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Fitness programs for Dressage riders

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  • Fitness programs for Dressage riders

    I was just wondering what other people do to help supplement their riding fitness.

  • #2
    Core strengthening - with lots of yoga and stability ball work. This helps both core strength and flexibility. Keeping those hip flexors loose is particularly useful.

    Running - For endurance and stamina. Further underscores the need for good stretching though since it will tighten the muscles.
    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


    • #3
      Great post!!

      I too have been wondering this. I just recently decided that, only having my one horse to ride, I am not getting as fit as I want to be by just riding. That being said, I have started going to the gym again.

      For cardio and fat loss, I think swimming is great because, like with riding, you are working many muscle groups at the same time. Also, if you can get out, mountain biking it great because you have to balance yourself as you pedal.

      For my core I like to use an exercise ball. I try to do exercises for both strength and balance.


      • #4
        Don't mean to highjack this thread, but I wonder if some of the things I do are actually counter productive to good position. Like biking class and step aerobics...I wonder if they don't actually shorten the hamstrings and hinder my attempts to KEEP MY HEELS DOWN, or at least not up.

        Totally agree with yoga and core strength!


        • #5
          USDF Connections magazine has an article on some great exercises for core strength this month--how timely!

          And Robyn, I was told that exercises that strengthen your hamstrings or rear calf muscles are counterproductive to riding.


          • #6
            I do are actually counter productive to good position
            we find that the kids who swim competitively are "top heavy" and can be most difficult to teach
            Humans dont mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. Sebastian Junger


            • #7
              I eat 6-7 meals a day with Dr. Philip Goglia

              I work with a personal trainer who rides 1 day a week
              I bike/run/cardio P90x something 1 day a week
              yoga/pilates 1 day a week
              and do sit ups in addition to the core stuff above whenever i feel fat

              that's all in addition to riding 5 days a week.
              chaque pas est fait ensemble


              • #8
                Ballet Conditioning video

                I really like adding the DVD "Ballet Conditioning" from Element into my weekly routine. It's 53 minutes and gives me a good challenge. I don't have any ballet background, but the excercises are great for core strength and trimming the hips.

                I also do some yoga and a cardio video during the week.

                At work I walk 6,000 - 13,000 steps a day.

                Forgot to add that the ballet video has significantly helped me hold my upper body (I have big shoulders and well...boobage) posture by strengthing abs. My trainer has noticed a big difference and I just feel like it's been easier to carry myself.
                Last edited by Boomer; May. 4, 2010, 05:28 PM.


                • #9
                  I diet when needed to keep my BMI around 20.5

                  I do daily yoga.

                  I ride 2-3 horses 5-6 days a week

                  I take my dogs out for long hikes or cross country ski at least twice a week.


                  • #10
                    I walk an hour + daily (30 min each to and from work, lots of hills included), I try to run 3+ miles at least twice a week, but depending on lots of stuff, that may only happen once, and I go to Yoga twice a week. The yoga is super, super important, but I have to make myself go because it is very difficult for me, even to get into very easy poses or not very deep into them at all. I love my instructor, she's wonderful and helps me get the most of each hour spent on the mat, it makes a huge difference in my body. I also stretch a few times during the day at work (desk job...).
                    "Reite dein Pferd vorwrts und richte es gerade. Gustav Steinbrecht


                    • #11
                      I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Pilates fusion class at my gym- it's a hybrid of pilates and ballet moves. At first I was skeptical, but I think, "wow, this will really help my riding" with pretty much every move they have you do (and that, of course, is how one judges a good fitness program)

                      I actually just started a blog about my quest for becoming a better rider through fitness. Blogging about my goals and such is pretty darn motivating.


                      • #12
                        Being the Pilates instructor that I am, I must chime in.

                        Please be aware that there is a difference between core STRENGTH and core STABILITY training.

                        Strength training is high reps and usually high load. Stability training is low reps, low load.

                        Sit up strengthen the rectus abdominis muscles, but not the other abdominal muscles that you really need to address. These are the transversus abdominis, the obliques (internal & external), pelvic floor muscles and the diaphragm.

