Review: Rider's Fitness

Okay, I've had a post sitting in draft for over a week now.  I knew that this was going to be picture-heavy and wanted to make time to do it.  Sunday will be was the last workout for the fourth week, so I'm 2/3rds through the program.  tl;dr?  I love this book, but only recommend it if you have a gym membership.

So the premise of this book:  they have 70-something exercises and have developed a training program for you that spans six weeks.  The six weeks are broken into three two-week sections.  The first is "Conditioning" and then "Building Skills" and finally "Challenges".  Each week has three workouts with normally about seven exercises per workout.  Typically, body-builders target one section of the body at a time (hence, "chest day" or "leg day") because they work out so freaking much and so hard and need to recover.  This book doesn't do that and has you working all parts and generally doing complex movements.

The first chapter of the book is devoted to "Warming Up and Stretching."  I'll be completely honest:  I skipped this.

The rest of the chapters are devoted to categorized exercises: Balance, Lower Body, Pelvic Tilt, Posture, and Upper Body.  Each exercise spans two pages, with the left side devoted to a written description of what you'll be doing, the materials you need, hints on how to do it and a little drawing of a fucked-up rider and horse, with an explanation of how it relates to the workout.  The right page has photos of the start and finish position.
This one is super fun.
What I Liked:
  • I dig learning how the muscles/exercises relate to horseback riding.
Yes, please.  Thank you.
  • I found the explanations of the workouts informative - I never had to wonder if I was doing them correctly.
  • I feel that the program has pointed out holes in my personal training - like that I've completely ignored muscle groups and exercises and won't often push myself.  If you're curious:  my hammies, and adductors/abductors, and shoulders.  D has noted more definition in my shoulders and latissimus dorsi (lats) since I started.
    For both the cable add/abd, I had to start out with low weights and build up.  

    This exercise must be super fucking important because you do it EVERY workout for the first two weeks.  I hated it, grew to love it, and hated it again.
What I Didn't Like:
  • There is no fucking way you could do this without a gym membership.  Don't even kid yourself.  You'll never get the same level of "work" from a stretchy tubing as you will from some weights.  I think you could do some of the exercises, but not all and you would certainly have to invest in some home equipment (various weights, the tubing, something to step on at various heights and a physioball).
  • Speaking of the physioball, I think the authors like it too much.  I get that doing exercises on an unstable object require you to use your core more, but I didn't get anything significant out of it.  And it makes you look like an idiot.
  • As much as I appreciated working various bodyparts in one workout, it is a giant pain in the ass to skip around the book.  I used tabs and just moved the tabs around before each workout.  I only had one dude ask about the book and that was because he wanted to get it for an equestrian he knows.
These are my notes from the first five workouts.

And then I realized that this was in the back of the book.
  • While there isn't one answer for every person, there is also no indication about how much weight to do.  It tells you 7-10 reps, but not how many sets.  So I just did three sets of 10 reps for every workout.
Also, who the fuck can do dips?  I can go down, but I'm sure as shit not coming back up.

Anyways, look at this illustration.  Dips will fuck up your riding.  Just look at how pissed off that horse is.
Bottom line?  Awesome book.  Love it.  So glad I bought it off Amazon.  I'll continue to do the workouts after my six weeks are up.  And I feel I need to add a little disclaimer:  while I'm not your average gym rat because my sexy-as-hell body-building husband dragged me into a gym a year ago, I'm also not a professional.  Go workout, go do some exercise, but keep your personal physical limitations in mind.  If you've got concerns, see a doctor before starting any physical fitness plan.  And if you're super keen but the thought of going into a gym and busting your ass with a dorky book frightens you, hire a trainer.

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  1. I work the shit out of my lats because they were weak sauce. Now they are Sriracha, pretty sure. Also love the illustrations!! especially that really pretty last one such harmony!

  2. Sad you can't do a lot of the exercises without a gym membership. I have one, but always feel really weird in the weight area so I stick to the elliptical.

  3. I went through the book and found the exercises I could do without a gym. Then I made copies of the pages so I wasn't flipping through the book. I also liked the book and agreed with all of your pros and cons.

  4. Thanks for that review. I've always been curious about that book.

  5. If anyone wants this book, let me know because it's shoved into one of my bookcases waiting for me to get a gym membership, and that is NEVER going to happen.

  6. Great review! I'll save it on my Amazon wish list for when we get our gym membership (it's in the plans; we're just saving up for the stupid startup fees that are 3 times the price of the monthly fee...).

    They're so right about the shoulders and riding! I took a riding hiatus during tech school and gained 5 lbs, then lost 10 when I started working out with a personal trainer as my graduation reward (no horses yet). I had always envied women that had that nice curve and definition to their delts-I wanted that. I started in that direction with the trainer, then when I got back into horses full-time, had to drop the trainer...and started cleaning a lot of stalls and riding a lot of different horses again. I was astounded to discover that my shoulders had a LOT more definition just doing barn work and riding than when I was doing shoulder days at the gym! Just cleaning 3 stalls a day gave me the shoulders I had always envied. Of course that's gone now that I don't have a stall to clean with Lily on field board. :/ YAY BOOK!

    That last illustration...the rider's hands are both on one side of the horse's neck?

    1. Yes! I'm totally glad you picked up on the funky rider. Some of the photos were a little "WTF?"

      I worked at a barn part time before moving to Savannah. We had anywhere from fifteen to thirty horses. Normally about 20 though. Anyways, I really feel like the feeding I did four (or five?) times a week kept my weight down. All those stalls, all the walking, all the buckets, blanketing, and haying. I miss it something fierce. Yeah, completely agree, killer workout.

      And y'all should see if there is a perks plan through either of your jobs! Or a lot of the gyms, locally at least, will do a sign on even at the first of the year and waive the initial fee. We get a discount through D's job (the gym fee comes directly out of his paycheck) and then my job will reimburse my portion if I go 8 times a month, every month.

    2. You guys get sweet perks! :) Great tip! We do get 20% off with Charles's job. If we did a contract there would be no start-up fees, but I worked briefly as a gym sales associate and saw how that can backfire; I prefer to pay month-by-month and thus we have to pay the fees for that. Booo! We'll get it hopefully within the next month!

  7. Book sounds pretty great! I suck at following something so structured because of my insanely busy schedule, but I'm gonna add it to my Amazon wishlist just in case one day...I think it'll make a phenomenal gift for some friends though!