Horse Jockeys and Their Fitness Routines

There are few more professional athletes on the planet than professional jockeys. The top stars in the sport will need to be in peak performance level throughout the year, with the action coming thick and fast on the track. 

However, the most famous jockeys will need to ensure that they are at their very best fitness wise before the big races, which includes the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Breeders’ Cup. Jockeys are fine tuned athletes, and diet is exceptionally important throughout the season. 

That means that riders will always need to monitor what they eat and drink, even before taking rides, as they may need to lose weight just an hour before competition if they are weighing in over their allocation. 

However, what are some of the most popular fitness routines for jockeys to ensure that they maintain the strength and conditioning that they require to compete at the highest level?

Strength Building

Strength building exercises are among the most important that jockeys must complete in order to stay at their peak level of performance throughout the season. Lunges are an incredibly popular routine to stay on top of keeping leg muscles as strong as they can possible be, with great importance put on quads and hamstrings when trying to keep stable in the saddle. 

Only by training these muscle groups can jockeys get a better range of motion in the saddle, allowing them to maintain their balance and also direct their runner in the direction that they need to go in.

Another popular form of strength building when it comes to jockeys is bent over resistance band or dumbbell rows. As well as having the need to have excellent leg strength, jockeys must also have sound strength in their lower back muscles. These will be incredibly important when it comes to staying engaged in the saddle, and ensuring that they can quickly stand up in the seat should they need to ask their runner for more. 

Front delt dumbbell raises are also performed by many of the top jockeys, with shoulder muscle strength being incredibly important. This exercise will improve this muscle area and will help jockeys within the saddle when they are holding the reins. 

It is exceptionally important for riders within the US Triple Crown, as they could be forced to hold the reins for over ten minutes in big races such as the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. You can find more info about Preakness here: 

Importance Of Stretching

A key area of training that the vast majority of fitness followers forget about is stretching. However, it’s unlikely that jockeys will never miss out this part of their routine, as it is the best way to feel fresh quickly, and also relieve the risk of picking up an injury. Stretching is found to improve muscle growth within athletes, as it enables lean muscle tissue to grow quicker. 

But, one of the main reasons that it is important in horse riding is due to the fact that it increases flexibility. Remaining flexible in the saddle is incredibly important for jockeys, as they will need to remain balanced in a squad position for large periods of the race, before standing up in the closing stages to try and get the very best from their ride. 

Only be stretching can jockeys enhance their chances of victory, while it will also reduce the risk of picking up an injury that could leave them side-lined for an extended period of time.  


Riding horses competitively is extremely exhausting, which means that cardio is essential part of any workout for a jockey. It also isn’t uncommon to see jockeys run the track on numerous occasions throughout the day. Making weight is especially important, as it closely intertwines with the diet that the rider must follow. This means that it is very rare to see jockeys eating foods that are high in fat, and they will instead stick to high fibre diets. 

The very best jockeys will at least walk the track in the morning to ensure that they have the best understanding of the ground, and the layout that could enable them to plot the best route to the finish line. Running is also an extremely popular method among jockeys when it comes to getting off crucial weight before handicap races, especially if they are close to being over the desired weight that they need to make. Horse riding is commonly used as a form of cardio for lovers of horses, but as a jockey it is essential. 

Riding horses will require a great level of cardiovascular energy, as jockeys will need to ensure that they are fit enough to ask for more from their ride in the closing stages of races that last for a few minutes. Keeping on top of cardio is essential for all riders looking to reach the top of the sport. 

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