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FITNESS AND ENDURANCE

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Endurance is resistance to fatigue and the ability to recover quickly from fatigue. In order to increase either muscular endurance or cardiopulmonary endurance, you must work beyond your present level of endurance to experience the effect of progressive overloading. Long, slow distance work develops a base for more intense conditioning. Walking requires minimal equipment and is a safe form of exercise. Aim for at least 20-30 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 times a week. Other alternatives are stair stepping, aerobic exercise, treadmill, rowing machine and other companion sports (see sidebar).

To increase your fitness level so you’re capable of handling high stress events, use interval training. Interval training consists of brief work periods or “works” interspersed with rest or light work. You might begin with ten minutes of standing in the stirrups or trotting (either mounted or alongside your horse) followed by a five-minute walk break, repeating for 45-60 minutes. Within two months you may have moved up to an hour-and-a-half session with fifteen-minute lope and trot works and two-minute breaks. With interval training you can increase your endurance potential by:

      • increasing the number of works
      • increasing the length of the works
      • increasing the intensity of the works
      • decreasing the number of rest periods
      • decreasing the length of the rest periods
      • performing the work in hot weather.

Riding is an athletic pursuit that requires mental preparation, conditioning and skill development. Whether you are learning to ride or getting back in the saddle, take the time to prepare yourself for it so you can enjoy riding, the best activity out there.

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