Why Planks Are Great For Dressage Rider Posture (With 6 Different Variations To Try)

As a dressage rider our goal is to remain super stable and balanced, yet have the ability to move our limbs and pelvis subtly for aids. This is why planks are such a great exercise to help improve your strength off the horse. They require almost every single muscle to work in order to stabilize your spine and pelvis and then you will see these different exercises help you isolate specific areas to balance so that you can move an arm or a leg.  Just as you would need to do when giving the horse balanced and correct aids.


Plank Arm Reachers

Great for improve shoulder girdle stability and even strength through both sides of the body.

The option for this exercise is to do on your knees. Either option however the aim is to imagine you have  a glass of water balanced in the middle of your back. You don’t let it ripple…..stay super still. And Breathe….


Plank Bunny Hops

These are great for really activating your lower abdominals. These are the hardest to recruit and often the laziest. By doing these bunny hops you are not only working them, but you are also increasing your heartrate and strengthening your upper body. Great full body exercise.

Option here is to jump do smaller jumps, even if it was just jumping feet forward a few cm.


Plank Hand Walk Outs

The aim here is to not let your back arch, so only walk as far as you can control stability through your core. Even if you only walk out a few cm, you are on the right track. The key is to again imagine a glass of water on your back, don’t let it ripple. Great for full body core control. Every muscle in your core is working here with a huge emphasis on your shoulder stability and upper body posture.

Option is to do this on your knees, following the same advice above. Super still through the body.


Plank Jacks

Awesome exercise to really spike your heartrate up while at the same time strengthening your core. Everything has to work here to keep your spine stable. Great comparison to sitting trot. Staying stable through spine while lower body is moving.

Option is on your knees and step one leg out at a time and back.


Plank Nose To Knee

This is great for lower abdominals and the upper back. Its a controlled movement that you do with your breathe. Think of bringing hip bone to rip cage and rounding through spine to activate lower abdominals. Option is on your knees, think of bringing one leg through at a time. Think knee to nose.


Plank Spider

Great for teaching you body control. While the arm moves the body stays still. This is crucial for a stable strong rider on a horse, especially once you add the force of movement beneath you. Think of keeping everything still minus the arm. Imagine that glass of water (or this time expensive champagne) balancing on the centre of your back. Don’t let it ripple or spill!

Option is on your knees, keep spine still by bracing through core and move one hand at a time.


For more exercises to improve your rider core strength and balance. Check out our dressage rider training program. All the tools you need to take your riding to the next level. Learn more here.


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