Lose Weight Riding
By Bridget Braden-Olson
Yes! It is possible.
Riding is one of the best forms of full body aerobic activity. When in the saddle, the rider’s core is essentially working the entire time. Muscles are constantly firing to keep core stability, core balance, and core support on the horse. I am not aware of one equivalent activity that has the same full body benefits as riding.
There are two questions you must ask yourself if you want to lose weight.
1) How are you riding?
The body adapts to pretty much everything you’re doing on a daily basis, riding included. Chances are if you’ve been riding for years, you aren’t aerobically affected by riding. To lose weight you have to lean out the muscle by increasing your aerobic threshold. You’re not asking the horse to work harder, you have to work harder on the horse.
Riding with an independent seat and self-carriage pushes the aerobic threshold of any rider. Riding perfectly stable and balanced is hard work. Simply staying in command of the horse is work and appearing to do it effortlessly is harder work. When you have this type of core carriage, the fat just falls right off!
2) How are you fueling your body?
Training and diet are the main components when you’re trying to lose weight. Eating appropriately doesn’t mean limiting food intake. If you are adding weight training to your weight loss plan, you have to eat. If there is lack of fuel readily available, your body will store a reserve – you’ll put your body on alert and it will go into survival mode, throwing the whole weight loss thing out the window.
Eat every three to four hours and consume wisely. Plan ahead.
Am I getting a complete proteins when I eat? This is easy when you get the hang of it. A complete protein can be a meat or fish, but it can also be a combination of food. Beans and rice, for instance, make a complete protein because combined they have all the essential amino acids. This gives your body the best fuel.
After I ride, how long will it be before I can eat? Know what you are giving your body both before and after riding. You have the best possible energy for the least amount of calories by fueling with lean proteins. When you are done riding, give your body what it needs to restore power to the muscles.
Thirty minutes after a ride or workout you should eat protein. The body needs fuel after a high endurance activity. Limiting food as a way to lose weight is probably the worst thing you can do. You need muscles to ride horses.
Workout at least 20 minutes before you ride! Doing this can get your body in the fat burn zone quicker once in the saddle. Any reserve your body has will burn off during your ride. Riding will lean you down but you can’t just sit there, you must support yourself stride after stride. Aim for perfect posture all the time.
Muscles need to be fueled properly because of how physically demanding horseback riding can be. It is not safe to limit caloric intake. Lean muscle requires food and discipline.
Results take time and many people initially feel that they are getting “bigger” when they are trying to get “smaller.” I explain it this way: Muscle fibers are getting stronger and becoming more dense. This is what you want for support and stability. This causes you to notice thickness to the muscle. Do not get discouraged; rather, push yourself to make your body work harder.
Main blog photo: iStock/Pixalot