Noble Life

Leg Strengthening Exercises for Riders

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Jell-O legs. We’ve all been there. Sliding out of the saddle and that feeling where soreness meets fatigue meets how am I standing up right now? Aside from turning heads and looking sleek in short shorts or skin-tight breeches, leg muscles are some of the most critical stabilizers within the body.  Your legs provide support and strength allowing the body to flex and extend when necessary, both in an out of the saddle. While riding, leg muscles such as the quads, hamstrings and glutes support the core muscles such as the transverse abdominis and obliques, promoting better posture and reducing the risk of injury. The following exercises will help increase stability and have you flaunting Carrie Underwood legs before you can even say lean & sexy, (And ward off that post-ride Jell-O feeling.)

Glute Kickback

Step 1: Begin on knees with palms pressing into the floor.
Step 2: Bend left knee- creating a 90 degree angle (head stays facing forward.)
Step 3: Raise left leg, keeping your knee bent, and bring back to 90 degrees.
Step 4: Repeat for 10-12 repetitions and switch legs.

Plie Squat

Step 1: Begin with feet spaced slightly wider than your shoulders & toes pointing slightly outwards
Step 2: Hold a dumbbell or weight, with both hands, in between both legs.
Step 3: Lower your body into a sitting position, bringing your tailbone lower to the ground until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Step 4: Press heals into the floor as you bring yourself back to standing.
Step 5: Repeat for 10-12 repetitions; repeat 3 times.

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Reverse Lunge: Begin with a few sets on each side to strengthen, tone and lean. Global Fitness Photo Shoot by Rance Costa on flickr.

Reverse Lunges

Step 1: Step forward with one leg.
Step 2: Bend right leg to a 90 degree angle, bringing right knee directly above your ankle.
Step 3: Push through your heel as you bring yourself back to standing.
Step 4: Repeat 6-8 repetitions and switch legs.

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Wall Squat: Use a ball and weights when you are ready to take this exercise to the next level. Swiss Ball Squat by GeorgeStepanek on Wikipedia.

Wall Squats

Step 1: Stand against a wall with legs extended about 2 -3 inches away from the wall.
Step 2: Lower your seat closer to the floor, knees slightly bent, head and spine pressed into the wall.
Step 3: Hold for 60 seconds and return to standing
Step 4: Repeat 3-5 times.

Pistol Squat (Single Leg Squat)

Step 1: Place the base of your left foot firmly into the ground; right leg is elevated 6-12 inches off of the ground – shin parallel to the ceiling.
Step 2: Hands come together in front of your body.
Step 3:  Bend your left knee, lowering your whole body towards the ground, right leg stays parallel.
Step 4: Press through the base of your left foot to come back to standing.
Step 5: Repeat for 6- 8 repetitions and switch legs.

Incorporating 3-5 leg exercises per week will allow your body to strengthen the long lean muscles that function as core stabilizers and improve mobility and balance while riding. Start by using your own body weight and increase to hand weights as the above exercises become easier. Soon you will be riding stronger (and longer) and when you are ready to dismount, you can be confident that you will not have Jell-O legs!

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Kelcie Reightler is a Registered Dietitian currently working as a Dietitian, Nutrition Team Lead and Pilates instructor for Life Time Fitness. She completed her Bachelors of Science at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 2011; majoring in Nutrition and Dietetics. Kelcie went on to complete her Masters in Human Sciences as well as a Dietetic Internship through Texas A&M- Kingville. She began her certification to become a Pilates instructor 6 short months after getting hired at Life Time Fitness and fell in love with this restorative, recovery based exercise, that heals, strengthens and rejuvenates. Today, She is fortunate to have the opportunity to inspire action through the same integrative approach; to educate and heal through the power of food and movement. To create the connection between tangible and intangible, heart, soul and body, while providing the body with what it needs to live a life of longevity, vitality and livelihood.

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