What's the best exercise to improve balance for mountain biking?

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking     Photo: richardmasoner/Flickr

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Good balance is critical for conquering difficult rides. The first step to better balance is being able to keep your body mass centered while reacting to adverse terrain. Use these simple drills to improve your body's stability:

Standing Balance – Pedal and come to a complete stop. See how long you can stay on the bike without putting your feet down.

2x4 Riding – Place a series of 2x4 planks of wood end to end on the ground. Ride along the wood without careening off the side. Vary your speed with each trip—a slow pace for the most challenge and a fast pace to mimic trail riding situations.

Next, focus on improving the strength of your pillar, which encompasses your shoulders, torso, and hips. Think of your pillar as a wheel hub and your arms and legs as spokes. The stronger your hub, the better you can absorb impact and transfer power through your legs. Use these exercises to strengthen your pillar:

Pillar Bridge with Arm Lift – Start facedown with your forearms on the ground under your shoulders and your legs straight behind you. Lift your hips in the air to make a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. From here, lift one arm up and away from your body, holding it for one to two seconds. Bring your arm back and repeat the move with the opposite arm. (Click here for the video.)

Stability Ball Roll Outs – Kneel on the ground with your arms extended and the back of your hands on a stability ball. Roll the ball forward while keeping a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Pull the ball back to the starting position and repeat. (Click here for the video.)

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