Rider Exercise: Inner/Outer Leg Raises

Try out these inner/outer leg raises to strengthen your lower body and improve your stamina and balance in the saddle.

Provides lower body strengthening to improve your stamina and contact with your horse while assisting your balance and stability in the saddle. Inner/outer leg raises work your:

  • vestus medialis and lateralis—inner and outer thigh, and
  • gluteus medius—the broad, thick radiating muscle situated on the outer surface of the pelvis.

What You Need: A blanket spread on the floor.
Optional: ankle weights.

Step 1: Lie on your right side on a blanket spread on the floor with your right elbow bent at a 90-degree angle supporting your upper body. Flex your ankles.

Charles Mann

Step 2: With your legs straight, raise and lower your left leg while keeping your ankles flexed. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

Charles Mann

Step 3: Bend your left knee and place your left foot in front of your right knee.

Charles Mann

Step 4: While keeping your right leg straight and your ankle flexed, lift your right leg 2–3 inches off the floor and bring it back toward the floor without resting it. Do three sets of 15 repetitions, resting 30–60 seconds between sets. Roll over to your left side and repeat with both legs.

Charles Mann

TOO EASY? Add light ankle weights.

Keith Hutcheson is the owner and fitness director of Middleburg Fitness Club in Middleburg, Virginia. He is a certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management consultant, and nutrition consultant and manager. For more information on fitness programs for equestrians or to find out about Keith’s new DVD, Fit2Ride, contact him at keith@middleburgfitnessclub.com.

The editors thank photo model Olympic eventer Mara Dean and the owners of Meredyth Farm. 

Note: Consult your health care professional before starting any exercise program.

This article was originally published in the June 2008 issue of Practical Horseman. 

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