I am often asked “should I buy this piece of equipment” or “what piece of equipment do you recommend for _____” Here is a list of the top workout tools I use in my own practice and recommend to my clients.
Whether you are new to working out, equipment can be confusing territory to navigate. What will work for me? What is best for equestrians? What is a waste of money or has false claims? Will I be committed enough to using this equipment to get value out of its purchase?
These questions are likely on your mind especially now as gyms are closed due to COVID-19 or if they are open, maybe you just don’t feel comfortable going there. Add to that, riding season is almost over for those of us in a Northern climate which means less time outdoors being active. I actually do the majority of my fitness training in the winter so I can enjoy my summer riding. While you might not be ready to think about that W word now, its not too early to shop for some equipment in anticipation of Indoor Season. After all, we might start getting into a shortage as the rest of the world is going back into lockdown too!
Here are my top picks for gear:
- A good quality Yoga/Exercise Mat
A well padded mat is the first thing I recommend for all athletes cross training from home. Having a grippy surface will prevent injury from slippery situations when holding a pose or during jumping type exercise. It will also reduce your risk of strain injuries from the concussion of jumping up and down on a hard surface. Lastly, if you have others in the house it will definitely help muffle the noise created during your workout!
2. Heart Rate Monitor and/or GPS Watch
Wearables are a great way to actually understand how hard you are working vs. how hard you THINK you are working! Heart rate monitoring is a game changer when it comes to your cardio workouts. The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a lower priced model which you can use both to track your distances when riding and cross training, and will also monitor your heartrate data and provide insights into your fitness training.
3. Good pair of running/workout shoes
Running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles because the cushion material begins to break down which can cause soreness and injury. If you are suffering from shin splints or knee pain, think back… when was the last time you replaced your shoes? My favourites are ON Running Clouds which I have put many many miles into many many pairs. I have even had to submit a warranty claim once and their customer service was amazing!
4. A Great Pair of Leggings
The 88Ronin Apparel Release Edition Leggings are my favourite workout pants. They are super flattering with a high waist and feel light and soft. Bonus points for having a cargo pocket. I actually have ridden a 100km (62 mile) race in these tights and found them to be incredibly comfortable for riding as well. Having clothes that make me feel great always helps with my motivation – even if nobody is going to see my home workout.
5. Mini Exercise Bands
These 5 looped elastic exercise are a great way to add resistance to your current exercises or activate muscle groups you may not be able to target from typical body-weight exercises. They are inexpensive and small enough you can pack them in your carry-on when you travel so you can exercise anywhere (even in quarantine). For a limited time you can order Ride Like an Athlete branded bands. Get one while they last! Will be sharing lots of exercises you can do with the bands for No Nonsense November.
6. Bosu Balance Trainer
This piece of equipment looks a lot like a regular exercise ball split on half. The Bosu Ball can be used to add balance challenges to many of your exercises. Balance is hugely important for equestrians and adding instability into your cross training routine will definitely pay dividends in the saddle – particularly exercises like squats which directly mimic riding and will show you if you are distributing your weight evenly.
7. Set of Dumbbells
A varied set of Dumbbells is a great addition to your home gym. I prefer to use dumbbells over other types of weights because they can help point out any imbalances in your body and help to correct them. What weights should you pick? Well it depends really on your baseline, but I do recommend that you have a couple of smaller weights (IE 1-10lbs) for the smaller muscles (like rotator cuff) as well as some larger weights (25-50lbs) for the larger muscles (like your quads and glutes)
8. Foam Roller
This tool is great both for warming up your body pre-workout as well as keeping the body supple on your recovery days. A Foam Roller is also a great, portable tool that you can throw in your trailer to use after a tough endurance ride or show. This works like a self massage and is great to target the large muscle groups in your legs, glutes and upper back.