7 Exercises To Improve Lower Body Strength And Balance

In this article, I share specific lower body dressage exercises that will help you fine-tune your own strength and balance in the saddle.

As riders understanding what is going on within our own body can help us when we are in the saddle.  Often we may feel that the horse is really stiff and weak on one rein and while this may be true, it’s important to not overlook the fact that you may also be stiff and weak on one rein too, these lower body dressage exercises will help you address those weak areas and help you build on your riding posture by helping with the strength of your lower back and legs.

We work on our horse’s symmetry, strength and balance through dressage, so paying attention to all these factors in ourselves makes sense. Not just for the picture this creates, but also for clarity of aids and prevention of wear and tear in the future.

These series of specific dressage exercises are all about helping to strengthen the muscles that stabilize our pelvis and lower back. While doing them you may then discover your “weak rein” and parts of your body that need a little more attention.

By working on making sure you are even and balanced you can then truly help your horse with their training and take any rider imbalances out of the equation.

 

Exercises To Improve Lower Back Strength And Balance

Try these exercises throughout your day. You could do one exercise at a time or put them into a workout to do a few times a week. Improve your balance and strength off the horse and notice how it improves your time on the horse.

For each exercise aim to do 10-15 reps of each exercise at a minimum, have a rest and repeat again.

 

Bridges

Great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings.

1. Laying on your back, lift your bottom up and pull your heels in towards your bottom and push up through your heels.
2. Have your heels hip distance apart your ensure your knees are over your heels.
3. Allow your arms to lay flat on the ground beside you with your palms down.
4. Press your hips to the sky focusing on squeezing your bottom and then lower again.

Try doing 12-15 reps.

 

Bridge Single Leg Lifts

Great to progress on after the bridge pose. This is also great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings but ensuring we are even on both sides. So often we will have one side stronger than the other and this will really help highlight any imbalances.

1. Laying on your back, lift your bottom up and pull your heels in towards your bottom and push up through your heels.
2. Have your heels hip distance apart your ensure your knees are over your heels.
3. Allow your arms to lay flat on the ground beside you with your palms down.
4. Lift one leg up off the ground and press your hips to the sky focusing on squeezing your bottom and then lower again. Switch sides

Try doing 12-15 times each leg.

 

Horse Stance Pointer Combo

Great for improving balance as well as muscle coordination through our cross link chain of our postural muscles. Again this is a great exercise to highlight any imbalances and understand which side of your body is weaker than the other and where the work needs to be put in.

1. Set yourself up on all fours, with your hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
2. Keeping your spine super still lift up your arm straight ahead with your thumb up.
3. If you can stay balanced with your hand, then add in your opposite leg.
4. Try lifting up an opposite hand to leg at the rate of your breath and lower back down again. The focus being staying stable and still.

Try doing it 12-15 reps each side.

 

Lower Locust Leg Squeezes

Great for toning and strengthening your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. If you are new to this sort of exercise, start with just one leg or do two and rest after each rep.

1. Laying down on your stomach with your head down, point your toes and lift your legs up off the ground.
2. Think of lifting the leg straight from your hip and not bending your knee.
3. Take your feet wide and then draw them back into together all while keeping the legs hovering off the ground.

Try repeating 12-15 reps

 

Squats

Being able to squat is incredibly beneficial for not just your riding but for all the day to day tasks of horse care. So if you haven’t squatted in a while start with the chair squat and then work your way towards taking this away and doing full squats without it.

1. Standing with your feet parallel and hip distance apart.

2. Lower your bottom back while keeping your weight in your heels, don’t let your knees come forward past your toes.

3. Imagine a chair is behind you and push your bottom backwards. Only go as low as you can maintain good form

4. If this is too much, try sitting on a chair and then standing up from this and lowering back down again.

Try doing 12-15 reps.

 

Toe taps

Another great exercise to highlight how good your balance is and showcase any imbalances. Start with back foot on the ground as you tip forward and progress to lifting this up and keeping it up for the entire set.

1. Standing up nice and tall with your neutral spine, allow yourself to bend at your hips while you reach opposite hand to leg keeping your neutral spine and good posture.

2. If its too much with back foot lifted, allow this foot to just step back and keep it on the floor. Work your way towards lifting it up.

3. Once you reach forward, lift back up again and place both feet on the ground hip-distance apart and then repeat.

4. Aim to move at the rate of your breath and focus on smooth form with balance verses speed.

Aim to do 12-15 reps each side

 

Step Lunges

Great exercise for developing lower body strength and working on even balance through both sides. Start by just lunging on the spot, then progress to step lunges. Be sure to push through the front heel and keep the body upright.

1. Standing up nice and tall with your neutral spine, allow one leg to step backwards.

2. Then bending your back leg allow yourself to lower down towards the ground. Only lower as far as you can maintain balance and if you need hold onto something for extra support.

3. Aim to keep the weight evenly distributed between both the front and the back leg, while your torso remains upright.

4. Work your way towards lowering your back knee all the way to the ground and back up again.

Try doing 12-15 reps each side.

 

These exercises are great for improving overall strength and balance around our lower body and all the muscles that help support our pelvis. Too often we spend all our time focusing on our horses balance and strength. Notice what happens when you put just as much effort into your own balance and strength.

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What more to help you with your riding? Here are some articles you may find useful.

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6 Exercises To Improve Posture For Dressage

Here are 7 exercises to help improve you lower body strength and balance for dressage. #dressage #dressagerider #dressagetraining #dressageexercises

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