In my last article, we focused primarily on healthy eating habits. The next three articles will discuss how to strengthen our bodies while keeping our muscles quick and explosive; both which can be very critical for these remaining months of the competition season.
Obviously there are multiple areas of cheerleading that require strength and demand athletes to be in utmost physical condition. We have been taught from the moment we began team sports that a team is only as strong as its weakest link; our bodies work in the same manner. Our three areas of focus will be upper body, core and lower body. Although cheerleading is comprised of dynamic activities such as jumps, tumbling and stunts, we can utilize workouts to these simple workouts to benefit all areas of cheer. Below we’ll discuss a set regimen of work outs that will directly help to create a better foundation of strength and speed for whatever activity we set out for in cheer.
Chances are, your coaches have a set conditioning regimen in place; use the following workouts to compliment your preset work outs. Work through each section and apply technique from each skill builder to your time in practice.
Legs – I like to think of the legs as the work horses of our bodies. They provide power for everything from basing and flying to jumps and tumbling. We may feel that muscle strength alone will benefit our bodies the most for cheer skills when it may be more valuable to have muscle combined with speed. Speed leads to weightlessness and an object that is weightless can move without restriction. This means that if we are weightless during a stunt or a jump, our bodies are more likely to achieve the skill we are set to conquer.
*Any of the exercises we discuss can be performed on or across your cheer mats.
- Skips – This is not your normal childhood skip. When skipping across the mat, hitch your legs up, leading with your knee, to bring your leg as high and as hard as you can kick. Remember, the key to this exercise is height not distance.
- Squat jumps – Starting with your feet about shoulder with apart and with your arms down by your side; bend at the knees till you’re at a ninety degree angle. In one explosive movement jump as high as you can while swinging your arms completely up to your ears. Your legs should reach full extension through your toes then absorb your body weight once you land bringing your legs and arms back to the original position.
- Outward squat dips – Standing with our feet together with our hands on our hips, hop to a squat position with your weight in your toes and dip to a ninety degree angle in your knees. Following the momentum of the dip jump directly back to the original position. Once your feet come together and your momentum has your body extended back to the original position, continue to the second ‘squat’ position and repeat. This exercise is meant for continuous repetition in multiple sets to achieve agility, strength and speed.
- Calf Pumps (doubles)- Starting with legs in the same position as your squat jumps, bring your hands to your hips or directly out in front of your body and place your weight to the balls of your feet. Without letting your heals touch the floor, extend your heals as high as you can lift then
bring them back to the original position. Execute that pump motion in sets of two and for either 20 reps or for a full minute. *Keep in mind we are starting in a squat position with legs shoulder width apart to decrease stability in your calves which works those little jumpers to the fullest extent!
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.
Check back for Matt’s next article this week, Strengthening Your Core For Cheer! Do you have a workout regiment that you want to share? Become A CheerNN Reporter and tell us how you work out! Do you have someone who helps to motivate you to be at your peak physical fitness? Tell us your story!