                        Stability ball work is great; it addresses this issue - stability work.

                        Stability work is what riders need, not strength work. We need to be able to stay in the saddle and move arms and legs around while keeping the seat stable, balanced, and independent.

                        Overall fitness is another issue.

                        I walk my dog on trails that are unstable and are not flat. Hill work is just as important for us as it is for the horses.

                        Ride on!
                        Laurie Higgins
                        "Expectation is premeditated disappointment."


                        • #13
                          I find that riders who ski are often very balanced- musculature wise- and it seems to be complementary. Since I can't stand the cold, I can't speak to it personally lol
                          Equestrian Photography


                          • #14
                            Cross training works for us. Do some jumping, ride in a two-point, ride in the open with shorter stirrups and more speed. Off the horse, walk cross country courses.
                            "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


                            • #15
                              Cycling. So far up to 65 miles per weekend on weekends it's not raining and when I (and the people I ride with) have the time. Cycling uses a lot of the same muscles as riding so that's why I got into it and I now hope to eventually do some racing and century rides (100 miles).
                              Originally posted by RugBug
                              Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.


                              • #16
                                Some good points to consider and.....

                                Per se there is nothing "counter productive" to riding in terms of off horse physical conditioning.

                                Pilates, yoga, ballet, they are all good choices to one degree or another.

                                To Robyn and WBLover, Heels down IS a bad thing. Keeping the heels down and not letting the heels flex in response to the forces the horse is applying to you is counter productive to stability.
                                Especially in FEMALES, it is critically important to develop strength in the glutes, hamstrings and calves. To that though, is TIMING..You can have all the strength you want, but if the timing is not there, the system is not as efficient as it could be.

                                The basic off horse strengthening program I prescribe....
                                Learn how to salsa while sitting on a ball
                                Standing chest press and row
                                heel raise two position
                                closed chain abd/add
                                drop press.

                                Cardio should be in the 70-75% HR range......

                                Medical Mike
                                equestrian medical researcher


                                • #17
                                  Mike,your program looks really interesting. I'm looking forward to reading the downloads on your website.
                                  My gym offers the Les Mills Group Fitness classes which I adore ( Body Combat, Body Jam and Body Flow in particular )
                                  and take 4 x's a week. Many gyms around the world offer Les Mills. They really make working out fun!


                                  • #18
                                    Fitness source

                           has a Fitness center that has exercises for equestrians.


                                    • #19
                                      I think anything is better than nothing in the real life world of the working adult amateur and it is most important to find something you can stick with. Since September I have been attending a noon hour fitness class across the street from where I work. This is literally the only time I can spare and I go with a few co-workers. We kick each others butts out the door if one tries to jam out.

                                      Monday is step aerobics, Tuesday is yoga, Wednesday is step/cardio interval, Thursday is muscle building and Friday is cardio. Taking into account the occasional lunch meeting or crucial errand or appointment I usually go four days a week.

                                      I used to go to a gym on my own but I did not make myself work hard enough and would go religiously for two weeks...then the excuses would start. There are usually two different instructors, both work us pretty hard, one has missed her calling as a US Army drill sargeant. Works for me though, I need to be pushed.

                                      I think the varied program is pretty good and I now have abs!!! Sitting the trot of my big moving goofball is within reach and I can ride effectively for an entire lesson. Shocking!


                                      • #20
                                        I feel that the program that helps me most with riding fitness is cross-training with vaulting, yoga, pilates, and aerial silks for flexibility and core strength, partner dancing for moving with the horse more fluidly and better coordination, balance equipment or exercise balls for balance and multi-tasking, and extra cardio and weight-training as I can fit it in. Honestly, I figure it's a good idea to do different things to mix it up and avoid plateauing, and to give you options no matter what the weather and such is like. Having day-time and night-time, indoor and outdoor options gives you much more flexibility. Focus at first on at least one thing that is fun, that you're actually motivated to do. If you start with something you hate, it's a lot harder to keep up with it, especially when you are first building fitness.
                                        Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.