Equestrian Fitness · physical therapy · Sports Medicine

Planks to Strengthen Your CORE

You can develop your core through a variety of exercises and should use a combination of isometrics, active resistive strengthening and muscle re-education techniques. Planks have become an effective and popular form of isometric strengthening for your core.

  • Perform a series of planks with good form starting with 20 second holds for 3 repetitions and increasing to 60 second holds by adding 10 seconds at a time over the course of a few weeks
  • Planks should be started on the forearms with the rider engaging shoulder girdle and abdominals without allowing the hips to rise
  • Progress to extended arm planks after you have developed your form
  • Side planks are performed to increase engagement of the oblique and transverse abdominals
  • Side planks are increased in difficulty statically by lifting your upper leg and holding

Dynamic planks add an excellent challenge for dynamic core stability. In the extended arm plank position bring each knee to the same side elbow 10 times without allowing your hips to rotate

  • Progress your planks dynamically by lowering and elevating your hips (without resting your hips on the ground).



    Riding with a strong core is key to competitive riding. The muscles that make up your core muscle group lie in complimentary orientation throughout your trunk and when active, they act on your body like a corset making a stable base from which you ride. The para spinal and rectus abdominals are located on your back and along the front of your body running vertically. The oblique abdominals run on a diagonal path extending from the side of your body to the front of your abdomen. Transverse abdominals travel on a horizontal path across the front of your body.

    When these muscles are active together they elongate your body and provide a stable core for your riding. Riding with a strong core enables riders to be a more effective and provides rider stability during changes in speed and direction of your horse.  A stable core enables you to ride without altering your body alignment throughout your ride. The stronger your core the less often you will alter your alignment and your horse’s performance.  Rider errors including: side leaning, roach back, tipping forward, twisting your trunk, swinging leg, and forward shoulders are reduced with a strong core.

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