Ben Harwood has trained elite athletes from a range of sports over the years, including football, rugby, swimming and athletics. Since May last year he has added off-horse training for elite athletes from the equine world.
GB dressage rider Lucy Pincus has competed internationally all the way from ponies to U25 Grand Prix and nationally at Grand Prix. Jo Furst is a dressage rider and horse riding instructor.
Both Jo Furst and Lucy Pincus have really bought into the strength and conditioning regime (S&C) that has been set up for them, and they are benefitting from their twice weekly 2:1 programme at The Studio.
The sessions support the riding aspect of their sport, which involves riding horses for long periods each day, and most importantly, it increases their potential to perform on a full show day.
Common issues in dressage include a tendency to sit with one hip lower than the other or off to one side, causing the horse to drift in that direction and interfering with straightness on circles and lateral movements.
Developmental stretching after each S&C session has become a major element of the girls’ programme to reduce the chances of having tight muscle groups, which can impede their ability to have the deep seat needed at their level. Stretching is helping to address the imbalances that both Jo and Lucy came to The Studio with. Tightness and imbalances can have a direct effect on a horse’s ability to perform a movement and can also cause the same restrictions with the horse’s biomechanics.
The primary goal of a rider’s S&C programme is to build stamina and strength appropriate to the specific discipline, in this case dressage. All dressage riders should have a strong core, good balance and general flexibility, and a high level of proprioception (awareness of your body parts in relation to your body and movement).
OFF-HORSE STRENGTH TRAINING TIPS FOR DRESSAGE:
1. Select strength training that encourages multi-joint movement over bulk. Free weights, bodyweight/TRX and stability ball exercises, cable-based machines and therabands can be used creatively to enable a simulation of sport specific movement patterns rather than machines which support the body and may only target one or two muscles.
2. Perform strength training at least twice a week and work muscles used for riding in a fuller range of motion than you do when riding so they do not shorten and tighten.
3. Pay extra attention to your back, glutes and outer thighs to support your hips so you can sit deep and avoid lower back pain.
4. Be mindful of posture at all times, no matter what exercise you are performing. Engage your core through every exercise and every task during the day to develop posture that maintains itself without effort.
5. Teach yourself deep breathing (into your abdomen) and use it when you exercise. It will carry over to your riding, provide your body with more oxygen during performance, and also relax both the rider and horse, especially on competition day.
There are six personal trainers at The Studio, offering a range of services from Private Strength and Conditioning, One-to-One Personal Training, Small Group Training and Nutrition & Weight Management, to Spinning, Bootcamps and Buggyfit.
Please get in touch for more details.
1-2 Fields Yard, Plough Lane, Hereford HR4 0EL
Tel: 07970 465 703 – Ben Harwood
Facebook: The Studio – Hereford
Pictured below: Jo Furst and Lucy Pincus training at The Studio
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.