No matter what their discipline, today’s top riders know that to improve their results in the ring, the work doesn’t begin and end in the saddle. Maintaining proper fitness and improving core strength not only protect and sustain the muscle groups used regularly while riding, it also improves your posture and stamina.

One person who has plenty of experience keeping riders fit and healthy is Wellington, Florida’s own personal trainer to the equestrian stars, Mike Barthelemy. While working with clients including Eugenio Garza, Anna Buffini, and George Morris—yes the George Morris!—Mike has identified a series of exercises that are especially crucial for equestrian athletes of all ages.

“Strong, elastic muscles, tendons, and ligaments are much less prone to injury, which is why I strongly recommend every rider exercise, especially the young amateur riders who find themselves too tired to ride,” Mike says. “Just by working out it will help to improve your endurance.”

Looking to maximize the riding benefits in your own gym routine? Here are Mike’s picks for the top five exercises every rider should do:

1. Single leg squats. These can be with either your own weight alone or using weights, depends on how strong you are. Work up to four sets of 20 squats, alternating legs.

2) Hip thrusters. These will strengthen the glutes and the lower back, which most riders use often while competing. Work up to four sets of 20 hip thrusters.

3) Rear delts. This exercise helps to strengthen the shoulder blades and muscles around the shoulders. Since most riders use their shoulders daily, they see a lot of muscle wear and tear. Rear delts will help you keep proper posture and help improve shoulder strength. Work up to four sets of 20 rear delts.

4) Single arm rows are great for the Latissimus Dorsi muscle (or outside lats) and help to strengthen the mid-back as well. Work up to four sets of 20, alternating arms.

5) Planking. A great exercise for your abs and core is to hold a 1-minute plank position in regular form, then 1-minute in a sideways plank on both sides. You can also hold a plank in a scissor position with legs lifted 6″ high off the ground.

-Photo credits (from left): Tori Repole, courtesy of Mike Barthelemy, Tori Repole.

Mikerlange H Barthelemy was born and raised in Haiti. With a passion for fitness and health, he is a three-time Men’s Physique National qualifier and is certified in both Functional Fitness Training and Personal Training. “I am a people person,  a motivator, and a mentor,” Mike says. “Deep down, while I am a serious professional, I am simply a young kid from Haiti trying to be the best I can be and help others achieve their dreams. That’s what gets me up every day and why I do what I do. #passion.” You can learn more about Mike on Get Fit Match, or follow him on Facebook or Instagram