The Athletic Equestrian: The One Exercise Every Equestrian Should Be Doing

Do you have 90 seconds 2x a week to spare? A correctly done plank can go a long way toward making you a stronger, more effective equestrian. Laura Crump Anderson of Hidden Heights Fitness shares some advice.

This article was originally published on our sister site, Eventing Nation. It’s geared for eventers, but the truth is, this is an exercise every equestrian should be doing, not just eventers. Read on to learn more!

A lot has changed for me since the last time I wrote for Eventing Nation. I do not know if you heard but there was a global pandemic … I got out of the fitness industry to do a job in Health Care (I worked for a physical therapy practice) and I wasn’t allowed in my gym for about two months and had to come up with an at home exercise routine. I started training all of my clients virtually when I was used to relying heavily on equipment and the one thing the stood true for me, and that I firmly believed and still believe in, is the grounding and challenging aspect of a plank.

I know working with horses is extremely physically demanding. Trying to fit exercise in to an incredibly busy life just seems overwhelming if not impossible, however, you can find 90 seconds two days a week. You spend countless hours treating your horse like and athlete, perfecting their diet, doing the fitness work, ensuring that their shoes are the perfect fit, etc. YOU OWE IT TO YOUR HORSE TO TAKE YOUR FITNESS WITH SIMILAR IMPORTANCE.

Start with a small achievable goal. Do a plank for 90 seconds two times a week. This will start making a difference in your strength and will even get your heart rate up quite quickly. You have to hold a symmetrical position for an extended period of time and this will give you a clue into whether or not you are right or left dominant not only in your upper body but also your lower body. You might be surprised to find that you are actually dominant in your lower body on the opposite side of your upper body.

How To Do The Perfect Plank

1. Start on all fours.

Photo courtesy of Laura Crump Anderson.

2. Walk your hands forward so there is a straight line from your head to your knees.

Photo courtesy of Laura Crump Anderson.

3. Come down onto your elbows.

Photo courtesy of Laura Crump Anderson.

4. Straighten your legs and press your heels back behind you (really think about squeezing all down the backs of your legs).

Photo courtesy of Laura Crump Anderson.

5. Don’t let your back round over or your stomach drop down.

6. Hold this position for as long as you can.

How Long Should You Hold Your Plank For?

The goal should be 90 seconds two days a week. However, if you get into this position and discover it is more challenging then you thought it would be that is totally OK. IF you are only able to hold it for 30 seconds start with doing three planks for 30 seconds. Work up to doing a minute long plank. If you are doing a plank for 60 seconds do two of them until you can do a 90 second plank. If your second plank is shorter that is totally OK. You are achieving true muscle fatigue! (GREAT JOB)! IF you are getting over two minutes great! However more than two minutes is excessive and longer does not necessarily be better so stick with about the two minute mark as a max and make sure you continue to do it twice a week. Because consistency is the important thing!

This is just the beginning of the wide world of planks and in a later post I want to look at different versions that will challenge you in many ways!

Laura Crump Anderson is an avid equestrian who realized from a young age the importance of taking care of our bodies like the athlete we expect our horses to be. Laura has competed up to Training Level in eventing on a horse she bred and started herself, and has the goal to get back out competing again on her 2019 Home-bred Still Stanley. She holds her degree in Kinesiology with a concentration in exercise science from Longwood University, is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and has her 200 hour yoga teacher certificate. Laura’s goal is to help riders be connected with their horse and be fit sound and ready to ride. Laura works with riders across disciplines from weekend warriors to Olympic athletes. She is the Owner and Founder of Hidden Heights Fitness, where you can participate in one-on-one Virtual Personal Training via zoom all you need is an internet connection, the space the size of a yoga mat, and your determination.