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For the Busy Equestrian Athlete

The Sleepy Equestrian Athlete

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 03 April 2012 · 5,873 views
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[b]Why Sleep Is Important For All Equestrian Athletes?[/b] Inadequate sleep has been linked with insulin resistance and poor blood sugar management. Remember this one of the primary reasons that exercise is so effective for performance and also fat loss. An interval based approach like that in the Equestrian Athlete Plan (EAP) that minimizes cortisol levels after training is what works so well for my equestrian clientele.

Elevated cortisol levels due to excessive long steady state exercise are a primary reason for many equestrian athletes entering the world of 'no results' and becoming disillusioned by ANOTHER GENERIC training programme!!!

In 2001, at the Annual scientific meeting of the American Diabetes Association, researchers demonstrated that poor sleep lead to increased blood sugar levels, higher cortisol levels (stress hormone), poor satiety and fat gain! These same researchers found that those who slept for 7.5-8.5 hours produced 50% less cortisol and insulin than those who slept for longer. The knock on effect for any equestrian athlete, regardless of competition level or recreational frequency, is that excess weight takes its toll when you are essentially in an unnatural position (on a horse).

The only time you really want your cortisol levels to be high, are in and around training, because your brain needs the cortisol to function. One of the reasons the Hot to Trot Nutritional Plan (that comes with the EAP) is having great success with reducing cortisol is because we deal with the problem of excess sugar in the diet straight away. But in order for the total stress to be reduced I ask all my equestrian clientele to get to bed by 10 pm 5 nights per week.

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to achieve performance, fat loss and well being is to neglect their sleep. I wish health, well being, performance and fat loss were as simple as move more, eat less! I would have created a programme and sold it to millions of people by now. Unfortunately anyone who tells you this has been living in a cave for a long time!!

Hormones have a major role to play in the reduction of body fat, as part of an exercise and nutritional strategy. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production and sleep go hand in hand with recovery from exercise and mental stimulation. There are other key hormones involved such as testosterone, oestrogen and cortisol (mentioned earlier), but I will save them for a later article. :happy0203:

Firstly, it is important to understand what a hormone is. According to the Collins dictionary online,' a chemical substance produced in an endocrine gland and transported in the blood to a certain tissue, on which it has a specific effect'

It is also important for us to understand their individual roles within the body. HGH is produced in the pituitary gland and is sent to the liver to where IGF-1 is produced. IGF-1 (insulin like growth hormone) is required to repair cells, aid brain function and enzyme production and improve bone strength. This substance is mostly produced during the early hours of sleep (between 10pm and 2am), hence why getting to bed by 10pm most nights of the week is so important. Shippen and Fryer (2007) attributed the decreased speed of healing and brain function to a decline, in middle age, of IGF-1 production. Hence a good night's sleep often results in a more alert rider and better performance in and out of the saddle.

To stimulate HGH production you should first of all increase load bearing exercise. This doesn't have to be extreme weight lifting but you need to use weight, which incidentally can be your own! This action will help to increase calcium production in the bones leading to increased bone density.

Net result is increased human growth hormone. Oh and by doing this you will more than likely reduce the likelihood of osteoporosis or at least delay the process. Increased HGH is linked with performance, that why athletes use it (illegally) to gain an athletic advantage over their competitors. You don't need to inject it; you can just follow a few simple principles and boost it naturally.


[*][b]Exercise for up to 30 minutes per day[/b] (3-5 x per week), with anything that is load bearing. Resistance training is best as it stimulates our bones to lay down calcium. In combination with some aerobic exercise to reduce body fat, this will help us to minimise oestrogen storage (this is where our fat is stored).The pull of the muscles on the bones at the tendon attachments helps to improve tendon and connective tissue strength, which helps in the prevention of injury.

[*][b]Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption[/b] as these are known nutrient robbers! Law et al (1991) reported higher incidences of osteoporosis and hip fractures for those who consume alcohol and smoke. This is due to a loss of calcium, which is excreted in the urine (Rezvani et al, 1991). From an exercise point of view calcium is hugely important in the muscle contractions that lead to the shortening (concentric) phase of the muscle action. If this chemical reaction is being inhibited, you will decrease the speed of movement achieved, thus reducing the total reps you achieve before failure and the effectiveness of your workout. Some research does suggest that you can add a small amount of caffeine pre workout in the form of black coffee to increase stimulation and alertness, but I suggest just cutting out the crap! I wake up every morning feeling awesome; I put it down to not eating rubbish before bed! Oh and these little tips below.
Here are three more Things You Can Do To Help Improve Sleep.


