Riding all day nearly always exposes your weakest link, which for most riders is the core. “The core area – your abs, lower back, obliques, hips and glutes – helps transfer power to the pedals, as well as stabilise the rider on the bike,” says US ultra-endurance and 24-hour mountain bike champion Chris Eatough (www.chriseatough.com), who trains riders to tackle long off-road rides. Eatough recommends doing three sets each of the following moves two or three times a week. Use the first set of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise as a warm-up. For the next two sets, do as many repetitions as you can while maintaining good form.
Assume a push-up position, with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and your knees resting on the top of a stability ball. Contract your abs and lift your hips towards the ceiling until they are over your shoulders (or as far as you can manage while maintaining good form). Pause. Return to start.
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, knees bent 90 degrees and heels placed on a stability ball. Contract your abs and rotate from the waist, dropping your knees to the left as far as possible while keeping your shoulder blades on the floor. Return your knees to centre, then repeat to the right. Alternate sides.
Lie on your back with your legs extended and feet flexed. Hold a stability ball between your hands and extend arms straight towards the ceiling. Contract your abs and simultaneously lift your torso and legs so your body forms a V and the ball meets your feet. Pause. Return to start.