We keep our horses in tip top shape, so why not ourselves? I’m the first one to admit that my idea of fitness is “fit-ness whole pizza in my mouth,” but when I wanted to step up my roping I realized I needed to build my strength. When roping at top speed it is easy to forget how many muscles we are actually using. I know schedules are tight and it is hard to find time to go to the gym, so I gathered up some great, anywhere, body-weight workouts for each muscle group used, that you can do literally anywhere.
Upper Body Workouts: When we think of roping we immediately think of arm strength. In order to increase our swing speed and ability to stay strong after long days of roping we have to build this up. This is especially important for females as we often have less upper body strength than males.
- Push-ups– They have been around forever for a reason, because they work. Push-ups work your chest muscles (pectorals), shoulders, triceps, and serratus anterior muscles, which you can find under your arm. Push-ups help with building muscular endurance, which is so important for us. Start in a plank position, hands shoulder width apart, set your feet however feels comfortable to you, keep your body at a straight line and bend your elbows then push them back straight. You can also do modified push-ups with knees bent and legs crossed to help build the strength needed for a standard push-up. Start out by seeing how many you can do and add 2 each day.
- Tricep Dips– This exercise works your triceps, chest and shoulders. Start with your hands behind you on a sturdy bench, or even counter tops work perfect. Place your arms behind you, shoulder width apart, extend your legs out in front of you and straighten your arms then bend again. I like to do repetitions of 10 with 10 second rests in between, but do whatever feels right and comfortable for you.
Core Workouts: Core strength is so important for being able to stay up with your horse. When I started roping I really struggled with using my reins to balance coming out the box. I tried and tried to practice keeping my hand down and it would never work. I realized one day it was all core strength I was lacking, so I went to work. In three weeks I noticed a night and day difference in my ability to stay forward and with my horse.
- Planks– This is my favorite core workout that is so easy to do and works every muscle. Assume the plank position and hold as long as you can for the first try. The first three seconds you’ll be thinking man this is easy, then the burn will hit you. After you see how many seconds you can hold, build on that. When you think you can’t hold anymore, just go ten more seconds. I also like to do repetitions of planks. I will hold for 30 seconds rest for 10 seconds and then repeat two or three times.
- Sit-ups and crunches– Another classic workout that works. The most important thing with getting results with these is the reps that you complete. For instance, I like to do 20 sit-ups, 10 second rest, and 20 crunches and repeat 2-3 times.
- There are so many different core workouts you can do easily at home or on the road. Do some research and find what works for you.
Leg Workouts: Leg strength is another major factor for riding. We need every muscle in our legs to stay centered and balanced in the saddle. There are so many leg workouts out there these are just a few of my personal favorites.
- Squats– They are not just an internet phase, but an excellent workout. Squats work the hips, thigh muscles, quads, hamstrings, buttocks, rectus femoris and all of the ligaments in your legs. To get all of these benefits it is very important that you do your squats correctly. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, have your chest up and out, and start to sit down as if you were sitting in a chair. The key to squats is focusing on keeping your knees in line with your feet and ensure they do not bend over your toes. I like to start with 30 squats and work my way up from there and add more reps if needed.
- Calf raises– This is a workout you can do anywhere anytime as long as you’re standing up. I do calf raises while I brush my teeth, pump diesel, brush my horse, any time at all. All you do is stand flat footed and roll up on your toes and lift as high as you can. Focus on using your calf muscle to push your heel up and feeling the calf muscle stretch. You’ll be surprised how quickly you will see a difference in your calf muscles
There are so many more workouts and exercises out there to choose from. Mix it up and pick the ones that best suit you and stay consistent with your workout plans. The most important part of working out is your safety. If something feels uncomfortable don’t do it until you seek consult from a doctor or personal trainer. You work hard to be able to have the best horse and enter the best ropings, so be your best self and give your self the best shot to win.