|I cringe looking at these, at least Scout is cute|
|If you don't take a gym selfie, did you even work out? (*I took all of these pics for the sole purpose of the blog)|
There is just one problem with all of that... I HATE THE GYM. Like, really and truly do not like being there at all. But I am also extremely stubborn and so I started going anyway. I struggled to find a routine that I liked and was just overwhelmed with all of the choices and equipment and classes. My SO encouraged me to sign up for a few different apps that helped give me some guidance and before I knew it was in a regular program (a mix of cardio and strength training). And it didn't take long for me to see and feel just how much it was improving my riding.
In a normal week, I try to do weight training 3 days a week (alternating days) and cardio of some sort on the days in between. Usually I give myself a day of to rest but not always. When I first started out I was running on all my cardio days because I really loved it, but I really needed to mix things up because my body was telling me I was running a bit too much too soon. So I gave several options a try until I found a routine that I really enjoy (I still hate being at the gym).
|It's just an X Scout, jeepers|
One of the reasons that I wanted to start strength training is because Scout is a big, athletic and powerful ride. He was so easy to ride when I first got him, I never really thought about how much different he would feel after several hundred pounds and consistent training. That probably sounds naive, but it's remarkable. Emily came to ride him recently and was stunned, she said she couldn't believe what a physical ride he was now! Even when he's being light in the bridle he requires a ton of core/leg power to stay with him and I owe it to him to be able to hold up my part of the equation and not just sit there like a lump.
|Why am I so insecure in workout leggings but totally fine in riding pants?|
The program that I'm doing is alternating days with a combination of upper and lower body work. Each time you complete a series at a certain weight you incrementally go up in weight the next time you do that activity. Currently I'm doing the following: Bench Press, Barbell Rows, Incline Bench, Squat, Back Extension (these have been amazing for my lower back muscles), Overhead Press, Chin Ups, Deadlift and Curls. Usually, each day is a combination of 5 of these items and takes around an hour with warm ups.
And for someone that HATES being at the gym, I am loving lifting weights. I actually look forward to particular exercises (deadlift and squats I'm looking at you) and struggle with others (overhead press is just so hard) -- but it's also revealing the parts of my body that are truly strong and the parts that need work. Not shockingly, my lower body is quite strong, while my upper body is a bit on the weak side and it's time to get the rest of body in shape!
|Learning to get deeper in my squats|
My back continues to improve strength wise and I've noticed that when I skip days of strength training due to schedule conflicts, my back feels awful. So I'm going to try to stick to this plan and see where it takes me. Turns out that maybe doctors actually know what they're talking about, even if it's a slower road to recovery.
|My arms look better than they did when I was a working student!|
Ultimately, I don't have a particular strength goal or fitness milestone to achieve, but I'd like to continue progressing incrementally. I've made some loose goals for mileage for running, but that is all contingent upon my body holding up. I've finally reached the point in my life where I am listening much more closely to what my body is telling me and adjusting my plan accordingly. Funny, since that's my entire approach to Scout's training and it's taken me forever to figure it out for myself! My super vague goal is to be MUCH stronger than I was when the spring season rolls around. And now with my horse off getting super fit and schooled I better be in tip top shape when he returns!
So after about 2.5 months, I still hate the gym, but I like the folks that go there (they do all kinds of really cool programs for seniors and special needs) -- I'm less intimidated working out in the weight room and I'm starting to like the person looking back at me in the mirror. Getting old is tough, but I can influence how old I feel both mentally and physically. Self care is crucial and it starts one step at a time. Here's to everyone going out and doing what makes them feel strong inside and out and making themselves the best possible partner for their horse.