Noble Life

The Holy Grail of Rider Fitness: Core Strength

The leg may anchor a rider but a strong core is critical for both upper and lower body control.

In part one of this two part series (yes core strength is that important!), Noble Outfitters goes beyond the basic crunch to help you make the most of your workouts and your time in the saddle. Whether sitting at a desk all day, in a car or just general slouchy posture from being tired, our core is often not as engaged as it should be. And for riding, an engaged core is critical. Our legs may anchor us in the saddle but it’s a strong core that helps maintain our balance, keep our backs in alignment and our upper body in control. Here are four core exercises that are simple and effective and can be added easily into any workout routine.

 

1.         The Almighty Plank.

This exercise is a great one to incorporate into just about any workout and you can gradually build up the time you hold in this position. A mat or other more cushioned surface will provide the most comfort. Start by lying face down on the floor with your weight supported by your forearms. Lift your torso and legs so that your points of contact with the floor are just your forearms and balls of your feet. It’s important to keep your back as straight as possible and not to let your abs collapse. So squeeze them and remember to breathe! If you’re new to this position start with 10-15 second holds and then relax. You can gradually build up to a minute and a half with reps anywhere between 10 and 15.

 

The plank is a great starter exercise to really develop a sense of feel for your core and how to tighten and release the muscles.

The plank is a great starter exercise to really develop a sense of feel for your core and how to tighten and release the muscles.

2.         The Bicycle Crunch

To begin, lie on your back with legs up and knees bent. Have your hands interlocked behind your head (like a traditional crunch) and then bring the right knee and left elbow together. Simultaneously straighten out your left leg. Hold for a couple of seconds and then repeat the exercise on the other side so bring your left knee and right elbow together with right leg out. You should feel your torso moving and not just your elbows. The key to this exercise is slow and in control. Don’t feel that you have to rush to get as many reps in as possible – just take your time and really focus on your alignment.

The bicycle crunch is an effective way to target your side abdominal muscles and the exercise can be felt almost immediately.

The bicycle crunch is an effective way to target your side abdominal muscles and the exercise can be felt almost immediately.

 

3.         The Forward Lunge

Although in horse speak, this might not sound like a great thing – the forward lunge targets several muscle groups used for riding including the quadriceps, gluteus and core. You can do this exercise with or without free weights depending on your current fitness level. With your head facing forward and back straight, take a large step forward with your left leg while your right leg’s knee is several inches from the floor. Bring yourself back up in a fluid motion. Repeat for sets of ten on each leg.

 

The lunge can be done with our without weights and is a great overall body exercise to add to your workout.

The lunge can be done with our without weights and is a great overall body exercise to add to your workout.

4.         The Bridge

The bridge exercise is another great one that activates several of the abdominal muscle groups. To begin, lie on your back with knees bent and a relaxed back that is not arched. Keep your hips straight and tighten your core. Then raise your hips off the floor so that your hips are aligned with your knees. Hold for 15 seconds then release and repeat according to your current fitness level.

These four exercises are great to end a cardio workout with or on their own. And stay tuned for part two!

 

The bridge exercise not only strengthens the core but also helps develop flexibility and its versatility makes it a favorite pose in yoga and Pilates too.

The bridge exercise not only strengthens the core but also helps develop flexibility and its versatility makes it a favorite pose in yoga and Pilates too.

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Based in Lexington, KY, Katie Shoultz's lifelong passion for horses and farm life inspired her to open the doors of Isidore Farm, a premier hunter/jumper facility in the Bluegrass. She is involved in several equine organizations and usually has a cup of coffee and dog by her side.

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