[*][b]Supplement with Zinc/Magnesium[/b]
The zinc will help with muscle repair and regeneration, whilst the magnesium will help with muscle relaxation. I recommend that all of my riders take this to help relax the over worked back muscles at night. Try taking this two hours before bed. If you want more information on where to get these please feel free to contact me.

[*][b]Lummi Light[/b]
I have one of these and waking up to the natural light particularly in the dark months will help to make you feel alert when you wake. So then you don't feel like you need a pair of matchsticks to keep your eyes open first thing!

[*][b]Pre-Bed Snack[/b]
I know all the literature says that you shouldn't eat food before bed as this will get stored as fat. Well if you are struggling to sleep, try snacking on peanut butter/almond butter with raw carrot/celery. A lot of people suffer with poor sleep due to low blood sugar levels, as the insulin response from food intake actually helps you to sleep. It's also worth noting that banana's (high sugar) contain tryptophan that helps with sleep.
Have a great day! :smileywavey:


[i]PS: This article is an extract from my [url="http://riderfitness.co.uk/blog/"][b]Rider Fitness Blog[/b][/url][/i]

Three Simple De-Stress Techniques

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 01 April 2012 · 314 views
rider fitness and 4 more...
You are stressed out. You are having trouble losing fat from your stomach, bum, legs & arms. Not uncommon. It is more than likely that you have an oestrogen dominance problem. Fat cells in these areas of the body are more receptive to oestrogen, so your body stores more fat in these cells when oestrogen is dominating the sex hormone flowing around your body.

I’ll put this down to three main reasons. There are several, but I don’t want to rewrite the bible today :happy0203: :

[*]Poor liver function
[*]Xenoestrogens from toxicity in the diet
[*]Poor Sleep

Here are three very simple things you can do to start making sure you address these issues before you wage war with your body:


[*]Liver - Clean up your diet!

[*]Remove; wheat, gluten, sugar, processed food, alcohol and caffeine. This gives your liver a chance to rest recover and start to go back to normal function and produce regular amounts of sex hormone binding globulin.
[*]Aim to consume approximately 1 litre of water per 4 stones of body mass, or 1 litre per 50lbs of body mass.[/list]

[*]Xenoestrogens. – Xenoestrogens are chemically made oestrogens that are found in processed foods.
[*]They make us extremely efficient at storing fat!
[*]Cruciferous vegetables such as Watercress (the authority), spinach, broccoli, curly kale are awesome.
[*]These vegetables basically bind to the toxic estrogens and remove them from the system.[/list]

[*]Poor sleep. Go to bed earlier and establish a routine.
[*]You need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night between the hours of 10pm-6am.
[*]Use adaptogen supplements such as tulsi tea to reduce stress and improve sleep any time after 5pm in the day.
[*]I supplement with Magnesium (muscle relaxant) and Zinc. You want ‘-ate’ versions such as citrate, gluconate and so on and so forth.
[*]You could also try reading (fiction) and meditation to help with sleep too!

Bye for now! :smileywavey:


[i]PS: This entry has been culled from my [url="http://riderfitness.co.uk/blog/"][b]Rider Fitness Blog[/b][/url][/i].

The Hip Up For Riding Fit Legs

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 01 April 2012 · 279 views
riding fit legs, rider fitness and 2 more...
Short hip flexors can cause lower back pain. Hip up exercise opens up the hips and lengthens the short hip flexors (on the front of the hip), developing excellent hip mobility.



[*] Lie on your back with your hands out wide with your palms facing up.
[*] Your back is flat on the ground. Knees are bent and feet slightly apart but also flat.
[*] Push the top of your back into the ground, while at the same time squeezing your glutes (bum) and push your hips up into the air.
[*] Ensure the emphasis is on squeezing your bum rather than just lifting your hips.
[*] Raise up until your shoulders, hips and knees are in line.
[*] Hold for 2 seconds at the top before and lowering.
Return to the start position and repeat.

