Planning for success
Whether you actively compete your horse or ride for pleasure, the fitter you are the more pleasure you will get from your riding. Improving the quality of your riding experience will also reduce those aches and pains and out of breathe moments at the end of a cross country course or during a lesson.
By using exercises that open up the hip and lengthen the short hip flexors (on the front of the hip) you will develop and maintain excellent hip mobility. Also, by mobilising the ankle joint you will lessen the compression in the joint.Short hip flexors and ankles that are compressed cause lower back pain and reduce leg strength. This is so important to all Equestrian Athletes, due to the Range of Movement needed about the ankle for rising or sitting trot, canter and for that matter every phase and transition.Some important exercises that help you getting riding fit legs:1. Ankle Stretch
2. Split Squats
3. Tube Walks
4. Hip Ups
I have discussed these exercises (and more) in detail in my blog at riderfitness.co.uk
These exercises are designed to be worked in the home environment but as with all things in life you only get back what you put in. As the workouts are shorter this enables the rider to make the most of the time allocated to their training session and psychologically it becomes both more manageable and achievable. This is in turn creates an increased feeling of self-control and the ability to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. ‘Sticking to it’ and not being distracted will yield phenomenal results.
All the best!
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
You are stressed out. You are having trouble losing fat from your stomach, bum, legs & arms. Not uncommon. It is more than likely that you have an oestrogen dominance problem. Fat cells in these areas of the body are more receptive to oestrogen, so your body stores more fat in these cells when oestrogen is dominating the sex hormone flowing around your body.I’ll put this down to three main reasons. There are several, but I don’t want to rewrite the bible today :
- Poor liver function
- Xenoestrogens from toxicity in the diet
- Poor Sleep.
Here are three very simple things you can do to start making sure you address these issues before you wage war with your body:
Bye for now!
- Liver - Clean up your diet!
- Remove; wheat, gluten, sugar, processed food, alcohol and caffeine. This gives your liver a chance to rest recover and start to go back to normal function and produce regular amounts of sex hormone binding globulin.
- Aim to consume approximately 1 litre of water per 4 stones of body mass, or 1 litre per 50lbs of body mass.
- Xenoestrogens. – Xenoestrogens are chemically made oestrogens that are found in processed foods.
- They make us extremely efficient at storing fat!
- Cruciferous vegetables such as Watercress (the authority), spinach, broccoli, curly kale are awesome.
- These vegetables basically bind to the toxic estrogens and remove them from the system.
- Poor sleep. Go to bed earlier and establish a routine.
- You need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night between the hours of 10pm-6am.
- Use adaptogen supplements such as tulsi tea to reduce stress and improve sleep any time after 5pm in the day.
- I supplement with Magnesium (muscle relaxant) and Zinc. You want ‘-ate’ versions such as citrate, gluconate and so on and so forth.
- You could also try reading (fiction) and meditation to help with sleep too!
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
|Born were the S-T-A-B-L-E Training Systems|
As with every successful system, it wasn't built overnight and it didn't come without hiccups. I think I was so enthusiastic about the impact I felt I could have on people’s previous misconceptions of fitness, and initially I wanted to train anyone who wanted training. This to start with, left me feeling somewhat disillusioned when I didn’t get the very best results with some clients, but now I have a specific system that delivers results. Other than that, I am very grateful that I have been able to surround myself with positive and win-win minded people. I had mentors in life and business all around me to help me make the right decisions up to now.
So far the biggest success has been the ability to deliver a personal experience to all of my clients. It’s not so much just about the biggest weight loss, inch loss, performance improvement or measurement improvement but more about the amount of people who have been able to experience an education that will enable them to make positive and healthy decisions for themselves and their family for the rest of their lives.
For me the link between the stresses on the body as demonstrated by Seth Godin, really helped me to truly identify the different aspects of the service that I was putting together. These include postural stress, nutritional stress, emotional stress, lifestyle stress, exercise stress and many more. This has enabled me to look at my clients experience and make sure that in every area we deliver a service that removes stress before adding it. I was then able to seek (and still seek) the very best educational courses and materials to create clear systems for the client to achieve the best possible results and have an incomparable experience.
A glimpse of the success
When a client came to me and started the Hot to Trot Nutritional Plan (The same nutritional protocol used on The Equestrian Athlete Plan, his mum decided that she would too start the plan and since then she has been able to come off of her steroids that she has been on for years after a serious stomach complaint. The education I have undertaken around nutrition is responsible for this and many other success stories.
I have had a 63 old male client who lived in fear of putting his back out daily due to a weak core and posterior chain, with a kinetic chain assessment and some simple muscle activation techniques he now completes 4 sets of 30s of FULL Press ups with relative ease. Many of my clients experience huge gains in terms of range of movement, muscular strength and endurance and also health related measures of reduce body fat and in particular massive reduction central body fat stores. I put this down to the holistic nature of my education and appreciating that each and every one person is different, has different circumstances and deserves to be treated so.
