Badass Full Body Workout

Beware:

This is an effective home workout! No pink dumbbells. No fru fru.

I am producing weekly workout videos on my YouTube channel to bring you EFFECTIVE at home workouts that produce stability, strength and power in athletes.

No BS.

And, yes, even if you are currently holding the status of “Couch Potato” you ARE an athlete. Humans are created to MOVE, you just need to get started!

My passion is helping empower women to lift heavy, run faster, swim further, and simply just achieve those long held goals that have become buried deep for way too long.

I will post the video below but please do read through the breakdown first!

A breakdown of the workout:

Exercise 1: Frog Kicks

The exercise specifically targets the gluteus medius (side of your butt), the muscle responsible for moving the leg sideways away from your body (termed abduction).

A strong glute medius is essential for power and balance. Activating this muscle prepares your body for the explosive side-to-side movements that are common to most sports. The gluteus medius also improves hip stability, which is critical for maintaining balance for my riders, and preventing knee and ankle injuries.

Tip: If you have chronic knee or back pain I highly recommend working on your glute medius! Especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, and therefore tightening the hip flexors, it is essential to spend time on activation exercises for the glutes!

Exercise 2: Kettlebell Swings

This is one of my favourite exercises for athletes and as someone with a lot of experience, and training, with kettlebells I am very partial to their total body benefits for strength and stability.

The kettlebell swing is exceptionally efficient on improving your strength, endurance, power, and coordination in an extremely short amount of time.

Another great benefit is that the kettlebell swing is extremely useful for building explosive strength and can easily substitute for plyometric movements, for those that are looking for lower impact ways to improve power.

These are also exceptional at developing the posterior chain, creating shoulder stability as well as core strength.

This is the Queen of all exercises BUT you must use a weight too heavy to simply lift to your shoulders. It must require you to push with your glutes and hips. If you can simply lift the weight:

  1. You are at an increased risk of injury in the shoulders.
  2. You are missing all of the benefits and simply doing an awkward front raise.

A form tip: Make sure you are using your back to hold your shoulders back and down. At no point should your back be rounded or your shoulders hanging from your rotator cuff. Think of gripping the kettlebell then activating your lats (behind your arm pits) by rotating your shoulders back. Visualize trying to break the kettlebell in half.

Exercise 3: Curtsy Lunge

I like to incorporate a lot of single leg exercises in training for my athletes. This helps to target imbalances and balance.

I find curtsey lunges to be incredibly effective at targeting your glute medius (outside of glute) as well as your inner and outer thigh. It is essential to target the full leg, rather than simply the glute max. This is a great exercise for that!

Make sure you maintain good form as this is an easy one to have poor form in.

Training Tip: Pause at the bottom of your lunge to remove any momentum from the push up. If you do not feel this in your glute medius I recommend incorporating glute activation exercises as a regular part of your routine. You simply can’t work a muscle your brain does not know exists! And yes, the connection can become so weak that you have to spend time going through the “boring” activation exercises to remind your brain you have an a$$!

Use it or lose it sister!

Exercise 4: Plank Row

There are so many benefit of this exercise I will summarize in 3 points:

  • Effectively teaches core stabilization by strengthening the abdominal muscles’ ability to resist spinal extension.
  • Activates the Oblique muscles more than a regular Plank by forcing you to balance yourself while rotating.
  • Incorporates upper body rotation and improves total body balance.

To make this harder you can add a pushup between reps! I left the pushup out as many people are internally rotated at the shoulders (hunched forward) and need more pulling movements than pushing.

Form Tip: Squeeze your glutes. Make sure your hips are neither too low or too high. Stabilize your spine during the rotation.

Exercise 5: Thrusters

This is another great full body exercise that is incredibly challenging on the whole body! Thrusters help improve coordination, muscular endurance, and balance. Not only do heavy thrusters help to build overall strength, it can be a useful exercise to teach strength-speed and improve overall athleticism.

Go heavy on this one. Like the kettlebell swing the power comes from the glutes and legs. Use momentum from standing to power the weight up.

Form tip: Make sure to stay in your heels and not let the weight pull you forward. As you begin to stand up squeeze the glutes to use them as power to accelerate the weight up and over your head.

Exercise 6: Dolphin

The plank requires no introduction. It is one of the best core stability exercise and is my favourite since it does not require any bending of the spine. Our spines truly only have so many bends prior to having issues with bulging disks so I limit the amount of crunches for my athletes.