Tube Walk For Developing Riding Fit Legs

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 20 March 2012 · 583 views
Tube Walk, Rider Fitness and 2 more...
[font="Tahoma"]The Tube Walk helps the equestrian athlete to develop leg and hip strength, thereby developing riding fit legs. You will need a simple exercise tube/band as shown in the photo. You can easily get this at your local fitness store.



[*] Take the band and place it under the soles of the feet, ideally under the arches, as shown in the photo.
[*] Start with the feet hip width apart. Lift leg as if lifting over a match box, pushing the leg away from the body to the side.
[*] Lift the trail leg in exactly the same manner, so you are back at the start position.
[*] Keep the knees slightly flexed throughout.
[*] Complete 10 steps to the left by repeating steps 2 and 3 and then perform 10 steps to the right.
There you have it! A simple exercise that could be done in the comforts of your home!

Split Squats For Riding Fit Legs | The Equestrian Athlete

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 02 March 2012 · 589 views
busy equestrian athlete and 3 more...
[font="Tahoma"][size="3"]Split Squats is an excellent exercise for equestrian athletes to develop and maintain excellent hip mobility. Here's how to do it:


[*]Stand up straight with your hands on your hips and shoulders pushed down.
[*]Step forward with one leg, taking a slightly larger than normal step ([i]See Position 1)[/i].
[*]Lower your body until the front thigh is parallel to the ground ([i]See Position 2)[/i]. Only go half way if you find this too hard.
[*]The back knee should be bent and lowered to the ground but don’t let it touch. [*]Keep your upper body upright position at all times by contracting your glutes and abs.
[*]Repeat this 10 times, then change legs.


Split Squat Position 1[/URL]


Split Squat Position 2[/URL]


Ankle Stretch For Riding Fit Legs | The Equestrian Athlete

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 02 March 2012 · 490 views
busy equestrian athlete and 3 more...
[font="Tahoma"][size="3"]Ankle stretch is an excellent stretch exercise for the equestrian athlete. This helps in developing riding fit legs.

Having your foot in the stirrup and pressing the ball of the foot on the stirrup iron causes compression. The ankle stretch exercise eases the compression. Here is how to do the ankle stretch:

[*]Place the top part of the toes on the floor.
[*]Press the front of the foot towards the ground such that the toes are pushed down.
[*]This will stretch the front of the ankles.
[*]Ease the pressure.
[*]Repeat steps 1-4.



Planning For Success | The Equestrian Athlete

Posted by Matt Luxton, in Rider Fitness 23 February 2012 · 181 views
busy equestrian athlete and 4 more...
[font="Georgia"][size="3"]Whether you actively compete your horse or ride for pleasure, the fitter you are the more pleasure you will get from your riding. Improving the quality of your riding experience will also reduce those aches and pains and out of breathe moments at the end of a cross country course or during a lesson.[/size]

[u][size="4"][u]Developing Riding Fit Legs[/u][/size][/u]

[size="3"]By using exercises that open up the hip and lengthen the short hip flexors (on the front of the hip) you will develop and maintain excellent hip mobility. Also, by mobilising the ankle joint you will lessen the compression in the joint.

Short hip flexors and ankles that are compressed cause lower back pain and reduce leg strength. This is so important to all Equestrian Athletes, due to the Range of Movement needed about the ankle for rising or sitting trot, canter and for that matter every phase and transition.

Some important exercises that help you getting riding fit legs:
1. [i]Ankle Stretch
2. Split Squats
3. Tube Walks
4. Hip Ups[/i]

The exercises are designed to be worked in the home environment but as with all things in life you only get back what you put in. As the workouts are shorter this enables the rider to make the most of the time allocated to their training session and psychologically it becomes both more manageable and achievable. This is in turn creates an increased feeling of self-control and the ability to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. ‘Sticking to it’ and not being distracted will yield phenomenal results.

I will discuss the exercises in later blog posts. So keep coming back! :smileywavey:


Take a look at [url="http://riderfitness.co.uk/blog/"][i]my Rider Fitness Blog[/i][/url] to learn them right away![/size] :smilie:


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