As mentioned above, but also more recently, I have been able to help one of my clients shed over a stone of body fat in just less than 10 weeks. In total now he has gone from 21 stone to 13 stone 8 with 16.5% body fat. Admittedly he lost a lot of body mass before starting, but the shift in the body fat levels has been brilliant in the 10 weeks so far. Some of my clients have lost 6 inches off the waist others are typically losing 8-16lbs in 4-6 weeks of training with fat loss being their goal.
I have trained equestrian athletes to improve riding performance, helped people to run their fastest ever marathons, run their first triathlon and ironman competitions. I have helped a client enter the Sunshine golf tour in South Africa with specific work for his golf.
With the S-T-A-B-L-E Training Principles & Hot to Trot Nutritional Formula I use with my Personal Training Clients & Equestrian Athletes who I have helped clients shed up to 7 inches off their waist, performance on and off of the horse with dramatic improvements in moods and skin quality.
The S-T-A-B-L-E Training Systems have also helped people run multiple PB’s in various distances, complete ironman competitions, compete on an international stage for Team GB and in many other areas of life. Aside from all the objective results the most pleasing part after the immense results we get is the experience that we are able to deliver to our clients as a result of a tremendous amount of investment in professional development and mentoring with the best in the profession from all over the world.
I am proud of the results achieved thus far and this is what I am keen to continue doing, working with those people who are equally committed to improving their quality of life, health and well being.
Have a brilliant day and be the best you can!
Here is the latest in the series I have put together to help you get to know me a little better.
So without further ado here we go…
As with any journey, my journey from taking myself out of the 'fitness industry' and into the 'fitness profession' has not been without a few frustrations.
I was frustrated by the number of courses that are run seemingly to just get accreditation and not actually based on the content of the course and what you can give to a client. The whole ticket for this, ticket for that just gets to me. I found that a lot of the so called leaders in the industry we not actually leaders, in fact I felt that on some of the courses I may have been able to run a more informative programme that left me with more questions than clues.
It was frustrating as when you work hard you then spend hours travelling and a lot of money on these courses to then be disappointed with the content and the amount you can take away. It was at this point I began to distance myself from the courses that tried to solely sell themselves based on points or accreditation to some organisation. I seek education from those who get results with good morals and underpinning philosophies.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't that there was nothing to be gained but the standard of the education I now choose is above and beyond the course description. As I always say to my clients, try to surround yourself with positive people because these are the ones who are happiest, perhaps for a reason. The courses I attend seem to be full of achievers, success breeds success.
It is really important to me to seek this level of education because there is no way I am going to slip into the 'fitness industry'; I am staying in the 'fitness profession'. The person who is in the industry cannot see beyond the hours they work, as a professional I see it as my duty to serve my clientele and community to the best of my ability and that is what I will do until the day I finish as a fitness and health professional.
By striving for excellence, this excites me every day. Whilst I am aware of where I want to be held within my profession there is an element of excitement because I don't always know what opportunities are around the corner. Sure I am a person who seeks a strategy rather than random opportunities, but I still like the air of spontaneity that makes my professional working day a pleasure not a chore.
I love the quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Don't Die With Your Music Still In You".
For me this optimises why I like to seek improvement every day in what I do and how I serve my clientele. I feel that I have been given this gift for a reason and I will persue it until I fulfil it.
The overriding benefits to my clients would be a holistic approach to everyone as an individual and an ability to be able to serve them better. So with me as their coach, they can still play their game, but they play it much better with me in their game than without!
I would like to think that they leave me feeling educated and empowered to make fantastic lifelong decisions for themselves and their families. This is the bottom line, any client of mine once they have achieved their goal, must feel empowered at the end of their time with my company to make healthier decisions thereafter, and otherwise I have failed, even if they reach their goal. Sure they may fall off the wagon from time to time, but who doesn't, it's just knowing how to get back on!
From my business point of view, with everyone getting the results and a 1st class experience that is incomparable to others, this will help my business grow into a well known entity based upon delivering results to my clients wants and needs.
I think that in terms of knowledge it was the World Functional Training Summit in Long Beach, CA, where I met Gray Cook, JC Santana, Mike Boyle, Todd Durkin and many other leading fitness professionals in the world that really opened my eyes to what I could deliver. Then in all honesty it was the work I have been able to do with Dax Moy on his Kinetic Chain Assessment Course, Elimination Diet Coach and more recently the Integrated Performance Coaching Course that has made the service I deliver a more holistic approach and fulfilled experience for my clients. All of my equestrian athletes get a fully holistic programme, leaving no stone un turned, no matter their level of competition.
I think that to single out any of the above as 'the aha moment' would really do a disservice to any of them and there are others that could be included. They are all part of the knowledge base I have gained and I feel privileged to have been able to experience them.
