For years polo has been heralded as the "Sport of Kings," with such decorated players as Prince Charles, Nacho Figueras, and Peter Brandt. These monarchs of elite sportsmanship receive praise from the highest of royalty. And these guys can teach you a thing or two about fitness.
For the past four summers, I have dedicated my professional strength and conditioning knowledge to help train some of the most skillful athletes in the polo world—names like Mariano Gonzales, Adam Snow, and Martin Pepa. Too many of these players go unrecognized in the mainstream, but to the polo elite, these players are like the Tom Brady of the sport. So as the Hamptons gear up for the opening day of the Bridgehampton Polo Classic, put on your boots, saddle up, and train like polo's greatest do!
How it works:
Perform as many reps of each exercise as possible for 60 seconds. Do not rest between moves. Perfrom 2 to 4 circuits of the entire workout, resting 60 seconds between each circuit.
1. Saddle Squeeze. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms hanging freely at sides, and back naturally arched. Place a large rolled up towel or pillow between knees and squeeze knees together as hard as possbile. Squat, lowering hips down until thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Swing arms behind body and jump laterally to the right as far as possible, swinging arms forward to propel yourself to the side. Upon landing, quickly jump back to the left. Repeat jumping side to side.
Coach's Tip: Stay squatted as far as you can throughout the exercise as if you were seated in a saddle.
2. Stir-ups. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and arms hanging freely at sides. Lift right leg slightly off the floor. Squat, quickly lowering hips to the floor and placing right hand on the floor in front of you (keep left hand out to the side). Jump left leg back until you are performing a pushup with just right hand and left leg touching the ground. Jump leg back under hips and stand. Repeat, using left hand and right leg. Continue altering.
Coach's Tip: To modify, start by simply performing with both feet and one hand. Move up to one foot, one hand when you gain strength.
3. Holding the Reigns. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and arms hanging freely at sides. Step right foot forward and lower into a lunge position until right knee forms a 90-degree angle. Jump off the floor, turning entire body as far as possible toward the left. Upon making contact with the floor, quickly jump body toward the right. Stay low throughout the entire movement, working on jumping and rotating as far and fast as possible to each side.
Coach's Tip: Trunk rotation is important here and should initiate the movement.
4. Chukkars: (Chukkars is the term used as the periods of play, like a quarter in football. In polo there are six 7-minute chukkars.) Assume a pushup position with hands and feet positioned closely to each other. Brace core and simultaneously jump feet and hands as wide as possible so body forms an "X." Upon landing, reverse direction with both hands and feet. Continue repeating.
Coach's Tip: Keep core tight and squeeze glutes and abdominals throughout the entire exercise to avoid letting hips sag.
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5. Core Whips: Assume a pushup position with feet hip-width apart, keeping a natural arch in lower back. Place right hand slightly inside right shoulder and lift left arm out to the side. Move right foot to the right and follow with left foot as you pivot on right hand so that your body turns quickly in a circular motion. Pause at the 30 second mark, switch to balancing on left hand, and reverse direction.
Coach's Tip: You can place a towel under you hands for easier rotation and to reduce friction.