6 Leg Exercises To Improve Dressage Rider Leg Strength
Here are 6 leg exercises to help improve your rider balance and stability. Great for bringing awareness to certain areas that may be tight and/or weak and helping you bring more balance into your body.
Dressage is all about straightness and balance, so it makes sense that we put the work into our own body to create this also. Before beginning any of these exercises its good to know how to set up a stable neutral spine. So check out my post I did here about this and give yourself a solid foundation to work from.
Side Leg Lifts
Great for strengthening up the legs and stabilizer muscles of hips as well as spine. You may notice one side harder than the other, this is normal. By doing this though you are going to help remove this imbalance and improve rider posture.
Lie on your side and lift legs up straight, imagine you are standing on ground still, so feet are flat. Support yourself if you need on the floor using other hand, or make harder by lifting that up also. If this is to much keep the bottom leg down on the ground. Aim to keep entire body still, no rocking forward or back. Just the leg that moves.
Single Leg Bridges
Bridges are a great way to strengthen the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Really important areas for helping to stabilize the pelvis and hips. By doing these single leg bridges we can really highlight any areas that may be tight or weak.
Start with your heals underneath your knees, lift one leg up and and simply lift your hips up by squeezing your bottom (glutes). If this is to much, stick to the double leg bridges.
Single Leg Toe Taps
Single leg toe taps are great for seeing how balanced and stable we are. Often we have one side stronger or weaker than the other and this can be highlighted on a horse by sitting more into one seattbone. So by doing this you will gain more awareness as to what is going on in your body and improve those imbalances.
Stand tall, with neutral spine. Then tip forward from your hips ad touch toes. Let one leg go backwards as you do this. For more of a challenge lift that leg off the floor.
Clams are a great way to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of our glutes that help support our pelvis and hips. Often we may have one side weaker than the other. So doing these will help highlight that and bring awareness to what is going on in your body and improve hip stabilization
Lie on your side and brace your core so you are stable through your back. Then keep feet together but open knee up by using glutes to draw knee up back. Keep everything else really stable while you do this.
Bridges are a great way to strengthen the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Really important areas for helping to stabilize the pelvis and hips.
Start with your heals underneath your knees and simply lift your hips up by squeezing your bottom (glutes). Bring in more stability by crossing hands over your chest. This will make it slightly more challenging.
Here is a great leg exercise to help improve your rider balance and stability. Great for bringing awareness to your straightness and certain areas that may be tight and/or weak. Great to help you bring more balance into your body.
Set up a strong neutral spine to begin with, then step backwards without twisting or leaning forward. Lower down back knee to the ground, while keeping neutral spine and step forward again.
Here is a short video bringing them all together. Start by doing as a circuit. Do each exercise for 10 reps each side and then move onto the next exercise. Aim to run through the circuit 2 times through and do this 3 times per week. Notice what this does to improve your rider balance and strength in your lower body. Combine that with the 5 stretches that every dressage rider should do and you are off to a great start.
Get access to more dressage specific exercises, workouts and core exercises to help take your riding to a new level. You are a team effort, so put as much awareness into your body as you do your horses and together you can both then shine! Learn more here.