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Core Strength

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  • Core Strength

    I've recently taken two months off of riding due to my instructor's maternity leave, and during those two months I did Crossfit six days a week. Crossfit centers on useful total-body strength rather than pumping up particular muscle groups (think tough, wiry bodies instead of body builder bodies). As a result, I'm now strong all over, particularly through my core and back. Before, I was tiny and wimpy, with underdeveloped muscles.

    It was incredible how much of an effect it had on my riding tonight! Suddenly, on the same horse, and even after two months off, sitting the trot was so much easier. I was secure and confident in situations that would have had me bouncing all over the saddle before. Everything about riding, everything my instructor asked me to do, was just plain easier. I knew it would have an effect on my riding, but I didn't know it would be that pronounced.

    Consider this a PSA for strong bodies and strong riders. It makes a huge difference!
    www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

  • #2
    Not to say it wasn't the Crossfit, but it could have been the cross training or even just the time off. Either way, a fit rider is definitely a better rider. Good job!

    Comment


    • #3
      My daughter is now doing the Wii Fit Yoga and strengthening to help with her core.
      "If you've got a horse, you've got a problem"

      Comment


      • #4
        I totally agree! It is absolutely amazing what working on your core strength and overall fitness will do for your riding. I've been doing Crossfit for 4 months and have noticed my riding improve in leaps and bounds, and I have been riding and showing successfully for years. I've always had a slight issue with letting my right arm drift subtlely forward, but my posture has improved so much is it no longer an issue. Everything is easier now and it blows my mind that just working out a few times a week improved an aspect of my riding that years of reminders in lessons never could.

        Comment


        • #5
          Absolutely! As a contrast, I recently got back on my horse after a LONG break due to my high risk pregnancy (baby and mama are both OK after taking it easy during the pregnancy though, so well worth it!) and what a shock getting back in the saddle after so many months of not being active. With all of my core strength gone, I feel like a flippy floppy mess up there. Can't wait to be my fit self again!

          Comment


          • #6
            For me there's no choice, I have to strengthen my core otherwise my lower back gives out and I can't even sit the trot or canter anymore.
            If I do Yoga and / or Pilates every week, everything is fine, and I can get my mare much lighter, responsive and "under me" just with core strength. It's a great feeling!
            Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!

            Comment


            • #7
              I took some time off from working out (just a few weeks) when I was in Europe and felt like a mess when I got back! I'm slowly working back into it now.
              No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill
              For Hope, For Strength, For Life-Delta Gamma
              www.etsy.com/shop/joiedevivrecrafts Custom Wreaths and Other Decorations

              Comment


              • #8
                I've been doing crossfit for over a year now. It is absolutely the best form of core exercise and overall body conditioning there is out there. It is a killer workout, so be prepared to work your butt off, but wow oh wow, the benefits are just astronomical!! I encourage riders to look it up. It is important that we stay fit as riders for our own health and benefit as well as that of our horses. If we are strong and fit, it makes it all easier!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is core strength mainly strength in the abdomen and stomach muscles?

                  How does having core strength improve your riding? I mean what do you do with this strength?
                  Yes, I know how to spell. I'm using freespeling!

                  freespeling

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    okay first of all you are an ANIMAL for doing CF six times a week! I think I would die. I do it three times a week and that is enough!

                    I've been doing it for a little over four months now and I am a totally different person, fitness wise. Its pretty crazy/cool, because I don't think I have felt this healthy/fit since my days as a high school athlete. It has allowed me to improve as a rider for my horse, in fact I think that my horse gets tired before me now! It has also noticeably improved other athletic endeavors. Like DH and I went hiking at 8K feet a few weekends ago and before, I would have been winded after a few steps. But at the top of a hill, I was barely even breaking a sweat. But really, that is the point of CrossFit. To be functionally fit and perform to the best of your abilities in everyday life. That is really the philosohpy that drew me to the program. That and the fact that its never boring, always challenging, and super, super supportive.

