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BUILDING AND MAINTAINING LEAN MUSCLE
Muscle is the foundation of performance, powering all the competitive activity that we ask of equine athletes. Lean, well-toned muscles function most efficiently and perhaps the most visual evidence of these qualities is in the topline of a performance horse. That’s because a horse with the power to move and jump competitively will have well developed musculature across the neck, back and hindquarters.
Many things affect topline, from immovable factors, such as age and natural body shape, to those that we can influence, such as exercise programmes and nutrition. Exercise and nutrition should be thought of as inextricable partners when building lean muscle and developing good topline – neither can do the job alone.
A structured exercise programme that focuses on building muscles in the desired areas is essential. Ensuring the appropriate muscle groups are engaged throughout exercise is also important and this can be influenced by many factors, including riding style and head carriage. Remember to take conformation into account when developing the programme too – long backed horses sometimes find it harder to engage their hindquarters, for example.
Nutrition for muscle
Muscle is made mainly from protein and so a diet containing adequate protein is key for muscle development. Proteins are made up of amino acids – some of which can be synthesised in the body and some which must be obtain via the diet. The latter are called ‘essential amino acids’ and are sometimes also described as ‘limiting’, as without adequate levels in the diet, growth and development is affected.
In addition to the right protein/amino acids, certain vitamins and minerals are also important for muscle health and development. For example, vitamin E and selenium act as antioxidants, which are essential for the body’s natural process of clearing particles called free radicals. The particles are produced continually as a result of all body processes, but production accelerates during exercise so horses that are training or competing have elevated antioxidant requirements. B-vitamins play a role in controlling the rate at which amino acids are used and ensure that this rate is optimal to keep exercise induced muscle damage to a minimum.
Muscle Prep supports rapid muscle development and ongoing lean muscle maintenance by providing highly absorbable amino acids, vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant and B vitamin complexes for ideal protein and energy utilisation. Use daily during training and competition to optimise muscle development and topline condition. For horses with particularly challenging training or competition schedules, highly palatable Muscle Max combines the powerful antioxidant action of vitamin E and selenium, with B vitamins and essential amino acid L-Lysine, which is key for muscle development and recovery.
For more advice on targeted supplementation to support your performance goals, contact Foran Equine to speak to one of our advisers here