I truly believe that this continual commitment to my education is enabling me to provide more answers to my client's questions. More solutions to their problems and helping them to be more empowered to make the best decisions for themselves, taking the guess work out of the equation straight away.
For myself it just helps me to seek new knowledge and skill sets all the time. I always view each course attended, each book read and each new skill set as added value to the service that my company provides. It helps me to feel confident that if a client has a particular problem then I can solve it more often than not.
I remember this moment. I was at a conference in Long Beach. It was the World Functional Training Summit, where I was exposed for the first time, to some of the world's finest coaches! I still can't believe what happened that day. It was as if someone switched on the light and opened the door all in one moment. I honestly felt like I had been let free and I now realised how I could develop my own philosophy, style and system to help my clients.
I wanted to be the very best I could, I always knew that, but I didn't realise that this would enable me to have created a system that gets results every time for my clients. I am able for that reason to wake up each day and look forward to the work ahead, safe in the knowledge that I am helping my clients play their game better.
My business idea was initially about providing a service that was mobile or utilising other gyms facilities to train clients in. I soon realised that I needed a base, even if this was just a small room that I cleared furniture out of and replaced it at the end of a session.
I believed that every session should be progressive and specific to what my client was aiming to achieve. I just wanted to go the extra mile, provide a service that got results and gave an experience.
Initially I wasn't sure of who I would be best suited to, so I was willing to help anyone who wanted help. With time and experience of working with my clients, I now know that during our initial consultation, if I can really help them.
I valued commitment (still do), so I wanted my clients to commit to me and I wanted to be able to commit to them. With this I drew up a client trainer agreement and got my clients booked in on a 5 week block, so both parties knew exactly what we were doing. Things are a little different now that I know how people work best.
I always want my clients to think about their technique or form before speed. I always thought this and it helped me to help my clients move better...
I wanted to provide an individualised assessment, so initially I used the NASM Functional Movement Screening Tool, assessed over head squat technique. This helped me to do this. I now use the Kinetic Chain Assessment tool developed by Dax Moy, integrated with other tests and assessment protocols I have learnt along my learning path. I think that I have been able to connect with my clients, even though some of them are the same age as my parents. I have been able to show commitment and dedication to my clients which has helped me to develop a great word of mouth and referral system.
Initially offering the mobile service enabled me to show people what I could do outside of the confinements of a gym. This has helped me to show Equestrian Athletes that there is far more to exercise than just plodding on the treadmill or sitting on the leg extension machine.
The owners of the building that I currently rent my studio from respected my professional and thorough approach to each and every session I ran with them in the initial stages of my business. One of which is a client of mine still. I recently helped Sarah achieve a PB at the Berlin Marathon.
They then saw the potential synergy between our businesses, and this has enabled me to have a base in which I can train my clients deliver even better results, with more professional surroundings.
Thanks for taking time out to read this. Have a great day.
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
Thank you for following these notes, it gives me great pleasure to share with you my journey thus far.
I am going to tell you about my breakthroughs in the fitness profession. This is what has enabled me to bring you The Equestrian Athlete Plan.
After deciding that I did not want to merely be part of some big chain of fitness entities, I sought the best of the best for my education. Initially after having gained my degree in Sport & Physical Education, I applied to gain work experience in the world famous Gold's Gym, Venice Beach. I was successful and gained a huge amount from working with some of the best trainers in the USA during my time there. I actually helped to film a production with 'Mike,' a trainer who was voted in America's top 10 trainers for the Discovery channel.
While there, I went on a course with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, where I became aware of the Corrective Exercise aspect of personal training. This fascinated me, as I could see that I could make a real difference to the people I served. I already had a 'good' all round knowledge, but I wanted far more than that. I wanted to be awesome at it and deliver great results and great experiences. Part of this comes from me having a very positive experience of sport and PE as a child and I just want those who perhaps didn't to find success through improving their health.
I think the corrective exercise knowledge I gained helped me to understand a lot of the 'why's' behind what I was originally taught at university and during my YMCA fitness professional qualifications. I built upon this through my learning with Juan Carlos Santana (Institute of Human Performance), with his 4 pillars of human movement, helping me to understand the way people move and function day to day. I genuinely believe that this helped me to give so much to my clients in a very short space of time, because all of a sudden they can move better.
So I looked on the Internet initially to see where I could find Juan Carlos who had been recommended to me by 'Mike' from Gold's Gym and 'Howie', the manager at Gold's. These guys were really forward thinking for such a big commercial gym, they were a fantastic advert for what can be achieved in a culture of machines and mirrors that dominates LA.
I then found that there was a seminar in Long Beach, which was about 2 hours' drive from where I was living. I then realised that this was no ordinary seminar. This was the 'who's who of the fitness industry' talking over 3 days! IMMENSE! I had found the World Functional Training Summit! Get in!