For this exercise make sure you lift your hips using your lower abs. If you struggle with a mind to body connection with your lower abs start with dead bugs and work up from there.

Form tip: Make sure to push up into your shoulders. Your shoulder blades should not stick out of your back. This is called Winged Scapula and signifies no stability in the shoulders or back. To truly benefit from the plank you must activate your body from head to toe!

Exercise 6: Twisters

Similar to the plank this is creating stability through the spine, however we are adding in rotation. This is a great way to develop strong obliques and stability through the core.

Form tip: Make sure to keep the core engaged the whole time. At no point should there be “slack”. This is also a great way to engage the lower abs.

There you have it my friends!

Complete the routine for 3-4 sets. Limit rest in between exercises to 15-30 seconds. 1 minute rest between sets. If you go heavy on the weights, which you should you little badass you, you can increase the rest to 2 minutes between sets.

*Make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Ensure use of proper form and never work through pain.

Grab your kettlebell, dumbbells, water and lets go!

And, friends, if you have any videos you would LOVE to see let it be heard! I am talking on form, injuries, workouts, nutrition, mindset. The choice is yours. Let’s build this YouTube to be the MECCA of sound fitness and health advice. You in?

Good!

Pity Party or Pool Party

As I sit here amongst a herd of babies, one of which being my own, I have realized something:

Everything in life is a choice brought on by our thoughts which developed our perception of reality.

Sometimes life goes sideways, and you wonder how you got to where you are or how you could ever stand back up. I have been there many times for varying reasons both in and out of the horse world.

I remember vividly the day I was told my 8 year old eventer had osteoarthritis in his spine and would be a pasture puff.

My heart hit the ground as all the dreams and visions that had played on repeat in my head, for 4 years, went up in flames before my eyes.

I also had to scrape myself up off the floor months later when I hit rock bottom thinking that not only was my horse retired. My heart horse. The one every single dream was attached to. But I hated my job. Not just the usual “would rather be on vaca than here”. It was destroying my soul. I barely pulled it together to last 7.5 hours, even on days I was medicated for the depression it caused.

Nothing seemed to be going right.

But, what we must remember, is that amongst all the crap you can still choose your attitude, intentions and focus.

When I finally looked myself in the mirror and said “sister, you need to wash the running mascara off and get your crap together” everything changed. Not the situations I was in. They still sucked. But my mindset shifted and it allowed me to focus on the gratitude, the amazing things I DID have going for me, and focus on building the life of my dreams.

I focused on the positive.

You can have the best plan. The best coaches. The best team but if you don’t have the right attitude you are dead in the water.

On days where I think about joining the circus, flying off to Australia or drinking a whole box of wine forcing myself to have a positive attitude is what saves me.

Choosing to find the positive is how I stay happy. And choosing to find the positive is how you will stay happy.

Not just ok. Not just getting by.

Truly happy.

Now, I am not happy 95% of the time because my life is unfolding in a way that makes it easy.

Heck sister, I am STILL at the job I talked about above but now I choose to see the company as funding the business I am building in coaching. So not only is it funding my dream but it is helping me ignite the dreams of others.

Pretty badass, if you ask me. And, a much more productive attitude to choose.

How do I do it?

In both my fitness and mindset coaching I am blunt and honest so here it is:

It is hard work.

I choose the positive in life. Every single day.

I choose to practice gratitude. I choose to surround myself with people that practice positivity and with things that bring me joy.

I surround myself with people that are also badass go getters that want more from life. That don’t allow me to wallow or feel sorry for myself.

And here is some important truth:

I regulate my thoughts because thoughts control feelings.

Feelings become behaviours.

Behaviours become actions.

And just like that your whole world is clouded by the fog of that one crappy thought.

Yes. It is that simple for one crappy thought of:

I am a failure.

I will never be good enough.

I am ugly.

To derail your whole darn life.

Are you actively regulating your thoughts?

Are you even aware of the thoughts that have become a soundtrack playing in your head?

Are you working to control the way you think of yourself and speak to yourself?

You have to choose to be positive. To see possibility. And no one can do it for you.

There is not one thing running through your mind that you don’t allow to be there.

That you ALLOW to be there.

Everytime you find yourself thinking something negative stop the hateful litany and replace it with something positive.

Like any muscle the positivity and gratitude muscle will become stronger with time. It is true.

Whether you are in a season of ease or hardship you need to realize YOU are still the one that controls how you see it. YOU. Which means only you can change it.

This is real life. Not a fairy tale.

