Fitness Routines From Horse Racing Jockeys

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There are few more physically demanding sporting professions in the world than being a jockey. Athletes will need to remain at the peak level of performance throughout the season, with action on track taking place every day throughout the year. 

While many outsiders believe that jockeys are there just sitting on their runners, many who have followed the sport for an extended period will understand the importance of following a jockey with a proven ability to score big race victories. 

Besides looking at the best horse to bet on today, a jockey’s fitness can often be the deciding factor between winning a race and finishing second. But what are some of the fitness routines that can be followed by horse racing jockeys?

Lower Body

Exercises involving lower body muscle groups are exceptionally important when it comes to riding winners in the sport. It is vital to ensure that riders have the crucial fitness and muscles needed to maintain their balance on top of horses travelling at fast speeds. 

The lower body muscles are tested by jockeys using an exercise ball and sitting facing away from the ball with the jockey leaning on the equipment. Once in the right position, jockeys will then complete 20 squats, rolling the ball up and down the wall with their back up against it. After this exercise, jockeys will move on to more gruelling exercises. 

These include holding a 5kg weight on their chest before sitting in a squat position for as long as possible. It is important to note that jockeys are only passed fit if they can hold this position for two minutes. Another test that must be completed before being cleared to ride involves wobble cushions. Riders will need to stand across the two wobbly cushions, with one located under each foot, for four minutes to guarantee a pass. 

Upper Body

After completing exercises to showcase the skills of leg muscles, jockeys will then complete several testing upper body activities to showcase their fitness. Upper body strength is exceptionally important in horse racing, as it is an important muscle group used to relax a horse, as well as staying straight on a runner in the closing stages of a race.

An important test in this muscle group will see the potential jockey hold a press-up position with their elbows at a 90-degree angle. This position must be maintained for 90 seconds to complete this section of the test. Next, jockeys will sit on a bench with their knees in a right-angle position before having to pull an elastic band behind them until their arms are fully extended. 

This exercise will work on a number of the key upper body muscle groups, including the shoulders and back. Unlike normal gym exercises, this isn’t marked on the number of reps that are completed. Instead, jockeys will continue to do this exercise for two full minutes to pass the fitness test. Non-jockeys will likely find this exercise extremely gruelling, meaning that they would likely need to start by aiming to complete the activity for a minute before building up to the target faced by jockeys. 

Core Strength

It could be argued that core strength is the most important muscle group for a jockey, as it is often the key factor that comes with staying on their runner. This can often prove to be the difference between winning and losing a race, with many jockeys practising their core strength exercises daily to ensure that they are at the standard required.

Many exercises focused on the abs are used to increase strength in the core, with the majority using a metronome timer. This should be set at 50 beeps per minute for the first exercise, which will see a jockey on their back with their arms over their shoulders. Next, jockeys will need to raise their feet with every beep that is heard. 

The feet must then be back down before the next beep to continue the test. To pass, a jockey must continue this exercise for four minutes without failure. Aside from this exercise, jockeys will complete several other core strength exercises to improve the muscle group. This includes completing sit-ups and regularly doing crunches. 

How Important is Fitness in Horse Racing

Few athletes need to be as fit as horse racing jockeys. There is no off-season in racing, meaning there is action on track throughout the season, and jockeys have to be at their peak level of performance throughout the campaign. 

Making weight is also a big factor in maintaining fitness levels, as only jockeys that have stuck to the correct diet will be able to ride some of the most talented horses in training. Overall, a solid fitness level could prove crucial when it comes to a jockey’s chances of winning big races around the world.

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