So off I went for 3 days of ridiculously eye opening education. While I was there Juan Carlos Santana (IHP) came over to me and asked me how I found the lecture/seminar. I actually replied 'I thought I knew a lot, now I feel like I know nothing'. He replied, 'you see, you are like your fork inside your plastic tub (which was full of chicken, some things never change), you only know what's in there. Now, because I showed you to the top of the tub, you can see the table and suddenly there's a whole load more out there for you.'
Wow!! This was the moment that sparked my drive for education into oblivion!
I then sought JC's Functional Training Specialist Diploma of which I am one of only 4 in Europe to hold the qualification. I also bought many books on structure and function of the human body, deeper understanding of this has helped me to 'fix' clients very quickly. Also helping equestrian athletes of all abilities and experience levels to improve their performance both in an out of the saddle.
I also attended courses run by Dax Moy , including the Kinetic Chain Assessment, Integrated Performance coaching and Elimination Diet Coach.
I won't bore you with a list of the qualifications and courses I have done right now, but it's suffice to say that in 3 years I have spent over £20,000 on my education and personal development.
After all why should you invest in a coach who doesn't invest in himself?
It really has been an eyeopener for my girlfriend of at least 7 years. (She will shoot me now for not knowing the exact number). I used to hate reading, now I have an extensive library of training books, nutrition, life coaching, stress management, anatomy, physiology and many more topics.
Have a great week and be the best version of you!
My Best, (•‿•)
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
Thank you for reading the latest in a series of posts I am putting together for you to get to know me a little better and learn how I became the author of The Equestrian Athlete Plan.
I started my journey in fitness as a gym instructor at a local council run leisure centre. I was and still am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work here as this gave me a chance to see what was involved. I was at first really happy to be showing people how to use machines and giving them the benefit of my short but positive experience of exercise. However, it soon became frustrating, after only 2 to 3 months of doing this, I just felt that I couldn't really help people be the best they could due to my role within the gym. I only had an hour with these clients to show them how to use the kit and after that there was nothing I could really do. I worked shifts and I never knew from week to week whether I would be there or not. There was no system in place to take them through a progressive and holistic programme, no nutritional advice, no lifestyle coaching, no support network. I guess it would be very lonely place to be. I didn't like this.
I knew at that age (17) that I didn't want to be part of a commercial gym chain as there just wasn't the individual attention that the clients deserved. The 'hi and bye' culture just wasn't for me. Now that's not to say that there is nothing to be learned from these types of establishments and it certainly doesn't reflect the qualities of all the staff.
Case in point, I believe, was when I went to work in Los Angeles at Gold's Gym, Venice Beach. Yep, the Gold's Gym where Arnie (Schwarzenegger) trained. An interesting place, let's just say. I had the time of my life! I got to work with some of the top trainers in the USA. But, the restriction of working directly under someone else's rules didn't appeal to me. I felt I had much more to offer and could help the people I met far more if I could learn and become a better me, rather than a clone of someone else.
At 17 years of age and probably for a couple of years after that, I was somewhat blinkered by my previous lack of experience. I guess you could liken my view to that of a fork inside a plastic food tub. I only knew what was in there. Once someone showed me the way to the top of the tub, I saw the table and suddenly I knew there was a lot more out there for me.
So after working in these different environments I decided that the best way for me to help more people was to go about it by setting up my own company, which I did in September 2008. Sure it was a big risk, in a recession, I had my doubters. But to be honest my belief was always greater than their doubt. I knew that if I could get my first client and help them, I could show people what I could do.
I wanted to give a personal training/coaching service that addressed the individual as an individual and not in a one size fits all approach. So rather than just doing the standard questionnaire and showing them how to turn on the equipment and take the pin out and put it in again, I wanted to develop an approach that addressed posture, nutrition, lifestyle habits, exercise efficiency and recovery techniques. This is particularly the case with my equestrian clientele, who seem to frequently get palmed off with generic programmes!!
I wanted to provide a support network, whereby people could get access to me outside of working hours. This really came to fruition with the launch of my VIP members' site. This is where I host all of my articles and videos to keep my clients up to date with what's on offer and pass on the knowledge I have learnt to them.
I also felt that people's view of the gym was limited by what they were shown in that 1st hour. Often they wouldn't get any extra exercise guidance that could show them how to use even their own body weight.. When you consider what we are actually born with, there is so much scope for improvement, but instead gyms will get people sitting on machines or staring at a mirror or TV whilst pounding on the treadmill. Now that would bore me and I love exercise, so what about those people who are undecided or had a previously poor experience.
Part one of my mission was to make 'exercise' FUN! It just has to be. You have to enjoy the short term discomfort of the exercise to help people adhere to the bigger picture. You just can't expect to hand out a generic 10 minutes of this-10 minutes of that crap and expect people to get turned on by that!
Part two was to develop and implement, on a daily basis, a results driven system that gives people a second to none experience.