Do not think for one moment it will be easy all the time no matter who you are,what you have or where you live.

Real life sucks sometimes.

And you will have whole seasons that will try to rob you of the energy you need to pursue your goal. Yes, it will happen so be prepared.

But you still have hopes and dreams and they are possible if you keep going.

Some days you will be sprinting towards them with the energy and grace of a gazelle, despite lack of sleep because of kids or a horse show.

Other days you will be crawling and inching your way, wondering if the pace you are going at is making any difference at all.

But you need to keep moving forward. You have to keep yourself in the game. As long as you don’t quit you are STILL IN THE GAME.

You can’t control the circumstances of your life but you can control your reaction TO them.

And, if tough times are going to happen anyway is it not much more productive to see the positive and keep moving forward rather than drowning in self pity, posting vague pity me Facebook updates and starting over once your motivation returns?

When put like that is it not obvious it is a choice!

If you take nothing else from this whole post please remember:

Your thoughts become behaviours. Your behaviours become actions. Your actions shape your reality.

Xo

Ashley.

Kinesiology Taping- Your horses uses it but should you?

Like the good equestrian you are your horse has experienced the wonders of kinesiology taping but you haven’t tried it for yourself yet! And, truthfully, your horse isn’t giving you the low down on exactly HOW they feel with it on! Yes, you notice improved performance and faster healing time of injuries but is it really due to the tape?

You are probably asking yourself if you should be trying it for your aches, pains and injuries!

The short answer is YES!

I will also provide you with a proper long answer!

How do the brightly coloured racing stripes actually work?

Kinesiology tape was first developed in the 1970s by Japanese chiropractor Kenzo Kase. Dr Kase was searching for a way to facilitate the body’s natural healing process and prolong the benefits of his treatment after his patients left his clinic.

In 2003 the team started “experimenting” on equine athletes and, as we all know, the rest is history as it is a common therapeutic practice in horses as well now!!

Kinesiology tape is very popular among top athletes, and for good reason! IT WORKS!

As a side note: I personally ONLY recommend the brand Theraband Xact Stretch. It easily lasts 3x longer and is more effective than other brands.

True story… This stuff is absolutely worth your money!

Kinesiology tape offers structural and/ or muscle support; it can correct postural problems and increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage.

When the tape is applied correctly ( I REPEAT…. WHEN APPLIED CORRECTLY!!!) the tape lifts the skin to create a small space between the muscle and dermis layers. That space takes the pressure off swollen or injured muscles, allows smooth muscle movement and makes space for drainage and blood flow.

I also find if you tend to have fascia that gets easily tacked down in a specific area the kinesiology tape goes a long way in helping to relieve this so you can correct the root problem.

I am currently using the tape for a back strain. I also applied the rib application because the strain is causing fascia is get tacked down around my ribs.

If you ever wonder if this tape actually works try ripping the tape off before it is ready…. It leaves a nasty burn but you will also see how the tape actually LIFTED the skin between the woven fibers. Now, this was not a challenge. Please do not actually rip it off. Allow it to fall off naturally. It will actually leave a nasty burn if you pull it. I did it by accident when I first started using it!

Proof:

What does research say?

Research is mostly inconclusive on the tape. There is some research that supports it’s effectiveness in helping with short term pain. Other research claims there is no long term benefit.

I find the claims of no long term benefit misleading.

I have, first hand, witnessed and experienced, the immediate benefits this tape has provided. I have also experienced the significantly decreased healing time. I have used it for my chronic back problems from an old injury, as well as shin splints and a herniated disk. It has also been in frequent rotation for an old tear in my shoulder which has turned into arthritis (Yes, I can predict the weather with my shoulder!).

There are immediate benefits when applied correctly. Literally IMMEDIATE relief and benefits.

Here is where the problem lies: Nothing has long term benefits if you don’t fix the root cause. If you are getting shin splints, there is a reason. Use the tape to assist you in your recovery BUT fix the root cause of why you got shin splints in the first place! This is why I think the research is flawed. The tape DOES have immediate benefits, which will turn into long term benefits if the user actually does the necessary rehab and prehab.

It is not a band aid.

Common Errors

My main concern is using it as a band aid and not fixing the root cause of issues, as addressed above. However, I do have another concern.

Kinesiology tape is not for fancy racing stripes. Yes, there are videos online about how to tape BUT if you literally have no idea about the musculoskeletal system and proper taping PLEASE, for the love of all things sacred, go to a Physio to learn how to tape your issues properly. Even with my knowledge of the body, rehab and prehab I went to a Physio, with my hubby, so we could both learn how to tape.

