Before I even start, I just want to address the obvious: the number one way to improve your equitation is to ride more and practice perfectly. The more you ride, the better you practice, the better you'll get. However, the more advanced you get, the more your body will adapt and you may not be able to improve your eq or overall strength and stamina as much as if you were to head to the gym a few times a week. If you enjoy going to the gym, then start incorporating the following exercises into your routine to see improvements with your leg and core strength! (These 5 exercises can all also be done at your home, with a kettlebell and ab wheel).
1. Goblet Squats. You'll want to start with holding either a dumbbell or kettlebell against your chest. Position your feet at just a little more than shoulder width apart, pointing your toes slightly out. Sit back and down, keep your chest up, your entire spine (including head and neck) neutral, and feet flat to the floor. Keep your knees out at the bottom of the squat, then come back up using your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to force your body out of the pit. Repeat for 2-4 sets of 12-15 reps. This exercise will be working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core.
2. Bulgarian Split Squats. Begin with one foot flat on the floor, and the other on a bench behind you. Lower into a deep lunge, then push up with the leg on the floor- use the back foot on the bench as stabilization. Perform 12-15 reps with current leg, then switch leg positions and repeat same movement. Repeat for 2-4 sets.
For your first time, start without weight. Add weight as you get stronger. This exercise will be working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and core.
3. Kettlebell Swings. Begin by holding the kettlebell by the horns with a slight bend in the arms, hinge your hips back, then power your hips forward to fling the kettlebell forward. Be careful to not hyperextend your back while doing this. The left picture is the top of the swing, the right picture is the very beginning. The middle of the movement will have a lot less knee bend. Start with a lower weight to master form! Always keep your spine neutral and focus on keeping a fluid rhythm. Perform higher rep ranges (15-25) for 2-4 sets. This exercise will be working your glutes, hamstrings, core, and cardiovascular system.
4. Ab Wheel Roll Out. Grab an ab wheel, put your knees on a mat to protect them, and roll down to where you feel a stretch. Come back up using your abs to pull your upper body back to the starting position. Perform 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps. This exercise will be working your core.
5. Hollow Body Hold. Lay flat on the floor with a mat under you, then bring your arms and legs up towards the ceiling, using your core to hold your limbs up and stabilize your body. Hold for 3 sets of 30-60 seconds. This exercise will be working your core.
All this stability and core work will immensely help with your equitation! You can start out with this simple routine just once a week. You want to always progressively overload slowly adding more weight, adding more reps, or ad more sets. Master form before you overload in any way- proper form to any gym exercise is key. If you're really serious about getting into the gym but don't know where to start, consider hiring a personal trainer. You can work together to create the perfect program to help you meet your goals.
There's really so much that goes into exercising effectively and efficiently, and while I wish I could lay it all out in this single blog post, it would just be too much information at once. Below are some great instagram accounts that I'd recommend you follow if you want to learn more about exercising effectively and efficiently:
@themosfitness- this is Meghan, my model for this blog post :) She's a personal trainer and massage therapist in Othello, WA. She's also soon to be licensed to be an equine massage therapist!
@foundmyfitness- Dr Rhonda Patrick is one of my very favorite people. She's so smart, really well spoken, and does incredible research (and shares it with the world) to find the best way to have the longest and best life. Exercising is a huge part of this, of course!
@docjenfit- she's a huge advocate of mobility, and shares her knowledge generously about helping anyone become more mobile and flexible
@katiesonier- she's actually my coach & has a really great program for people at any stage in their lifting/fitness/health journey
@bretcontreras1- he's a genius and posts so much informative content
@coachmarkcarroll- a good Aussie guy who explains basically the same things Bret and Katie do, but in an Aussie accent, so it's naturally better (lol)
@ocean.trail- she's been my friend for so long & also posts really informative content, lots of form correction videos and good food examples.
I'm very picky with the fitness accounts that I follow on social media. I look for people who post informative and helpful content, actually know what they're doing, and post more than just what their body looks like. All of the people listed above have positively influenced my life.
DISCLAIMER: I'm not a certified personal trainer, so follow my advice at your own discretion.