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How To Maintain Rider Fitness At Home During The Coronavirus Lockdown

There’s no doubt that one of the biggest concerns for everyone, while the UK is in lockdown, is how to maintain fitness levels. With the new regulations meaning even tighter rules on our ability to go outside, and movement restricted to ‘essential’ travel, the unknown amount of time we will be spending at home is a daunting prospect, to say the least.

Exercise plays a major role in our mental state, as well as our physical fitness, releasing positive hormones and reducing stress. A home workout is a great way to keep body and soul together during these uncertain times, and will be more important than ever, as we find ourselves unable to do even the most basic of normal activities.

So we’ve put together a list of the best exercises we could find, specifically for riders, to ensure we don’t suffer too much from the reduced time in the saddle!

All you’ll need to be able to do all the exercises is a yoga mat and an exercise ball.

We’ve also found that it can be particularly helpful to do these exercises in front of a mirror so that you can check your position and posture. Where possible, we recommend positioning a mirror to the side of you, as it makes it much easier to see what your body is doing.


Exercises to build core strength


Equipment needed: Yoga mat

Go down on all fours, drop down onto your elbows and push your legs out behind you so you are on your toes. Try to keep your body in as straight a line as possible from your ankles to your shoulders, keeping your chest up to stop your shoulders dipping in the centre. Keep your hips low but not so low that you are sagging in the middle. Hold this pose for as long as possible.

Tips on technique;

During the plank all your muscles should be engaged, to avoid sagging at the middle or pushing your bottom up too high. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders, and make sure you are pushing up through your forearms rather than resting all the weight on your elbows. Ensure you are not allowing your chest to dip between your shoulder blades. Brace your stomach to engage your core and give you better balance. Squeeze your thigh muscles so that you can feel the lifting of your kneecaps, and try to imagine you are rolling your pelvis forward slightly to tuck your ‘tail’ between your legs.


Ball Squeezes;

Equipment needed: Exercise ball

Stand with the exercise ball on the floor between your legs, making contact with the ball at your knees, and squat down slightly to adopt a riding position, with your heel, hip and shoulder all in line. You should already feel like you’re working quite hard just by holding this stance. Now raise your arms up and put your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out to the sides, and gently squeeze your knees in and out against the exercise ball. Do about 10 reps, relax and then repeat.

Adding another level - Ball Squats;

If you want to make this slightly more challenging you can add in a squat. So, maintaining your rider stance and keeping your arms behind your head, slowly go into a small squat, keeping contact with the ball and squeezing your legs against it slightly as you lift back up into your rider stance. This will also work your glutes, as well as your core.

Tips on technique;

By lifting your arms and putting your hands behind your head you are engaging your core. You should feel a natural stretch as you do this. Never put your weight onto the ball so that you are sitting on it, your bottom should remain in the air at all times, with only the inside of your knees and top of your lower legs making contact with the ball.


Exercises to increase flexibility

Bicycle Crunches;

Equipment needed; Yoga mat

Lie flat on your back with your knees raised, keeping your feet and hips in contact with the floor. From the side, your knees should create the shape of an even capital ‘A’. Put your hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out to the sides. Slowly bring your right knee up and your left elbow forward and over so they meet in the middle, then repeat with your left knee meeting your right elbow. While one knee is up in the air you should be trying to keep the other leg out straight, parallel to the floor but not touching it, to balance yourself and engage your core. Do at least 10 reps on each side.

Tips on technique;

As you do this exercise you may feel a lack of stability. Try to keep both hips in contact with the floor and only raise your shoulders up just enough to twist effectively at the middle. To get the most out of this exercise, make sure you are extending the leg you are not lifting out as much as you can, and keep it as close to the floor as possible for the best stretch.


Leg Raises (With Hip Lifts);

Equipment needed; Yoga mat

Lie flat on your back with your legs straight in the air so your body is creating an ‘L’ shape from the side. Put your arms flat along your sides, with your palms touching the floor, and raise your head slightly. Slowly lower your legs, until they are parallel to the floor, and almost touching, and then lift them back up into the ‘L’ position. Once in the ‘L’ position again, lift your hips off the floor briefly and then lower them back down. Do 10 reps, take a short break and then repeat.

Tips on technique;

Try not to use the rocking motion of the legs lifting back up to lift your hips off the floor at the top. You should be aiming to return to a flat ‘L’ position with your hips still in contact with the floor, before using a separate ‘pump’ action to lift your hips off the floor and return into the ‘L’ before starting again.