You are correct, you won’t HURT yourself taping improperly but you certainly won’t help anything either. I am sure there are other things you could do with $25 than draw patterns on your body for no other reason than to have stripes. Pretty sure the dollar store has some fancy temporary tattoos for $1 if you want that!

Conclusion

A taping I use often for Achilles pain if I ramp up running too fast.

I highly highly recommend using it. Recently I tore a muscle in my back and it has literally been a life saver. It has provided immediate relief and is allowing me to effectively complete my rehab and also continue my running. If you have some aches or pains definitely go out and buy THERABAND tape and learn how to apply it properly!

Also, if you are a rider AND runner you can use it for shin splints if you are just starting to run again. As I follow a PROPER running program I find taping from the get go helps with easing back into running.

The best parts about this? It is drug free, has no ill effects AND you can match your horse with the same colours or match the tape to your eventing colours! Win. Win. Win.

Now, go out and ride peeps!

xo

Ashley


Posture for the rider

Instructors, here is the truth about yelling “Shoulders back” at your riders. It doesn’t work. And it isn’t that it doesn’t work because the rider is ignoring you or isn’t trying. It doesn’t work because tightness in the riders body is CAUSING the shoulders to be internally rotated and weakness in the abs is further building on this problem.

This is not something that can be fixed in the saddle.

What causes a hunched position

Clients come from a variety of backgrounds BUT the one thing many have in common is the fact that they do either a lot of time sitting at a desk (student, office worker) OR they do a lot of time driving. Both of these positions cause tightness in the front of the shoulder and chest, also known as the internal rotators.

The more someone sits with their shoulders rounded forward the tighter the internal rotators get, however this isn’t the end of the problem! This position also causes the back muscles to weaken and lengthen. The very muscles that would maintain a tall position and shoulders back.

This position further impacts the rider with a weak core, tight hip flexors and weak glutes. For the purpose of today we are focusing on shoulders.

Here is a graphic for the problems hunched shoulders create:

What does this mean for the horse?

When you have hunched shoulders your core is weak, forcing you to sit on the back of your pelvis. Sitting in your chair right now sit up tall with a strong core then allow your shoulders to hump forward and stop any contraction in your core. Do you notice how you go from sitting evenly on your pelvis to the back of your pelvis? Your body literally folds forward from pelvis to shoulders.

Now, sit up tall again, core tight. Force your shoulders back by pushing your chest forward. If you have naturally tight internal rotators right now your chest will naturally pop forward to accommodate the shoulders being forced back. Notice how your lower back arches and you shift to the FRONT of your pelvis? THIS is what happens when you tell a client “Shoulders back” and they force them back with tight internal rotators.

Here is a graphic to illustrate what I just described:

We require a neutral seat to not only have a strong and balanced position but to also properly influence the horse with clear aids. Imagine how FRUSTRATED your horse is when you are giving unclear aids and they are trying to interpret what you want!

Riders, and coaches, if the shoulders are being forced back, causing an exaggerated arch in the lower back this is the position you are in:

Forcing the shoulders back, despite the tight chest and weak core is causing extreme rounding of the lower back. Notice how this position is also forcing the legs forward and the rider is unable to properly get the heels down, so the toes point out. Without fixing the root cause you are only causing issues downstream of the “issue” you have fixed.

Further, notice how the horse has dropped his back and lacks impulsion. This is the immediate effect of sitting on the front of your pelvis. Your horse will drop their back and be unable to push from behind. You will lack impulsion and the ability to give clear aids from this position.

By correcting the body tightness and weakness you see an immediate improvement in the rider and horse:

Where to go from here

To start you must stretch the tight tissue and strengthen the weak tissue. I highly recommend beginning with yoga, particularly Yin Yoga. The long holds of 1-2 minutes not only properly release the muscles but also the connective tissue.

Next you need to identify your weak areas are strengthen them. Make sure to do 2 back exercises for every 1 pushing (push up for example) exercise.

I offer a fantastic 80 day program to my riding clients that helps to address postural imbalances and weakness. This program is an essential base to have for a balanced and strong position.

It is no longer acceptable to say “This is just how I am!”. The horse depends on us treating ourselves as the athletes we are. Postural imbalances in us can also lead to lameness issues in our horses.

For more information on the programs I offer to riders please feel free to fill out the form below:

Happy Wednesday friends!

Ashley