Like other equestrians, team ropers typically prioritize their horse’s physical fitness. They long trot and lope circles to keep their equine partner legged up prior to competing. They jog, lope, and flex their horses up in the warm-up pen just before backing into the box at a jackpot or rodeo. Their own physical fitness is often neglected, though. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that roping isn’t physically taxing on the human athlete, because he or she is “just swinging a rope.”
That’s a mistake, though. Team ropers are athletes and need to train like athletes. Developing core strength is vital to maintaining a powerful posture so that a roper can effectively swing and throw a correct loop. Stretching is also important to improving and maintaining overall physical fitness.
In order to improve his own physical fitness, X Factor founder and team roper Pace Freed teamed up with fitness expert Ben Masztak to create a specialized workout program that is provided completely free to all X Factor Roping members (Sign up for your FREE account now). Through his work as a personal trainer, Ben has worked with clients of all fitness levels and abilities. He isn’t a roper, but Ben is an expert in the mechanics of the human body and its range of motion. He used his expertise to create a custom workout program that targets the muscles groups used in team roping.
To get started, Pace sent Ben videos of himself team roping. Ben analyzed Pace’s videos and identified core strength and hip joints as key areas to target when creating a stretching and workout program for team ropers. He then designed a custom program designed to help give team ropers increased strength and additional years of longevity in the sport. This program is personally used by Pace, so participants can be assured the exercises actually work for real team ropers.
The Complete Fitness for Team Ropers program is nonlinear, meaning it does not get progressively more difficult. Instead, it focuses on the basics and builds structural balance. Goals include building strength evenly on both sides of the body, improving balance, and learning routine stretches. The exercises help build strength through developing lean muscles, rather than adding bulk.
Roping is a great sport for competitors of all ages because it is relatively low-impact for the human athlete. Over 70% of team ropers are over 40 years old and male, so X Factor’s custom workouts were designed with that demographic information in mind. Regardless of their skill level, all team ropers can benefit from a personal workout program.
The workout program is divided into short videos and split into multiple phases to make it easy to get started and follow along. Ben delivers instruction and coaches an athlete through each stretch and exercise, allowing participants to see proper form and technique. Program participants track their progress by marking each video as complete as they finish it.
The workouts are completely adaptable to each user’s fitness and skill level. They are suitable for both men and women, and they require a minimum amount of equipment. The exercises address flexibility and range of motion issues as well. Ben understands how joints work separately and together, and he includes moves that help alleviate common sources of joint pain.
The workout videos are designed for a long-term healthy lifestyle, not a “get ripped in 90 days” philosophy. Hitting the gym hard for three months straight will deliver results, but since team roping is an all-year sport that can be enjoyed at any age, this program is simple enough to do every day yet challenging enough to see real results. Building a strong physical fitness foundation takes years, just like training a solid head horse or learning to throw a correct heel loop on the corner.
To learn more about X Factor Roping’s Complete Fitness for Team Roper’s progam, check out Podcast #26 Team Roping Fitness with Ben Masztak to hear Pace and Ben talk more about the stretches and exercises. The workout program is available to anyone with a free X Factor Membership. Ben can also write customized workouts tailor made for team ropers on an individual basis.
Ben’s Basic Tips
Give your body and mind time to learn and master each exercise.
Trust the process
Know that if you commit to doing the whole workout series and are diligent about doing the exercises, even when you’re too tired/don’t feel like it/really want to stop, you will see results.
Believe in yourself
Have faith that you can learn and complete a workout program, even if you’ve never been the type to exercise in the past.
Persistence pays off
Sticking with something and refusing to give up always reward those who stay the course.
Start one thing new a day
Wake up ten minutes earlier, or go to bed half an hour earlier to see positive changes right away. Committing to something smaller than a workout program can help develop ability to commit to working out every day.
Drink water throughout the day
Stay hydrated, but coffee is okay, too. Caffeine actually health benefits when used in moderation.
If you’re still not quite convinced, here are a few more reasons to work out:
These little guys work hard behind the scenes to make you feel happy, but they can only do their job when released into your body through physical exercise.
You are an athlete
Team roping is a physical sport. If you’re not working out, you’re giving your competitors an edge. Today’s roping is so competitive that a roper needs to be in top shape (or at least above average) if they want to consistently win.
Improves mental game
Exercise works both directly and indirectly to boost an athlete’s mindset. Improved physical fitness brings increased lung capacity. This allows more oxygen to reach the brain during times of stress, such as the nervous state most ropers experience during competition.
Reduce aches and pains
A fit body that is maintained at a healthy weight will experience fewer achy places and sore spots than one that is overweight and out of shape.
Links mentioned in the article:
X Factor Roping Podcast #26 – Roping Fitness with Ben Masztak
Complete Fitness for Team Ropers