In the first of a new series, Connor Clennan (pictured below), a qualified nutritionist and a strength and conditioning coach to professional sportspeople and private clients maps out what he believes prevents riders from treating themselves as athletes
I am a qualified nutritionist and a strength and conditioning coach to professional sportspeople and private clients all over the world working with people who just want to lose fat and be healthy to those who want to take their careers and performance to the very highest level, all of which are huge and sometimes difficult achievements.
I’m no rider myself, but I am married to one and over the past year I have been working closely with Guy Williams, Kirstie Leightley and Lily Attwood at Team Williams to create the “Showjumping BluePrint” — a complete nutrition and fitness solution for showjumpers and riders who want to improve their performance, get fitter, stronger, healthier or just look better in their breeches.
This time, working with elite riders has allowed me to gain a complete understanding of the physical and nutritional demands of the sport and we have also recognised some key factors which make life much harder for riders than other athletes and sportspeople.
We have termed these “obstacles” and the key obstacles fall into the following categories:
- Lack of time
- Lack of energy
- Life on the road
- Only having convenience and fast food available
- Alcohol consumption and the social side of the sport
- A lack of understanding or importance on the riders’ health and fitness
You would be forgiven for thinking that you are really up against it and I’d even forgive you for wondering if it’s even possible to make a big difference with all these obstacles. The reason you have been led to believe this previously is because of some of the toxic myths in the health and fitness industry. Once we start to learn the truth and bust some of these myths, then we can start to overcome all these obstacles and take not only your performance, but also your body to exactly where you want it to be.
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For instance, life on the road could seem a massive problem if you thought that you need lots of fancy workout equipment and space to build strength, flexibility, core stability and power. Also, if you were told that you need lots of time to prepare healthy meals and follow a strict diet every single day even when travelling and living out of your horsebox at shows, then you would never stand a chance — I honestly believe that this is why showjumping hasn’t adopted a more serious and professional approach to rider fitness and nutrition like almost every other sport.
However, luckily, neither of those things are true!
You CAN build strength, eat healthy, manage your weight, improve your fitness; all from the comfort of your horsebox.
Follow the #ShowJumpingBluePrint on social media to find out more about how you can optimise both your performance and your well-being and stay tuned to the Horse & Hound website for more information on rider fitness and nutritional advice from Connor