Devyn (a certified Pilates instructor among her other roles at the ranch) offers some tips for preparing for your ranch vacation.
Whether you visit the ranch in the winter, summer, or fall–it is a very active vacation. Of course, you don’t have to begin an intense training session before your stay, but getting into a strength routine is always beneficial. Doing a little strength training makes you more aware of your body, helps you get up from a wipe-out in the champagne powder, gain more control in your legs for horseback riding, and some more power for those tough hikes. My favorite kind of exercises are total body and body-weight exercises. They allow you to get a quick work out in anywhere!
Everyone should do planks. They are a fitness junkie’s classic exercise. Yes, they engage your abdominals, but they work the oblique and back muscles too. Gaining strength in the core will help you sit up straighter while riding and help dig into the abs for strength while bike riding (instead of straining the lower back) Try doing them for a minute at a time. Laying on your tummy, place your forearms flat on the floor, stack shoulders over elbows then squeeze your legs together, tuck your toes under to lift the knees off the floor then straighten the legs. Keep squeezing your legs together to engage the glutes and inner thighs. Think about scooping your abdominal muscles in and up to keep them engaged.
Lunges are an incredible, classic exercise as well. If you can do them with a resistance band or weights, that’s even better. Strength in the legs and inner thighs is most beneficial when communicating with your horse while riding. In back country skiing, I’ve found that engaging the glutes helps me to stand up straight and power from the rear instead of the hip flexors. To make lunges really effective, make the motion slow, slow, slow. Articulate through the full length of your leg muscles. Slowing it down fires up the slow twitch muscle fibers which are used for endurance. Keep the knee of the leg in front of you in line with the front ankle. Do not let the knee creep forward over the toes or strain behind your ankle. This protects your knee. Think about pressing the heel of the front leg into the ground to engage the glutes and straighten the leg. Play with doing the full range of motion for 1 minute, then holding (leg in a 90 degree angle) for 30 seconds, then pulsing it out (little up and down) for the last 30 seconds.
Add these exercises to your fitness routine, and you might find your time in the hot tub is more about watching the stars than relieving the aches and pain of sore muscles!