That's it for today folks!
I will be in touch very soon with part 3 of my journey thus far.
Have a great day and make someone smile! (•‿•)
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
I hope you are having a cracking week and I hope you are well.
Over the next few days I will be sharing with you the story of my professional life. I hope this will help you to get to know me better (if you want to!) and know what I am about. As always, I would welcome your thoughts.
Where I Was Before Today
I joined the 'Fitness Industry' at the age of 17!
Before this time I spent a lot of my free time playing and enjoying various different sports, ranging from rugby to horse riding, golf to cricket, swimming to football and tetrathlon to decathlon. All of which I think have helped me to become somebody who understands how people feel in an individual environment and a competitive environment.
I guess that I also had many different levels of experience, I was part of the England Rugby Academy based in Exeter, which gave me a glimpse of the elite level, I competed at county level for decathlon and was part of a team at regional level and also played golf and cricket socially. I also competed at area level on my pony in tetrathlon, and also hunted every Saturday with my dad who was a whipper in!
I also had been doing my own thing with my weights and conditioning programme, reading and being fascinated by programme design, how to make myself faster, stronger, more agile, it all just appealed and I guess I just wanted to be the very best I could at my main sport, rugby. I also wanted to be recognised as someone who looked after his body and health.
Outside of the free time I was involved in my studies at GCSE and A/S level as I knew that I wanted to be involved with physical activity and sport in some way. I actually thought I wanted to be a physiotherapist at one stage, but when it came to it, I just didn't find it stimulating enough, so headed towards my real passion, health and fitness.
In terms of work, I worked part time at a local leisure centre as a swim coach and lifeguard and ran coaching sessions for children on health related exercise classes, built around fun. I then got into doing gym inductions for people who just started at the gym at the leisure centre, which was great. But I just felt I could do more, but wasn't allowed to due to my level of qualification at the time. I had people asking me to write them programmes and train them, but I had to say 'sorry but I can't'. That really got to me, and enough was enough, off I went on my mission to get what I needed to help more people.
Life was pretty amazing to be honest, looking back on it I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunities I have had, to be involved in so many different social networks, has helped me connect with so many clients from so many different backgrounds.
I was a student, so my income came from part time work at holidays on strawberry fields, Chinese takeaway (really!!!), building, green keeping on a golf course and lifeguarding.
This variety of work also helped me to appreciate the value of everyone as an individual, because I hated doing some of these jobs, but really appreciated that for some people this was their passion. I love the fact that we are all passionate about different things. I also felt that I learnt how to work with people who were older than me and those who were more experienced in every aspect of life and learnt to accept advice and be someone who could listen. Which I think for many people at my age, this was a difficult skill because they were so used to being listened to.
I was happy meeting people and working with them. The one thing I realised was that I couldn't go to work and do the same things every day. I was lucky to be combining my studies with part time employment, but to be honest it was a real eye opener, and I began to realise that I had an opportunity to make something of myself or settle for anything. That wasn't in my nature, I knew what I wanted, and so off I went.
I wouldn't say at this stage I was unhappy at all, but I began to realise and create clarity about what I wanted from life.
When I was at primary school I told my mum that I wanted to be a PE teacher, and then as I grew a little older, I thought I would like to be a physiotherapist. I think this was shaped mainly by the fact that I had my fair share of injuries during adolescence and appreciated the help I had received from physiotherapists along the way.
As I became more competitive at rugby, I realised how much was involved in competing at an elite level. This was amazing and I couldn't get enough at that time in my life. I loved the different styles of training and the effects it had on my body. My friends used to and still do enjoy training with me ( I love training with my friends) mainly due to the fact that we always do something a little different and they love the effects , rather than just doing the same old, same old.
So as you can see getting into fitness didn't just happen overnight. My journey into the fitness industry came from a very positive experience of school PE and then into my adult hood with positive experiences through sport and PE. I would say my journey was more than just a flash in the pan moment, more of an evolution.
I don't think I actually chose fitness, we chose each other. This was my passion, I saw the benefits, I loved the fact that you could essentially create the body that you wore and competed in by your actions on a day to day basis. We just had a special bond.
I like to share information, so for me it was a natural progression to share the knowledge I had gained in a relatively short period of time with my friends and then to the public.
Thank you for listening.
Have a great day!
If you are like most people who love riding horses, you will cherish this time no matter how many times you ride a day or in a week. Like many people, you may well be frustrated with not performing as well as you hoped.
We all know that the horse's fitness makes a huge difference to the outcome of the chosen event that you ride in.
No one disputes how important the horse's fitness is, but top riders including William Fox Pit, Laura Bechtolsheimer, Geoff Billington, Mark Todd and many more are acknowledging the importance of fitness training away from the horse.
For many of you, the prospect of juggling one or all of the following will be daunting: marriage, being a parent, holding down a job or running your own business and fulfilling your dreams with your horse.
