This blog comes to you from Charles Harper.
All sports require strength and fitness conditioning for the athletes to excel beyond their competitors. Even sports where the need for such conditioning may not seem obvious, athletes will still exercise in order to strengthen their core and improve stamina levels. Last October, LEO Training interviewed Mitchell Sadowsky about working with professional and amateur golfers for golf fitness. However in this article we look at another type of athlete that a lot of people wouldn’t believe needed to be in top condition to perform: a horse racing jockey.
Most horse riders will tell you that the most common misconception of riding is that the horse does all the work. Even an afternoon trot requires the riders to use their core strength to balance and control the horse. Professional riders need to train like athletes because they need to be strong enough to be in control of the horse yet also light enough to ensure the horse can move as fast as possible.
CNN spoke to flat racing jockey Martin Lane about how the attitude towards fitness had changed in the sport. “Fitness has changed massively from the days when jockeys were just turning up at the races and were drinking. Now we are at the peak of our fitness. It’s definitely not just sitting on a horse.” Lane went on to tell CNN about his six days a week training regime: “I’m up around half past five or six most mornings. I’d then spend two and a half hours riding out. Then I’ll have a cycle – I ride 150 miles each week. The aerobic training from the cycling is what gets you through the season.”
Much of the training a jockey does will focus on developing a strong core and building leg strength without putting on too much weight. Training sessions will incorporate bodyweight exercises that are good for building up the body’s strength without putting on size and muscle. Equipment such as kettlebells can be used to build strong legs and thigh muscles which are needed to control the horse.
Writing for Muscle 2 Mind jockey Aidan Coleman informs that maintaining a light weight alongside strength and fitness is vital as the average racehorse is “1,000lbs and runs at an average of 30mph over a race, control and race strategy is managed by us as a jockey using both limb and core strength.” Russell Smith in his profile on Aidan Coleman for UK based horse racing site Betfair who cover all major events including the upcoming Cheltenham Gold Cup, noted that early in his career Coleman notched up 55 winners in one season. Coleman’s dedication to fitness has ensured that he continues to perform as a one of Ireland’s top jockeys.
It is not just sports like football, basketball and boxing that require athletes to be in top shape. No matter what the sport, following a strength and conditioning program is not only vital to competing but is essential for winning nowadays.
- Holt, Sarah. “Train like a jockey: The boot camp producing winners.” CNN. Cable News Network, 15 Aug. 2013.
- Coleman, Aidan. “Aidan Coleman: Born to Race.” Muscle 2 Mind Aidan Coleman Born to Race. N.p., 10 Feb. 2016.
- Smith, Russell. “Aidan Coleman: Career Profile.” Aidan Coleman Horse Racing Jockey – Career Profile. Betfair, 4 Apr. 2016.