Last week we looked at beginning to work the lower back. This week the exercise I am going to go through will work your low back but I feel it also has a lot more benefits specific to horse riders that I would to go through so that you can fully appreciate its benefit in your exercise programme.
The exercise in question is The Deadlift. Now in all sense and purposes the Deadlift involves picking up a weight from the floor and putting it back down again-simples! Well Kind of-there is a little more to it than that.
The Deadlift actually works loads of muscles right from your calf up to your shoulders and many things in between so it is a great exercise to get maximum work in minimum time. Of most interest to Equestrians I guess is that they target the low back, legs, bum, abs and your shoulders. So think strong Core and Lower Body to do the obvious stuff like stay on and provide power with good shoulder retraction for a steady rein contact-I know awesome right!
There is also one other thing that the Deadlift brings to the Equestrian Fitness Table and that is the Hip Hinge. The very act of completing a Deadlift involves maintaining a strong, stable Core whilst hinging forward at the hips-you know what else involves that action………………………..Jumping! Also in Canter we actually make a very small seated hip hinge in order to move with our horse. Now we know why I’m a Deadlift Fan.
In a Jumping Position as your horse lifts you hinge forward at the hips whilst staying stable on top in order to keep balanced. If you don’t hinge at the hips you end up too far forward and on the horses’ neck over the jump. This obviously has a couple of potential outcomes. One being that your horse does not lift as much at the front due to your weight, or two if you are really unlucky and he pecks on landing……………….well you’re already out the front door.
If you are an Eventer, the Hip Hinge is pretty much your permanent position on the Cross Country Position. Whilst galloping and approaching fences you will be hinged slightly at the hips, lifted from the saddle-so imagine if your body was primed to be really strong in this position?
For us regular, less adventurous folk the along with the benefits of being overall strong the hip hinge comes into play in the Canter. Now it is a very small one but I can assure you if your hips don’t hinge you will struggle to move with your horse in Canter so it is well worth working on this element to add it to your armour.
Deadlifts can be a little intimidating if you are not a gym bunny and even then if you are not au fait with the Weights area, so there are a couple of different variations that you can do to get a similar effect if the heavy weights area is not for you.
Obviously traditionally it is done with a barbell however Dumbbells or Kettlebells can also be used.
If you are an absolute gym avoider then you can also do a hip hinge with a resistance band-attached to a door or other solid object.