You are not alone, not matter what level you consider yourself to be at.
This juggling act is exactly what Tina Fletcher faced on her way to gaining the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) Equestrian of the year 2010. Importantly, Tina acknowledged that the better she performed and the better her results, the easier all the possible distractions became to deal with.
Having come from an equestrian family with my granddad and dad both being farriers, my mum being a wholesaler of horse shoes, and my sister and I competing as children, I completely understand the multitude of factors that stress the equestrian rider who has to work every day. This undoubtedly can affect your horse's mindset. Turning up ill prepared, out of breath and flustered, will result in a flustered, confused horse.
It is definitely worth considering that by being physically fit and mentally sharp you will make great decisions and be more efficient with your already time constrained day!
I bet you wish you knew what would be the best exercise for you as a rider!
If you are just about to embark on your new season, like many, I have a fair inclination that you fear the long days, achy legs and up to six horses to ride every day.
Many equestrians say they are fed up with the following:
- Plodding around on their horse.
- A lack of time to get physically fit to ride their horse.
- A feeling that they were holding their horses back because of their lack of fitness
- One of the major concerns for my social riders was getting on and off. Some were concerned that getting on was a problem and then later in the ride the inner thigh would stiffen up and getting off would then be more of a problem. We soon fixed this!
- Putting on those Jodhpur boots was a nightmare for some!
- Many felt that doing exercise would just be an extra burden on an already hectic lifestyle. The efficiency in their training has been one of the biggest successes to date.
- Some clientele said, 'The older you get, the more everything stiffens up and hurts?!'
This is very easily counteracted by moving more using the specific muscles needed!
Many horse riders express these concerns:
- Some wished that they could be fitter to enable them to ride more than one horse at an event.
- Many expressed concerns that they got nervous at the start line because they knew they weren't in great shape.
- The majority expressed concern with not knowing what to eat to maximise energy on rides or on competition day.
- A feeling that poor posture and physique was hindering their horse and also their performance.
- Simply being knackered' after one round of x-country!
- As an amateur jockey, many commented on not being able to race ride often enough to maintain a competition level of fitness that they are looking for!
- Having a stringer core in the 2 point position.
Training with rider specific core exercises that closely mimic the target muscles in very similar positions will help these problems.
'Reasonably fit' is passé! You could be fitter by training with rider specific fitness exercises.
Rider fitness training will undoubtedly make you stronger, tidier over a fence and a lot more effective when your horse gets tired near the end of the race or round!
Have a great day!
Author of "The Equestrian Athlete Plan"
P.S. This article is an excerpt from my book, "The Equestrian Emergency." If you want to get your hands on a free copy head to http://riderfitness.co.uk and please let your friends know too!
Sleep DOES affect YOUR Riding Performance!
You spend one-third of your life doing it? I would say then that this ‘thing’ is pretty damn important!
You can get good quality sleep or poor quality sleep. You can influence the quality of sleep you get.
Why Sleep Is Important For All Equestrian Athletes?
Inadequate sleep has been linked with insulin resistance and poor blood sugar management. Remember this one of the primary reasons that exercise is so effective for performance and also fat loss. An interval based approach like that in the Equestrian Athlete Plan (EAP) that minimizes cortisol levels after training is what works so well for my equestrian clientele. Elevated cortisol levels due to excessive long steady state exercise are a primary reason for many equestrian athletes entering the world of 'no results' and becoming disillusioned by ANOTHER GENERIC training programme!!!
In 2001, at the Annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association, researchers demonstrated that poor sleep lead to increased blood sugar levels, higher cortisol levels (stress hormone), poor satiety and fat gain! These same researchers found that those who slept for 7.5-8.5 hours produced 50% less cortisol and insulin than those who slept for longer. The knock on effect for any equestrian athlete, regardless of competition level or recreational frequency, is that excess weight takes its toll when you are essentially in an unnatural position (on a horse).
The only time you really want your cortisol levels to be high, are in and around training, because your brain needs the cortisol to function. One of the reasons the Hot to Trot Nutritional Plan (that comes with the EAP) is having great success with reducing cortisol is because we deal with the problem of excess sugar in the diet straight away. But in order for the total stress to be reduced I ask all my equestrian clientele to get to bed by 10 pm 5 nights per week.
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to achieve performance, fat loss and well being is to neglect their sleep. I wish health, well being, performance and fat loss were as simple as move more, eat less! I would have created a programme and sold it to millions of people by now. Unfortunately anyone who tells you this has been living in a cave for a long time!!
Hormones have a major role to play in the reduction of body fat, as part of an exercise and nutritional strategy. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production and sleep go hand in hand with recovery from exercise and mental stimulation. There are other key hormones involved such as testosterone, oestrogen and cortisol (mentioned earlier), but I will save them for a latter article.
