Provides upper torso strengthening, which improves your balance and stability in the saddle. Works your pectoralis major or “pecs”—a thick, fan-shaped ­muscle situated at the upper front of your chest wall.

What You Need: Two hay bales set next to each other on their sides, covered with a blanket. Two salt blocks, water bottles, fly spray bottles or light hand weights.

Step 1

Lie on your back on the hay bale with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Grasping a weight in each hand, raise your arms above you, keeping your elbows slightly bent, the backs of your hands nearly parallel with the floor and the weights -balanced over your chest. © Charles Mann

Step 2

Bend your elbows while separating your hands to lower the weights to either side of your head until you feel a stretch across your pecs. The heels of your palms will be approximately even with your chin. Without holding, raise your arms as in Step 1. Perform three sets of 15 repetitions each, resting 30–60 seconds between each set. © Charles Mann

Too easy? Increase the weight!

Keith Hutcheson is the owner and fitness director of Middleburg Fitness Club in Middleburg, Virginia. He is a certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management consultant, and nutrition consultant and manager. For more information on fitness programs for equestrians or to find out about Keith’s new DVD, Fit2Ride, contact him at

The editors thank photo model Olympic eventer Mara Dean and the owners of Meredyth Farm. 

Note: Consult your health care professional before starting any exercise program.

This article was originally published in the May 2008 issue of Practical Horseman. 

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