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Creating a structured plan to train around riding

A question often asked is how much exercise should I be doing away from my riding, off horse? Riders always ask how many hours or days a week they should be training and I would never give a specific number or time as everyone has different schedules, goals & abilities.

Remember this is not a one size fits all approach, whatever works for Susan might not work for you; really important to remember. This is your journey so focus on you.

First of all, you need to establish your goals, decide a firm realistic goal you want to achieve in the next 3-6 months and have this goal at the forefront of all your training decisions. If your goal is to improve your core strength then you are going to need to focus on stability & strength training around your riding as well as single limb training. That is an example of how a goal should define your training. Think about your current activity levels to do you ride 10 a day or are you office based in the day and hack 1 in the evening? This will influence the amount of training you do off horse too.

Next in terms of how many sessions or how long you should be training first of all establish what is realistic for you. Work out where you have time in your day or week right now & where you could fit in a 45-minute session (you could do 20/30 mins I would always advise sessions to be 30-50 mins). It's no good deciding to follow a 5-day week plan that takes an hour each day if you're already running around behind the horses & dogs all day whilst trying to work & currently struggling for time. Adding training sessions into your already manic schedule will just end up causing you overwhelm & anxiety & ultimately you will not stick to it. Being realistic with your time & schedule is so important as this is what will lead you to adhere to a fitness programme & enjoy it.

Decide what days work best for you, if you know on a Monday the horses have a quiet day then take advantage of this and use Monday as your training day. Fitting in 3-5 training sessions per week would be my recommendation to build a balanced & consistent training plan. If you are a beginner or haven't trained in a long time then I would suggest starting with 3 sessions a week and 1 mobility session for the first 4 weeks then reassess how you are finding the training, how it is fitting into your day and then adjust moving forward. I always say to my clients I would far rather you do 3 really focused & good sessions a week than 4 half-hearted rushed ones as you're struggling for time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be realistic with your time!

Establish your weaknesses & prioritise these in your plan. Your training programme should be a balanced programme working all your muscles & concentrating on your body working as whole unit, previously discussed in this post. But you should put a strong emphasis on focusing on any weak areas. If you know you struggle with cross country and finishing a round you feel absolutely exhausted, not able to breath then you need to prioritise your aerobic work to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Pick the day you have the most time for this focused session & pick a form of exercise you enjoy. If you run perfect run, if you like HIIT do HIIT, if you enjoy cycling then do so. Picking an activity you enjoy is absolutely key again to stick to it, if you don't enjoy it you won't continue with it long term. Don't feel pressured into doing something your friends enjoy focus on you!

Once you have decided your goal & become aware of your weaker areas then you should now have a solid plan of what you need to work on in your sessions. Make a template for your training sessions so you get into a good routine when you train & make your sessions time consistent. If you do HIIT sessions these will be shorter otherwise all sessions should work out at the same length ideally, again this will help you long term to stick to it. Spend 10-15 minutes on a dynamic warm-up mobilising your joints & getting warm ready to train. Pick 5 compound movements to form the bulk of your workout and then pick weaker areas or something you enjoy to train to finish off. If your goal was core strength I would finish with a high-intensity ab finisher focusing on core movements & giving you the feeling of a good sweat. Your cooldown should be 5-10 minutes to allow you to recover. If you follow this format over time you will pick up quickly how your sessions work and know what is coming next.

Now you've decided when you're training, how you're training, how long sessions are, get it all written down. It is so important when you first start to have your sessions as a non-negotiable. This will make sure you stick to your programme, I cannot stress enough how important adherence is to the success of your training & plan. Grab a pen and paper & write down each session and make sure you have them all written out for the week ahead and scheduled in your diary so you know what you are training & when. Writing them down and ticking them off is a great way to hold yourself accountable if you don't have a coach. Even if you read this and think I could only realistically fit in 2 sessions per week that is great, that is more than you are doing now so these will benefit you! Something is better than nothing.

Hopefully this has helped you understand how to set out a focused training programme that works for you, so you have a plan & know what you are doing going forward. If you're still unsure of what you should be doing then send me a message and I will provide you with some tips. If you're the kind of person that knows what they should be doing but struggles without the accountability of not having a coach then fill out the application form below for your free consultation call. I have spaces available to take on more riders who are dedicated to improving their fitness & ready to start NOW.

Katie xx

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