HN hardbody Biz Stamm shows us some kettle-bell exercises for building in-the-saddle strength. (Breeches as workout attire optional.)
Generally, buying your wife a piece of exercise equipment is something done by the oblivious or suicidal, but last year for my birthday I asked for a kettle-bell and my husband nervously delivered. For those not familiar with what a kettle-bell is, it’s essentially a cannonball with a handle, and is a great tool for getting strong and toned.
The reason I love my kettle-bell so much is because it builds functional strength, and by that I mean it engages several muscle groups at a time, giving you strength you can use instead of tone that just looks pretty. After using my kettle-bell for awhile, I started to feel stronger in the saddle, so today I’m going to share some of the exercises that helped my riding the most.
Two-handed swing: Do you have issues engaging your hamstrings to get your leg back and underneath yourself? This exercise is for you! Start with your feet slightly wider apart than shoulder-width. Hold the kettle-bell with both hands and then push up from your heels and quickly contract your hamstrings and glutes to pop your hips forward. Aside from being great for your low back, hamstrings, and glutes, 2-5 minutes of two-handed swings will really get your heart pumping!
Around the world: One of the more difficult things we do as riders is to stabilize our bodies so that we are able to stay still despite the fact we have a bouncing horse underneath us. In this exercise we swing the kettle-bell around our bodies, passing it from hand to hand, and use virtually every muscle in our body to stabilize against the centrifugal force.
Abdominal twists: Those of us familiar with the sitting trot know that our core can NEVER be too strong. This is one of my all time favorite abdominal exercises, and I guarantee you will feel the burn! Sit with your feet flat on the floor and hold the kettle-bell with both hands. Lean back until you feel your abdominals begin to tighten, and then twist from side to side.
Why wait for your New Year’s resolution to start exercising when you can ring in the holidays, kettle-bell style! I know. I know. That pun was terrible, but I can’t help myself.
Be sure to check out the Fit to Ride Facebook page to get our weekly workout challenges and submit your health and fitness questions (#askarabbit).
Biz Stamm is the 29 year old trainer and instructor of Stamm Sport Horse, LLC, specializing in pure dressage, as well applied dressage for riders involved with other disciplines. Originally haling from Hudson, NH, She is now living in Corvallis, OR. Biz started riding lessons at the age of 6 years old when the Dr. recommended that it may help with her bad balance and lack of coordination. While she is fairly coordinated and balanced on a horse these days, she is still somewhat of a mess on her own two feet.
Biz currently owns two horses: her lesson horse, Kalvin, a 7 year old half-Arabian gelding…
… and her personal horse, Alpha Helix, a 2 year old Kiger mustang gelding. Biz has had Helix since the day he was weaned, and considers him her “heart” horse.
Biz is also the proud owner (more like ownee!) of a 5 year old standard rex bunny named Pi Rex Rufuse (Get it!? Pi r-squared!!!). Biz has always wanted to have some sort of mini horse to live in the house, and since the current landlords won’s allow any kind of equine on the property, Biz opted for a rabbit, which evolutionarily speaking, is very closely related to the horse.
After getting a Masters degree in Plant Pathology, and pursuing a career in the scientific world, it became clear to her that she was only truly happy when she was interacting with, or talking about horses (and sometimes rabbits). Now that she is riding full time, Biz still keeps her scientific training close at hand, focusing on correct biomechanics and physics involved in riding.
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