                    I have recommended this program to many people on this board and others, its not for everyone but it is definitely a game changer if you decide to go for it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yeah, well, pilates and Tae Kwon Do have done the same for me--and it sounds more fun than the program you linked to.
                      "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Congratulation!!! My company has started to offer CrossFit at our company gym and I wish I could take advantage of it (6:00am is just tooooo early to me). Oh well, there are other programs I can utilize. I just done my first ever Zumba. Talk about cultural shock

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I did Crossfit twice a week for 6 months...and for my body type and lower back issues it was a bit too much. I started Pilates 2 months ago, and I have been amazed at how much better my balance and core strength has become.

                          Yep...having a strong core and being fit definitely help riding. I feel much more confident in the saddle when I am toned and together in my own body. It does wonders for my confidence as well.

                          Good job for doing CF 6 times a week! You must have a killer body after that!
                          Unashamed Member of the Dressage Arab Clique
                          CRAYOLA POSSE= Thistle

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What is exactly is cross fit? And how hard is it? I was a cheerleader throughout middle school, high school and college and was a beast until I quit. Since then I have been too afraid to work out did I mention I was a beast? Yea I was riding a ton, cheering, and working out on top of it and I had a Nazi coach. Now all I do is ride but I am definitely not as strong/fit as I was with Nazi cheer coach and I am way too scared to actually use my gym membership but I have to do SOMETHING! No way I can be the rider I want to be like this! Zumba looks fun, P90X intimidates me, and I don't know a thing about CF. What is it? Am I going to die and haunt everyone who recommends it or is it survivable? Also, has anyone tried spinning? I keep thinking I'll go to a class but the idea of spending an hour in the dark on a bike sounds pretty miserable...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I run, do yoga, pilates and traditional ab work and mostly it makes it easier to ride, but sometimes my instructor tells me my leg muscles are too strong preventing me from really dropping deep into the saddle. I've recently started Pure Barre which I'm really enjoying (having come from a dance background in the way back when). I've done crossfit a few times, but don't like it. Am also doing some Tabata intervals on the erg which kick my butt
                              OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                NWDressage,

                                I never did CrossFit but what was described to me was like high impact cross training where you might do 30 seconds of jump ropes, immediate switch to, say 10 push up, immediate switch to monkey bar, immediate switch to x, y, and z, and so on and so forth.

                                It is rather tough in my understanding, but if you were very physically fit, it might not be as tough as we old folks who sit on our butts all day long feel.

                                Zumba is pretty fun. Not sure how much it helps riding at all and it is kind of weird to begin with (how exactly do you shake your butt?) but I ended up enjoying it very much. Quite a difference from the regular workouts I do (Pilates, Yoga, and Body Pump). The instructor kept screaming at the top of her lungs, "Show Me Your Attitude!" to a group of serious looking office women. lol.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by altjaeger View Post
                                  Is core strength mainly strength in the abdomen and stomach muscles?

                                  How does having core strength improve your riding? I mean what do you do with this strength?
                                  Core strength comes from strong, balanced abdominal and back muscles both. A lot of people get hung up on the abs for core, but the back is just as important.

                                  Core strength is so important for rider position and effectiveness. There are others who can articulate it better than I can, but I consider a strong core part of my seat. I'm able to give aids more effectively, stay in balance with less effort, and perform things like the sitting trot much more easily. Being fit makes staying in sync with my horse much easier. And again, I'd welcome a more professional overview of it, but all I can say is that I never understood my Dressage instructors yelling "Ride with your core, it all starts with your core!" until I got fit.
                                  www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by NWDressage View Post
                                    What is exactly is cross fit? And how hard is it?
                                    Basically, Crossfit is designed to get you in total-body, functional fitness shape, and not just make you look good or make you good at non-functional gym exercises that have no practical application in the real world. You won't get big on Crossfit, but you WILL feel like you could lift a car off of a guy or outsprint a robber at a moment's notice! It's the program of choice for many military academies, police and firefighters and other similar groups. It places an emphasis on constantly changing up the training, and making you do everything from gymnastic moves to a little running to swimming to rowing to Olympic lifting. Each day, they post a new WOD (workout of the day) on www.crossfit.com in 3 days on-1 day off cycles.