Firstly, it is important to understand what a hormone is. According to the Collins dictionary online, 'a chemical substance produced in an endocrine gland and transported in the blood to a certain tissue, on which it has a specific effect'
It is also important for us to understand their individual roles within the body. HGH is produced in the pituitary gland and is sent to the liver to where IGF-1 is produced. IGF-1 (insulin like growth hormone) is required to repair cells, aid brain function and enzyme production and improve bone strength. This substance is mostly produced during the early hours of sleep (between 10pm and 2am), hence why getting to bed by 10 pm most nights of the week is so important. Shippen and Fryer (2007) attributed the decreased speed of healing and brain function to a decline, in middle age, of IGF-1 production. Hence a good night's sleep often results in a more alert rider and better performance in and out of the saddle.
To stimulate HGH production you should first of all increase load bearing exercise. This doesn't have to be extreme weight lifting but you need to use weight, which incidentally can be your own! This action will help to increase calcium production in the bones leading to increased bone density.
Net result is increased human growth hormone. Oh and by doing this you will more than likely reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis or at least delay the process. Increased HGH is linked with performance, that why athletes use it (illegally) to gain an athletic advantage over their competitors. You don't need to inject it; you can just follow a few simple principles and boost it naturally.
- Exercise for up to 30 minutes per day (3-5 x per week), with anything that is load bearing. Resistance training is best as it stimulates our bones to lay down calcium. In combination with some aerobic exercise to reduce body fat, this will help us to minimise oestrogen storage (this is where our fat is stored).The pull of the muscles on the bones at the tendon attachments helps to improve tendon and connective tissue strength, which helps in the prevention of injury.
- Secondly, we can reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption as these are known nutrient robbers! Law et al (1991) reported higher incidences of osteoporosis and hip fractures for those who consume alcohol and smoke. This is due to a loss of calcium, which is excreted in the urine (Rezvani et al, 1991). From an exercise point of view calcium is hugely important in the muscle contractions that lead to the shortening (concentric) phase of the muscle action. If this chemical reaction is being inhibited, you will decrease the speed of movement achieved, thus reducing the total reps you achieve before failure and the effectiveness of your workout. Some research does suggest that you can add a small amount of caffeine pre workout in the form of black coffee to increase stimulation and alertness, but I suggest just cutting out the crap! I wake up every morning feeling awesome; I put it down to not eating rubbish before bed! Oh and these little tips below.
Here are three more Things You Can Do To Help Improve Sleep.
- Supplement with Zinc/Magnesium
The zinc will help with muscle repair and regeneration, whilst the magnesium will help with muscle relaxation. I recommend that all of my riders take this to help relax the over worked back muscles at night. Try taking this two hours before bed. If you want more information on where to get these please feel free to email me.
- Lummi Light
I have one of these and waking up to the natural light particularly in the dark months will help to make you feel alert when you wake. So then you don't feel like you need a pair of matchsticks to keep your eyes open first thing!
- Pre-Bed Snack
I know all the literature says that you shouldn't eat food before bed as this will get stored as fat. Well if you are struggling to sleep, try snacking on peanut butter/almond butter with raw carrot/celery. A lot of people suffer with poor sleep due to low blood sugar levels, as the insulin response from food intake actually helps you to sleep. It's also worth noting that banana's (high sugar) contain tryptophan that helps with sleep.
OK. That’s it from me for today.
Have a great evening!
I guess you may be wondering, what was myinspiration behind this book?
Having come from a background of equestrianism, it is in my blood. Mygrandfather was a farrier, who later trained my father. My mother and fathertaught both my sister and I to ride from the minute we could walk, in fact Ithink I almost learnt to ride before I could walk.
The whole of my family has ridden at various levels and competed in variousforms of equestrian, including hunting, race riding, dressage, show jumping,showing, eventing and social riding. As you can probably guess I have spent alot of time in and around the equestrian scene including competing intetrathalon into my teen years.
As I have moved into my professional career as one of the UK's leading fitnessand health professionals, it really is no surprise that I have been able towork so successfully with my equestrian athletes, we have that connection.
I understand them far better than most.
What has really bothered me up to now is that equestrianism has not had therecognition as a serious sport that it deserves. It is because of this attitudethat the equestrian athlete (EA) has been left to do generic exercise classesand DVD's, in a one size fits all approach. This really got to me.
I want to do something about it, so that EA's all over the world don't have toput up with this any longer.
The equestrian field is now ready to break the tradition and culture of 'getfit to ride by riding'. Where people have tried before and failed, this timewith such a holistic approach to the equestrian athlete we will approach it ina very different light.
We are now ready to integrate resistance training with pilates, intervaltraining with mobility and postural strengthening with core stability. With allof this underpinned with a nutritional plan and a support network, this book isreally going to take things to the next level.
