Female cheerleaders need to be just as strong as their male counterparts.
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Gone are the days when male cheerleaders brought all of the strength to a team. More and more we are seeing girls throwing outrageously high baskets or single basing. Getting stronger won't just help your stunting abilities, it will also help to add height to your jumps and allow you to advance your tumbling skills. Strength training is essential to build the strength and endurance necessary for reaching your full potential in cheerleading. Evenly target all of the major muscle groups in the upper body, core and legs and, at first, use only your body weight for resistance.1.
Warm up before beginning your strength training. Start with five minutes of cardio, for example, jogging in place, running, skipping rope, or doing jumping jacks. Follow with a full body stretch starting at the head and moving all the way down to the ankles. A good stretch would include head nods, shoulder pulls, arm circles, side bends, torso twists, hip circles, lunges, butterflies and wrist and ankle circles. For butterflies, sit on the floor and draw your feet in close to your bottom with your knees bent out to the sides and facing up. Allow your knees to drop as far as possible while placing the soles of your feet together. Slightly lift and lower your knees repeatedly.2.
Strengthen your upper body with exercises designed to target the arms, chest and upper back. Good examples include push-ups, handstand push-ups, pull-ups, triceps dips and one-arm triceps dips. Perform three sets, with 10 to 20 repetitions in each set, for each exercise. Alternate arms when necessary. To perform handstand push-ups, kick into a handstand against the wall and carefully lower your body slightly by bending your arms and then extend your arms again to rise to the starting position. Always use a mat when doing handstand push ups.3.
Build a strong core using exercises that engage the muscles of your abdomen and back. To see great results, try a combination of sit-ups, crunches, jack knives or v-ups, plank holds and leg lifts. Again, aim for three sets with 10 to 20 repetitions in each set. For the plank hold, which should be performed three times, stay in the position for 60 seconds. To jack knife, lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms held straight above your head. Simultaneously, lift your torso and legs while opening them into a V, or straddle, reaching your arms through your legs. Quickly return to the starting position.4.
Work the muscles in your legs and bottom to develop the power you need for height in jumps and tumbling with moves to build your lower body. There are a number of exercises designed to strengthen your leg muscles and tone your bottom, including mountain climbers, calf raises, running stairs, sprints, squat jumps and wall sits. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions for your chosen exercises, being certain to train each leg equally. To perform wall sits, stand with your feet together about two feet away from a wall and place your back on the wall. Slowly lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds before returning to the starting position.5.
Cool your muscles down by repeating the stretches from your warm up at a slower, more gentle pace. Hold each stretch longer. Pay special attention to ankles and wrists, which are often overlooked. Rotate each joint both clockwise and counter-clockwise to loosen the joint.
- Gymnastics or fitness mat
- Train regularly, preferably three times a week, to get the best results.
- Add cardio and flexibility to your training for even better results.
- Consult your doctor before beginning any training program as well as your coach.