                                    The best thing about Crossfit is that it's designed to be scaled. So there are 7 year olds and 87 year olds doing the same workout as the top Olmypic athletes, but those who aren't able to do as much will use maybe a broomstick instead of a 45# bar to complete the workout. So from day 1, you can jump in, and increase your load from there.

                                    I like it because it keeps me interested - we do something different every day. I love that I'm not "just a weightlifter", but I also can incorporate rock climbing, rowing, swimming, playing on gymnastic rings, and other stuff.

                                    If you're interested, I really recommend reading up on www.crossfit.com, and finding an affiliate gym for a trial. It's doable by everyone, but having the team atmosphere of a Crossfit "box" as they call them is important, and it's also important to learn some of the movements safely. I love, love, love it!
                                    www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by scubed View Post
                                      I run, do yoga, pilates and traditional ab work and mostly it makes it easier to ride, but sometimes my instructor tells me my leg muscles are too strong preventing me from really dropping deep into the saddle. I've recently started Pure Barre which I'm really enjoying (having come from a dance background in the way back when). I've done crossfit a few times, but don't like it. Am also doing some Tabata intervals on the erg which kick my butt
                                      #1: Tabata's suck, I am so with you there! I've had three this week of different exercises for various reasons, and now I'm pretty sure my quads are on strike...

                                      #2: Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I've been a lifelong runner even before Crossfit, and numerous instructors have told me that my running and riding muscles work against each other. I also have trouble dropping deep in the saddle, but I think Crossfit and working with a personal trainer are helping improve that rather than hurt it. You do have to be conscious of what muscles you're working and how they affect your riding, but the net gain for my riding, personally, has been higher than the net loss.

                                      As an aside, I was once told that the sport whose muscle usage is most similar to riding is cross-country skiing.
                                      www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by NWDressage View Post
                                        What is exactly is cross fit? And how hard is it? I was a cheerleader throughout middle school, high school and college and was a beast until I quit. Since then I have been too afraid to work out did I mention I was a beast? Yea I was riding a ton, cheering, and working out on top of it and I had a Nazi coach. Now all I do is ride but I am definitely not as strong/fit as I was with Nazi cheer coach and I am way too scared to actually use my gym membership but I have to do SOMETHING! No way I can be the rider I want to be like this! Zumba looks fun, P90X intimidates me, and I don't know a thing about CF. What is it? Am I going to die and haunt everyone who recommends it or is it survivable? Also, has anyone tried spinning? I keep thinking I'll go to a class but the idea of spending an hour in the dark on a bike sounds pretty miserable...
                                        CrossFit really is a program that anyone can do. They say the hardest part is walking in the door, and that is SO TRUE. My affiliate has teens (like 19 I think) as well as older adults, many with physical limitations. WOD's are always scaled to their abilities, and coaches always ask about your prior background and how you're feeling that day. You are asked to put in as much effort as possible each time you step foot in there, that is all. You don't have to lift as heavy as an Olympian or run like a sprinter to be successful or see results.

                                        And yes, its hard. There is no denying that you can be pushed to the edge of your physical limits. The thing is though, you'll feel great afterwards. Seriously. I think I spent my first week (after probably a solid 2 years off from any structured exercise program, so to say I was out of shape is an understatement) feeling like I was going to barf and then keel over and die. But, suddenly because of how quickly it requires your body to adapt, I was starting to feel stronger, and faster, and fitter.

                                        I know when you look at the WODs or hear about it, it sounds really hard core. It can be (after all, there are CF Games where people compete) but not everyone has that goal. If you're like most people who are looking to get fit in an pretty unconventional, non boring way, I think you'll really like it. I came from a team sports background too (was a competitive swimmer up until college) and really feel at home in this program/environment. I think you would too. Especially since you think an hour of being on bike, in the dark, imagining that you're outside "riding" sounds miserable to you!

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