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  • Writer's picturekmbleekman

My 3 top core exercises

Core strength & stability training for riders is an absolute must, most riders I work with or have worked with tend to come to me for help with some form of back pain issues. Most often back pain comes from one area of the body compensating for weakness in another area & for riders this can most often be down to a lack of core stability & strength.

When people say to me I want to improve my core strength my reply is what does that mean to you? This is an important question as often when we talk about strengthening the core muscles & working the abdominals people think instantly of working their six pack when in fact we want to be focusing on your deep core muscles & all of the muscles that attach to the pelvis; this is the core & this is what we want to be focusing on strengthening when we are working to build your riding strength & endurance.

Think everything front & back of your body, from chest down to mid thigh. That is your core. All of the muscles that attach to your pelvis & yes that includes your glutes, your lower back muscles such as your erector spinae as well your abdominal & hip flexor muscles. This is often the problem as riders fail to recognise they need to train all of these areas as part of their core strength & only focusing on training the ab muscles on the front of the body that we can see.

This leads to an unbalanced training programme & often areas are neglected, if you just focus on strengthening one area & fail to strengthen others then you will most probably find at some point down the lane you will encounter an issue with your movement or worse an injury & this is why a balanced programme is so essential, exactly the same as you would approach your horses fitness programme.

The core has many roles; it is responsible for anti-rotation, anti-lateral flexion & anti extension of the spine. To begin with you want to focus on being able to resist movement through your core & then in time once you have the strength to resist movement you can look to build movement. Often riders tend to approach core training like a bull in a china shop when actually we want to treat it like breaking in a young horse;

Start with the basics, nail them down, repeat them then overtime & as both confidence & strength builds progress the challenge overtime. This is exactly the approach I apply & recommend for long term strength improvements & progressions for riders.

Your core training should be incorporated around all of your other strength work within the week making sure you are hitting your movement patterns such as hinge, squat, upper body push & pull work this is important as they all compliment & build one another & give you that balanced training programme. A stronger core won't only help your riding it will also really help your strength training & lifts, especially as you start to add load into the equation.

So my top 3 exercises at the moment would be as follows including one extra lower back exercise! When deciding how to train your core I would suggest you either focus on one movement such as anti-rotation for that session or include an exercise from each area within your session which is what I am going to do here. I personally find this keeps you working, gives you variety & hits all 3 core movements in one go-perfect if you lack time & can only train a couple of times a week. Remember something is better than nothing 100%. Start easy & focus on moving well with good intention then over time progress the movement.

1; Side Plank Row; Aim for 8-10 reps each side

Trains anti-lateral flexion

2; Bear Crawl Taps; Aim for 30-40 seconds alternating sides

Trains both anti-extension & anti-rotation

3; Deadbug; Aim for 10 reps on each side. Start all reps on one side build to alternating overtime

Trains anti-extension


This is a fantastic exercise that targets your full posterior chain & lower back muscles (the back of your body). Take your time with these & build up slowly, aim to begin with 5-8 reps for 2 sets & progress slowly.

Let me know how you get on with these & give them a go on your next core day!

Katie x

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