Train Like an Athlete – WIN Like a Champion! Fitness Tips from the Top 15

Train Like an Athlete - WIN Like a Champion! Fitness Tips from the Top 15

Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #204 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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In today’s video (filmed live at the NFR!), I’ve shared a summary of tips the top 15 barrel racers offered when asked “How do you stay physically and mentally fit with all the difficulties of rodeo life?

There were definitely some common threads in their answers, however I felt as though Shada and Sydni’s every word on this topic were also worth sharing in print…

SHADA BRAZILE: “Physically, I have pretty much been adapted to the rodeo lifestyle. I run every chance I get, I run bleachers. We spend a lot of emphasis on horses physical condition and it’s equally important for us to be in shape, and have a strong core to ride them the way we need to.

As far as mentally I thought I understood the mental pressure of competing watching Trevor, there are so many ups and downs I really didn’t understand how to compete when you had to win. I really don’t think you can understand it until you have been there. What really helps me is to go to the arena before I run and envision my run.”

SYDNI BLANCHARD: “I stay gluten free, which allows me to cut out wheat, barley and rye and allows me to eat more meat, vegetables and fruit. Physically, I work out every day; we have a gym at the home and I try and keep the same schedule on the road which gets hard.

I make sure I do cardio every day, so I will either run stairs or run the bleachers at rodeos or I have a jump rope that I keep in my tack compartment, so every time I open my tack I will jump rope real quick.

Just things like that you have to do, it’s hard, you are an athlete and you have to treat your body like you are one. You just have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it?”

Train Like an Athlete, WIN Like a Champion!

There’s no doubt that high level barrel racing requires supreme balance and timing, as well as extreme physical and mental quickness.

For many of us, achieving physical and mental fitness is a journey – one often inspired by experiences that lead us to realize that we need improvement in these areas, OR by an unrelenting desire to be the best at whatever we set out to do!

In my experience, one of the first steps toward following through with our physical and mental fitness goals is to realize how important fitness really is, and what a HUGE part our health plays in how we perform in every arena of life.

Physical and mental/emotional fitness are very much connected – neglecting these areas dulls our edge, not just as competitors, but as humans! Lack of movement, lack of sleep, poor food choices, and poor thought patterns don’t just “slow us down” in competition, they negatively impact how we perform on all levels.

A second step on this journey comes in experimentation. Often we don’t know how poor we feel until we’ve committed to making better choices – otherwise we have nothing to compare to.

Start with making commitment to taking really great care of yourself – even temporarily if you find it hard to commit and follow through at first. After a couple weeks or even a few days, you’ll most likely experience a difference powerful enough to motivate you to keep it up. Don’t feel pressured to do it ALL at once – slow steps are better than no steps.

It’s my belief that another huge factor when it comes to staying on track, has to do with the relationship with ourselves. Staying physically and mentally fit is very much connected to our own self-worth – it’s a representation of how much we value ourselves, AND how much we value our passions and purpose!

We were each only given one mind & body – taking excellent care of ourselves is a reflection of gratitude for them.

Although working out when you don’t feel like it, making good food choices, and staying on track mentally IS hard at times, when you understand how huge of an impact physical and mental fitness plays in how you show up in the world, and when you personally FEEL the difference it makes, AND you truly value yourself, it becomes much easier.

So there you have my two cents on the subject of physical and mental fitness. Now, enjoy the video below for even more tips from the TOP 15 NFR barrel racing qualifiers!

Do YOU think physical and mental fitness is important for barrel racers?

What are YOUR tips for staying healthy when traveling?

Let’s hear it in the comments below!

For even more insight in the area of physical fitness, check out:

To kick start the season with a strong mental foundation, you’ll enjoy:

To learn more about becoming a professional barrel racer as a member of the oldest women’s sports association in the world, visit

10 replies
  1. Diane Axmann
    Diane Axmann says:

    Eating healthy and being in good physical shape an absolute must and more so the older you get. Being mentally tough is a must. A lot would never be able to handle what these girls do to get to where they are. Definitely tough to do when things go in a wrong direction. I see it all the time even with just a bad run girls lose it.

    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      I agree Diane. I think it’s especially hard to take care of oneself in an environment like Vegas! The mental/emotional fitness factor is so crucial – it takes one tough cookie to stay grounded, centered and positive with all the ups and downs. Those kind of extremes throw most barrel racers off track far enough that it ultimately affects their performance. I witnessed some examples of very mentally UNFIT people at the airport the other day – there are just some things we CANNOT control (like cancelled flights OR our runs AFTER they happen), but we CAN choose how we think and feel about those runs and whether we dwell on them. As Patrick Smith says, we have to know when to have a “short term memory!”

  2. Nikki N.
    Nikki N. says:

    Thank you for this great article. I spend so much time feeding my horses top quality food and neglect to do the same for my myself. Well…NO MORE! NFR time is kind of the “competitor’s New Year’s Resolution time” and mine is to get fit and get my colt to the futurity in 2017. I love the work-outs the competitors do…for those of us that hate the gym or don’t have time while competing, these are GREAT!! Thanks for the inside track!

    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      You’re so welcome Nikki, glad you enjoyed this one! I LOVE my “Success in the Saddle” workout DVDs – only 20 minutes, and during the busiest times I commit to doing them at least three times a week. I’ve also just started exploring Herbalife health products as well, which seem to be a great fit for getting the nutrition we need even when we’re super busy! I think it’s important to stay on track with our health & fitness routine even (especially) when we don’t feel like it, but also believe we have to set ourselves up to succeed with a program that we enjoy and are most likely to follow through with.

  3. Jackie Dunlap
    Jackie Dunlap says:

    I always pray before I run. Usually when I have a bad run it’s pilot error. So I learn what I did and fix the issue for the next run.

  4. peggy schmitz
    peggy schmitz says:

    Hi Heather, I recently brought another volume 1 of Secrets to Barrel Racing Secrets because I couldn’t find my receipt for the first one, I would Luke to receive your eBook on confedience. My order # at Amazon is 0615628885. Thank you for your extreme hard work, it is appreciated.Peggy Schmitz. Email scgmutzpeggy@gmail.con.

  5. Bethany D
    Bethany D says:

    I have a question about a mental problem that I’ve been struggling with for quite a while and it’s getting worse. How do you “forget” or move on after a bad run? I have a gelding that 7 out of 10 runs will hit a barrel but the 3 runs he doesn’t hit will usually pay. I have trouble forgetting that hit barrel run and concentration on my next run. I run 4 horses and with one being just a baby he needs my full concentration but how can I do that when I’m still stuck on a previous bad run?

    • BarrelRacingTips
      BarrelRacingTips says:

      Hi Bethany, that is a GREAT question because forgetting about those bad runs is easier said than done! It definitely takes discipline and practice – we have to work hard to choose our thoughts just like we choose our actions, rather than allowing our minds to run on autopilot. First and foremost I think it would be wise to really focus in on what you can do to keep the barrels up consistently. Once you gain some improvement there, you’ll have fewer incidences that are likely to interfere with your positive mental focus. Also, right now I’m offering “The Confident Barrel Racer,” as a FREE gift – it’s a special 28 page guide that I think will be really helpful. It’s available only during the Holidays. You can check it out and learn more in “Gain the Confidence You Need to Succeed.”


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