Cross training (any form of training other than horse riding) can be extremely beneficial to you as a rider. Physical strength or cardiovascular conditioning improvements made off of the horse are transferred into your skill-set in the saddle.
Know this, any training that you do off your horse will benefit your health and fitness. Your body needs regular movement throughout each day to improve posture fitness and energy levels. It is really difficult to maintain muscle symmetry without some sort of purposeful strengthening programme. We carry our bags on one side, sit with one leg crossed over the other, hold out babies crooked on one hip, lead horses and write from one side – ok you got the message!
The amount you should do depends on your fitness goals – and not the superficial fitness goals you first think of…. your true goals. Many people want to improve their riding symmetry and balance. Many riders also want to lose fat and gain lean mass. The goal will depend on what type and how much training you should be doing.
It also depends on your current level of fitness, your exposure to physical conditioning and your training base. Are you getting in at least 5000 steps? If not try to increase general activity until you are averaging 10,000 steps daily. It also depends on how often you ride, the type of riding that you are doing, your competitive level etc.
Generally speaking a competitive rider should cycle their off horse training synchronously with their on horse training. During competition season, riders should focus on intense and sports specific strength and conditioning sessions off the horse 1-2 times per week and concentrate on their on horse skills. Off season a physical strength and fitness base can have more of a developed focus and take up more of a riders total training time.
Pleasure riders should concentrate on sustaining a longer term health and fitness lifestyle with a focus on rider specific qualities such as balance, muscle symmetry, core strength and superior isometric strength, glute and scapular stability amongst their own aesthetic goals such as body shape and weight loss.
Training is a multi-faceted and complicated process that has multiple routes to achieve the same goals! Truth is there is no simple answer to how much should you be training, it depends on so many variables but any exercise that you do will be beneficial to your health and your riding!
Take the guess work out and get your self a coach 😉 (do you like my subtle call to action there?) and learn more about online rider fitness coaching here.
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