had. And unless you work at it, that baseline naturally declines as you age. It’s sad, but it is the truth.

But you can do this! You can improve your strength and your muscle health, no matter your age. And you can actually boost your energy levels with more strength training!  The key lies in understanding the role of mitochondria in our bodies.

Let me explain.


Mitochondria: The Energy Powerhouses of Our Cells

Mitochondria are tiny organelles found in every cell in our bodies, and they’re often referred to as the “powerhouses” of our cells. They’re responsible for producing energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) through a process known as cellular respiration. The more ATP our cells produce, the more energy we have to tackle the tasks of daily life by owning horses.


How Strength Training Boosts Mitochondria Function

Strength training has been shown to increase the number of mitochondria in our cells, as well as improve their function. This happens because when we use resistance training whether, in the form of body weight exercises or weights, we’re putting our muscles under stress, which triggers a response from our bodies to adapt and become stronger. This adaptation process involves the creation of new mitochondria and the improvement of existing ones, which in turn leads to increased energy production.

In addition to boosting the number and function of mitochondria, strength training can also help improve the efficiency of our energy production process. This is because when we strength train, we’re using a high amount of energy, which requires our cells to work harder and produce more ATP. This increased demand for energy can actually make our cells more efficient at producing ATP, leading to even more energy available for us to use.


How Strength Training Can Improve Your Energy for Riding?

So, what does all this mean for you and your energy levels? Well, the more efficient your cells are at producing ATP, the more energy you’ll have to tackle the tasks of owning a horse and life in general.

This means that incorporating strength training into your routine can help you feel less fatigued and more alert, even when you’re faced with a demanding schedule or a long to-do list.

In addition to boosting your energy levels, strength training has a number of other benefits that can also contribute to improved energy. For example, strength training can:

  • Improve your sleep quality: Poor sleep can leave you feeling drained and sluggish, but strength training has been shown to improve sleep quality, which can help you feel more refreshed and energized.
  • Boost your mood: Exercise, including strength training, has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, which can help you feel more energetic and motivated.
  • Increase metabolism: Strength training can increase your metabolism, which means you’ll be burning more calories even when you’re not working out. This can help you maintain a healthy weight and feel more energized overall.
  • Improved blood flow : Getting the blood moving around your body and improving oxygen levels helps to create more energy.
  • Plus improve your riding! : Have a read of this article here


Incorporating Strength Training into Your Fitness Routine

So, how can you incorporate strength training into your fitness routine? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start simple: If you’re new to strength training, it’s important to start gentle and allow your body to gradually build strength up. Here are some simple glute strength exercises to get started with.
  • Focus on movements that improve your posture and alignment to help your riding: When we have better form and posture we prevent injury and improve our performance in the saddle.
  • Incorporate strength training into your weekly routine alongside work that helps improve your range of motion, mobility and suppleness. Which is all part of DRT programs, learn more here 


Our DRT system is built upon four elements. Each element playing a crucial role in helping you develop as a rider. Take a look at our system and download the free guide to get you started on your journey today.


Want to get started on your strength today? Check out these articles here

The Underestimated Power Of Strength Training For Riders

Strength Training For Dressage

The Natural Decline

Glute Strengthening Exercises For Dressage Riders

7 Exercises To Improve Lower Body Strength And Balance

Dressage Rider Leg Strength – 6 Exercises To Help You Improve

7 Simple Ways To Improve Your Core Strength For Dressage Riders


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