Models and actresses aren’t the only ones who have to focus on their weight – professional jockeys also have to watch the scales too. In order for them to be successful in their sport, they need to keep themselves lean yet strong.
Jockeys don’t diet for the sake of physical appearance but rather to optimize their performance. Being agile and lightweight is crucial for success, as an extra pound or two be the difference between a first, second, or third-place finish.
The rules of racing necessitates that jockeys stay within the weight specifications. The requirements may differ depending on the race, but they are limited to a narrow margin.
How Much Does a Jockey Weigh?
Most jockeys weigh around 8 to 10 stone (120lb/55kg). Trainers and race officials carefully monitor their weight before and after racing. In the United Kingdom, jumps jockeys tend to be heavier than flat jockeys.
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Recently, the BHA raised the minimum weight for flat racing jockeys to 8 stone 2lbs (52kg) and 10 stone 2lbs (64kg) for jumps racing, in the hope that it would encourage jockeys to focus more on fitness training than dieting.
So, How Do They Maintain Their Weight?
The key to success is discipline and determination. However, many jockeys will tell you that weight management is the most challenging aspect of the sport. It can become mentally and physically draining to sustain such a strict diet regime.
In his 2017 autobiography (FORM), Irish jockey Kieren Fallon talked about his struggles with making the weight.
While Boxers may get away with indulging between fights, such luxuries are not typically afforded to jockeys.
In his book, Fallon recounted how he would layer up with no less than five or six long johns and T-shirts topped off with a plastic sweat suit. He would then go jogging wearing this outfit until he sweated off the extra pounds.
Like many professional jockeys, Fallon would often resort to making himself throw up after meals to manage his weight. He admits that the pain and pressure of racing were often easier to bear than the physical and mental strain of controlling his weight.
Sweat, Tears & Saunas
The traditional sauna is a jockey’s go-to for sweating out the excess pounds. However, if misused or taken too far, they can cause hydration levels to drop dangerously; jockeys often employ these methods just prior to a race taking place.
This has resulted in the BHA removing saunas from racecourse jockey rooms. A move that has angered many professional riders.
British Horseracing Authority’s Chief Medical Adviser, Dr Jerry Hill, said: “The closure of saunas on our racecourses represents a significant step forward for jockey wellbeing and a permanent raising of the minimum weight, while protecting competitiveness by raising the maximum weight, is the correct response to that development.
Jockeys have warned the changes risked a return to “flipping” – where jockeys deliberately vomit after eating to control their weight.
Thankfully, in recent years, jockeys are encouraged to focus more on exercising and eating healthier alternatives instead of resorting to extreme measures.
A Healthier Way To Lose Weight
If you’re an athlete looking to lose weight, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Although eating less and exercising more remains the foundation of any successful weight-management program, athletes require a different approach than non-athletes in order to make sure they stay healthy and still perform at their peak.
- Determine your calorie needs. The first step is determining how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. Use an online calculator or work with a nutrition professional. Once you have that figure, you’ll know how many calories you need to reduce in order to meet your weight-loss goals.
- Create a sensible eating plan. While reducing calories, it is essential for athletes to ensure that they get adequate nutrition. focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods such as lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
- Incorporate exercise into your plan. It’s essential not just to do aerobic exercise but also strength training to help build muscle mass while burning fat. This will boost metabolism and take off pounds quickly without compromising muscle mass or performance capabilities. Make sure that whatever exercises you choose are safe for your body type and fitness level.
- Get enough rest & recovery time between workouts. This is key for allowing muscles & joints time to repair so they can perform optimally when needed most! Also, ensure that if injuries occur during training sessions, don’t try pushing through them. Rest & recovery should always come first before attempting any strenuous activities again!
- Set realistic goals and celebrate progress along the way with small rewards, which will help motivate athletes to remain committed long-term!
With these tips in mind, don’t forget about taking regular measurements (e.g., circumference measurements) of different body parts so you can track progress over time, too—seeing results will be great motivation!
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