Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Exercise: Deep Squats

By Kenny Hall, Personal Trainer
and Mary Gallagher
MG: Kenny and I have been working together for two years now and as we combine our knowledge I am thrilled with the fitness knowledge and practice we can offer riders of all ages. As an instructor, I see focused exercise significantly improving riding, independent of our activity on the horse, saving our horse's good nature for the best we can offer. It is our responsibility as competent riders to be our best for our horses.

I asked Kenny to describe the benefits and fine points of the deep squat exercise, which is one of the most beneficial to horsemanship. Shelby Vaughn graciously served as model as Kenny demonstrated the exercise's correct setup.

KH: The squat exercise is one of the most common exercises in fitness, with multiple benefits. The primary muscles used in the squat are the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. These are all essential muscles to keep strong and stable when riding a horse.

When performing a deep squat, it is crucial that the weight is shifted back onto the heels. That will keep you from leaning forward which are potentially harmful to the knees. The first movement to the squat is pushing the hips back as you bend at the knees. As you can see in the picture of Shelby, her head eyes are up and back is straight. Hold this form as you squat down till your thighs are at least parallel to the ground.

There are variations to make the squat more challenging and therefore, more beneficial. I like getting the foot halfway up on either a weight plate or a balance implement, such as those in the picture. Clapping the hands alternately outside and between the knees in a static squat, enhances the exercise. For the more advanced individual, a kettlebell or weight can be used.

MG: Notice how Kenny's and Shelby's toes are pointed up during the squat, which is important to realizing the full benefit. The photo below shows the end result of the exercise, applied to riding (heel down, toe up!). Form, strength, and stability are ours, and both we and the horse benefit.
Kenny and I will continue to collaborate and present core exercises and fitness tips each month. We also welcome folks to join us in either morning fitness class! More details below.
You can reach Kenny at: kenny.anytimefitness@gmail.com