Building your upper body – Tips and tricks:
Upper Body – Creating a strong upper body can do many things for us in cheer. Whether we’re blocking for acceleration in tumbling, shrugging through our shoulders to stabilize a stunt or swinging our arms for a powerful approach to a jump, the upper body can be used to finesse or smooth out much of the power we create in our skills. We can achieve this by putting emphasis not around our elbows but in our triceps and shoulders. If we develop additional muscle in these regions we can increase not only speed and power but the fluidity in which we execute each skill.
- Hand Stands and Hand Stand Shrugs – Start facing a wall standing about as far from the wall as you are tall while standing in a lunge position. Execute a hand stand against the wall while keeping your hands about six inches from the wall. Make sure our hand stands our extended and stretched creating a long line from your hands to your toes. Begin shrugging through your shoulders for maximum extension. Once our bodies and shoulders are extended to their highest potential, relax your shoulders bringing your shoulders away from your ears then return to the extended position. Continues in multiple reps for an amazing shoulder work out!
- Tricep extensions – Start on the floor just like the beginning of a push-up. While keeping our elbows directly by our sides for the entire exercise and our hips on the floor, push up till your arms lock out. Again, we are keeping our hips on the floor in what we call a seal stretch. Push your body off the floor in to the seal stretch in a repetitive manner for twenty to thirty seconds. Once complete, return to the original floor position again while keeping our elbows tightly to our sides. We will hold this position for a total of tens seconds before executing another set. Once we have completed the exercise for a total of three sets, hold the original floor position for thirty seconds then rest. Keep in mind, our elbows should be tight to our body for the entire exercise.
- Hand stand blocks – Using our lung position with our arms up by our ears, we’re going to lunge
in to a hand stand. Lean forward and allow your body weight to pull you towards the floor. Once your body is committed to the hand stand and your arms and body are shifting to the floor, kick your rear leg to gain momentum to lift in to the hand stand. Instead of shrugging your shoulders when your hands touch the floor, start with your shoulders shrugged from the lunge position to maximize muscle used from our shoulders. If our arms begin from this position, our weight will naturally allow your body to lift causing your tight hand stand to hop off the floor. Our hand stand should be hollow and extended so we do not lose stability from imperfections in our body line.
~Do Work – Try and Apply~
Make an attempt to work through these exercises and see what benefits they bring you for cheer. Do not worry about not being able to complete everything in your first attempt; the key is to be persistent and consistent. Also, cheerleaders become successful by developing as a whole so if we aim to be the best, we focus on the body in its totality. These exercises can be added to your conditioning in practice or on your own. Whatever you do, be sure you are in an area that will allow a good workout and for your safety.
Matt Dillon is a former University of Hawaii cheerleader, cheer camp instructor for All Attitude Athletics, all star coach from Desert Storm Elite and founder of the Playhard Project. Playhard seeks out corporate, government and private funds to provide struggling families with the means necessary to participate in main stream sports.
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