7 Simple Ways To Improve Your Core Strength For Dressage Riders

Learn how to improve core strength to help you with your riding posture. In this article I explain more about your core (abdominal muscles) and provide you with video exercises you can try today to build your riding core strength.


How to create a strong core for dressage

Your core is much more than you might think. If you chop off your legs, arms and head what is left is your core. This includes all the internal stabilizer muscles that support your spine, the muscles that help keep your pelvis balanced along with the muscles supporting your shoulder girdle.

You see, your body works as an entire unit. Everything is connected. So your aim is to improve your imbalances, work on your weakness and ultimately improve your overall balance, strength, and stability of your entire core and body.

how to build core strength for dressage
So to improve your core strength and your overall balance on your horse, you need to work the entire core unit. You want to do exercises that help restore the natural biomechanics of the body and enhance your posture and strength. This is why these exercises below aren’t just your typical crunches. They are exercises that are dynamic and use a variety of muscles, just as you require a variety of muscles to stabilize your torso on the horse. As it is your core that keeps you still and balanced while the horse moves.


Core Workout to try

Try these core exercises out by themselves or put them into a great short workout you can do 2-3 times per week, in and around your riding.

Here is what a workout might look like:

how to build core strengthCore Circuit
1. Supermans x 10 each side
2. Plank nose to knee x 10 each side
3. Leg lift and squeeze x 20
4. Horse stance pointer x 10 each side
5. Bridge knee ins x 20
6. Upper Locust x 20
Do as a circuit 2 times through

Once you have become confident at these exercises and they are becoming easier for you, then you will be ready to take your core training to the next level with more stability work.



Great for strengthening the cross-links of the body. We naturally move bipedally, but often we have a side that is stronger or more balanced than the other. This helps restore that balance and improve the diagonal muscle links within your core.

An option here is to do just the legs and/or the upper body.


Plank Nose To Knee

This is a great move for activating your lower abdominals and at the same time really focusing on your breathe. So this move down and think of breathing out as you bring your knee forward. Great for lower abdominals and upper body strength and stability.

Option here is on your knees and bring one knee through at a time. Think nose the knee.


Leg Lift And Squeeze

Great for glute activation and strengthening our hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles. The aim is to lift from the hips and not the knees. Also think of having a raspberry under your belly button, don’t squash it! Upper body relaxes while the lower body works.  Option is just one leg at a time, lifting straight up and off the ground.   


Horse Stance Pointer

Similar to the superman, but now slightly harder as it involves more core control. The aim is to let nothing else move except your limbs. Great for gaining real control of your body while your core remains stable.
Option is just moving the legs or the arms at one time.


Bridge Knee Ins

This is a great variation on bridges, its helping to improve your adductor strength which we need when we ride. Often it is these muscles that we find are out of balance. Either they are to tight or to weak. This exercise will help strengthen them up and bring more balance through the stabilizer muscles or your pelvis.  Option here is to just lift hips up and down off the ground in a standard bridge or hold the bridge and just do 1-2 reps at a time and rest if you need.


Bridge Single Leg Lifts

These are fantastic for finding out how stable you are through your pelvis. It is very common to have one glute stronger than the other and this exercise is a great test to see. The aim is to not swing or move hips sidewides, its straight up and straight down.

Option is to have both feet on the ground, but lift one heel on one side and push mainly through the other foot. Progress as you build strength to one foot at a time.


Upper Locust

Upper body stability and strength is really important in dressage and this exercise is great for opening up the chest and strengthening the upper body. Think of squeezing something between your shoulder blades and brace through your core while you do it.  Option is to not lift as high, but still think of squeezing through shoulder blades and opening up the front of the body. 

Want more exercises and stretches and help with your rider fitness?

Then start by downloading our free guide here and get yourself started today.


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