Prayer Crunch—Strengthen the Connection Between Your Shoulders and Hips
By Bridget Braden
Riders need their core to develop a solid neutral position between the shoulders and the hips. The prayer crunch is a great exercise to teach just that. The same muscle recruitment you use to do this exercise will stabilize you in the saddle.
The prayer crunch is one of the oldest exercises used to get abdominal muscles in shape. It is mostly used in the gym with a cable machine and the rope attachment, but you can also use a resistance band. I like this exercise more than those that stack weight onto the abs to strengthen the core because they can sometimes cause athletes to use too much of their back instead of the abs to crunch downward.
Focus on keeping your hips moving up and down when doing the prayer crunch. It will release tension in the lower back and allow your abs to fire instead of arching the back and then flexing it forward. If you have a hard time feeling the abs engage, imagine someone punching you in the gut. The reaction to bracing the core during a punch is the same engagement you want for core support.
Do 20-25 repetitions with a resistance band or use a cable machine, attached high on the machine with the rope attachment.
To increase endurance: 20-25 reps
To increase strength: 10-15 reps
For more workouts designed for equestrians by equestrians, visit BioRiderFitness.com.