No fitness professional up to now has developed such a holistic approach totraining the Equestrian Athlete. Sure some people have developed programmes forriders or written articles but none that I feel actually address theirrequirements fully! The culture among equestrian has been Pilates and yoga, andthere is absolutely nothing wrong with Pilates and yoga, in fact there is anelement of the EAP that has pilates style exercises integrated within it. Butremember that these modalities are just tools, and what makes these effective,is the way in which the tool is used to produce the results.
Equestrian sport is in a very exciting place right now, with 200 athletesheading to London 2012 to try and achieve victory in 3 disciplines (Eventing,Dressage and Show Jumping). It does not matter whether you will be heading tothe Olympics or not (some of you will), you will want to enjoy your time withyour horse just as much. To be riding fit has to be the dream of everyequestrian athlete.
I wanted to give something back to a community of fantastic people who shareone common passion, their horses.
Have a great day,
P.S. Head to http://riderfitness.co.uk for a FREE download of The Equestrian Emergency and tell your friends too!
Dear Equestrian Friends,
I hope life is treating you well and that your passion for equestrianism has been wetted slightly by the test event at Greenwich Park. That looks an awesome venue don’t you think?
I just took 10 minutes out from my day of personal development and consultations to meet with Sarah Jane who has recently been featured in the Eventing Magazine.
For anyone who hasn’t managed to catch up with this feature, we started it 8 weeks ago, with the beginning of the plan running alongside a feature in the magazine, telling you some background about our two chosen equestrian athletes.
Since then we ran an interim feature on nutrition for the rider. All too often the horses seem to get more attention to their diet than the riders. As I always say, it’s a two part team; your horse will perform better if it doesn’t have dead weight to carry.
The last part of the feature will be in the next edition of The Eventing Magazine. This will summarise the impact that both riders have felt from doing the programme.
Here is a short video of myself and Sarah chatting about her initial fears and her dreams surrounding the Equestrian Athlete Plan.
What do you think?
Now by her own admission Sarah is someone who loves her chocolate and crisps and confessed to rarely drinking any water before midday!!!
So for her the nutrition was always going to be a wakeup call. What is honestly wrong with eating clean whole foods, with no calorie counting or point scoring needed?!
One of the best things you can do for your performance is to aim for approximately 1 litre of water per 50lbs of bodyweight. Now this depends on the climate and how much riding you are going to do in a day.
Now you will have noticed that Sarah mentioned improved skin quality as a result of the nutrition. This is largely due to the skin being a critical part of the detoxification pathway. Now when we hydrate and remove toxins from our body, it is much more likely to release the water through the final stages (the skin) of the pathway, creating great skin quality.
Sarah also mentioned improved balance, now this is obviously critical for any equestrian athlete regardless of what level or intensity your ride at. A large part of the first phase is about core conditioning. But you will find none of this sitting around on a ball in front of the television on the Equestrian Athlete Plan. This is ‘proper’ core conditioning specific to the Equestrian athlete.
The Equestrian Athlete Plan is a tailor made plan. Now for those of you who know me well enough, you will know that one of my major bug bears is that equestrian athletes get sent into gyms and because the trainers either don’t know or don’t care, they get a ‘ yea jump on the treadmill’ response.
ALARM BELLS……where does that relate to riding specific fitness?
Sure you might get some benefit from short bursts of activity done in an interval fashion. But you need a plan not a ‘copout’ response from someone who doesn’t know or doesn’t care.
Sarah mentions that she really feels the plan focuses on improved specific riding fitness, and it’s not another generic plan, for Mr or Mrs Anyone! Which you are not either!
The next part that Sarah highlighted was that she found the Equestrian Athlete plan a progressive plan. Sarah noticed the difference between the first two phases. This is absolutely what I intended with the first part concentrating on core conditioning and postural strengthening, specific to the equestrian athlete population not the general public. The second phase is where we really develop the riders ‘lungs’ or cardiovascular conditioning.
For me one of my roles and core values is to empower each and every client that I am fortunate enough to help. I want everyone who I come into contact to play their game better as a result of working with me. Now sure they may not be able to follow every aspect all of the time, but they know how to win! I am so pleased that Sarah now has the tools in her armoury to pick the most effective and efficient ways to develop and maintain her riding specific fitness.
Now mindset underpins the nutrition and the exercise and this is something that Sarah Jane touched upon near the end. For her she felt mentally stronger as a result of the improved fitness she has gained. This is hardly surprising when you are faced with a cross country course and you know you have given your all and you’re not going to let your horse down at the final hurdle.
Ok so there’s a little insight into how The Equestrian Athlete Plan may help you no matter your level of discipline, competition or intensity of equestrianism.
Thank you for reading.
Matt Luxton BSc (Hons)
Health & Fitness Coach
Author of The Equestrian Athlete Plan
P.S. If you would like more information on the plan, head to The Equestrian Athlete Plan or feel free to read my blog over at http://riderfitness.co.uk