Although they make it look easy, cheerleaders have to be in great physical condition to safely do all the tumbling, dancing, jumping and cheering that their job requires. Whether you desire to become a cheerleader or just look like one, a two-week, gradually progressive workout plan can start you off on the right foot. Your workout should include cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, core strengthening and stretching.
Cardiovascular Exercise for Endurance
Cheerleaders need good endurance to comfortably complete their routines without running out of breath. Performing 30 minutes of cardio, three to four times a week, can improve your respiratory system, enabling you to better withstand vigorous cheer routines. Cardio can include taking a dance or step class, jumping rope, jogging, swimming or pedaling on an elliptical machine. During the first week, start with 10 to 15 minutes of cardio and slowly increase the duration as the week progresses. During the second week, gradually increase your intensity by picking up your pace, or alternating between a slow and faster pace.
Resistance Training for Strength
Moves such as pyramids, basket tosses and partner lifts, require muscular strength. Resistance training performed on three nonconsecutive days a week can increase the strength of your muscles, tendons and ligaments, making cheer stunts less challenging. Perform exercises such as pushups, wall sits, squats, calf raises, walking lunges, biceps curls, shoulder presses, triceps extensions and shoulder flyes. During the first week, emphasize body weight exercises, performing one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions per exercise. During the second week, include exercises with resistance bands or free weights and add a third set.
Exercises for Core Strength
Exercises, such as squats, lunges and step-ups, strengthen your legs while also working your core. Core strength is essential to cheerleaders, because paired with strong legs, it promotes good balance and safe landings from jumps. It also strengthens your hip flexors which help you execute chorus line kicks. Other exercises you can do include V-ups, front and side planks, twisting crunches, scissor kicks and superman holds. Work your core three times a week on nonconsecutive days. During the first week perform one to two sets of each exercise, and during the second week, challenge yourself by adding an extra set.
Stretching for Flexibility
Daily stretching can improve your flexibility, coordination, range of motion and strength, all of which benefit cheerleaders. It also reduces muscle tension, so you'll be more limber and able to move freer. Always warm-up with at least five minutes of light cardio before stretching. On workout days, perform dynamic stretches, during which you use movements to stretch before your routine. For instance, lunge side to side or perform slow squatting motions. After your workout, perform static stretches; hold each stretch for 30 seconds. For instance, perform straddle stretches, knee-to-chest stretches and bridge stretches. As time progresses over the two-week period, you'll notice you'll be able to go deeper into the stretches.
- Georgia State University: The Benefits of Exercise
- Hillsborough Dukes: Cheerleading Workout List
- Fierce Cheer: Fierce Cheerleading Conditioning Guide
- Cheer Coach Magazine: Core Strength = Safety and Success
- Cheerleading Stunt Academy: The Big 5 to Cheer Jump Training
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Simple Exercises to Make You Limber