Exercises to increase back strength

Lower back exercises

‘Swimming’ Exercise;

Equipment needed; Yoga mat

Lie flat on your front with your arms out straight in front of you, as if you were about to dive into a pool, but keep your shoulders down, away from your ears. Then slowly lift both your legs and your arms off the floor at the same time, and move each opposite limb up and down gradually (left arm and right leg, right arm and left leg) in a fluttering motion as if you were swimming. Keep doing this for at least 10 seconds and then gently return to lying flat on the floor. Rest and repeat until you lose the core strength needed to keep you in the right position.

Tips on technique;

The idea is to extend your back as much as possible, whilst also working the glutes and core. Focus on stretching from the centre of your body, allowing the stretch to lift your limbs naturally. Keep your face down towards the mat and use your head and neck as an extension of your back. Pull your abs in, lifting your belly button up and away from the floor, and push your tailbone down as if tucking your tail between your legs. This exercise should feel like stretching not straining.


Hip Rolls;

Equipment needed; Exercise ball

Sit on your exercise ball in a normal chair position with your back straight, your thighs parallel to the floor, and your feet slightly further away than directly under your knees (this is important for balance). Now press the palms of your hands together with one hand facing up and one hand facing forwards and wrap your fingers over. Keeping your hands pushed together with a small amount of force, tilt your pelvis upward and roll your hips forward on the ball as far as you can without losing balance, keeping your torso as still as possible. Now tilt your pelvis down, rolling your hips the opposite way, pushing them back as far as you can and arching your back as you do so. Repeat this forwards and backwards movement slowly, in a controlled manner, for 10 to 15 reps.

Tips on technique;

You should be aiming to make this movement as pronounced as possible, creating a ‘C’ shape with your back as your roll your hips forward, tilting your pelvis upward, and then the opposite as you roll them back and arch your back, tilting your pelvis downward. As you do this, make sure you’re flexing with the lower back, always keeping your hip joints in line with your shoulders.


Upper back exercise

Rhomboid Push-Up;

Equipment needed; Yoga mat

Go down to your hands and knees, keeping your back flat like a tabletop, your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Drop your head down, so it’s hanging forwards, and then let your chest drop down through your arms/outer shoulder joints, while squeezing your shoulder blades together, and then back up again. Do 15 reps, rest, then repeat.

Tips on technique;

Make sure not to arch your back while doing this. This is a very subtle movement and may not feel like you are doing that much, but that’s how it should be! The rest of your body shouldn’t move too much from the position you start in, it’s simply a flexing of the shoulder blades in and out, causing your chest to drop and raise again.


Full length of back exercise

Tabletop raises;

Equipment needed; Yoga mat

Again, start by going down onto your hands and knees, keeping your back flat like a tabletop, your wrists directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Raise your right arm and your left leg at the same time, stretching them out straight as far as you can, with your right arm straight in front of you and your left leg straight behind you parallel to the floor. Bring them back into the tabletop position. Then switch and do the same movement using your left arm and right leg. Do 10 reps on each side, take a rest and then repeat.

Tips on technique;

Try to imagine yourself stretching out to grab/touch something just out of reach, both in front and behind you, and feel the stretch down the full length of your back. Keeping your face looking down at the floor will help keep you from arching your back too much as you reach out, and make it easier to keep your outstretched limbs parallel to the floor.


Exercises to increase leg strength


Equipment needed; Nothing!

Stand with your feet hips width apart and your arms down by your sides. Go down into a squat position to about 90 degrees and as you do, bring your arms out straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. Do 10 reps, take a break and then repeat.

Tips on technique;

As you go down into your squat, try to keep your chin and chest out as much as possible. To get the most out of this you need to make sure your knees do not go out over your toes.

Ways to make this more effective;

  • Move your legs slightly further apart and turn your toes out
  • Hold the squat for longer
  • Add weights to your squats to increase the challenge!


Wall sits;

Equipment needed; Just a wall!

Stand with your back against the wall, and gradually slide down the wall and walk your feet out until your thighs are at 90 degrees to the wall and your calves are parallel to the wall, like you are sitting in a chair. Hold for 30 seconds, then come back up to standing for 30 seconds, and repeat.

Tips on technique;

This is a difficult exercise and should feel like a challenge! To get the most out of this, make sure your thighs are at a clear right angle to the wall, and try holding it for a little bit longer each time you repeat it, to ensure you get the best leg-toning effect!


So there you have it, a complete body workout for riders! It’s so important that we keep moving and stay active, despite the current restrictions. Why not start out by just giving a few of the exercises a go and once you start to see the benefits you’ll be hungry for more! We’d love to know how you get on, so please feel free to share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page >

Team Horsemart
Published on 02-04-2020