active rider
Following on from my previous blog on where to start your winter training, you should now have a clear understanding of what areas you need to focus on.  However, where do you now start?  Whenever I am building a training plan for the winter, we always start with the basics.  If the basics aren’t good enough, we should not be progressing them on to more advanced and performance enhancing exercises.  Doing so would only lead to a higher risk of injury, and also incorrect technique, which would reduce their performance gains.  But what basics do we need to grasp?
Cardiovascular fitness
With a new year upon us imminently, vast numbers of the population will be gearing up to their fitness push.  It is also a good time to gain some basic cardio fitness improvements.  Choose an activity you enjoy – there is no point pounding the streets if you hate running.  Instead opt for cycling, swimming, or more unique forms of cardio fitness such as dancing, a sport or joining a new exercise class.
Riding gain – you will be able to ride better for longer
Basic techniques
Starting by utilising big muscle groups first, is a great way to begin any form of exercise programme.  This means learning to squat, lunge and some basic planks, as well as exercises that incorporate pulling and pushing actions, such as a row, lat pulldown, press up etc.  By doing so you are making sure your basic control is good and your technique is mastered before moving onto more advanced exercises, such as making a squat unstable, or squatting and rowing at the same time.
Riding Gain – Improves your basic level of strength and body awareness 
All starter programmes should begin with firing up the vital, often under performing, key muscle groups that help support your body.  There are normally 3 key areas to focus on activating – your basic core stability, your shoulder stability and your gluteals (otherwise known as your bottom muscles).  These 3 areas are vital to reducing injuries and supporting your spine
Riding Gain – Improves your posture, lightens your hand aid and can improve your leg aid
By working muscles to make them stronger, we quite often make them shorter too.  If you already have areas that are tight, we must open them up and mobilise them.  This will help our range of movement and control, at the same time as reducing injury risk and tension.  Pick 4 key muscle groups to focus on to start with, and choose some stretches to help those areas.  Now stretch them every day and see what difference you can make in 4 weeks.  If you need some inspiration, check out one of our previous blogs on ‘How To Fit Stretching Into Your Every Day Life’
Riding Gain – will improve your posture on the horse, and help make some aids freer and easier
Finally, it is all very well having the best made programme, but if you aren’t doing it regularly enough, then your performance gains will be minimal.  Try and keep your programme focused and short, making it easier to fit into your week, as well as allowing you to see the benefits quickly, which in turn will increase your motivation.  Aim to repeat your programme 2 to 3 times a week, or even break it down into 5min chunks that you rotate through daily – which ever suits you the best.
Riding gain – improvements in your rider fitness and performance 
Don’t forget, if you need some advice on anything we have discussed, ping us an email and we’ll be more than happy to help and advise.  Next time we will look at what to move onto next
Best Wishes
Carys Jackson

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