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Getting back into shape for riding

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  • Getting back into shape for riding

    After taking a break from riding (about 6 months), I am starting to ride again and feel very weak in the tack over fences. On the flat I feel a lot stronger but once I start to jump I am loose and all over the place.

    Does anyone out there have any tips or exercises they do at home or at the gym to get back into riding shape/stay in shape? I do daily sit-ups, some cardio, and a lot of stretching but I do not know of any exercises that can target the specific muscles you use for riding.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

  • #2
    The only exercise that targets those muscles is riding.

    You can hit the weight machines at the gym... the ones that you have a leg on each side and lift weight bringing your legs together. I am sure that would help.

    The best thing you can do, is just ride around in two point... a lot. It will take a few weeks to get back in the swing of things.
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


    • Original Poster

      Hopefully I'll have my riding legs back soon! Thanks for the advice, I figured the only real cure was more time in the saddle!


      • #4
        Saddle time is as good as it gets but there are plenty of ways to tone those riding muscles. I've got a book called "The Rider's Fitness Program" that is working well for me because a lot of the things are are exercises that I already do at the gym for strength building but there are also a lot of good exercises in there specifically for balance and such that you can do at home with stuff you can get at Wal-Mart.
        Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!


        • #5
          Originally posted by FindersKeepers View Post
          The only exercise that targets those muscles is riding.
          Ehhh . . . martial art, depending on the type, often uses muscles I normally only use while in the saddle. Tai Chi is particularly good for using some of the same muscles needed in dressage, according to a DQ friend who does both. I study Tang Soo Do and it really has improved my riding. (I think I just said that in another thread on improving leg . . . )

          Anyhow, wet saddle blanket time, two point, sitting work, no stirrups . . . these are all helpful to tightening up the position again. If you can get someone to longe you while you work on balance and strength exerices, like standing straight up in the stirrups with no bend in the knee at trot and canter, that can speed things along.


          • #6
            Originally posted by FindersKeepers View Post
            The only exercise that targets those muscles is riding.
            Not true! You're already doing cardio, which will help.

            Work your core, planks and all their various forms are great, jackknifes on a swiss ball are fun... There are so many things you can do for you back, abs, butt- Rows are also good.

            I find squats have helped me tremendously with riding as well, as have step ups and lunges with dumbells.

            Bottom line, there is stuff that you can do to improve your fitness and riding outside the saddle. Athletes in other sports cross train all the time- why don't we?

            OH I almost forgot- YOGA! yoga has totally made me a better rider!


            • #7
              Originally posted by jumpin711 View Post
              Does anyone out there have any tips or exercises they do at home or at the gym to get back into riding shape/stay in shape? I do daily sit-ups, some cardio, and a lot of stretching but I do not know of any exercises that can target the specific muscles you use for riding.

              Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
              Practical Horseman has been running an 'exercise of the month' series and I recognize most of them from what I do at the gym with a trainer. If you're not a subscriber, perhaps you can find recent issues at the library or maybe they have the info online.

              Here are a few that target "riding muscles":

              Lie on your back with your feet on the 'equator' of a large exercise ball. Keep your toes pointed to the ceiling, squeeze the ball with your ankles/feet and lift your butt off the ground. hold for 2, and slowly lower back to the ground.

              any kind of lunges -- walking, stationary, holding weights or not. Or, step up onto a raised platform with one foot, and lower yourself slowly back down.

              tricep dips - sit in a chair, then scoot out off the edge and grip the edge with your hands. lower yourself using your arms, then push back up.

              Echoing another poster, yoga is great for strength, flexibility and balance.

              ... and Patrick


              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone! I'm glad I asked, I wouldn't have known where to start other wise. I'm going to try all of the exercises posted and I did forget about the Practical Horseman exercise tips. I'll have to look back at my old issues!


                • #9
                  I had a thread about things that help with two point a while back and felt like I got some great pointers from it - you might find it useful. Similar type question, what are good exercises you can do off the horse to get stronger in the saddle. I got some great answers.

                  Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


                  • Original Poster

                    Mortebella-that thread helped a lot! Thank you


                    • #11
                      Awesome! Here's another one I had forgotten all about.

                      Blog: The Continuing Adventures of an (ahem) Mature Re-Rider without a Trust Fund...but, finally, A Farm of Her Own!!


                      • #12
                        I had to take a medical related break from riding this spring and just started back again in late June. The fastest way to get back into shape is to ride as often as possible (5 x/week is ideal) and add additional cardio and pilates type exercises to your weekly routine.

                        Specifically, I did a lot of two-point at the trot to get my legs and core back into shape quick. Depending on your fitness level, start with a few minutes and work up to 5-7 minutes without a break. I also rode multiple horses a day to speed up the process. I'm not sure that's an option for you. I would say it took 3 weeks before I felt normal again.


                        • #13
                          I can only manage 3X per week and its really taking me a long time to get back into shape...

                          Gonna suck it up and try the lounge line lesson w/o stirrups. Might help the core and the dreaded "bracing against the stirrips at the canter" problem I'm having.
                          * Sunny * Ella (2006 filly) * Tank (2008 colt)*